My name is Gianna Cicchetti and at the time of the surgery I was 18. I turned and am currently 19 a few weeks post-surgery. I am a student at SUNY Delhi in the Bachelor School of Nursing. Ever since I was 8 years old I have been in constant knee pain. I was a basketball player and had to give up playing the game that I loved due to pain. I have bilateral osteochondritis dissecans. I had surgery on my left knee at HSS when I was 10 years old. This surgery stopped the progression of the condition but due to my age at the time of the surgery I formed some improper healing. This improper healing caused the reoccurrence of pain. I couldn't do anything - sleep through the night, ice skate with my friends, participate in gym or walk pain-free.
During my freshman year of college I went back to Dr. Green, who helped me as a kid, and told him what I was experiencing. For years I was at a constant 7 on the pain scale everyday from the time I open my eyes in the morning to the time I closed them at night. He came back in from assessing my x-rays and told me I would need surgery again. This is when he gave me Dr. Gomoll's name. I made an appointment with Doctor Gomoll and from the first appointment he told me I would need a two step surgery. During my appointment, I asked him an important question: "Do you think this could be my answer to living life pain-free?" He told me it all depends on your vision of success. Then he asked me what my vision of success was. I told him I am a nursing student and I would like to work a 12 hour clinical day to as close to pain-free as possible. He looked at me and said we'll get you there together.
Leaving that appointment I felt scared but Dr. Gomoll reassured me that there would be nothing to fear and he would be with me every step of the way. Surgery one was a cartilage harvest. He arthroscopically entered my left knee through two tiny holes to remove some of my own cartilage to grow in a lab to later transplant back into my knee. A couple days after this surgery I formed two blood clots in my left leg which traveled to both my lungs and broke off into pieces within my lungs. These clots formed due to my body's reaction to certain medication and other personal factors. We immediately contacted Dr. Gomoll, might I add this was on one of his days off, and from that phone call on he never missed one of my phone calls. I even received phone calls from him to check in on my progress. As you can imagine, I was terrified to do the second surgery with being on blood thinners and only 4 months after all of this. Dr. Gomoll kept in contact with my hematologist and created a treatment plan for immediately after I got out of the operating room. This specific amount of attention from Dr. Gomoll made me feel 100% comfortable and willing to do this major surgery.
During this process I would also like to give major gratitude to Lisa. Lisa coordinated my surgery and dealt with any questions or problems I had. Her willingness to help and positive attitude was a huge weight off my shoulders. She always went out of her way to ensure my comfort and make sure I was taken care of. Her compassion is endless. When you have Dr. Gomoll as your surgeon, not only do you get him but you also get his team. Everyone who I came in contact with during this entire process that was affiliated with him was 100% amazing. They all knew what was going on and was never lost, confused, or unpleasant.
May came along and just 4 days after moving back home from college I found myself on the operating table once again for step two. This surgery was to transplant that grown cartilage back into the space I needed it, two bone graphs, and a tibial cyst removal. This would cause me to be non-weightbearing for 6 weeks and use the crutches for 2 more weeks to acclimate myself back to walking. He accomplished all of this intense work in two tiny arthroscopic holes and one small one inch incision. I would also like to add that he mapped out this surgery so well that he went through the same incisions that he created the first surgery for the second one to minimize my number of scars. Instead of 5 scars I left both surgeries with 3 incisions.
I went back 6 days after surgery for a post-op appointment, then about 4 weeks later for another appointment. At that 5 1/2 week appointment, keep in mind I am nowhere near the finish line, but I sat in his office and cried. For the first time in 11 years I didn't have pain. I am in my 2nd brace of this process and have to wear it for 5 more months to fully get to my full healing time. Now writing my story 90 days post-op I can confidently say Doctor Gomoll changed my life and gave me one I saw worth living. I was always down and depressed because my knee pain held me back from doing anything. I missed out on so many things as a kid. I couldn't even climb a flight of stairs without needing to stop. Dr. Gomoll gave me my youth back. He is an incredible person with amazing heart and dedication. My nursing career wouldn't be possible without him. There are no words to describe him. He never once made me feel nervous or like my goals were too far out of reach. He is truly one of a kind. Dr. Gomoll was really an angel I was meant to meet in my life. I will forever be indebted to him. He saved my life.