Dr. Ebonie Vincent is enjoying everything about being featured on TLC’s “My Feet Are Killing Me” except the lack of a soundtrack when she’s in the operating room. Dr. Vincent, a podiatrist based in Orange County, explained to the L.A. Sentinel, “I’m used to listening to some jazz or some Lizzo; just having a little bit of noise and laughter in the operating room, but when it’s time to film surgeries, it has to be silent. At first, I was like, ‘I can’t be alone in my thoughts this much,” she laughs.
“My Feet Are Killing Me,” which debuted January 2 on TLC, is one of the latest in the crop of so-called “medical transformation series” like Dr. Pimple Popper, and Dr. 90210. The show follows expert podiatrists as they juggle all sorts of eye-popping cases, from wart clusters to toe amputations and foot reconstructions.
Asked why she believes this type of programming is rising in popularity, the relentlessly upbeat Vincent replied, “People are curious because there is a huge stigma about feet. People are less likely to talk about their foot problems. I’m hoping the show will help break down some of that stigma.”
Dr. Vincent explains that she almost missed out on appearing in “My Feet Are Killing Me” because she didn’t believe the production company when they first reached out to make the pilot. “My manager kept getting emails and we all thought it was just spam. We ignored them but they kept coming so my boss finally said ‘check this out.’” They were reaching out because of the Youtube videos Dr. Vincent had posted. “I did a Skype interview with them,” she recalls, “and the rest is history.”
Born and raised in Temecula, California, the wine country just southwest of Riverside, Dr. Vincent had an interest in science from an early age. “I’ve always wanted to be a physician,” she said. “I had a heart for service and my aunt and uncle were physicians and they were good influences. I didn’t know exactly what specialty I wanted to do until after my undergraduate education.” Vincent’s brother is also a physician, practicing in their hometown.
As brilliant as she is stunning, Dr. Vincent attended Hampton University where she got her Bachelor’s in Biology on a volleyball scholarship. A few sports injuries turned her mind toward podiatry. She went on to receive her Masters in Medical Science at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, then to Des Moines University’s Podiatry School.
Her natural interest in science aside, Vincent recognizes that there are others who might be interested in medicine but intimidated. She advised, “Anything worth doing,” she said, “has its challenges. You can always do something in the sciences for the betterment of people, for the betterment of your community. With a background in science, you’ll always be able to be helpful so if you have a heart for service, it’s definitely something you should consider.”
It isn’t just her heart that made medicine the perfect fit for Dr. Vincent. She’s been on the operating table for her own knee injuries several times. “I tore both my ACL so I’m not a stranger to medicine, doctors, surgeries, rehabilitation with physical therapists. I’ve been through the wringer with my own body. So I’m able to empathize with my patients when they’re going through their issues.”
Dr. Vincent discussed how issues, like being overweight can impact foot health. “You don’t have to be diabetic,” she says, “at least not type 2 diabetes. You can lose weight and make your health exponentially better. Diabetes affects every system in your body so let’s say you get a foot injury. Your immune system is already weak so it takes longer for the injury to heal.”
She continued, “Your feet are tiny in comparison to the rest of your body but that’s what is holding everything else up. Having excess weight definitely changes the way that your tissues are tugging on the bone, and can lead to arthritis and a lot of other situations that are painful.”
Strutting your stuff in your favorite stilettoes can also lead to issues. “Overall, heels are bad,” Vincent states reluctantly. “Your foot isn’t shaped like a triangle so you’re not supposed to bear all the weight to the forefoot.” However, being someone who herself loves to wear heels, she advises taking a measured approach. “My response to women who wear high heels daily is never a bad one because I also love wearing heels. I don’t high-heel shame anyone! What I tell women all the time is do the right thing 70% of the time. That’s a passing grade! Don’t wear your heels until your toes fall off. Do what you gotta do, but be smart about it!”
Unafraid to fess up to being a huge theater nerd when she’s not working, “I will break the bank to go to a play,” Dr. Vincent talks about the ways that her work is satisfying and fulfilling. “With podiatry, I have more happy feelings than sad ones. Things can usually be fixed or made better. For example, I get to see the progression of someone with a torn Achilles tendon. Doing the surgery watching them rehabilitate and then seeing that person play basketball again, that’s a win.”