“Back in the Game”
Cheryl Cohen Mihal
On March 17, 2017, I had an extremely serious skiing accident in Deer Valley, Utah, resulting in multiple fractures in my lower left leg, including the bone coming through the skin.
After needing major surgery immediately in Park City to put my “kibbles and bits” back together and putting a titanium rod in my leg. My Doctor in Park City thought it was the worst leg injury he had seen and commented that I may not be able to ski again.
I have an optimistic view on life, and after 3 months of not being able to put any weight on my leg at all, I started PT, which included using a bone stimulator, walking in a swimming pool, etc. But after months of working hard in my rehab, the Tibia was not healing completely, leaving a significant gap in the bone. After visiting several very reputable trauma surgery specialists in the Washington DC area, the solutions were not to my liking (to do multiple surgeries and still only a 70% success rates-as my younger son said, like a C on a Test!)
In July of 2017, I contacted an old dear friend, Dr. Douglas Padgett, who is a well regarded Orthopedic Hip Surgeon at HSS, and asked his advice. My left leg was not in the best shape to start with after previous skiing injuries to the same leg and knee! But as a lifelong skier, not skiing really was not an option for me!
Doug introduced me to Dr. Bill and my whole world was turned around! We chatted and I came up to NYC, and quickly thought that I might finally get “BACK in the GAME” as soon as we started chatting! Dr. Bill’s demeanor was wonderful, and as a skier himself he knew that I not only wanted to walk again without any pain but I needed to be able to ski again to be my complete self again!
Dr. Bill’s plan was to take a bone graft from my left hip (1 1/2 shot glasses or so of bone marrow) and pack it in to the bone that was not healing. Then replacing the original titanium rod that was already in my leg when I had the fall with a thicker, more substantial rod. Within a few weeks of chatting and meeting, I had my operation on November 3, 2017 and my NEW road to recovery had begun! By January, my pain was gone in my hip and leg completely. It was truly amazing!
My care and follow-up were awesome. From the professional and friendly HSS staff, to the wonderful facilities next door, everything about the experience was positive. Any questions, large or small were answered, adding to my comfort (and I ask a lot of questions!). Even my anesthesiologist asked what my favorite music to listen to as I fell asleep (Bruce Springsteen of course!).
I quickly developed complete trust in Dr. Bill because of the way he explained details of the surgery so calmly and expertly. I said to my husband, Jim, this was the Doctor that was going to fix my leg once and for all, so the pain was going to disappear, eventually getting me “Back in the Game”!
For all of these reasons and more, I feel HSS is the BEST for out-of-towners. And this year, I am proud to say, we had great ski trips to Deer Valley, UT and Vail, CO. It was truly like nothing had even happened to my leg!
For anyone who feels serenity while skiing, they know that if you love doing something, and if it is your ZEN in the world, you will not give up by a freak accident that no one has control over. Once again, major thanks to Dr. Bill Ricci, the Chief of Orthopaedic Trauma surgery. In my opinion, and judging from my personal results, he is absolutely the BEST in his field and worth traveling out of town to have surgery!
Cheryl Cohen Mihal