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Elisse’s story: ‘I’m back to the person I was at 45’ after ankle surgery

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For 15 years, Elisse Meier dealt with chronic ankle pain after falling off a ladder.

She broke 10 bones in her foot and damaged her ankle joint.

The pain remained even after two surgeries and multiple consultations with doctors.

“I would go to orthopedists and they would give me things that would help some of the symptoms but basically I couldn’t wear two shoes that matched because I had on an orthopedic shoe and a brace on one side,” Elisse says.

“It was hot, it came up to my knee,” she says of the brace. “I had to take it off if I wanted to go swimming or something. It severely limited what I could do.”

Elisse says she felt helpless. But one day, the drive to work changed her life.

“There was a billboard that says, ‘Do you have ankle pain? Maybe we can help.’ It was a picture of Dr. DeVries. I thought, ‘OK, this is fate hitting me on the shoulder.’”

The billboard featured Jason George DeVries, a fellowship-trained foot-and-ankle surgeon with Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic in Green Bay and Manitowoc.

Elisse immediately sought his help.

“He was confident and very professional,” she says. “I was very impressed.”

Before her appointment, DeVries reviewed Elisse’s X-rays and related medical notes.

“He walked in and goes, ‘Well I’ve been reading about it, now let me see it.’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve done this. I can do this.’”

DeVries proposed an ankle fusion procedure “with a tibiotalocalcaneal (TTC) arthrodesis with an intramedullary nail. The ankle and joint underneath it were fused and held together by a rod,” he says.

Elisse was skeptical.

“I was afraid to go through the pain of surgery again,” she says. “But I was desperate enough that I wanted to learn more. He gave me hope.”

Even so, Elisse wanted to be convinced of DeVries’ expertise.

“He gave me references to his published literature and gave me a history of his training and I checked him out online,” she says. “I had time to think about this. I was very pleased. He’s very young, but very accomplished.”

DeVries performed the ankle fusion. The operation was successful. Physical therapy and follow-up appointments followed.

Elisse describes her experience with DeVries as “one of the best doctor relationships” she’s ever had.

“He was very warm and compassionate,” she says. “He called me at home and asked how I was doing and asked if I was taking these pills and how I was feeling. He basically said, ‘OK, just strap yourself in, this will probably be the worst post-surgical night. You know what meds work. You can do this.’

“He gave me the pep talk and phone number to call if I felt like I wasn’t coping. The personal phone call to my house was one of the nicest things he ever did.”

The result was everything Elisse had hoped for.

“I don’t have pain every day and I wear regular shoes. I’m able to go to the gym and work out and I’m able to garden and I’m able to walk the dog – a lot of things that I didn’t do for the 15 years between the original fall and finding Dr. DeVries.”

It’s like turning back the clock.

“I’m back to the person I was at 45,” says Elisse, who is in her late 60s

“I’m very glad that my 60s and my 70s will be healthy, busy years, rather than sitting there watching the world go by.”

Published: Monday, December 7, 2020
Author: Ashley Scott