April 6, 2021

Stories That Move Us: Suzi Bellinger

Linda (Suzi) Bellinger

Age 69 from Terre Haute, IN

Enjoys spending time with family, working in the garden and exercising

Condition: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Provider/Treatment: Dr. Steven Herbst, bilateral foot reconstruction


Suzi’s Story

When Suzi was in her late thirties, walking became difficult and painful. After consulting with a podiatrist, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and referred to a Rheumatologist in Indianapolis who started Suzi on pain medicine. At the time, Suzi had no idea how much rheumatoid arthritis would change her life…

Over the next thirty years, Suzi tried several remedies to relieve the pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, including conservative and surgical treatments. She learned to appreciate the good days and would modify activities during flare ups, but the unknown of what body part would be under attack next was physically and mentally challenging.

When Suzi’s rheumatoid arthritis settled in her feet, the pain of walking became intolerable. “Random days of pain turned into pain every day,” Suzi said. “The simple task of wearing shoes was almost unbearable.”

Last year, Suzi’s daughter was chatting with a friend about the constant pain her mother was experiencing in her feet. Her friend suggested Suzi consult Dr. Herbst at Central Indiana Orthopedics, so Suzi’s daughter urged her to schedule an appointment. At Suzi’s first appointment, Dr. Herbst reviewed her health history and x-rays and his words, “I can help you” were music to her ears. Dr. Herbst recommended rheumatoid arthritis forefoot reconstruction on both feet. She agreed with Dr. Herbst’s care plan and had the first surgery in September 2020 and the second surgery just two months later in November.

“When I met Dr. Herbst, I was most impressed with his character,” Suzi said. “He put me at ease immediately. He explained in detail the procedure he would be doing, answered all my questions, but most of all I felt he was genuine in wanting to help fulfill my wish of pain-free, normal-looking feet.”

Suzi is still recovering from her surgeries which could take up to a year, but is already enjoying life with less pain.

“The care I have received over the past several months at Central Indiana Orthopedics has exceeded all my expectations,” Suzi said. “I felt as if I had my own personal medical team. I never felt rushed during appointments and every employee I had interaction with from the time I entered the clinic until I walked out the door was professional and friendly.”

Suzi looks forward to once again being able to enjoy the simple pleasure of walking with little or no pain, and can’t wait to own a pair of sandals. She used to be so embarrassed by the look of her feet that she would never be seen without wearing socks – not even in the house. But she says her top priority is to experience her first pedicure with her mother, daughter and granddaughter.