After a Traumatic Ankle Injury, This Dallas Woman Is Back on Her Feet and Stronger Than Ever

A routine chore around the house left Allison Gonzales in shock and in horrendous pain.

“I was near the top of the ladder when a maneuver I made with a broom caused me to lose my balance and fall backwards,” recalls Allison, a 48-year-old southern Dallas resident. “I’m nearly 6 feet tall, and it was a 6-foot ladder, so I came down from a pretty good distance and crashed with much of my weight on my left ankle.”

When Allison looked at her foot, she saw the bone protruding through her skin, covered in leaves. “I don’t remember much after that because I went into shock.”

Fortunately, there were family members home who called 911. On that October afternoon in 2015, emergency responders rushed Allison to Methodist Dallas Medical Center.

Because she had sustained an open fracture (a bone break that penetrates the skin) of her left tibia and fibula (the long bones of the lower leg that join at the ankle and knee), emergency physicians immediately performed a stabilizing surgery.

Open fractures pose a high risk for infection, so before the surgeons could fix the bone, they had to clean the wound area and remove any damaged tissue.

The following day, surgeons performed a two-part orthopedic surgery to put Allison’s bones back into place. They fastened them with screws and a metal plate to keep the ankle stable and guide the growth of the bone while it healed.

A long road to recovery

Allison returned home a few days after her accident, but her journey to recovery was only beginning.

To help her re-learn how to use her ankle, she began attending physical therapy three times a week. She continued the remainder of her care at Methodist Charlton Medical Center, located only minutes from her home. She had a skin graft — healthy skin tissue from her thigh was transplanted to the ankle to help heal the wound from where the bone punctured her skin. Then Allison had a bone graft using material from her hip bone to encourage faster healing of her shattered ankle.

“After that surgery, I was in a series of different casts that allowed me to put increased pressure on my foot,” Allison says. “It took more than a year, but I went from being in a wheelchair and needing help with everything to being able to walk again. It was a wonderful feeling when I was finally able to do things for myself and go back to work.”

Getting back on her feet

Allison didn’t have the luxury of staying off her feet.

“My job requires me to walk and stand all day,” says Allison, account coordinator for Sisely, a makeup and skincare product company. “The constant pressure on the hardware in my ankle caused continual pain and swelling, but I knew I needed the implants for the ankle to heal. So for a while, I just pushed myself to keep going.”

As the third anniversary of her accident approached last fall, it was time to remove her orthopedic implants — and the timing was perfect. Had the implants been removed too soon, there was a risk of rebreaking the bones. Fortunately, Allison’s ankle was strong enough to go without the implants.

Today, Allison is walking farther and faster and with considerably less pain — benefits she began to notice immediately after her last surgery.

She credits her family, friends, and employer, as well as her care teams at Methodist Health System, with helping her navigate the long road back to mobility.

woman standing next to makeup counter in salon

“I had surgeries and hospital stays at Methodist Dallas and Methodist Charlton, and the staff members at both were so caring and encouraging that they became like family members to me,” Allison says.

“I went through a lot, but it was worth it because I saved my foot, which wouldn’t have happened without Methodist,” she adds. “They got it right, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Pictured at left: After a long recovery from a traumatic ankle injury, Allison Gonzales is now making rounds easily to locations like Cos Bar in her career as a Sisely account coordinator.

In case of an emergency

Allison’s family did the right thing after her injury: They called 911. Orthopedic trauma injuries require the expert care of EMS providers and trauma surgeons. Learn more about the emergency services at our hospitals at MethodistHealthSystem.org.