After 9 surgeries, Emily walks down the aisle

Emily and Mitch dance at their weddingEmily (Lagor) Monteiro, 25, wasn’t sure she’d be walking or dancing at her June 13 wedding. However, she achieved both—an accomplishment she credits to Drs. Pierre d’Hemecourt and Lyle Micheli, both from Boston Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine. “They’re my superheros.”

It’s a bold statement for a young woman who admits to being terrified of anesthesia. But that fear helped solidify her relationship with Micheli.

Prior to one of her surgeries, nurses couldn’t get Emily’s IV started.

“I cried the whole way to the operating room. I was creating a scene. They finally got the IV in. The last thing I remembered before surgery was Dr. Micheli rushing in and giving my hand a big squeeze.”

Since then, Emily and Micheli have shared this special pre-surgical ritual.

Pediatric sports medicine for an adult

Emily found Micheli and d’Hemecourt in 2011, when she was 22. An adult orthopedic surgeon had placed screws and pins in Emily’s foot to correct a problem with her gait, but the procedure left her with chronic foot and ankle pain and unable to walk without crutches. The surgeon was unable to determine the cause of her pain.

After more than a year of pain, she was desperate and agreed to try Boston Children’s Sports Medicine at a friend’s suggestion.

Emily made the appointment with Micheli.

“Within 45 seconds, he knew exactly what the problem was.” Micheli diagnosed Emily with peroneal tendon problems. He referred her to Boston Children’s Sports Medicine Ultrasound Clinic, where d’Hemecourt used ultrasound used to evaluate the tendons and nerves and see how scar tissue and nerve obstruction could be altered in different positions of the foot. Micheli later used this information to determine the best surgical approaches for Emily.

Cortisone injections, then surgeries, wedding and honeymoon

d’Hemecourt recommended a series of cortisone injections to help diagnose and treat Emily’s condition. Each injection provided some relief, but didn’t correct the underlying problem, so Micheli performed surgery in February 2012. He deepened a groove in Emily’s left ankle to prevent her tendons from popping out of place.

“I finally felt good.” When Micheli corrected the underlying problem in Emily’s ankle bone, her foot mechanics changed, so Micheli and d’Hemecourt continued to work with her toward a complete repair. Emily’s anatomy was quite complicated, and she needed multiple surgeries and ultrasound-guided injections to improve the functioning of her left foot and reduce her pain. ankle surgery

“It is really important to have a multi-disciplinary approach to these difficult-to-manage cases. The surgical approaches correct the anatomical barriers to recovery while the rehabilitation and different injection techniques enhance the surgical outcomes,” explains d’Hemecourt.

“I’m doing really well. I know it’s a long road to being pain-free. It’s a humbling experience to go from being active to dependent,” says Emily, who switched from high-impact activities like softball and dance to low-impact exercises like kayaking and biking.

And when Emily and her fiancé Mitch decided on an outdoor wedding, she set her sights on walking down the aisle.

“I spoke with both Dr. d’Hemecourt and Dr. Micheli at length about my wedding and the fact that I would be walking on uneven ground. I even showed them pictures of my dress, so we could figure out the best types of knee and ankle braces to wear in the event that I was in pain on that day,” says Emily.

The bride-to-be chose sensible flats and practiced walking on uneven ground.

I spoke with both Dr. d’Hemecourt and Dr. Micheli at length about my wedding and the fact that I would be walking on uneven ground. I even showed them pictures of my dress, so we could figure out the best types of knee and ankle braces to wear in the event that I was in pain on that day.

Her hard work paid off. When Emily and Mitch exchanged vows, she glowed as she walked down the aisle and shared her first dance with her new husband. The couple then set off for their Hawaiian honeymoon—a choice partially based on the ease of walking on sand compared with cobblestone European streets.Em next to Volcano (2)

The Hawaiian honeymoon was a much-welcomed stop on Emily’s long road to recovery. “Emily is dedicated to getting better, and she has time and again demonstrated this by the hard work she devotes to her physical therapy and rehabilitation,” says Micheli.

Learn more about Boston Children’s Sports Medicine Ultrasound Clinic.