Taking a walk, cooking a meal and going shopping for a new pair of shoes are normal, everyday activities that most people don’t think twice about.
For Heather, however, she wasn’t able to do any of these things until this year at age 54. Having been disabled since childhood, Heather lived a very limited life.
Since she was a child, Heather suffered from a condition called knock-kneed, in which her legs were angled toward each other so severely, that they weren’t just knocking together, they were behind each other. Her feet stuck out and she could barely walk.
“It was painful,” Heather recalled. “It was bad for my back. It led to people staring and laughing and pointing, and I wanted to stay home all the time.”
Heather spent much of her life at home. She shopped online and took up hobbies to help pass the time. She tried to seek help and learn about surgical options, but she was turned down. She was told that, because of her young age, she might be a candidate for surgery in 15 years.
“I didn’t really see that as possible,” Heather said. “Seeing as I was already living like a 90 year old, I was about to give up.”
By chance, Heather connected with an OSMS patient who referred her to Dr. Tressler, insisting that he might be able to help.
“I didn’t have a car at that point in time, so I just kind of blew it off thinking I would never get to Marinette to see him,” Heather said.
In 2019, Heather found support in her local church. Her friends encouraged her to make the appointment with Dr. Tressler, and they would make sure she could make it to her appointments.
Heather attended her first appointment with Dr. Tressler with good news: he would be able to perform surgery to replace her knees and straighten her legs.
Heather had both knees replaced three months apart. She has been attending physical therapy to learn how to use muscles that she has never used before.
“It’s been very easy,” Heather said. “I checked into the hospital, he replaced my knees, and away I went! Physical therapy has been very helpful, and without it, I wouldn’t be where I am.”
Heather says she is grateful for the team at OSMS and enjoys seeing Dr. Tressler and his nurse each time she comes for a follow-up appointment.
“To me, seeing the same people really makes the difference,” Heather said. “Getting to see the same faces that have started this journey with me, I enjoy that very much.”
Since her surgery, Heather has been enjoying things she hasn’t been able to do since she was young.
“I can walk, I can get up, I can stand up without pain,” Heather said. “I can cook in my kitchen instead of just heating things up. I can walk through a mall, buy cute shoes and not worry that people are staring at my crooked legs.”
In addition to these huge milestones, Heather insists that her new life is only just beginning.
“I can’t wait to take a walk around my neighborhood,” Heather said. “I want to do the Mackinac bridge walk in the fall, I want to walk in the ocean.”
Heather says she has found a new outlook on life and truly believes in miracles.
“If you are lucky enough and have a support team to back you up and to help you every step of the way, there’s nothing you can’t do,” Heather said. “And with the people here at OSMS, I’m finally going to get to live my dreams.”