‘The heaviness of my heart was gone’: Williston woman able to walk again with no pain 9 years after injury

Local News

After many years of dealing with unbearable pain, a Williston woman finally got the help she was looking for.

Gail McElroy said, “I don’t know what was going through my mind it just happened so quickly. I didn’t have time to think.”

McElroy is describing the day her whole world was flipped upside down.

“It’s really a blur, the first week,” she said.

In 2013, McElroy was on a two-story roof in Louisiana helping a friend with a home repair when a sudden slip the wrong way knocked her off the roof.

“When I fell off, luckily I landed on my feet, but I knew I was hurt. And so it was a Sunday morning and when the call went out on 911 there just happened to be a paramedic in church right up the street from where I was,” she said.

Just a short time later, she was life-flighted to a nearby trauma center.

“I knew I broke my feet without even looking. I was actually afraid to look down because the pain was excruciating and it wasn’t just in my feet. It went up my legs and I actually broke my back in four places as well,” McElroy said.

She says in no time, her back was repaired, but because of how badly damaged her feet were doctors suggested she wait six months to have surgery.

“I couldn’t drive of course. I couldn’t take care of my property, anything. It was the most depressing time of my life,” McElroy said.

She eventually had two major surgeries just a month and a half apart, but what was supposed to fix her feet, she says, only made it worse.

“I healed up fine. It’s just after I healed and started physical therapy the pain was just excruciating. I could barely even stand for 30 seconds it was so painful,” she said.

In 2016, McElroy moved to North Dakota where she was forced to make a gut-wrenching decision.

“The physical therapist sent me to the doctor in Williston, an orthopedic, to see why it was causing pain and that doctor X-rayed both ankles and he said that I had such severe damage and that I would never walk without debilitating pain and that he would recommend that I would have both feet amputated,” McElroy said.

McElroy refused to take this sitting down.

After exploring her options, she came upon Dr. Chad Carlson at the Bone and Joint Center in Bismarck.

“We were able to take something that was a fairly difficult complex problem and Gail had a great result in that she’s able to do really really well,” Carlson said.

11 surgeries and nine years later, McElroy says she was able to walk again without any pain.

“It was overwhelming. I just can’t even explain. The heaviness of my heart was gone,” she said.

McElroy says she and her husband got married after her final surgery and walking down the aisle with no pain or assistance was one of the best moments of her life.

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