By Alyson Augustin
It's been a year and three months since I first met with Dr. Leavitt to seek out information. I knew I had a problem given that the bunion on my right foot seemed to stretch the width of Kansas and my well-developed hammertoe looked like it was in perpetual prayer with my middle toe. We talked several times. The prospect of the surgery and recovery time was daunting, unimaginable at first, given that I am a single mother working full-time - with an hour commute to school and work for both myself and my son. Dr. Leavitt didn't sugarcoat a thing but explained exactly what was involved. Three to four months on crutches! Then one rainy night, walking my dog, I stumbled and dislocated my middle toe. That soon led to distortion, soreness, a bad rash inside my pinky toe. The strain on my foot became unbearable and I could hardly walk. The only shoes I was able to wear were old cowboy boots with torn leather on the sides, loose enough not to add any pressure.
As a dancer, a cyclist and very busy person (who happens to love shoes) I was in despair. I was in pain all the time. Dr. Leavitt came straight to my rescue. Studying my foot and then my x-ray in silence for about six minutes, he suddenly turned and said "I've got a plan," and yes, he really did. After a four hour surgery, I had two simple screws and four rods in my foot. That was over a year ago. Now, what a difference! I can rise on demi-pointe, extend my toes to trace a dime, cycle for miles and marvel that I have regained the strength and flexibility I had twenty years ago. I can walk at a clip and as a bonus ... every pair of boots, heels and sandals I own fit my foot far better than when I bought them.
I know that Dr. Leavitt's approach to post-op care was also essential to my successful outcome and if I were to give any counsel to prospective patients it would be to follow his instructions to the letter. "Take care of my work," were his wise words to me when I woke up after the surgery, and I did to the best of my ability. That meant precisely following medications, learning to walk on crutches in advance, securing key equipment like a scooter and shower chair, treating my foot like glass for weeks, having home, work and family supports, and being very, very patient with the process. Dr. Leavitt was always available as I needed him, always empathetic and carefully reviewed my progress at every stage. I felt completely well cared for from our first meeting to our last, when I shed the black velcro walking shoe and finally donned my old friend the sneaker. I couldn't be more grateful to this extraordinary surgeon for giving me my life back.
VP-Government Relations, City Year