An Extra Special Dance to Remember; Peggy's Story

August 2, 2021
Peggy dancing with her son at his wedding
Peggy dancing with her son at his wedding.

Peggy was diagnosed with right hemiplegic cerebral palsy at birth. In the late 1960s, she had surgery at the now NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital for an Achilles tendon release and ended up staying in the hospital for a week. “These were some of my first memories of my CP Journey,” said Peggy. Growing up she wore a brace at night and didn’t have many issues with her CP besides pain in her leg or foot. She went to college, law school, got married and had 3 children.  

“I pretended I was normal all the way through my life, when I grew up there were no accommodations for people with CP you had to pretend like it was nothing. I am 57 now, and ended up hurting my knee in my good leg and couldn’t walk well. I started getting physical therapy and went to meet with a local orthopedist. Once he heard I had CP, he took a step back and wanted me to see a Physical Therapist (PT) before he could operate on my leg. But when I went to see a PT, they wanted me to get braced by an orthopedist first, it was all so confusing. I knew I had to find another answer.” 

Peggy found the Weinberg Family CP Center online and made an appointment with Dr. Paulo Selber. By this time Peggy’s lower right ankle was immovable. “I tried braces, botox, PT, and nothing was helping. I couldn’t put it together. I have been trying for years to figure out what’s been going on but when I met Dr. Selber he started speaking my language. I told Dr. Selber I wanted to dance without limping at my son’s wedding, which was 8 months away, and he said he would help me make that happen.” 

Peggy had a gastrocnemius recession surgery done by Dr. Selber in November of 2020. This procedure lengthens the muscles and tendons in the back of the leg and allows the heel to shift down.

I had movement that I had never had before, and my heel touched the floor for the first time in 50 years.

Post-surgery next steps were to fix Peggy’s knees. “Dr. Selber connected me with Dr. Roshan Shah at Columbia and they worked together to make sure my left knee was done correctly and then got my right knee done as well, a few months later. Since my right side is weak, my left side kept me going, but I was in so much pain and I used that side too much over the years, that it wore down. I was scared to have an operation on both knees but needed to do something.” Peggy had a left knee replacement in January 2021 and then a right knee replacement in the spring of 2021, just a few months before her son’s wedding. 

“After all of my surgeries, I was successfully able to walk and dance with my son at his wedding. I was able to walk without a walker, cane or without any help besides my orthopedic shoes. I had people at the wedding come up to me and say, “I have never seen you walk so well, you are walking so great, etc.” and this was only a couple weeks after my surgeries.”

Dr. Selber was speaking my language for the first time ever, regular orthopedists don’t take into account my CP or the spasticity of my muscles. I don’t rehab like other adults; most people graduate from PT and I am still there. Dr. Selber was generous with his time, so nice, and actually understood my CP. I would recommend the CP Center to any adult out there with CP.

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