22 May

There Is An Important New Man In My Life. Meet David Missener, Orthotist And The Maker Of My New Brace.

by Jon Katz

There is a new and essential man in my life; he has agreed to build a new brace for my stubborn and flat left foot. I’ll be writing about him a lot over the next few months.

First, I should make clear what he is. He is an Orthotist, a health care title I had never heard until this morning, even though David helped build a brace to help me keep my toe. It almost worked but failed through no fault of his. I just ran out of hope and felt I might run out of time.

But I wanted to introduce him here on the blog, which I do for all the important people in my life. And for those, I respect and admire. David fits easily into that mold. I told him I needed to take a portrait. He said sure.

An orthotist is a healthcare professional who makes and fits braces and splints (orthoses) for people who need added support for body parts that injury, disease, or disorders of the nerves, muscles, or bones have weakened. They work under a doctor’s orders to adapt purchased braces or create custom-designed braces.

I’m getting what they call an Ankle Foot Orthosis or AFO. It will be custom designed and built for me and my foot.

(Braces are often named for the body part they support.)

My left foot desperately needs support and has for years; Dr. Daly, the orthopedic surgeon who has worked with me for several years and who removed y big toe, enthusiastically embraces the idea of a brace to straighten out my food and support my walking, something I have always loved to do and sorely miss.

Fingers crossed,  the surgery went well, and the healing has gone on beautifully.

Maria and I went to meet with David this morning (he is an avid photographer and dog lover, we have much to talk about) and a skilled and experienced orthotist based in Albany and Saratoga. He is a partner in CPO Orthotics.

Getting the kind of brace I need is a complex process and will take time.

We have to get insurance approval for the mount. Today, he took several pictures of my foot; he will send them and his recommendations to Dr. Daly. She will send them to my insurance company with any modifications or comments and ask them to approve the new brace, which could cost several thousand dollars.

Since the state of my foot has changed – my big toe was amputated – that should be enough for the insurance company, although one never really knows.

Once the insurance company approves, if it does,  then David will call me in again for a fitting (I couldn’t have one today; there is still swelling around where my big toe used to be.

Swelling is natural after amputations. I still need to apply ice, keep my foot elevated, and wear compression socks for a while.

If he and Dr. Daly agree on the specific goals and structure of the brace, then David will make it himself after meetings and testing with me.

He wants this one to be different from the first one, which was created to save my toe; this brace will be made to support my foot so I can walk again in comfort. As I’m sure all people reading this know, that is very important to my health.

This is a new and critical chapter in my long effort to deal with the collapse of my left food. There will be measurements and corrections, and adjustments. I’m committed to this process, although I can’t do it if the insurance company says no. I believe they will approve.

I have great confidence in David. He is kind, empathetic, and passionate about the work he does. He is committed to helping me walk again healthily and comfortably. That is a minor, no significant miracle for me; I am full of hope, and I’m in good hands.

There are no guarantees in the orthotic world or elsewhere, and I don’t want to put too much onto David.  It may or may not work.

No one has figured out how to help me with this foot, but I feel we are close. I won’t quit or succumb to worry until I get where I want to be. I am so fortunate I have access to medical resources like this.

I wish it were possible for everyone.

I’m very excited that David may be doing this work; there is no one else I would rather have. It’s a big deal and a long and challenging process, hopefully, the final chapter – at least for a while – of the problems I have had for years with my left foot. Maria has been with me at every meeting with David and everyone with Dr. Daly.

I get the feeling that both of them are very happy she is present.

I’m looking forward to the new brace and will share the experience every step of the way.

I see Dr. Daly this Thursday so she can check up on the stump where the big toe used to be (it is hard for me even to write that and use that word). We’ll talk about the brace and take it from there. I’m fortunate to have this opportunity. Thanks for all of your support and good wishes, as always.

Here we go, another ride on the Ferris Wheel.

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