On the last day of our vacation in Costa Rica, I was hit by a truck with my girlfriend, Alysha. We both broke our toes, tib-fib, femur, pelvis, sacrum, arm, elbow, ribs, lacerated organs, and she being in front was knocked into a coma. We were separated at the scene, taken to different hospitals, and did not see each other for months.
I could not leave Costa Rica, because I was not able to fly, I did not have insurance, and we could not find a doctor or hospital that would take on the case with good hopes. I thought I was going to lose my leg, my arm, and definitely never be upright again. When I finally learned about HSS, it seemed like a dream. And in so many ways, it was. As soon as I came back to America I was taken to HSS immediately, and I can still remember the feeling … that everything was going to be alright. Even though I still could not move, I knew I was in the best place in the world I could be.
I was told my tibia-fibula was badly infected, and that if I had come to HSS any later, it might not have been salvageable. I did a muscle flap and skin graft soon after, and my leg was saved. The infection however, did not go away, returning again and again, breaking metal and reopening the wound. Through it all, HSS was there for me. They welcomed me, figured out how to proceed against adversity, and put me back together.
I can still remember the first time I met Dr. Levine and his team because it was the first time somebody understood the problems in my foot. To have someone who understands what you are going through, that you yourself cannot even communicate, and to have ideas and solutions, is amazing. He was confident about getting me walking again. Dr. Levine’s expertise and care is the kind that inspires you to believe, to know that it’s possible to get better, and to work hard for it. He is patient, kind, understanding, and honest. Lisa, Soras, Jadira, and everyone that works with Dr. Levine are the kindest people in the world and took the best care of me.
My big toe bone was left somewhere on the side of a road in Costa Rica, and I was left with a pretty cool floppy toe. I thought it would be that way for the rest of my life. But Dr. Levine built a toe using bone from my heel and an amazing tiny metal construction which gives really cool x-rays, and gave me a foot I could actually walk on. Soon thereafter, for the first time since the accident, I walked without a cane, without a splint, without assistance of any sort. I was free, and I finally felt like myself again. It was the best feeling in the world.
Seeing the happiness on Dr. Levine’s face and his team when I showed him my walking in his office for our check-in, was one of the most satisfying moments of my life. Dr. Levine was with me since I arrived from Costa Rica, horizontal, infected, not moving, and he stayed with me until I reached my goal of walking out of his office with no help. He gave me the greatest gift I have ever been given in my life: he gave me my foot back.
I am the luckiest person in the world to be alive. I am the luckiest person to have gotten the chance to go to HSS and receive the best care in the world. I am lucky to have met Dr. Levine.
I am also lucky that Alysha survived and came out of her coma. After going to HSS for surgery herself, we both now walk without canes, we run (sometimes), we bike, we swim, we dance. We’re back in the game, and life is good.