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At 82 years old, some people wonder how I continue to play tennis. In the summer of 2014—and the years since—I have found that a good orthopaedic surgeon is like a good doubles partner: it takes skill, trust, and a common goal to get the victory.
One day in the summer of 2014, I was playing in my tennis league and ran backwards to get the ball, but instead, I fell. Immediately, I felt an intense pain in my right ankle, and I looked down and saw my foot was twisted around facing the wrong direction. An ambulance quickly arrived and took me to the Orthopaedic Hospital at Sentara CarePlex. Upon arrival, the staff took X-rays and determined I had fractured and dislocated my ankle. They put me in a cast and told me that Dr. Paul Maloof, the on-call surgeon, would be there shortly. When I found out he was also the region’s only full-time foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon and fellowship-trained (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) in complex and comprehensive foot and ankle care, I knew I was in good hands.
When Dr. Maloof arrived, he looked at the X-rays, and I heard him say, “Take the cast off her, I need to operate immediately.” This sense of urgency made me see that he knew the best approach. As we talked before surgery, he told me my fitness level would make recovery much easier and assured me he would have me walking without any pain again. This confidence made me feel comfortable in his care. When I asked him whether I would be able to play tennis again, he did not sugarcoat the situation. He said we would have to wait and look at that down the road. His honesty made me trust what he was telling me and gave me something to work for.
About six months after surgery, I was cleared to see how it felt to play tennis. As I started playing, I noticed pain in my big toe. Dr. Maloof took a look and saw that arthritis was making it painful and difficult to move around, so he removed the damaged and inflamed areas. After another six months of recovery and healing—one year in total since my fall—I was cleared to start playing tennis again. Ever since then I have been playing at the same pace I was before, without any pain! My ankle feels 100% better, and my life is restored.
Throughout this process, I have often been reminded of how thankful I am to have Dr. Maloof as my foot doctor. I have recommended him to many people and heard just as glowing of reports from them. Just like a great doubles partner, I am confident in his skills, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to get the ultimate victory: returning to the life and game I love!