Jeff's Story

Getting back on the water

Aurora Foot & Ankle Orthopedics
After a serious water-skiing injury to his feet and ankles, Jeff Lee was worried he may never get back to his favorite pastime. But just 9 weeks later, with the help of Robert Siepel, MD, and other Aurora specialists, he was back on the water. 

"I’m very happy with everyone at Aurora who worked to get me here."

For Jeff Lee, water skiing was as natural as walking. He learned how to water ski as a child and performed with a water ski club as an adult. So when an injury threatened his ability to participate in one of his favorite activities, he sought out the orthopedic experts at Aurora Health Care.

Jeff was water skiing while vacationing in Florida. “I caught an edge wrong during a turn,” he recalls. He flipped over a total of three times and hit the water at 34 miles per hour.

“My ankles bent completely backwards,” Jeff says. “I knew it wasn’t good.”

At first, Jeff thought he could shake it off. “I moved my ankle back and forth, but it was popping in and out,” he says. He went to a nearby hospital in Florida, where doctors confirmed one ankle was broken. 

As he waited for friends to pick him up, Jeff thought about options for care. “I wanted to come back to a reputable hospital in a community I know,” he says. He thought of a friend he’d made while water skiing back home, Robert Siepel, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Aurora Medical Center in Summit. He sent a quick text, and immediately his care began to change.

“Dr. Siepel and I traded phone calls, emails and texts,” Jeff says. “I sent him pictures of my X-rays from my cell phone.”

From the pictures, “I was able to tell right away that it required surgery,” says Dr. Siepel.  

“He told me about treatment options and offered options for doctors,” Jeff says. “I decided to go with him.” The next day, Jeff flew back home to Wisconsin and his community hospital – Aurora Health Care in Summit.
Once Jeff was back in Wisconsin, treatment progressed rapidly.

“I first learned of the injury on Saturday,” says Dr. Siepel. “On Tuesday, I saw Jeff in the clinic, and on Wednesday, he had surgery.”

During surgery, Dr. Siepel used screws to pin Jeff’s ankle together. After surgery, Jeff wore a post-op boot and had physical therapy.

Jeff says his transition from surgery to rehab was “seamless.” 

“I wanted to get back to my normal routines quickly,” he says. “The rehab staff worked with me to help me reach my goals.” Within only nine weeks, Jeff was back to his daily routines – which include water skiing.

Today, Jeff says, “I’m back on the water and it feels great.”

Jeff’s glad to be practicing with his club again and looks forward to many more years of water skiing – and performing.

“I have an absolute blast skiing, and I’m glad to be back. I’m very happy with everyone at Aurora who worked with me to get me here,” Jeff says. “It was a very good experience all around.”

Aurora provides a wide range of treatments for foot and ankle injuries, including surgery and rehabilitation. Find out more about our foot and ankle orthopedic services.

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