Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones from the entire SPEAR family! This year we’re giving thanks to our irrepressible and resilient patients, the reason we do what we do, by sharing their stories of triumph over injury. Featured in this entry are Brian Byrne and Jennifer Smith, who see Abby Karpinski at 44th Street and Laura Muzzatti at 16th Street, respectively.
We’d like to thank our tremendous NYC community for another successful year of being able to do what we love. We wish you all a wonderful holiday!
Brian Byrne, 44th Street
What injury or ailment brought you to SPEAR and which physical therapist have you been seeing? I came to SPEAR with chronic hamstring pain, which led to hip and back pain. I’ve been seeing Abby Karpinski at 44th Street.
What does “back to life” look like to you? I was a 3-sport college athlete that dealt with a fair amount of injury. I remember usually playing hurt and feel like I was always treating one injury or another. The injuries always healed eventually.
Now that I’m a TINY bit older, the healing has slowed somewhat to say the least. I have been in pain with each step for the past few years. Back to life to me means being able to run with my children without pain, and being able to carry them on my shoulders without pain; just being the active dad that I want to be. And who knows, if I ever actually found any free time, maybe actually play a pick-up game of basketball or a flag football game (ha, wishful thinking).
Really I just want to be able to run and play again, without pain or restriction. Main message is probably no more playing hurt.
What are you most thankful for this year? I’m very thankful for my family. I have 2 great children, a 4 year-old boy, a 2 year-old girl, and an amazing wife. I’m happy that we get to live in a great city, in a great country. That we have our health and I that haven’t lost all my hair yet.
“Perhaps it takes something big to make you grateful for the small things but I now have an appreciation for life that I didn’t have before and it excites me!”
What injury or ailment brought you to SPEAR and which physical therapist have you been seeing? I have given many different variations to this answer (being bitten by a shark whilst surfing is always my favorite due to some great scars), but the real story is that I was skiing on March 2nd this year and whilst coming down a black diamond run I hit some ice, lost control and unfortunately my left ski didn’t release and instead took me down the mountain breaking my leg into 20 pieces on the way.
Just to make matters worse on the way to hospital I developed compartment syndrome and was rushed into the ER room to be told that I was going straight to surgery and that they may have to amputate my foot. I then spent the next 3 weeks undergoing 3 lots of surgery to put me back together again. I arrived at SPEAR a few weeks after that, terrified at being put through more pain and looking like a ghost of my former self (skier, marathoner, triathlete- you name it I’d try it), just two weeks after the 16th Street practice had opened. I was lucky enough to meet the amazing Laura Muzzatti, who after 10 long months has given me my leg and life back.
What does “back to life” look like to you? The sun is shining and the birds are singing! I can’t actually put into words what a journey this year has been. It’s only now that I can get myself to the bathroom, take my laundry to the machine and get a glass of water out the fridge that I realize quite how far I have come.
Getting to today has been a slow journey, notably learning to walk after 6months off my feet can only be described as emotional. I succeeded in making most of the 16th street practice cry when I did though! Under the close supervision of the team things have improved in leaps and bounds and this weekend I swam Friday, hit a tennis ball around the court on Saturday, walked for about an hour and danced with friends. These are things I genuinely didn’t think would happen again.
What are you most thankful for this year? Although I would love to be able to run, it is no longer going to be a viable option but I have through the patience of Laura and her amazing team (Erica, Kola, Lisa and Jason) been taught that my new life can be even better because it’s all come through hard work and determination. I am thankful that when I show them my latest achievement, that the look on their faces is of genuine happiness for me.
Before I was asked to answer these questions I knew what I would be saying thank you for this week. I am whole heartedly thankful to Laura and SPEAR for giving me my life back, through putting up with a lot of tears and showing so much genuine care towards me. I am also grateful for my wonderful family that flew out from the UK to look after me and for all my New Yorker friends for putting up with me through it all. Perhaps it takes something big to make you grateful for the small things but I now have an appreciation for life that I didn’t have before and it excites me! Thank you SPEAR, you really are my saviors.