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Hydrocephalus and ankle replacement can't slow his stride

William Gay poses for a picture, smiling, while standing in front of some bushes. With his health issues treated, Mr. Gay is able to once again enjoy spending time outdoors.

William Gay was nervous when he needed neurosurgery. Huntington Hospital provided the confidence he needed to get through it.

William Gay, 82, of Cold Spring Harbor, has had Huntington Hospital physicians care for him from his head to his toes – well, his ankle, to be precise.

In February 2017, Mr. Gay was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, or a fluid buildup in his brain that was causing him to shuffle when he walked. It had gotten to the point that Mr. Gay was afraid he would lose his balance.

Robert Kerr, MD, chief of neurosurgery at Huntington Hospital, placed a shunt in Mr. Gay’s head to drain his spinal fluid. The procedure involved drilling a hole in the side of his head and inserting a tube through his abdomen via a small incision.

“The scar is fading, and I don’t even think about it,” Mr. Gay said of his neurosurgical procedure. “I didn’t have any pain after the operation.”

Mr. Gay was nervous when he first heard he needed brain surgery, but he said Dr. Kerr was very calming.

“Dr. Kerr is a wonderful man who is kind, sympathetic and very understanding,” Mr. Gay said.

quotation mark My pain is gone, and this summer I was able to enjoy my time in the Adirondacks much more.
William Gay

And now, an ankle replacement

Mr. Gay was having difficulty with his ankle. Though he was receiving cortisone shots to relieve the pain, Mr. Gay began seeking out alternative treatments. The idea of going into Manhattan for an ankle replacement was daunting, so when Mr. Gay discovered that Adam Bitterman, DO, an orthopedic surgeon at Huntington Hospital, could perform this procedure near Mr. Gay’s home, he felt much more comfortable.

“Before Dr. Bitterman performed the surgery on my ankle, I was taking aspirin often and having pain overnight after a walk in the Adirondacks,” said Mr. Gay. “Now, I walk at least a mile a day and when I go up to the Adirondacks, I walk on that rough ground. My pain is gone, and this summer I was able to enjoy my time in the Adirondacks much more.”