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Remi Heller

Short Hills, NJ
  • Remi Heller in the photo 1
  • Remi Heller in the photo 2
  • Remi Heller in the photo 3
  • Remi Heller in the photo 4
  • Remi Heller in the photo 5

As a competitive horseback rider, I know the risks I take every time I get on a horse's back. I have fallen multiple times before, but I always got right back on. This time was different. I was jumping a course on a horse I had never ridden before. Everything was going well, I was getting all of my distances. And then all of a sudden, the horse I was riding tripped. Something so simple, but ended up so badly. Down we went, both me and the horse. I fell off and continued to roll away, so the horse would not fall on me. I didn't want an added 1400 pounds laying on me.

I don't remember much except for remembering the pain I was in and that my dad was telling to get up and shake it off. I also remember panic and that I couldn't stop shaking. About 2 hours later, I was told that I had fractured my clavicle. The next day, my parents drove me into the city to Hospital for Special Surgery. I remember being nervous, but I remember my parents reassuring me because this doctor, Dr. Altchek, was the absolute best in the business.

I took an x-ray and couldn't believe the results. My collarbone was in two pieces, on top of each other. You didn't have to be me in order to know how much pain I was in. Dr. Altchek told me that I needed to have surgery the next day. I asked him when I could ride again, and he told me he was going to make sure it was as soon as possible. On Tuesday April 21, 2015, I sat waiting to go into surgery. I was terrified. I thought I wasn't going to wake up. Nearing 6:00 pm, Dr. Altchek was ready for me. It was his 15th surgery of the day. That scared me.

I went into the surgery room surrounded by multiple nurses and doctors. It was white and very sterile. The anesthesiologist told me I would feel burning for a second. And then I was out. I woke up very woozy. I didn't feel pain, and I was happy about that. I went home that night. That night was the worst night of my life. I screamed and cried. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't move. I didn't realize I could feel that much pain. This feeling continued for three days. I screamed and cried. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. I wanted it to stop. I wanted my collarbone to be fine and not to feel pain. And on that Friday, that pain was gone. I was in a huge black sling that went all around my body for about 6 weeks. I started physical therapy. Each day was simply another day closer to getting back on my horse. Physical therapy flew by. The first day I walked in, I couldn't move my arm. A few weeks later, I was raising my hand like a pro. 6 weeks after my surgery, I got back on my horse for the first time.

I'm often asked how I ever got back on. After something so horrifying, how could I ever get back on a horse? Horseback riding is what I love to do in life. It's what I live for. I love my horses, I love the feeling of having an amazing trip. I love winning. Not one day did I ever think to quit. Dr. Altchek made sure I was ready to get back on my horse as soon as possible, and I couldn't be more thankful for his help. Today, my collarbone is in one piece, and I am back on my horse and better than ever.