Sue's Story: Never Give up!

In January 2013, I slipped off a wet landscape timber in Ohio and fractured my left kneecap.  At the time, I was in good physical condition for my 54 years.  My first orthopedist made some mistakes that delayed physical rehab and resulted in severe muscle atrophy of my leg and equally severe demineralization of my kneecap.  When my good leg went out from under me in a freak accident six months later, my left leg couldn’t hold me.  My knee hit a cabinet, breaking off the top portion of the kneecap and taking the connecting quadriceps ligament with it.  This time, I needed surgical repair and was referred to someone else.  My kneecap and ligament were stitched together and I was immobilized again.  Out of 32 weeks, I was immobilized 25 of them.  My leg became stiff as a board.  As a hypermobile person, this injury has changed my life.  I went from an active person with large perennial gardens and home remodeling projects who exercised regularly, to a disabled person gardening on my butt when I could finally walk without a walker or cane.  Forget the home projects.

Kelley has been my physical therapist since late 2009, and she worked with me before my first physician terminated my formal rehab.  When I was finally able to begin rehab after the second fracture, I tried working with another therapist, but after a month, it was obvious I needed Kelley; someone who knew me, knew my body and could be encouraging in the midst of a lot of despair.  She has consistently come up with different ways to treat me and given me any exercise she thought would help me make progress.  I have had many physical therapists over 30 years of managing fibromyalgia and I know Kelley is a truly gifted therapist.  I am very blessed to have her in my life!

Almost 3 years since the second fracture, we are still working together to get whatever range I can.  I was told I would never experience 104 degrees of passive range of motion – what you can pull to with a stretch strap or your therapist can push you to – the implication being I wouldn’t have that active range either.  It’s so refreshing to prove doctors wrong, especially when it’s about the quality of your life!  I currently have 120 degrees of ACTIVE range and Kelley uses her great strength to push me to 130 degrees of passive range.  What it will take to bridge that gap, we don’t know.  I keep working, hoping to get to 135 someday.  I’m finally pretty functional, but would still like to go down stairs like a normal person.

I’ve been told that I’m an unusual patient; that most people would have settled for much less range than I have.  But unusual aside, it’s so important to persevere in rehab even if your physicians are dismissing your efforts along the way.  Kelley has been the one cheering me on throughout this very long process, rejoicing with me with every degree of range of motion we’ve achieved.  After an injury or surgery, never give up trying to get back as much of your life as you can!

Sue