My name is Nicole. I have lived with severe relapsing bilateral club feet for 44 years. As an infant, I had multiple surgeries, braced, put in orthotic shoes, and casted for long periods of time. My mother says it’s a miracle that I’m walking. My dad would have to duct tape my casts because I would wear them out pushing so hard to play and be normal.
My last surgery was when I was 16 years old. Dr Swartz was contracted by the Army as a civilian doctor to treat orthopaedics. I was an Army brat!!! He spent 8 hours doing a bilateral triple arthrodesis with a second Achilles’ tendon lengthening. This surgery was life-changing. Once I recovered a year later. I was able to walk with a gate that was less noticeable and less likely to get the usual comments of “why do you walk like that?”.
I was bullied terribly, but it has made me stronger. I have lived my life pushing for normalcy. I have managed to finish one and only half marathon, hike in many parts of the world, and ride my MTB in many places. I have had two beautiful children who have healthy feet!!!!
My Pregnancies pushed my weight up and not having time to keep up with fitness has put some strain on my ankles. I’m limited in what I can do at this point and I can’t push through pain like when I was younger. I started having trouble with my left foot toes five years ago. I don’t have any control over them due to nerve damage from my arthrodesis. They were starting to overlap and cause toe numbness. I saw a podiatrist who showed me how to tape my toes to get them back into alignment. It worked!!!! I also wear toe separating socks every night. This helps me a lot. Another thing I do to stay healthy is to see a chiropractor monthly. My gait causes alignment problems, but consistent decompression and adjustments help me to feel healthy and reduce back pain and sciatica caused by my wonky feet.
This past year I started having debilitating pain in my right foot in front of my hind ankle. I went to my sports med MD and with X-rays taken of both feet, she then told me that the arthrodesis which caused fusion of my hind ankle has affected my joints in front of and behind my hind ankle. Long story short, I’m heading for double ankle replacement. Good news is ankle replacements are better than they used to be, bad news is they won’t make my feet normal ;-( . I also have arthritis in many joints in front of my hind ankle. The sports Med MD gave me an ankle brace which has worked to reduce daily pain. It is a don joy pro stabilizing ankle brace. I have also purchased new shoes made by a company called Gravity Defy. They are amazing. They have reduced my foot pain substantially. They are bulky and look like Frankenstein shoes, but I’d rather be pain-free with mobility over fashion. I’m also in the process of losing weight to reduce pressure on my ankles. Hopefully, I can hold off on replacements for a good amount of time.
I pray that some of my suggestions help anyone of you who are suffering and fighting to be mobile. One day, I will be whole in heaven. I will dance and run and jump into my Lord and saviors arms!