At the age of 18 I injured my ankle in a football game when an opposing player did his best to break my foot. I had x-rays which showed no signs of injury and was told I could go back to the sport. At the time, I was very active, playing football and lacrosse at a high level, and running several miles a day. I ignored the pain and taped my ankle daily to get by. By my freshman year in college I realized I was in big trouble - my ankle had begun to lock up and I sometimes would fall flat on my face because of it. In the summer of 2003 at 21 I had an MRI which showed joint mice. Doctors said I would be unable to return to sport for one year. My college football career ended and I had the mice cleaned out and was fine until I was 28.
At 28 I was an avid runner and testing out a new pair of sneakers. I didn't get far before I knew I had re-injured my ankle. I had an MRI which showed a cartilage injury. The doctor I was seeing opted to perform a microfracture surgery. Unfortunately, the microfracture did not work as anticipated, and by 32 I was in so much pain I could barely walk a city block. I had lifts (for support) in every pair of shoes I had, and grew concerned that I may have exhausted my options for joint repair. I had an MRI, which showed a roughly 10 x 18 mm osteochondral lesion. I saw two doctors, one who recommended fusion, and another who recommended Denovo and possibly dropping my arch. I asked for a success rate and he mentioned 50%. At this point I was pretty terrified. I did more research and came across My surgeon's name many times. I was sure I'd never be able to get an appointment with him, and if I did it was unlikely I could afford the procedure, with my insurance being out of network.
I decided it was worth a shot and called My surgeon's office. They asked me to come in the next morning. He took a look at the MRI and suggested OATS (osteochondral autograft transfer system). He mentioned his success rates (they were very high), and I knew he was the best shot I had purely based on his confidence. My surgeon’s head of operations, Susan, was unbelievably helpful and attentive. She hand-held me through the insurance/finance side of things and was able to ease my concerns.
I had my procedure in March 2015. By May I was already walking pain free and back on my road bike. During this time I had many questions about what was normal and what might not be. My PA was extremely responsive to my questions and surpassed any expectation I had. By mid-summer I was also able to get back to hiking, and was able to make myself useful helping friends and family with projects around the house, moving and lifting things, like most young folks do.
I feel very fortunate to have been a patient of my team at HSS – they completely changed my life and my ability to enjoy it. Thanks guys!