ORA Podiatrist “Best in Show” says Patient Who Raises Champions
Sixty-five year old Cindy VanLandegen, Rock Island, IL, is back on the circuit with her Staffordshire Bull Terriers after painful foot conditions in both feet threatened to sideline her passion for sharing her dogs with people in and out of the show ring.
“My husband and I have been showing dogs for more than 30 years, and yes, they do keep us on our toes,” laughs Cindy, a retired Scott County probation officer, whose love for dogs knows no bounds. “We have fostered, trained, showed, and raised therapy dogs for years.
“We travel all over the Midwest and compete on most weekends. Maya is an AKC grand champion, and her daughter, Dottie, is an AKC Bronze Grand Champion. Penny is the youngest and also an AKC Bronze Grand Champion. Allie is three points away from her AKC Championship, so there was just no way I was going to quit, no matter how much pain I had to endure.
“It takes hundreds of hours of training and shows to raise a champion and many showers have foot problems. I’ve been on my feet for three decades, and it’s a lot of wear and tear until finally my feet needed some real attention,” Cindy recalls. “I had begun to experience pain in both feet at the same time, and running around the ring was terribly painful. Yes, the show had to go on, but it really took its toll.”
Severe Foot Pain Impacted Cindy’s Quality of Life
Showing dogs is rigorous. Not only are the handlers constantly upright throughout the entire competition, but it takes real skill to show in the ring. “You hold the leash in your left hand while the dog runs in front of you, so you really have to be deft and light on your feet in order not to run into your dog, A judge can request you run back and forth, around in circles, or even diagonally to get a good look from every angle. When I’m finished, I’m sweating because it really is a workout!”
Cindy’s foot pain was growing intolerable; she knew she needed to see a specialist. A friend referred her to ORA Podiatrist, Dr. Anthony Chesser. Over the course of a year, Cindy underwent two procedures: the first, to remove a neuroma on her left foot, and the second, to straighten a hammertoe on her right.
“A neuroma is an inflammation of the nerve that’s in the foot,” explains Dr. Chesser. “There are several nerves that run between the toes and any one of them can become inflamed. Most people don’t feel a bump, but they feel like they are walking on a pebble or as if their sock feels bunched up in their shoes. Patients also report a sensation on the ball of the foot, and when they take their shoes off, that pain can go away.
“Cindy’s neuroma did not get better with conservative care such as shoe inserts and injections, so we explored surgical options. The procedure is called a ‘Neuroma Removal.’ It’s an outpatient procedure while the patient is under light sedation. Most patients are walking the same day. She did very well and her swelling subsided in less than two months. She’s doing phenomenally well.”
Allie and Penny are the only “dogs barking” following Cindy’s successful foot surgery!
A year later, it was time to correct the painful hammertoe on her right foot. “Hammertoe describes the condition where a toe is crooked or bent — basically a change in the structure of the toe in any direction. Cindy’s was at the front joint of her second toe. The goal is to reduce pain to straighten it.
“The procedure is called a ‘Hammertoe Correction.’ We shaved down the joint space and stabilized the bone with a pin. Within a few weeks we removed the pin and her toe was straight. She was able to wear tennis shoes and resume normal activity.”
Normal activity for Cindy involves managing four sets of paws that are constantly on the move. “We walk dogs every day, and before the procedure it was incredibly painful. At my last x-ray, I told Dr. Chesser he had no idea how much better it felt to walk and not have pain. You don’t appreciate your feet until you have pain, because it just affects whatever you do.”
As for her treatment and care under Dr. Chesser, he is “Best in Show” in her book. “I just think he’s wonderful. He sat down and said, ‘Talk to me.’ I felt so appreciated.
“Doctors can be intimidating, but he put me at ease. He was genuinely curious and wanted to see pictures of my dogs. He’s always upbeat and he explains everything so you know exactly how things will go. I’ve been very happy with both my procedures and have told several of my kennel club friends to see Dr. Chesser if they want to be their best inside or outside the ring.”