Rachel Russell

Birmingham, AL

Conditions + Treatments

Medical Icon Broken Ankle

On September 19, 2012 at about 1:45 PM, I experienced a terrible fall at home from an elevated wood platform. My ankle hit the side of the platform and immediately broke in several places. Ligaments were detached. After calling my husband and being taken to the ER at St Vincent's, my son and daughter in law helped connect me to Andrews Sports Medicine and specifically Dr. Waldrop. He had just arrived at the practice and specialized in foot and ankle surgery.

Dr. Waldrop determined surgery was immediately required to straighten my foot and ensure good circulation. He and his assistant Tina arranged for the operating room and worked very late that evening to take care of me. In a few days, I was to come back for more surgery to install the necessary hardware (screws, plates, etc). When my husband brought me back, Dr. Waldrop talked with me more and knew that I enjoyed hiking, traveling, and golfing. He determined that a "halo" was needed to help reduce the severe swelling before the hardware could be installed and deliver a desirable outcome. My second surgery installed a halo apparatus to secure the bone alignment. It would take time for my body to reduce the ankle and foot swelling. Constant elevation, rest, and ice were the prescribed methods to reduce the swelling. About 2 weeks after the break, Dr. Waldrop performed the third and final surgery to install the needed hardware. I know each one of these surgeries was essential to provide me the opportunity to recover to the fullest extent possible.

Over the next several weeks, I was in a cast and on a walker. My family and friends were so kind and helpful to me every day. Our daughter came home from college to help organize my clothes and brought me books and crossword puzzles. In late November, Dr. Waldrop removed the final cast and put me in a boot. I was thrilled! When I left Andrews in a boot and on crutches, I knew the ball was in my court to start therapy.

We drove immediately to fill out the papers so I could begin physical therapy as soon as possible. The therapist taught me the exercises that could make me stronger. I performed those exercises every day at least once and often 2-3 times per day. There were many people praying for my recovery. I had complete confidence in Dr. Waldrop as well as in my physical therapist. I believed that although my injury had been really severe, recovery was attainable over time. While I wanted to be completely well immediately, a reasonable rate of improvement was only 1-2% better per day once PT began in late November. The general physical therapy continued until early March 2013. Even after I was dismissed from going to the physical therapist, I still performed the exercises daily. This was key to my recovery.

Over time, the stiffness lessened and my walking increased week by week. By fall 2013, I was able to do some sustained hiking, traveling, and golfing. Since my surgery, I've hiked in the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, North Georgia Mountains, Lake Martin, Cheaha, Red Mountain, Oak Mountain, and participated in numerous 5-10K's. I've traveled to Europe, Jackson Hole, Key West, New York, Boston, Bar Harbor, and Nova Scotia. And, I've played many rounds of golf often carrying my clubs and walking the course. I'm so grateful for my healing and recovery.

I have no sports jersey to display like the many I saw while I was a patient at Andrews. I'm just a wife, mom, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, and cousin, etc. Andrews was instrumental in helping me remain active. I thank God, Andrews Sports Medicine, and my family and friends for my amazing recovery!

UPDATE: September 19, 2016

Today is the 4th anniversary of my meeting my fabulously talented friends at Andrews Sports Medicine. Since today is the actual "anniversary" of my injury, I recently did something special to commemorate it.

Below you will see a picture of my celebration. My husband, two of our friends, and I hiked 20 miles in the north Georgia mountains. We are sitting on top of Springer Mountain, which is the official southern starting point for the Appalachian Trail. Trust me - there are lots of hills and rocks to climb to get there - let alone go further down the trail toward Maine.

A heartfelt thanks to Dr. Norman Waldrop for his time, talents, & encouragement to help with my comeback! I would never have seen this spot without Dr. Waldrop and Tina!

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Norman E. Waldrop, III, MD
Norman E. Waldrop, III, MD View Bio