Mary Ellen’s story: Ankle replacement ‘best thing I ever did’

Friday, April 20, 2018

By: Femi Cole

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Mary Ellen Ellenbecker tries to live every day to the fullest.


Whether it’s feeding her chickens, snowmobiling, shopping, or playing with her grandchildren at her home in Oneida, she wants no moment to go to waste.


But because of unbearable ankle pain, she had to give all that up. Mary Ellen spent days sitting in her chair because it was too painful to walk.


She was learning to live with the pain, but after a convention in Kentucky, she knew she needed help.


“It just blew up. It was fire red and I could barely get through the day,” says Mary Ellen, who is in her early 70s. “I’d get back to the room and put ice on it, but I don’t know how I managed to get through those days. When we got home, that was the last straw. I went to my doctor and she referred me to Dr. DeVries.”


Jason George DeVries, DPM, is a fellowship-trained foot and ankle surgeon with Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic in Green Bay.


Mary Ellen was expecting DeVries to recommend therapy or to wear shoe inserts, but what he said shocked her.


He recommended a total ankle replacement. Mary Ellen didn’t know such an option existed.


“When he ran the X-rays, he floored me. He said the only thing I can see for this is a replacement,” she says.


With encouragement from family, Mary Ellen scheduled surgery for September 2017.


During surgery, her damaged ankle joint was replaced with an artificial implant. The minimally invasive surgery removes damaged cartilage and bone from the ankle.


She immediately noticed a difference.


“I was so relieved,” Mary Ellen says. “Dr. DeVries told me it’d be very painful, but I didn’t think so. It was less painful than my knee surgeries.”


Today, she’s back to doing things she loves. She took a trip to the Grand Canyon with her husband, something she’d been looking forward to.


“We walked the rim. We were just out there enjoying life,” she says. “There’s no way I could’ve done that if I wouldn’t have had anything done with my ankle.”


“Having my ankle done was probably the best thing I ever did. If they told me I needed the other one done, I’d go tomorrow,” she says.


Jason George DeVries, DPM, sees patients at Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic in Green Bay and in Manitowoc. To request an appointment, call 920-288-5555 in Green Bay or 920-682-6376 in Manitowoc or request one online.

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