Bad ankles yield good life lessons
Shayla Moffitt is a mother, wife and lifelong athlete. Running is this Kansas Citian’s sport of choice, and she describes it as therapeutic as well as a passion she shares with her husband and two children.
During her last long run before the March 2022 Liberty Hospital Half Marathon, Shayla stepped on a rock and turned her ankle. She didn’t think much of it at the time and figured the pain would subside. Shayla knew how to care for an injury, so she assumed she could rest and be good to go.
Several days passed, yet her ankle did not improve. Frustrated, Shayla met with a sports medicine physician who referred her to foot and ankle specialist Nathan Gause, MD, an MU Health Care surgeon who practices exclusively at Liberty Hospital Orthopaedics. An MRI confirmed the bad news: two torn ligaments and nerve damage. Nonetheless, Shayla thought she would soon return to running and set her sights on a shorter race in Boston in April.
However, when it became clear she could not pound the pavement as planned, Shayla turned to surgery to repair the damage. “Despite the disappointment of not returning to running when I had hoped, I was confident in the care I was receiving from Dr. Gause and Lia, his physician assistant.”
The rehabilitation of her left ankle went very well. So well, in fact, Shayla realized how problematic her right ankle was.
“After another MRI, Dr. Gause asked me to come in and discuss the future of my right ankle. It turns out the right ankle was in worse shape than the left. Dr. Gause and Lia were great, and they gave me time to process the news. I remember asking ‘what if I continue to run and do nothing?’ He gently shared that running was probably over for me. I was devastated.”
"At the end of the day I can still be active — I can cycle, swim and walk. I’m young, and I look forward to enjoying these activities with my kids as they grow.”
Shayla moved forward with her second ankle surgery in four months. While she no longer runs, she has learned a valuable lesson. “The longevity of my ankle health is what’s most important. I will miss the ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ time training with my husband. And as heartbreaking as it is, at the end of the day I can still be active — I can cycle, swim and walk. I’m young, and I look forward to enjoying these activities with my kids as they grow.”