I would not have made it to this point without the clinical expertise and positive encouragement from the entire team at Bronson

Allisa Chamberlin, Patient

In an attempt to hit the ski slopes one last time for the season, we took a short weekend trip out to Colorado at the end of April. We started at Breckenridge, and on the third run down, my skis twisted up and I took a spill. My left binding didn’t release right away and I knew when I fell that my knee twisted further than it should! After however many minutes it took to mentally convince myself I was fine, I eventually got up, popped back in and made it to the bottom of the hill. After lunch and some ibuprofen, I made it out for a few more runs. Vail was scheduled the next day, and despite significant swelling and discomfort, I still got my boots on and enjoyed runs in the sunshine and warm weather. It wasn’t until that evening, walking through the airport to head back home, I noticed that my knee was giving way. I realized then that maybe I hurt it worse than I thought.

As soon as I returned home, I went to the free sports injury clinic at Bronson Athletic Club. Courtney, an athletic trainer from Bronson, confirmed a possible MCL tear. She referred me to Bronson Sports Medicine, and a week later I had an appointment with Dr. Mark Sytsma. After a physical exam, X-ray and MRI of my knee, Dr. Sytsma was convinced I had a partial or complete tear of my MCL and a complete tear of my PCL. He very carefully explained all of my options, potential outcomes and together we decided to take the path of surgery, which would give me the greatest chance of returning to all the activities I love.

Surgery was scheduled at Bronson Methodist Hospital (on my 29th birthday I might add) to repair my ligaments. To say my experience through pre-op was awesome would be an understatement. Every person I encountered, from the front desk to the operating room to recovery, was warm, kind and encouraging. I was especially fortunate to have Connie as my pre-op nurse – it was her very last day of work before retirement. She held my hand, rubbed my arm and distracted me with conversation while the anesthesiologist inserted my pain block.  I can’t imagine how many hands she held in her 43 years of nursing at Bronson, but I was sure privileged to be one of her last.

When I woke up, I learned Dr. Sytsma had to reconstruct my MCL and posterior oblique ligament, reattach my PCL, and remove part of my meniscus. After learning of the added damage, I felt even more grateful that we decided on surgery to repair. Although I had seven incisions, Dr. Sytsma did a fabulous job keeping them as small as possible to reduce scarring. His experience and knowledge continue to amaze me at every single doctor’s appointment. I have complete faith in his ability as a surgeon, and always felt reassured and comfortable in his presence. Andrea, his nurse, was also super helpful through my recovery. She always responded promptly to my questions in MyChart and went above and beyond during my follow-up appointments.

I had to keep my leg locked in full extension at all times and could not bear any weight for six weeks. Going from an active person to requiring crutches for nearly eight weeks was more dispiriting than I anticipated. But Bronson has a solution for that, too! My physical therapists, Tiffany and Gaurav, were like my personal cheerleaders. Three days-a-week they maintained positivity and encouragement that saw me through all my ups and downs. I dreaded physical therapy (PT) because it was far from easy, but my therapists and the entire team at Bronson Rehabilitation Services – John St. made it bearable. I also have to credit Diane and Stacey for their flexibility and patience with my PT schedule.

Four months post-surgery, I am continuing PT and signed up for a performance training program at Bronson. I can say the performance training program has been amazing! I have not felt my core burn in a long time, and it’s amazing to see how quickly I am regaining strength in my knee/leg. Although I am still working toward being able to do all the activities I love – ski, bike, run, golf – I am super grateful for the progress I have made thus far. I certainly would not have made it to this point without the clinical expertise and positive encouragement from the entire team at Bronson. Thank you!

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