In February 2016, as I was being transported by helicopter in remote Switzerland to the nearest hospital, I wondered what fraction of an athlete I would be after this accident. Even though I’m in my early 50s, athletics and outdoor activities continue to be a passion and central part of my life.
Just hours earlier, I had hit a tree root system while backcountry skiing that tore my right knee and shoulder. As I would soon find out, the cost of the fall was shocking: I severed my ACL, tore my meniscus, and completely ripped out a piece of articulate cartilage from my knee. The first doctor I saw said it looked like I tried to tear my lower leg off but failed. On top of that, my right pectoral muscle had been torn clean free of my shoulder where it connects to the upper arm.
I saw Dr. Warren within days of returning to the U.S., and he quickly put me at ease saying he had seen far worse come back to great success. That afternoon, he operated on my knee. The pectoral/shoulder operation would have to wait until August.
Exactly twelve months after the 2016 fall, I skied the ER5 Bowl in Lake Louise, site of the annual K2 Big Mountain Challenge, and two months after that I competed in the Lavaman Triathlon on the Big Island of Hawaii. My swim and bike times were almost exactly the same as when I did this race two years before, and my run time was only 12 minutes slower. I have plans for a lot more to come and think with more work I can be even faster than before.
I attribute my successful outcome to Dr. Warren’s knowledge and skill as a surgeon, the care and dedication of everyone at HSS from the operating room through to rehabilitation, and the institutional support provided by HSS with its world-class facilities. Their collective expectation is absolute success no matter the difficulty of the challenge, and I am thankful to have been in their care.