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Ramsey Woman Gets New Ankle, Lease On Life

Marilyn Utz of Ramsey is back to living an active pain-free lifestyle after ankle replacement surgery.
Marilyn Utz of Ramsey is back to living an active pain-free lifestyle after ankle replacement surgery. Photo Credit: Marilyn Utz

RAMSEY, N.J. – For 24 hours a day, Marilyn Utz lived in constant pain.

Her ankle was so arthritic that she winced at having to walk up stairs and got nervous when she had to go outside when there was any trace of snow or ice on the ground.

She always liked to be active and this “was no way to live,” the 69-year-old Ramsey resident told Daily Voice.

"It just kept getting worse and worse and worse,” she said.

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By the time she met Dr. Eugene Batelli “greater than 80 percent of the joint was arthritic,” the Totowa-based doctor said.

Batelli recommended an ankle replacement with a custom ankle-joint.

Around 2 million people visit their doctor each year for ankle pain stemming from arthritis or injuries. While many people know about knee or hip replacements, many are not aware that ankle replacements are a viable option.

“The advent of these newer implants is allowing people to do what they want to do and return to their active lifestyle,” said Batelli, who lives in Wayne.

Utz was ready.

“I had been walking around with a brace on my ankle in pain for like three years, and it gets to the point where you can’t deal with it anymore,” she said.

She had the surgery in May at Hackensack Medical Center, she said. “And the rest is history,” she said.

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Utz is now happy to be able to get back to gardening, fishing, swimming and being able to “zip around and do whatever” without pain.

Utz, a native of Teaneck, spent more than 40 years as a school bus driver in Dumont, Midland Park, Wyckoff and Ramsey. She now works in the cafeteria of a Midland Park school.

“A lot of people when they get older, they give up. Not me. I ain’t giving up yet,” she said. “You have to keep going.”

She said she recommends the surgery to others who are in pain and “not happy with having your wings clipped where you can’t do what you want to do.”

Batelli agrees.

“Since the advent of the patient specific joint replacements … the outcomes have gotten so much better. More patients are returning to active lifestyles. We are putting them in younger and younger patients, and letting them enjoy their lives again,” he said.

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