MDs: Knee worse

Stahoviak may face leg amputation

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Early last week, doctors cleaned out an infection in Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak's right knee that was so severe that some of her leg bone had to be removed in the process.

Now, Stahoviak is facing the possibility that her right leg could be amputated above her knee.

During the next six weeks, Stahoviak will take antibiotics and recover from this most recent surgery at the Doak Walker Care Center. With the help of her doctors, she is deciding on the next step.

"I continue to believe that God doesn't give you any more than you can handle, so I can handle this. It's just going to take some getting used to," Stahoviak said.

"And it's probably easier than a gravel-pit hearing," she joked, referring to the controversial gravel pit in the South Valley that was scheduled for a hearing Dec. 8. That meeting was canceled because the applicant, Lafarge, has not provided all the information the county requested before re-examining the issue; it has not been rescheduled.

It has been almost one year since Stahoviak was flown to Denver because of life-threatening kidney failure and infections. Last spring, she had temporary replacements with antibiotics implanted in both knees.

In June, she had a permanent knee replacement implanted in her right knee, and in October, she had the same permanent replacement put in her left knee. The installation of a permanent replacement in her left knee was delayed after doctors discovered an infection in that knee.

The newest infection was discovered in her right knee two weeks ago, and Stahoviak was rushed to the hospital. She went into surgery early last week, and doctors found that the infection was deep within the joint.

Because so much of her leg bone was removed, doctors will not be able to fuse the bones and may not be able to put in another joint, possibly making amputation necessary. That, Stahoviak said, may be the best option, though it is not an easy one to consider, especially with the new challenges it would create.

"But other people do it, so there's no reason I can't do it," she said.

To recent questions about whether she thinks she still can perform her duties as county commissioner, Stahoviak said she is confident that she has been and is doing just that.

"I think anyone that has been in any meeting when I have participated over the phone would attest to the fact that I do it well," Stahoviak said. "I do all the studying, I do all the homework, I actively participate. ... What I'm going through would be similar to anyone else that has a job and is facing some physical challenges that will include rehabilitation."

Routt County commissioners Doug Monger and Dan Ellison said Stahoviak's absence has meant an extra meeting here or there for each of them but that they think the Board of County Commissioners is efficient and getting the work done that it needs to get done.

"I certainly think the job is getting done," Ellison said.

"It's not the optimal situation, but we've made it work," Monger said. "And, I think, we're still benefiting from her (ideas, input and work)," he said.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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