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Feet are an integral part of the body the average person uses daily for walking, running, sports, and other physical activities. Many people fail to take into account the idea of good foot health and what it means. Foot health goes beyond good hygiene and the inability to feel pain when walking. From conditions like webbed feet to polydactyly, there are no conditions that these podiatrists don’t see on the regular. In TLC’s My Feet Are Killing Me, Dr. Ebonie, Dr. Brad, and Dr. Sarah use their expert knowledge of podiatry to tackle and treat the rarest foot maladies and show how the power of medicine heals these patients to get them back on their feet.
In an interview with Dr. Ebonie, she discussed Season 3 of the TLC show, her biggest challenges in podiatry, and her hopes for ending the stigma on foot abnormalities and deformities.
So, with the graphic scenes, I think we can agree that this show isn’t for the faint of heart. What can viewers expect to see for season three of My Feet Are Killing Me?
You definitely are right. You can’t have a weak stomach if you’re going to watch the show. I’d recommend you start with Season 1 if you haven’t seen any show thus far because that will build your tolerance up. From Season 3, you can expect a little bit more trauma, a lot more skin conditions that are just very rare and abnormal that we’re trying to tackle. You can also see more congenital deformities, like people who were born with deformities at their feet that they just haven’t had the chance to get corrected. So it’s a little bit more on the rare extreme side that you can see in Season 3. You can always expect to go on more of an emotional journey with the patient after you get that initial shock value.
You often find yourself working on rare medical conditions. How do you prepare yourself for working or unknown conditions?
That’s one of the beautiful things about podiatry. There can be a blanketed diagnosis for a lot of things, but then you’re always seeing different variations of the same. In terms of me being shocked about new things that I see every day, the more interesting cases that come about the less shocked you are that you’re dealing with something new that you haven’t seen before. And so, you know, I feel like the preparation comes with being honest with your patients and saying. “Hey, you know, I don’t know what this is. But, what we’re going to do is figure it out together.”
What were your biggest challenges to date when it came to approaching how to care for/take on a certain patient’s condition?
I feel like that the answer changes from day to day, every time we film an episode. I would say to date the most challenging patient of mine would probably have to be the tree man syndrome case that we did in the second season. The only reason why that’s the most challenging is that it’s an ongoing treatment process he’s going to need to have and unfortunately he’s not living in the state of California where I can treat him. He’s going to need consistent care. I always think that that’s the most challenging situation after every case is aftercare. Surgery is just the initial correction. Aftercare is when the body naturally heals itself and you want to be able to walk your patients through the aftercare process until they are healed or stable.
I know some patients are born with defects versus having an accident that happened to the foot. Is there a difference between the two procedure-wise? Which case would be easier to surgically perform on?
I think each one has its own set of difficulties. When you’re dealing with someone who has a birth defect, it’s like, “Do I even have the tools and the bones I need to fix what the issue is?” When you’re dealing with someone who has an accident, it’s like you have everything there but how far gone is it to the point where we need to remove the damage and consider what we have. So there are definitely differences of challenges with each patient. I think that the biggest challenge comes with the patients’ expectations. If you have a person who has been born with this defect, they’ve learned to live with it and you’re trying to make it better, versus someone who wasn’t born with a defect, they know how it is to be 100% walking and thriving and they’re trying to get back there.
It’s amazing the number of foot abnormalities that people who are not in the medical field are unaware of. What do you think viewers can learn from when watching the show?
The show is hopefully not stigmatizing foot problems, but hopefully, it’s introducing foot issues into the world of medicine and to science as normal everyday issues. Podiatry as a profession can help with your normal everyday foot issues and also more of your extreme cases. So, I hope that the show is definitely educating the population on not only foot conditions but also on podiatry and how they’re podiatrists all over the world, helping people every day.
What inspired you or made you want to specialize in foot and ankle surgery?
I always wanted to be in medicine, and I personally had two knee surgeries myself. I was definitely not a stranger to the surgical aspect of it, the physical therapy, the aftercare, all that good stuff. I wanted to do more, like the orthopedic surgical route, but I actually found the field of podiatry fit my lifestyle and how I wanted to practice medicine a lot better than orthopedic. I like that balance between the clinical aspect and the surgical aspect. I definitely wanted to be sure to be well-rounded all-around in my life and podiatry just seemed to fit me.
You’ve co-authored research articles, won research awards for presentations, and are now on the third season of the show. Is there anything you hope to accomplish or continue to do in the future?
You know what, that’s a good question. I mean, I hope to continue to build on what I’ve done in the past, continuing to tackle new cases, new surgeries, hopefully, build on the practice that I’ve already started. Hopefully doing more shows in the future to educate the public at large about certain medical conditions, and go from there.
Catch Season 3 of My Feet Are Killing Me Wednesdays at 10/9c on TLC.
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Beverly is a Technical Writer by profession who enjoys all things celebrity news and pop culture.