Unstoppable: How Jennifer Petruzzi Has Redefined Success While Navigating Society With Bunions

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The pain caused by my bunions limited the amount of activity I could do, but I never stopped exercising or enjoying activities even though they became very uncomfortable for me.

As a part of our “Unstoppable” series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Petruzzi.

Jennifer Petruzzi is 44 years old and manages her own home décor company. She currently lives near Cleveland, Ohio near Cuyahoga Valley National Park. When she is not working, she enjoys outdoor activities such as bike riding, running and hiking; and spending time with her four mastiffs and husband.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

As an active individual with bunions, the everyday became more and more uncomfortable with foot pain. Fatigue and pain while on my feet didn’t stop once I sat down. Bunion pain is real and lingers. Once the pain started waking me up from a sound sleep, I knew something had to be done. After a marginally successful traditional bunionectomy on my left foot, I continued to research the latest in bunion correction procedures. Lapiplasty® appeared to be an innovative surgical procedure that corrects bunions at their root cause. Following a visit with Dr. Aaron Chokan at the Ohio Foot & Ankle Center, I scheduled my surgery in January 2021. I had a far better recovery experience than I did with the traditional bunionectomy I previously underwent on my other foot. The pain was quite minor and limited movement in a walking boot made the recovery bearable. A few months after surgery, I was able to return to normal activity and since then, I’ve enjoyed a bunion pain-free life. I’m back to normal activities and sleeping soundly through the night.

Shoe shopping is far more pleasurable, and my toes and feet look fantastic!

Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill? What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?

Chronic pain is impactful to anyone regardless of age or physical fitness. The pain impacted my life and the ability to enjoy activities with friends and family. Additionally, I was terribly self-conscious of how my toes and feet looked. My crooked toes and the protruding bone on the side of my foot were noticeable. The bunion deformities limited the styles of shoes I could wear, making wearing high heels and shopping for sandals challenges. When I did wear heels or dressy shoes for a night out, the residual pain was very uncomfortable in the days that followed. I had to take Advil prior to wearing heels in anticipation of the foot pain. Pain and self-consciousness had an impact on my overall mental wellbeing.

Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your disability or illness ?

The pain caused by my bunions limited the amount of activity I could do, but I never stopped exercising or enjoying activities even though they became very uncomfortable for me.

What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?

If you are suffering from a medical problem that might be treatable, visit your doctor. Bunions are terribly common and people living with them often suffer in silence. No one should suffer from pain, physical or mental unnecessarily. Bunions will not correct themselves and will continue to get worse, potentially causing issues with other parts of the foot. Visit a doctor to get evaluated and see if you are a candidate for treatment.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

My husband is my biggest supporter. He took care of me during recovery from surgery and I wouldn’t be here without him. His love, kindness and support can never be repaid.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

In addition to living my best life, I also volunteer in the community. This requires me to stay active. I spend time volunteering with a dog rescue where I help transport dogs to foster and adoptive homes from shelters and other foster homes. My husband and I also foster dogs ourselves until they are adopted when possible. I also volunteer for my local garden club, where we maintain islands of flowers in the community for everyone to enjoy. This requires me to prepare beds, planting, and caring for and maintaining the environment. Having my bunion corrected helps to make me a better contributor and volunteer.

Can you share “5 things I wish people understood or knew about people with physical limitations” and why.

  1. Pain is invisible but it is real.
  2. In my experience, the Lapiplasty® Procedure is easier to recover from than people may think.
  3. Recovery takes some time and can be uncomfortable for a brief period of time. However, living with bunions is far more painful and it never stops. After surgery and recovery, the pain stops, the fatigue stops, the aching stops. Life is much sweeter.
  4. The improvement in my quality of life has been immeasurable. I didn’t realize how much a “little” bunion impacted my entire body and life until it was fixed.
  5. Bunions are very common. Don’t ever be ashamed to talk about them and seek medical care.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”

Dr. Seuss

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

I have always been inspired by those who make their own success with true brilliance and/or talent through hard work and dedication. A few names that come to mind are Shaquille O’Neal, Samuel L. Jackson, JK Rowling, Mark Cuban, George Lucas, Jerry Seinfeld, Robert Downey Jr., and Garth Brooks.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

Unstoppable: How Jennifer Petruzzi Has Redefined Success While Navigating Society With Bunions was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.