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From Despair to Marathoner

On November 19, 2017, I completed my last road race in New York City with the NYRR. I qualified for the NYC Marathon (26.2 miles) in 2018. I was thrilled. Then on November 26, my German Shepherd was running his own race with his two best girlfriends (shepherds). They were tearing around the yard at high speed and suddenly took a sharp right turn. My shepherd, Jethro, could not slow down and had another shepherd on each side by his shoulder running like the wind. I saw it coming. Jethro crashed into my left leg and I went in the air.

The ambulance came, as I could not walk. We went to St. Barnabas Hospital emergency room. Everyone kept saying it was probably a sprain because I did not appear to be in pain. The X-ray indicated otherwise and the PA gave me Dr. Garcia’s name. I visited Dr. Garcia’s office on Tuesday following the accident. I was on crutches and could barely get around with them.

After anther X-ray, Dr. Garcia told me my tibial plateau was fractured in multiple places. He ordered an MRI. We scheduled surgery for December 6, 2107. Right before surgery, Dr. Garcia showed me the MRI pictures. He said that is was worse than the X-ray indicated.

I have been running for 43 years. It’s part of who I am. The 2018 NYC Marathon was a huge goal for me. I asked Dr. Garcia if I would run again. He looked at me, didn’t say anything, and the tears started running down my cheeks. Next: surgery – 9 screws, a titanium plate and cadaver glue to put me together.

I awoke after surgery and I was in so much pain! Luckily, I received a shot – I believe a pain blocker – that would last 24 hours. No shower for 3 weeks! Immobilized in bed for 10 weeks. No weight on my left leg. I got a walker.

On January 18, 2018, Dr. Garcia said “walk.” I took a baby step. He showed me the newest pictures of his surgery. I could not believe what I saw. Amazing! Dr. Garcia recommended physical therapy. I started on January 22nd for thee times per week. It was really difficult. I started with my walker then I graduated to a cane. I went from January through April. By April, I was using the anti-gravity running machine. It took me forever to run one mile and I wasn’t even at full weight.

On May 1st. I saw Dr. Garcia in his office. He said I could try running. The next day, I ran 2/10 of a mile and thought I’d never run again. But, I didn’t give up. I got up to a mile, then another and more as the days passed. I registered for the NYC Marathon. In September 2018, I ran 20 miles with my friend and on November 4, I completed the TCS NYC Marathon in a whopping 5 hours and 22 minutes, my slowest marathon ever. But, I did it! All because of Dr. Garcia and his tremendous staff. Dr. Garcia put my bones back together again and enabled me to continue to run. No more marathons, but many miles are in my running future. God bless Dr. Garcia and his staff. I overcame because of you.

- Monica Cullen

Better Than Expected

I was very skeptical about choosing the correct surgeon to operate on my right knee. I felt much better and had satisfaction visiting Summit Medical Group Orthopedics in West Orange. Everything from surgery to follow up appointments went better than I expected.

- Nirav

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