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Surgery helps get Gwinnett County woman back on her feet

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -


Clair Rawlings, 68, has missed walking more than anything. Six years ago, after abdominal surgery, the Grayson mother of four and grandmother of seven was given a nausea medication that she believes triggered something strange.

Within a month, her right foot began to curve downward and inward, becoming locked at a 90-degree angle, leaving Claire - who loves to shop - struggling just to stand up.

"I mean, I just didn't know if I was going to be able to walk again, or walk right again," Rawlings said.

At Resurgens Orthopedics, foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Erroll Bailey believes the medication tripped a switch in an area of Claire's brain that controls her movement, so her brain began signaling to her lower leg and foot muscles to contract. They call this "focal dystonia."

"And it's characterized by massive, involuntary muscle contractions," Bailey said.

Claire and her husband Greg spent years going to doctors and specialists, using BOTOX and other treatments, to try to relax her foot muscles, but nothing worked.  After five years, they found Dr. Bailey, who believed he could surgically relax Claire's foot. But it was complicated because her tendons, joints and bones were locked into a painful curve.

"He told me later that he had never had to work this hard on a single extremity before," Rawlings said.

Bailey explained, "You have to tighten what's loose and loosen what's tight to try to get back to where she is flat on the floor so that she can walk."

Bailey was able to get Claire's foot back to a normal position. A year later, Claire's still getting back on her feet. She believes she'll one day walk again without anyone helping her.

The day that she does, she says, "I'm going to thank the Lord, and the first thing I'm going to do is get out there and drive my car and go to the mall."

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