Stepping Back Into Life

Barbara Kell’s ankle problems started about eight years ago. During a consultation with her podiatrist for recurring ganglion cysts, Barbara found out her ankle joint had deteriorated, and she was walking bone on bone. But her doctor warned against an ankle replacement until the procedure was better developed. Barb Total Ankle Replacement

“He told me, ‘Try to hold off as long as you can,’” Kell remembers.

And hold off she did. She tried foot soaks, wraps, and braces, including a top-of-the-line custom molded boot. But by the summer of 2015, Barbara was in pain every day and had pretty much stopped leaving the house.

“I would have to calculate, how far is it between here and there? Is there someplace I can rest? I tried to go to the mall and I was in tears by the time I got to the door,” she says. “I couldn’t work in my gardens. I couldn’t grocery shop. I couldn’t do anything.”

Then one day Barb spotted a flyer for Aurora BayCare’s Dr. Brandon Scharer tucked inside her local paper. It said his specialty was ankle replacements, so Barbara decided to investigate.

During that first meeting, she questioned Dr. Scharer carefully about his philosophy, experience, and her prognosis. Would she have to have an ankle fusion if the replacement failed?

“He said there was no reason to believe the ankle replacement wouldn’t work,” Barbara recalls. “And that’s what I needed to hear.”

She had the surgery in mid-September and spent just one night in the hospital. Healing progressed continually over the next two months, while Barbara did physical therapy and transitioned from cast to boot to brace. By Thanksgiving, she was using a small brace that fit inside her regular shoe and was on her feet preparing Thanksgiving dinner.

“It’s like getting my life back,” Barbara says. “I don’t even think about my ankle now. I get up and do anything I want.”

Today Barb is grateful her podiatrist advised her to wait. And she’s confident she got the best care possible, at the right time.

“I was convinced I had the right doctor,” she says, “and I haven’t regretted it a day since.”

Dr. Scharer performed a CT total guided ankle replacement. Thanks to advanced CT imagery, Barbara got a custom joint designed just for her ankle, and Dr. Scharer had an exact map of the surgery site, before going into the operating room. The new technology cuts procedure time in half, reduces the chance of infection, and improves success rates.

Watch the Health Watch segment featuring Barb and Dr. Scharer or learn more about Aurora BayCare Orthopedics.

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