Tina's Long Road to Recovery
By: Rebecca Howard
Tina Fitzgerald used to be a medtech. But in 2013, one of her patients accidentally parked an electric wheelchair on top of her right foot. It took 6 people to finally remove the chair. Her foot had been completely crushed. Her active, outdoorsy lifestyle came to a screeching halt. She found a doctor who performed and failed 2 foot surgeries. She was left unable to work, with daily pain and a foot that hardly functioned.
Fast-forward to Christmas day, 2016. Tina and her husband were heading into a friend’s house to celebrate, when Tina slipped on some black ice. She fell hard on her left hip and hit her head on the side of the house. She woke up a few moments later in terrible, nauseating pain. But it was Christmas and she was embarrassed about the fall, so she decided to just keep the pain to herself.
Days went by and the pain didn’t improve. She thought maybe it was her bulging disk acting up. She took ibuprofen, but nothing helped. No matter what she did, it felt like she was being stabbed in the groin. She couldn’t walk up stairs, she couldn’t get into a car, she couldn’t dress herself, she couldn’t push her handicapped dog in his stroller. Going anywhere was excruciating. It even hurt to lie down. She was used to limitations because of her foot, but this was beyond anything she had experienced. 6 months went by and she kept hoping for relief, but the pain was actually getting worse. She needed answers. Now.
She went into her spine doctor, who gave her a spine injection, but it didn’t help. One day, she thought maybe a bath would bring some relief. But when she couldn’t get out by herself, she told her husband she had to go see a pain manager right away. The doctor did an X-ray of her back and ordered an MRI. The MRI came back normal, but Tina and her husband knew with absolute surety that something was wrong. They kept trying to find someone to help, but no one would listen.
One day when she stood on her tip toes to put a coffee mug on the top shelf, she felt a distinct and painful separation in her hip. Her foot felt like it was 100 lbs. That was the last straw. She went to ER, but they wouldn’t do another MRI since her last one had been normal. Tina and her husband were beyond frustrated. They were desperate for answers and a reprieve from the constant pain. Her spine doctor agreed to order another MRI, this one for her leg instead of her back. They weren’t even home before they received a phone call that she had a fracture in the neck of her femur.
Tina’s husband had been seeing Dr. Tadje for some issues with his shoulder, and really liked him. He called to find out if Dr. Tadje treated femur fractures. They found out he does! Happy day! They talked to Teia, the office manager, and told her their situation. She consulted Dr. Tadje, and he agreed to perform surgery for Tina the next morning. Finally, someone who would listen and agree to help! At that point, she had been coping with her fractured hip for 9 months.
Tina met Dr. Tadje the next morning before the surgery. Because of the 2 failed foot surgeries in her past, she was terrified of a bad outcome. Dr. Tadje reassured her that he had spent time the night before researching the best method to treat her fracture. She was within inches of needing a full hip replacement, but since she had a small portion of bone still intact on one side, he would be able to attach some screws so her natural bone could heal. And best of all, he was able to find a way to make her hip immediately weight bearing. She had been expecting to be confined to a wheelchair for 6 months, so this was very good news.
When she woke up after the surgery, she was surprised and excited to find that the pain was gone! No more stabbing. After one night in the hospital and some training from a physical therapist, she was up and moving with her walker. It was a miracle! A complete turnaround within a day! Now, a few months later, her limitations from this injury are non-existent, and her quality of life is markedly better. She only wishes she would have known about her “rockstar,” Dr. Tadje, for her foot surgeries. Dr. Tadje has given Tina her life back, and she’s excited to live it to the fullest.