Another femoral frame
Mike Donahue

A shot of Mike's leg & frame Hi Slim,

I will keep you informed as to what, if anything happens with the newsletter/web page idea. I will talk more with my doc' when I see him in a few weeks to get my cage removed -- woohoo!!! I'll know more then.

*As for my story, here it goes:

My hip/leg issues all are the direct result of an accident I sustained my Sen. yr. in college (87). I was 1 month prior to graduating at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Sps, CO.
I have no recollection of my accident, but my friends filled me in on the details. Basically, I went through a picture window that was later found "to be weak," and fell 3 stories. I shattered my pelvis, along with other broken bones. They rebuilt my pelvis with plates and screws.

Well, I developed AVN, and was able to get my first hip replacement in May 89. This enabled me to get more active and live my life the way in which I wanted to. As luck would have it, I had an incident at the facility in which I was employed -- a patient kicked me right in the right spot and the wrong time. I fractured my greater trochanter (sp) (Aug 93). This ultimately resulted in my first hip "failing" quicker.

I was able to get my second hip in May 94. They used cadaver (sp) bone this time, which was held in place by wires. My doc told me then that he intended upon removing the wires after I healed approximately a year later. This surgery was scheduled during the springtime also, and went without occurrence.

My hip required a dressing for some time, but it never really healed adequately. They discovered that I had contracted a staph infection when I came down with flu-like symptoms a few weeks after this surgery.
I had more surgeries and even had long term IV antibiotics, but they didn't work. I ultimately had to have my hip removed in Aug 95 -- and left out until Jan 97.
When they removed my hip, they also removed a small section of my femur, so, when I got my latest hip reimplantation, my leg was a few inches shorter.
I got on with my life, was working, and was trying to have fun. I started to experience aching in my back when I would remove my shoes after coming home from work, and walk around.
During a scheduled checkup visit with my hip surgeon, I basically asked him what my options were to deal with my back. He presented a few options, and I chose to be referred to Dr. John Sontich from MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, OH (USA), to discuss limb lengthening.
In looking back, I readily admit that I was not prepared at all for what the Ilizarov "cage" experience had in store for me. I was simply opting to save my back from a future operation.

Once all the paperwork was taken care of, I had Ilizarov surgery in May 99. (I really wasn't prepared for the level of pain/discomfort that would follow, simply because I thought [-- my first mistake, that hip replacement surgery would be harder? I was].
I got discharged 2 days after my surgery -- and I didn't want to leave. The discomfort that I experienced when bearing weight on my leg was more than any of my previous hip replacements.
Because of my hip replacement, I was placed on antibiotics to prevent an infection. After a few weeks, I started trying to do therapy (it was kindof a joke trying to get my knee to bend).
I was again hospitalized in Jul due to infection. They had to redo my bottom pin sites, and they switched my antibiotic. I continued turning my knobs until the end of Aug 99. I was able to get just over 3 inches of added length.
It was during the summer months that I discovered your web site Slim. As I had stated previously, I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. Through your site, I actually was able to talk with another femoral fixator patient (Jan). Her story and advice was incredibly helpful to me.

During Jul 99, I began to exercise a little with weightlifting. Believe me when I say a little. The medical staff, and Jan, told me to do as much as possible while my cage was on. I kept at it, and I did notice some relief after I stopped turning my screws.
I still experienced muscle spasms in my left thigh, and I had a number of "restless sleep," or "little sleep"- less nights.
I began to walk around the house as much as I could...unassisted. I had a number of not-so-good days, and even some bad days. I had days in which I felt depressed, and even days in which I asked myself what had I done?
I am presently a few weeks prior to removal of my fixator. It won't happen soon enough, but it will happen.
I still have pin sites that bother me and hurt. But it's much better than it was when I was turning my knobs. I still don't sleep very well, but I can live with it :).
For me, the opportunity to have Ilizarov surgery was a blessing that would greatly improve my life. I honestly didn't think that it would hurt as much as a hip replacement...boy, was I wrong!

I am excited to get on with my life...and have some good, clean fun.

If anyone has a question, don't hesitate to give me a call.

Mike Donahue
North Olmsted, OH
(440) 235 -4836

That's my rough draft of my story Slim. Feel free to make any edits that you see fit.
I should be hearing from my doc' soon. I am going to talk with him about the Ilizarov newsletter...I will keep you informed as to what comes of this :).


Thanks for your story Mike. I look forward to receiving your updates as they happen. Good luck and keep on with the healing

Update Feb 2000

Hi Slim,
Thanks for your letter. I am glad to hear that your ankle is freeing up a bit.
I met with my doctor last Wednesday. He was swamped as usual that day. He did say that he wants to get a web page, and he said he wants to talk about the newsletter idea!
I see him again in 5 weeks. In the meantime I am still trying to get organized. I'd love to involved you in any way.
I am starting from scratch, and have never done this sort of thing before.
I am making some progress in getting my knee to bend -- but it's never fast enough for me :).
My basic idea with this newsletter to have it from a wearer's perspective -- like me or you or whomever...
Being as this is a fairly specialized surgical technique, and I found very few sites...other than yours...this makes me think that this idea could work.
All in all, things are going well...I have never been a very patient person...and I want my full function (in my knee) It'll just take some time :).
Take care Slim (would you prefer Dale?)...and please let me know when you get your fixator removed...


PS -- If you have any ideas about the website and/or the newsletter...I'd greatly appreciate your help :-)

If anyone has any ideas, scheme etc for Mike's newsletter idea please drop him a line at the above address
or via e-mail Mike Donahue

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