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Jim Y

“It has been nearly three months since I received my new ankle and Dr. Meineke and I are very happy with my recovery”

In May 1968, Bonsall, Calif. resident Jim was participating in a chariot race at college when a freak accident left him with a sprained left ankle. Having sprained his ankle a few times playing high school basketball, Jim expected a rapid recovery, however this sprain was more severe – four months passed before he felt close to fully recovered. However, the ankle was not bad enough to prevent his Navy commissioning upon graduation.

A few years later, Jim was in Korea as a member of the Navy SEALs for a military exercise. On an off day, he and his team decided to earn their Korean Jump Wings, which necessitated jumping out of a Korean aircraft. Ignoring the jumpmaster’s suggestion that they reschedule due to excessive wind, the SEALs pressed ahead and every jumper missed the target. Jim safely landed on his feet on the roof of a two story building, but before he could fully collapse the parachute, a large gust of wind sent Jim hurtling to the ground, where he incurred another serious sprain to his left ankle.

He eventually recovered from that harrowing experience, but Jim’s balky ankle never healed completely; it was weaker and looser than his right and occasionally became stiff and swollen. Like his previous injuries, it did not impact his ability to lead a very active life. In addition to his naval activities, which he performed in a number of different capacities, Jim participated in eight marathons and regularly ran 300 miles per month for several months to train for each of them. He also played on a rugby team.

However, with each passing year, Jim’s ankle became more problematic. By 2000, it had deteriorated to the point that he was forced to give up running. More than a dozen years later, when the calcium deposits and bone spurs in his ankle left him unable to climb hills, Jim knew it was time to take action. His orthopedic surgeon, who had performed several arthroscopic procedures to his right knee, agreed to perform an arthroscopy to remove a large floating object in the ankle in 2012. After a 50% recovery, the ankle deterioration continued and a hyalgen injection was performed. Again Jim experienced partial improvement followed by worsening of the ankle and discomfort. Finally, Jim’s orthopedic surgeon suggested performing an ankle fusion. Unwilling to undergo a procedure that would result in limited mobility, Jim sought alternatives. 

His wife suggested that he contact the practice where her orthopedist is located, which is how it came to be that Jim met Dr. Ryan Meineke at Scripps Health in Encinitas, Calif. in 2014. After reviewing x-rays and MRI’s, Dr. Meineke offered Jim four options – an ankle brace, a restrictive boot, a fusion or a total ankle replacement. One day later, Jim elected to receive a new ankle. On November 6, 2014, Jim became the first of Dr. Meineke’s patients to receive the INFINITY™ Total Ankle System from Wright Medical.

The INFINITY™ Total Ankle System is intended to be used to treat patients with ankle joints damaged by severe arthritis or a failed previous ankle surgery. The INFINITY™ Total Ankle System is intended to give patients limited mobility by reducing pain and restoring movement in the ankle.

Not everyone is a good candidate for the INFINITY™ Total Ankle System. Talk to your doctor to discuss your lifestyle and health to find out if surgery with the INFINITY™ Total Ankle System is a good option for you.

After returning home from the hospital, Jim used a scooter to help him get around, as Dr. Meineke mandated that he keep all weight off the ankle for at least one month. Following that, he transitioned to a walker and then to a cane as he began to gain mobility and was able to put weight on his left leg. By mid-January 2015, just ten weeks after the surgery, he was able to walk without assistance.

“It has been nearly three months since I received my new ankle and Dr. Meineke and I are very happy with my recovery,” said Jim. “I still have some lingering stiffness associated with the surgery, but the pain that I lived with for the better part of four decades is gone.”

Many factors contribute to the length of hospital stay and rehabilitation. These factors include, but are not limited to, your age and health at the time of surgery as well as your surgeon’s determination of the appropriate hospital stay and rehabilitation. Additionally, there are risks associated with ankle replacement surgery such as pain and bruising, damage to blood vessels or nerves, infection, or blood clots that can travel to your heart or lungs. If you experience these complications, your hospital stay may be extended.

Jim has already begun to resume his active lifestyle. He walks at least twice a week for more than an hour and the long hills cause him no discomfort. He plays at least two rounds of golf per week and can walk straight up the hills to elevated greens that he used to traverse. In the week preceding his 6 month follow-up with Dr. Meineke, Jim played four rounds of golf and hit 300 balls in one practice. His latest accomplishment is trotting down stairs that he formerly limped down.

“I feel more strongly each day that I made the right decision. I am seeing significant improvement on a daily basis and can already do things today that I couldn’t do before the surgery. For instance, being able to walk up a hill on the golf course is a very big deal for me,” said Jim. “This is just getting started and I expect to make further significant strides in the months ahead. I love my new ankle.”

These results are specific to this individual only. Individual results and activity levels after surgery vary and depend on many factors including age, weight and prior activity level. There are risks and recovery times associated with surgery and there are certain individuals who should not undergo surgery.