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March 7, 2012

Chris D.

Seven months after Chris D. (pictured) had his left leg amputated, he is walking without a limp. Not only that, but he’s waterskiing and bicycling with his new prosthetic leg. “I rode my touring bike 50 miles this weekend,” he said.With the help of J. Chris Coetzee, M.D. Mb ChB of Twin Cities Orthopedics Edina and a lot of hard work, Chris said he is feeling great and plans on continuing to increase his level of physical activity. Chris said:”I struggled through life with significant to severe pain in my left foot and ankle due to a traumatic accident in 1992. In December 2010 – more than 18 years later – I decided to amputate my leg below the knee. I have complete medical coverage through the VA as a disabled veteran, but I would have no other surgeon perform such a life changing procedure than Dr. Chris Coetzee.I have been a patient of Chris Coetzee for almost 10 years and through three surgeries to correct problems with my left foot and ankle (including the most recent amputation). I’ve rarely met a physician – with such a busy practice – that has been so personally interested and completely involved in getting to know me as a person, my lifestyle and personal goals, and even my family so as to integrate all of my personal character traits, abilities, support systems, and individual goals into my treatment plan. Long before my decision to amputate, Chris Coetzee and Twin Cities Orthopedics dramatically increased my quality of life and physical ability through his careful listening, preparation, surgical skill, and careful follow-up. When my foot and ankle had finally completely deteriorated, more surgeries seemed like just another way to buy short chunks of time. For a more permanent solution, I wanted to talk about amputation as an option. But I had no idea what to expect. I was terrified to think about amputation, but so challenged in daily life I didn’t know how to keep going.Chris Coetzee was more like my friend than my doctor as we talked about the procedure, options, and rehabilitation. He got deeply and personally involved in the decision, and included my wife in the conversations as he has gotten to know her through the years. Chris never hesitated to answer even the most direct questions – was honest and positive, yet realistic – and was completely confident on his ability to achieve a successful result. That quiet confidence and personal investment in me as a person made all the difference as I made the final decision and was finally wheeled into the surgical suite. Chris was never too busy to talk to me as the procedure loomed and my nervousness increased. He even corresponded with me through E-mail regularly before – and after – my procedure. Everything we spoke about from recovery estimates to quality of life has come true. I was ready to leave the hospital 24 hours after my amputation. Amazing! Although at a desk, I was back to work 10 days after my procedure, fitted for my first prosthetic in just under 3 months, and hiking, mountain biking around 6 months post procedure – and waterskiing just after 7 months!. My rehabilitation and prosthetics teams have always been amazed at the quality and health of my residual limb and the speed of recovery and engagement back into an active lifestyle. I’ve been “sitting on the bench” for most of the last 18 years. Thanks to Dr. Coetzee, I am back in the game.The most impressive comment I have to recommend Dr. Chris Coetzee and the Twin Cities Orthopedics team is this; most people don’t know I’m an amputee unless I’m wearing shorts, or I tell them. I’ve met dozens of people that react with complete surprise – and sometimes shock – when they realize I’m an amputee. The most common comments are ‘I would never have known you were an amputee by seeing you walk and move around.’ Or, ‘You walk and move around just like a normal person!’ Thanks to Chris Coetzee, I can (and do) reply,  ‘Thank you. I am a normal person.'”