KSTP Anchor Chris Egert's Recovery



For the past few months, KSTP morning news anchor Chris Egert has been off air recovering from surgery. 

Egert has been dealing with pain for the last 20 years, and three months ago, underwent what he said he hopes will be his final surgery.

An Active Childhood

Egert grew up in Armour, South Dakota playing football, basketball and running on the track team. He suffered years of sprains and strains.

"I basically had all my years of growing up until I was done playing college basketball; I was injuring my ankle," Egert said.


Egert played basketball, in addition to football and running on the track team.


When he was done playing sports, Egert started having surgeries. His first was in 1998.

"I thought, 'Let's do this, let's get on the road to recovery,'" Egert said. "And, it just didn't get a whole lot better. So then I had another surgery, and then I had another surgery, and then another, just kind of hoping one of those surgeries would be the one that just kind of made me all great again, and it just never did."

Continuing the Fight

During the next 20 years, Egert would undergo 10 ankle surgeries.

"We've never known him not to have ankle problems," Egert's wife, Kate, said.

Their son, 12-year-old Dakota, and their daughter, 10-year-old Delaney, have never had a dad who could run and play.


Egert with son, Dakota, and daughter, Delaney.


"There's a picture of Dakota when he's probably 3 or 4 years old and he's got a fake cast on his leg because he wanted to look like daddy, because that's all he knew," Egert said.

In 2015, 40-year-old Egert took the biggest surgical risk yet; he had his ankle replaced. However, after a follow-up surgery last summer, it became infected. Egert was facing an unimaginable decision.

"To me, the amputation was the best of all remaining bad options," Egert said. "I did everything I could to save the foot. I feel like I gave it everything I could to try to save the foot. But at the end of the day, it was right before Thanksgiving that I decided I was going to do it. And I'm, like you know what, I tried really hard, it didn't work.

"I don't think the amputation will be the worst thing in the world, in fact it could be beneficial for me so let's just do it," Egert recalled thinking.

On the morning of Dec. 4, 2017, Egert embarked on what would be a life-changing surgery. He had his left leg amputated just below the knee.


Egert prepares for surgery.


Road to Recovery

"It's weird for me to look down and it's not there or for me to see the robot foot," Egert said.

In the three months since his surgery, Egert has had to relearn how to do just about everything.

Several days a week, he meets with his physical therapist. They've spent hours getting Egert to stand and balance on his prosthetic.

"It's funny how one moment I feel like I'm ready to walk again, and then I realize how much more I have to come yet," Egert said.


Egert post surgery, with his temporary bent knee prosthesis.


Egert said he is still dealing with nerve and phantom pain.

"When it was cold outside, my left ankle felt like I was standing in the snow. Like, you know what your toes feel like when you've been outside too long? But I don't have any toes," Egert said.

However, Egert said it's a different discomfort than what he's lived with for the last 20 years. He said he knows the surgery was the right choice for him.

"I want it to be going faster; I want to be walking already, I don't want to be using a cane, I want to go," Egert said, laughing. "But that's just impatience. I'm going to have to be more patient."

So Egert puts one foot in front of the other, taking steps toward living a pain-free, joy-filled life.

"My family is the reason I did this," Egert said.

 

Story by KSTP's Megan Newquist

 


KSTP Anchor Chris Egert thanks those who supported him and sent him well wishes before, during and after his surgery. Watch below:



Elective Amputations: A Controversial Question

Dr. Andrew H. Schmidt, MD

Chief, Orthopedics
Hennepin County Medical Center
The issue of elective amputation is the challenging one: when faced with a severe limb injury with damage to skin, muscle, bone, nerve, and/or blood vessels - should the limb be salvaged or amputated? Salvage sends the patient down a path of many, many surgeries and hospitalizations, often spread out over a year or more. The outcome can be OK, but is often so poor that the patient's life is ruined. We have a saying that limb salvage for some of these severe injuries can leave the patient depressed, destitute, drug-addicted, and divorced. It is not easy to make the decision. A number of "scoring" systems were devised in the 1980s and 1990s to try to predict outcome, but none work very well and they aren't used. Numerous studies have tried to compare the amputees to patients who had successful limb-salvage, with the interesting finding that the outcome is most predicted by the presence or absence of social support systems and patient's education level instead of the severity of injury. So, someone who is educated and has a good support system around them adapt and do better with either approach compared to someone with little education and a poor support system. The bar keeps changing: for every advance in our techniques of bone and tissue reconstruction there is a corresponding improvement in prosthetic technology. So, it remains a very controversial question.


A Timeline of Egert's Recovery

In Dec. 2017, KSTP anchor Chris Egert underwent surgery to amputate part of his leg.

Egert had been facing ankle issues for most of his life and decided the best way to address those issues was amputation.

You can follow Egert's recovery via the timeline below or by following his Facebook page.


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