In October of 2012, as I was picking my two year old son up from day care, my car was struck by a man driving a large work van. I had been standing next to my car, trying to cajole my son into his car seat. The force of impact drove my car frame through my lower legs. For that one moment of terrible luck, I was tremendously lucky thereafter: my son was not injured. And I was lucky in that I was taken to UCLA Trauma Center. There, I met Dr. Andrew Da Lio, who told me that night that he was going to try and save my legs. What followed was a two year medical odyssey through recovery.
Dr. Da Lio, along with Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Devon Jeffcoat, rebuilt my legs. Titanium rods and screws were implanted to replace the bone. Dr. Da Lio created skin flaps to replace the soft tissue that was pulverized, by removing my latissimus muscles from my back and transplanting them into my legs. Skin grafts and bone grafts followed. I am still amazed that they were able to rebuild me. The road to recovery was long – it would be two years and many set backs before I was able to return to work. There were two antibiotic resistant infections, the treatment of which was very arduous. Then there was the physical therapy – which I still go through today.
At one point, I remember haltingly, hesitantly, asking Dr. Da Lio if I would be able to walk again. And he told me that he was pretty sure I would be able to stand up. Which wasn’t what I had asked of course, but certainly answered my question.
Well, I did more than just stand up. After two years, I was able to return to work. I was able to walk unaided – no wheelchair. No walker. No cane. Not only that, but since that time, I have had another child, a daughter. My pregnancy was delightfully uneventful, and I was able to be on my feet throughout – I worked up until about 3 days prior to Hannah’s birth!
I’m still recovering. There are still issues, and with every inch of progress I make in gaining more mobility in my legs, there are new challenges. But I am forever grateful that Dr. Da Lio was willing to take a chance. The care and treatment I received at UCLA were simply amazing.