The adventure of the open road continues to call to me, thanks to state-of-the-art orthopaedic surgery. My wife and 1 of 57 years, Belle, are back on our motorcycle and preparing for a busy summer, thanks to the surgical skill of Gregory Caronis, MD, who performed my total ankle arthroplasty (TAA).
I had been unable to walk without serious pain in my left ankle for about three years. TAA has allowed this active senior citizen to continue to pursue one of my passions – motorcycling.
I’m a retired Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant, serving in Vietnam. I suffer from numerous health problems subsequent to exposure to Agent Orange. In addition, arthritis has been a major issue, and I’ve undergone a total left shoulder, knee and ankle replacements. In the summer of 2014, my regular orthopaedist said that he knew “a young man who does wonders with ankles.”
My treatment and recovery
I made an appointment to see Dr. Gregory Caronis. He told me that advances in foot and ankle surgery have provided the surgeon with several options for addressing the chronic, often disabling pain of arthritis.
Dr. Caronis explained that TAA is not for everyone, but that he had been doing the arthrodesis or fusion surgery for many years. Dr. Caronis told me that the success rate is high, and patients typically are willing to trade a slight decrease in range of motion for elimination of arthritic pain.
But not this Marine. As I was no longer in the work force, no more “forced marches,” no longer chasing my children or grandchildren on uneven lawns and simply being a guy who loves to ride motorcycles, I thought the TAA was my way to go. Dr. Caronis explained that I was a perfect fit for the type of patient who will likely find benefit in a replacement rather than an ankle fusion. He said that you’re looking for the patient with a certain type of foot structure and arthritis pattern as well as someone who wants to remain active without doing a lot of what he calls pounding activities – running or jumping. It was essential that I have the flexibility in my ankle to operate the gear shift on my motorcycle.
In October 2014, my ankle was replaced with a Star Ankle Prosthesis, and I recovered very well. I was told that I was to put NO weight on the foot. Dr. Caronis would see me every week for a time, then two weeks. I was careful to brief him on my activities and he watched my x-rays carefully.
I’m currently serving as president of a Christian Motorcyclists Association chapter locally and thrilled about where my recovery process. In this leadership capacity, my wife and I have plans for travel on our motorcycle this summer. Today, six months after surgery, I have no pain. I walk on our treadmill and with my wife, wherever she directs.
I am truly amazed at the work of scientists to produce such a product as this, but am even more amazed that a man, Dr. Caronis, can so carefully cut, saw and drill so that I can walk again without pain.
I am so thankful that God put him in my life to do what he has done.