From Walker to Waltzing

January 30, 2014

Gene Richey has been active all his life. His free time has revolved around baseball, dancing, camping, fishing, trips to the casino and playing with young relatives. But at 76, Gene’s active life-style had taken a turn that he thought was irreversible.

Gene began volunteering with Mercy Hospital Auxiliary in October 2012. The work was rewarding and as a Fort Scott native, he enjoyed seeing many friends from years past. But by November, Gene was feeling a terrible pain down the side of his right leg. Within a few months, the pain became so severe that he needed a walker, and he thought he would have to hang up his volunteer hat and many other things that he enjoyed.

“I thought I was through with life,” Gene said. “I began to wonder how much longer I would last.”

“The pain was unbearable. My ankle and toes would swell, and I would need to ice my knee every night.”

“I began searching for solutions and drove many miles to other places hoping for a cure,” he added. “I had heard that a new pain management doctor was visiting Fort Scott when I volunteered at Mercy Medical Plaza. The staff there worked with me to get an appointment with Dr. Tonkin. I thought, ‘maybe this is finally the answer.’”

Gene explained, “I was in so much pain by the appointment date that I used the hospital wheelchair to get to the clinic.”

“During my first appointment with Dr. Tonkin, I rated my pain level at 10 out of 10. He told me I would likely need a series of three shots to alleviate the pain. He was able to give me the first shot that afternoon and by the time I left the office, my pain level had decreased to five.”

Twenty days later Gene returned for his second injection.

“Since the second shot I have been totally pain free,” he shared. “I haven’t needed the third one, nor do I intend to slow down enough to get it!”

“I’m back to dancing, doing yard work and camping. My whole attitude on life has changed. I’m going to make the most of every day.”

Although Gene’s leg muscles had atrophied during his set back, his muscle tone and strength is returning quickly.

“I can honestly say I feel 100 percent again.”

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