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Ann Reilly

Wellington, FL
  • Ann Reilly in the photo 1

June 1, 2008 a horse kicked my l tibia and fibula off. It was a catastrophic traumatic injury, which happened in CT. I was taken to a country hospital and they only had a hand doctor. He was going to leave me in bed until Friday on morphine. The next morning, June 2, my mom called my uncle, a former hospital VP in NYC. He insisted I be moved to HSS and I was. In partial shock, I arrived by ambulance and was immediately greeted by Dr. Helfet and his PA Patricia. I was still shaking from the shock and was barely able to speak, not to mention scared out of my mind. I did not know my leg was kicked off. I just thought I had a broken leg. Even worse, when I arrived at HSS I had severe compartment syndrome. When I felt Dr. Helfet's handshake, I felt like I was being touched by a very special angel. In shock, shaking, not really able to speak, and by myself, I was also devastated because I was to go off horse showing for the summer two days after the accident. The surgeries started. I cant remember how many the first 3 weeks I was at HSS. They were never able to close the right side of my leg, but Dr. Helfet did a perfect job fixing my meniscus, shattered tibial plateau, tibia, and fibula. It was an excruciating injury - mentally and physically because I was a jumper rider. But also being a sport psychologist, I knew I could somehow power through to recovery. Well, after 4 months of PT I still could not walk. I had to have Dr. Levine cut my Achilles tendon to fix the drop foot I developed from the trauma. More PT and trying to ride was depressing. My leg was "loose" with little strength. I could not even begin to think about jumping - the love of my life. I took up dressage, and while still struggling to work took on a new equestrian sport which require major motor skill and position changes. Eventually the plate down my leg hurt too much for riding, so Dr. Helfet took it out. More time off. While I have lost the ability to do most sports, dancing, am in pain every step I take 8 years later, the dressage has made me strong enough so I am about to embark on showing in the jumpers again I hope this winter. It is rough still, but I have my freedom riding and driving the car with my left foot. While I am legally disabled, I refuse to be disabled. Every now and then I am back on crutches, but even on crutches I can ride. I am forever grateful to Dr. Helfet for saving my leg, Dr. Weiland for doing the skin graft and helping with the drop foot, Dr. Levine for cutting my Achilles tendon, and Patricia, the nurses in Dr. Helfet's office, and the nurses and aides in HSS for helping save me.