I’ve always believed that movement is a privilege and gift. I learned this over the course of the past three years as I have had my own personal weight-loss journey, totaling over 100 lbs. During that time, fitness had become an incredibly crucial part of my life, from running Olympic distance triathlons, a handful of 10Ks and ultimately the Brooklyn Half Marathon in May 2017. I had taken pride in the foundation I created physically and was excited to embark on training for a Half Ironman in 2018 and hopefully a full marathon later that year. However, in late August 2017, while performing a routine movement (lateral step down from a 24 inch box), I felt an instant snap in my knee, heard a pop and hit the ground. I knew at that moment that the injury was serious and I was absolutely devastated. Following an MRI, it was confirmed that my ACL was completely torn and the recommendation was ACL reconstruction.
The severity of the situation was not lost on me but hadn’t fully set in. I was incredibly active only a few weeks ago and was now facing a significant surgery, months of rehabilitation and the fear that I would never be able to return to fitness in the same way I was used to. People often don’t appreciate that an injury like this extends past the physical and is very much mental as well. I felt like this would be a fatal setback, I would gain back all the weight I lost, lose my endurance, muscle definition, and strength. It was terrifying, especially since this would be my first surgery. After visiting a few orthopedic specialists and surgeons at various hospitals in NYC, a good friend of mine recommended Dr. Riley Williams at HSS. I called his office and they scheduled me in immediately.
I truly cannot speak highly enough of Dr. Williams and his team (especially his PA Melissa Lefkowitz). Right off the bat they assured me I was in good hands and were honest with me with what the process would look like. It’s not a sprint, it's a marathon and there would be some setbacks and obstacles but I was determined not to quit mid-race. I would see this process through with the help of Dr. Williams and his team. They gave me the boost of confidence I needed to set up the appointment and show up on the day of surgery. September 27th was the big day. I still remember being prepped and visited by both Dr. Williams and Melissa. They were incredibly assuring while patiently answering all my questions and throwing in some TV recommendations for the long post surgery recovery days. They inspired confidence in me, I felt good and I knew I was in good hands.
The surgery itself went smoothly and I felt fine after being discharged, but it was really the weeks and months after that proved what kind of high caliber medical professionals Dr. Williams and his team are. His PA Melissa was consistently available after hours, checking in, making sure I felt ok and made time to see me when I faced some complications early on in the process. I remember going to one of my post-surgery appointments and discussing possibly running the Brooklyn Half again in 2018 (this was only 3 months after surgery so I still had a long way to go!), and I remember Melissa saying to me, "Just because it's hard or seems like an unreachable goal doesn’t mean it's impossible." That stuck with me. It gave me a new focus and new appreciation on what the human body can accomplish when training and rehabilitating from injuries in a safe and effective way. So 6 months post-surgery, I am almost completely back to my only fitness routine and now training consistently for the Brooklyn Half and an upcoming triathlon in the summer.
I not only felt cared for in the medical sense, but I felt like Dr. Williams, Melissa and the entire team made a conscious effort to make my success their mission. They were helpful and supportive, beyond the confines of the hospital itself. I cannot recommend them enough because they are a team that sees your injury beyond just repairing the damage and sending you home, they turn your setback into a comeback. Dr. Williams and Melissa are stellar medical professionals and incredible people and they set the bar when it comes to ACL reconstruction. I cannot thank them enough!