January 15th, 2014 started out mundane as any day could be. I was assigned a job I've worked before, I was close to home and with a partner I was familiar with. The early morning was cold and slightly wet. Still dark. I signed in with the dispatcher, found my track number, wrote down the car numbers, turned on the radio and walked out the door. Little did I know, the car numbers would be the last entry in my log book for eight and a half months. I made my way downstairs and to the tracks. I maneuvered to a spot where I thought I could cross safely, paused with a breath, then took a step over the rail. I paused again, looked up, saw my train, then shifted my weight over to bring my other leg over the rail. My right leg slid out from under me and I fell backwards on to the tracks. I was in excruciating pain instantly and knew that I was significantly hurt. On my way to the hospital all I could think of was the end of my brief career in Transit as a conductor. "How will I support myself and family now?", I asked myself in the ambulance headed to the hospital.
As it turned out, I suffered a torn right ACL and MCL. Surgery was suddenly on the table and required if I wanted to resume work. I met with two orthopedic surgeons and they both gave me grim news that I would be able to work but never play sports again. I was even more devastated than before because I've played sports for as long as I can remember. I'm the quintessential "tomboy." After 6 weeks of back and forth, and signs of PTSD starting to develop, I decided to take my care into my own hands. I remembered seeing a commercial for HSS so I decided to inquire. I called the hotline and was given two names. One of those names was Dr. Sabrina Strickland. I read her bio and was quite impressed with what I read, so I made an appointment.
Upon my arrival, I immediately felt like things were starting to look up. She confirmed my diagnosis and gave me options that the other 2 didn't give me. I explained that I wanted to get back to work and play sports again. She said I'd be able to get back to work in 4-6 months and that I could play sports again too. It was music to my ears and I relinquished complete control to Dr. Strickland and her staff. I decided to rehab at HSS as well. I literally hit the jackpot for care! I left the appointment more optimistic than before. My nightmares immediately stopped and I finally felt like I was moving forward and in the right direction.
The surgery went smoothly and my rehab, although long and arduous, went well too. My PT knew when to reign me in and when to let me push forward. I followed his plan to the letter and I think that improved my result. I recovered so well that I returned to work three and a half months after surgery and didn't miss a beat. I'm now able to work in the train yard again and I took the promotional train operator exam with a score of 95! After I fell, I never thought that being a train operator would be realistic, even if I returned to work. Now I know I can do all of what's required of that job. I signed up to play in a softball league and we won the championship with a perfect season! I ran my first 5k in Philadelphia last November and hope to work my way up to marathon distance soon.
I do not throw around the word love too often, and if one says it, they should mean it. I love Dr. Strickland! She is extremely intelligent, funny, (with the good taste not to laugh at my horrendous jokes) confident, nice and really, really, really good at what she does. She is an inspiration and leads by example. I haven't been inspired by anyone like her since I was in the Air Force. She was the right person at the right time in my life and I'm extremely grateful. Thank you Dr. Strickland, her staff, my physical therapist and HSS. You guys gave me my life back!