OAA Patient Ambassador: Meet Faith

March 01, 2018

Meet Faith – a Bangor resident who enjoys cooking, baking, and sewing in her free time. Faith’s Patient Ambassador story is unique, as it began over seventeen years ago. Back in 2000, Faith fell on black ice and thought she sprained her ankle. She iced her ankle and slowly found the pain to decrease. After three years of work and other daily activities, Faith found herself in front of an orthopaedic surgeon who informed Faith that not only did she break her ankle three years earlier, but it also healed itself incorrectly. He recommended surgery and wanted Faith to think about it.
“I still continued to work and decided not to have the surgery until I really couldn’t stand the pain anymore. Thirteen years later, the pain got really bad and I began to stop doing things that I loved to do because I was in severe pain every time I put weight on my ankle,” Faith shared.
Flash forward to 2016 and Faith sought out care from Dr. Dean Sorrento of OAA’s Foot and Ankle Surgery Institute after a recommendation from her son-in-law. “I had my first appointment with Dr. Sorrento in late summer of 2016, and I expected Dr. Sorrento to reprimand me for waiting so long to decide on surgical intervention. Instead, he pored over my x-rays for what seemed like forever and then turned to me and said, ‘I think I can help you.’ I was skeptical; how could anyone help me after I waited for 17 years to do something about my situation,” Faith remembered.  “Dr. Sorrento explained to me that he needed to fuse my subtalar joint, and estimated that the operation would provide me with about 30% less pain. I said, ‘sign me up’ and the rest is history.”
Dr. Sorrento is board certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and holds advanced Headshot of Dr. Sorrento.certifications in foot surgery, as well as reconstructive rearfoot and ankle surgery. When asked about Faith’s treatment plan, Dr. Sorrento shared, “I told Faith that she would not need to have her ankle fused or replaced. After x-rays and a CT scan, we learned that the joint below her ankle, the subtalar joint, was worse. While her ankle did have some arthritis, it was salvageable by removing large bone spurs in front of the ankle to improve her range of motion. We discussed that the ankle might require a more aggressive procedure down the road, but by fusing the more damaged joint and removing bone spurs, we were able to preserve the ankle, improve function, and reduce her pain.”
Faith had her surgery on January 5, 2017, and knew it would require some significant recovery time and devotion to physical therapy. After surgery, Faith was placed in a cast and used a scooter to get around, as she had to be completely non-weightbearing. “When the cast came off, I went into a boot, and eventually got rid of the scooter and only used a walker. Physical therapy started when I was allowed to bear some weight, and I went three times a week for two and a half months. I enjoyed going to physical therapy because I got to go outside and breathe in the cold winter air and get some sunshine on my achy bones. At this point, I still had a lot of pain and I was wondering to myself if this might have been a waste. After using a scooter for quite some time, I transitioned to a brace and walker. By May, I was just using a cane, and by the end of June, I was walking without the cane,” Faith remembered.
Despite the long recovery and limitations, Faith is very happy with her surgical results. “Five months aftersurgery, I was at about 80% less pain. Today, I have about 95% less pain, which is way more than I ever thought was possible. The way I feel right now, I really don’t expect I’ll ever need an ankle replacement!”
When asked what advice she would share with someone in a situation similar to hers, Faith shared, “I would like to encourage anyone with protracted foot and ankle pain, not to put off a surgical consultation like I did. I wish I would have found a doctor like Dr. Sorrento many years ago because I feel like I lost a big chunk of my life by putting up with severe pain for all those years.”
As for Faith’s future plans, she plans on using and appreciating what seems to be a new lease on life. Before her surgery, she had to forgo shopping and other activities she enjoys. Now, Faith is finding herself at the mall, cooking and baking without having to kneel on a chair, and going to her grandson’s soccer games. “My husband of 52 years and I also plan on going to some oldies dances when the weather gets nice again, and maybe even dance a few slow dances,” Faith shared.
Do you or a loved one have a similar story?  Share your story with us, and you could be next month's patient ambassador!