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Vanessa Vera

Secaucus, NJ

This February 14, my patience was going to show me how much love it had for me. While skiing in Vail on Day 1 hour 2 of a seven day ski trip, my ski pole struck packed snow and on my way down with full force hit my clavicle. Immediately as I got up to pick up my pole I felt a rush of heat to my shoulder. After calling ski patrol to the scene I was taken to the hospital (toboggan and all). The doctor came back and informed me my clavicle was shattered and I needed surgery immediately.

For some reason, the first thing that came to my mind was a colleague’s story on how he was told he would never run again after an accident and was back on his feet after being treated at HSS. “If you ever need surgery, you NEED to go to HSS,” I replayed his voice in my head. After a number of tear-filled phone calls, I was on a plane headed back to the East Coast. To my surprise my neighbor on the plane ended up being an orthopedic surgeon. He checked out my X-rays and definitely recommended surgery, told me I would be in good hands if I could get in at HSS. With the awesome help of my work contacts I was able to get into Dr. Nawabi’s office for an appointment. Dr. Nawabi assured me I would be back on the slopes and my regular activities, but would need to undergo surgery. Typically clavicle breaks heal on their own and surgery is not needed, but due to the severity of multiple breaks (6) he couldn’t guarantee I would be able to do the things I love without pain if I opted out of surgery.

By Friday I was pumped and ready for surgery! A rod was placed over my clavicle with the help of a few screws and wires and I was on my way to recovery. Initially, Dr. Nawabi had planned to only have to place 3 screws but needed to add an additional 3 when he saw how bad the break was from the inside. I woke up in good spirits and headed back to NJ. While the thought of lounging and Netflix filled days are fun for a bit, I quickly became stir crazy and longed to be back running, going to yoga, working out, just being outdoors. As an active individual it was difficult to be “out of the game” for the next few months.

I marked my first Physical Therapy appointment with a big X on all my calendars, which was 8 weeks after surgery. Andrew Saldivar explained to me it was going to take some time but that I would start feeling like myself again. I went in 2-3 times a week and we began with small shoulder/neck movements. Every week I saw myself improving and accomplishing small tasks that I would before need assistance with. Tough to have to watch your mom put your socks on at 27! Dr. Saldivar’s attention and care is remarkable and I truly appreciate how honest he is with my progress. He is always incorporating new exercises and reminds me of how far I’ve come. One of the methods he suggested I add to my PT work was hydrotherapy. Jessica Hettler and I put work under the water, which helps my arm move more freely. This tag team duo is the reason for the smile on my face this summer.

Without the help of Dr. Nawabi and HSS Sports and Rehabilitation staff I would not be where I am today. The care I received is an 11 out of 10 and I feel fully confident I soon will be at 100%. I am beyond THANKFUL for HSS and its staff. They always make me feel safe and I feel that we’re all on the same team working towards a common goal. 18 weeks later and I was crossing off some of my bucket list goals- Banff, Canada. My friend, new clavicle, and I were able to hike and row throughout some of the most beautiful scenery on this world.

Would never want to change any of the doctors on my case!

Although, I am in the market for new ski poles….