For those of you watching who have rheumatoid arthritis, the rest of us who don't have this debilitating disease, it's hard to appreciate the pain you are in. Nancy Naeve Brown met a Nebraska woman who pain free in her left foot after having reconstructive surgery at the Avera Foot and Ankle Clinic in Yankton.
Sharon Carlow from Creighton, Nebraska has been living with excruciating pain for 20 years. She has rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that affects the joints, all of them, eating away at the soft tissue surrounding those joints leaving them crooked, and painful and useless.
Sharon says, "I think I've had 9 back surgeries."
In February Sharon came to Yankton to see podiatrist Dr. Terry Pedersen at the Avera Foot and Ankle Clinic. Since rheumatoid arthritis likes to attack the hands and feet first her toes had become so gnarled she could barely walk.
Sharon says, "I didn't wear shoes for 5 years because you couldn't stand that pressure on your toes. And so I would go barefoot. In winter I would wear two pairs of socks."
Dr. Pedersen changed her life with foot reconstructive surgery.
Dr. Pedersen says, "With Sharon we just made 2 simple incisions on top of the foot and were able to address 4 joints through 2 small incisions. Remove bone from the joints and set with temporary pins and that's all she needed."
Sharon says, "There is no comparison, no comparison. I don't have pain in the foot they fixed. I have no pain. "
Rheumatoid arthritis is hereditary Sharon's sister Lela Kiepke from Norfolk accompanied Sharon on her check up and like sis has disfigured and painful feet. She too will follow in her sister's footsteps to correct her foot.
Dr. Pedersen says, "Our rheumatoid patients are some of the happiest surgical patients. They come in with a lot of pain, they come in with a lot of disability and they don't know what else they can do and surgery scares them. They think it will be painful but almost all of them immediately after surgery are pain free."
Sharon says, "They told me I'd be able to dance. I love to dance."
She plans to have her right foot done after the hustle and bustle of Holidays have passed, and you can bet she will be back on her feet, kicking up her heels and dancing for joy in the coming year.
Like so many foot patients, Sharon wishes she would have gotten this surgery done sooner because the results were so fantastic and nothing to be scared of. For more information on rheumatoid foot & ankle surgery and reconstruction or the wide range of podiatry services offered at the Avera Foot and Ankle Clinic in Yankton on the campus of Avera Sacred Heart
call 605-665-1200 or visit: http://www.avera.org/clinics/yankton-foot-ankle/index.aspx