An eventful few months

Jul 15

Wow, where to begin about the past 5 1/2 months?

It starts back on the early morning of Feb 9th, it was a snowy overnight and because of that my employer put out ice melt so the employees would be safe walking around outside. Unfortunately for me, that same ice melt which does so well outside isn’t so good on an interior tile floor. I entered the back of the building and headed towards my desk and as I made the right hand turn towards the Medicare department my feet left the carpet and found the tile. The instant that happened I went from walking to laying on my left hand side with my briefcase under me. My 1st thought was “damn, I hope no one saw that” then quickly my mind focused on why was my lower body a bit numb. I took this as I had landed on a nerve and it was just temporary. I looked down towards my legs and what found me was a bit of a shock. My right foot was still flat on the floor and at my knee, instead of my leg being straight it was in a nice “L” shape. At this point I realized that I wasn’t going to be getting up from this one and I probably have some damage to my leg.

By the time my my mind processed what had happened someone came around the corner and saw what had happened. The 1st thing out of their mouth was “let me go get the nurse” and away they went at a fast pace. A few minutes later the nurse showed up and said “let me go to HR and have them call an ambulance”. At this point a co-worker had come out along with my boss’ boss and I had them call Jennifer to let her know I fell at work and I’m on my way to the hospital. Now, I do need to mention that this was also Jennifer’s 35th birthday.

The ambulance crew arrived rather quickly and I had to chuckle when they came around the corner, the crew consisted of 2 rather petite woman and I had doubts they would be able to get someone of my stature onto the gurney. Luckily for me, we have a rather large facilities group of big men who were able to load me onto the stretcher for the two EMT’s and off we went to the ambulance. Once in the rig I had requested to be transported to Holy Spirit, even though several hospitals were closer. I was then informed that they were not taking patients at this time and it was decided we would go to Community General Osteopathic Hospital in Harrisburg.

Once I arrived at Community General I was taken for X-rays and a CT of my leg. They determined that I had a dislocation of the right knee, a fractured knee cap and a tibial plateau fracture, which is a fracture of the upper ball of the tibia. They also said I possibly had some injured ligaments but that couldn’t be determined until after an MRI, which wasn’t scheduled at this time due to the swelling in my knee and leg. Once back in the ER they decided to pop my knee cap back into place. This consisted of two people grabbing my upper body, one on my upper leg and one at my foot then pulling my leg in a downward motion, sliding everything back into alignment. Once that was done I was placed into an immobilizer and then admitted for observation. What was supposed to be a 24-48 hour observation turned into 5 days, mostly out of concerns for my mobility and access to my apartment in Carlisle.

After my stint in the hospital I was transferred to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Mechanicsburg on the evening of Feb 14th and I remained there until March 7th… a bit over 3 weeks. During that time I endured a total of 3 hours a day of Physical and Occupational Therapy which in the long run did prepare me for my journey home. On my way home from HeathSouth we detoured to Hershey where I had my 1st appointment Hershey Medical Center’s Bone & Joint Center. While the appointment was with the wrong specialist, we did determine that an MRI would be needed and that there was a good chance “a ligament or two was damaged”. I had my MRI and I waited for my follow up appointment on March 16th.

I had my 1st appointment with Dr. Robert Gallo on March 16th and received some rather discouraging news. In addition to the fractures and the dislocation I had a total tear of my ACL, a total tear of my LCL, a partial tear of my PCL and my hamstring was totally torn right above the bone. He immediately scheduled surgery for March 26th and was optimistic that he could fix everything, even though it was almost 6 weeks since the accident.

My surgery went extremely well and Dr. Gallo was able to fix the ACL, LCL and Hamstring. He did look at the PCL and determined the injury wasn’t as bad as he feared and elected not to fix it since he couldn’t have made it any better. I spent a total of 3 eventful days at Hershey Med. The 1st night they elected to put me in the SICU (Surgical ICU) because the bed they had me in didn’t fit through the door of a standard room. The bed itself was extremely uncomfortable and it pinched my back to the point of causing a bed sore. The second night I was in a room on the 3rd floor which is the Trauma Med Surg. My roommate, who was in a truck accident came in late in the evening and he was constantly getting poked and prodded all night long which kept me awake. Through the night I made an executive decision and moved from the bed to a recliner where I spent the rest of my time. The 3rd night my roommate was a 95 year old man who’s idea of a panic button was screaming at the top of his lungs for a nurse every 10 minutes.

On March 29th I was again transferred to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital where I once again endured Physical and Occupational Therapy 3 hours a day. I was discharged April 7th and returned home to continue my rehab, this time with HealthSouth’s Outpatient Services. On April 10th I had my staples removed and found when they unwrapped my leg a 2 inch incision below my knee, two 1/2 incisions on each side of my kneecap and a large 9 inch incision running up the right side of my leg. All the incisions looked good except for the large incision which didn’t close completely due to it being almost directly behind the metal rail of my brace.

As I started ramping up my Therapy we discovered that the flexibility of my right knee was not what it should be. The Doctor wanted it 90 degrees or more however I was only getting to 70 degrees before it locked up. After a few weeks of not getting any more movement the Doctor decided he would have to surgically intervene. A second surgery was scheduled for June 18th where Dr. Gallo preformed a manual manipulation of my knee, a removal of the built up scar tissue inside my knee and a debridement and closing of the incision which never closed from the first surgery. After the Surgery I spent about 24 hours in the Hospital and I returned home on June 19th.

I’ve been continuing with physical therapy 3 times a week and making leaps and bounds. I’ve gone from total non-weight bearing after the injury, to walking with a walker, to now walking with a cane with the brace locked. I’m also walking around the house with my walker and no brace, but that’s still a work in progress. I’m also returning to work July 16th, which is 158 days from the original accident… a major feat which no one expected to come so soon.

During this whole ordeal we also had a small event to plan… our wedding. I had decided back while I was at Community General that we were going to have the wedding on the date we selected and I told Jen to send the invitations out, which were all ready addressed, but not sent out. While I recuperated in the hospital and rehab Jen did the majority of the final preparation and got the wedding ready to roll. I had a milestone therapy event on April 23rd, which was the Monday before our wedding, where I got full weight bearing back on my right leg. For our rehearsal we practiced recessing with me in my wheelchair but we made the decision that I was going to surprise everyone and walk out under my own power at the end of  the wedding… the 1st time I’ve done that in public since the accident and a fitting symbolic gesture of what is to come, both in our new life together and my recovery. The wedding went perfectly and the ceremony was beautiful. For the reception I was able to have our 1st dance but not much else, but I had accomplished what I set out to do.

While my recovery is far from complete, its coming along as planned and I’m getting stronger each and every day.

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