Hello there! Thanks for stopping by. I’m Jen, a 40-something mom, writer, and public relations professional in Seattle who has lived with a congenital feet and hip deformity my whole life. I’ve had braces, casts, surgeries, canes, crutches, orthotics and post-surgical boots to try to keep my feet going, but, alas, by my mid-40s it became apparent the pain would only continue to increase and it wouldn’t be long before I was wheelchair bound. This is my story of finding another solution.
I was born in the early 1970s in a rural Southwest town with severe bilateral clubfoot (congenital talipes equinovarus) and hip dysplasia. The doctors told my parents I’d never walk, and most likely would have other disabilities such as learning, hearing and growth limitations. Luckily, the doctors were wrong on all accounts.
I underwent casting and braces, even wearing braces to bed, the first several years of my life. In my early 30s, the right hip was replaced and for the first time in my life I had full hip motion and no hip pain. However, my feet have always hurt and I was forever falling due to bad balance. When I was 8, my doctor conducted a triple arthrodesis on both feet (fusing the three main joints in the hindfoot – the subtalar, calcaneocuboid and talonavicular joints). After six months of casts and doing a good percent of the 3rd grade from the living room couch, I learned how to walk again.
Throughout my 20s and 30s, the pain increased and what I could do decreased. Walking distances, walking on uneven ground, and even standing for more than a few minutes became excruciating. In 2015, I had surgery to remove bone spurs. Pain actually increased as a result and I felt I was staring down the last few years of using my feet.
Then my surgical and physical therapy team at Harborview Medical Center’s Foot & Ankle Clinic recommended the ExoSym. A cross between an orthotic and a prosthetic, designed by Prosthetist Ryan Blanck of the Hanger Clinic as an alternative to amputation for people with foot injuries or deformities, the device offloads the weight from the foot, transferring energy through its strut system, doing the work of standing, walking, running, climbing, what have you, for you.
This is my story of taking the leap to go bionic with the ExoSym devices and taking back my quality of life. Sometimes we can be our own obstacles. I started this site as a way to share and encourage others. Whether you’re a Clubbie yourself or are overcoming your own challenges, I hope sharing my story will encourage you to never stop trying and keep up the fight for a better quality of life for yourself.
Thank you for following along on the journey!