Because of my orthopaedic care, I can live my dream of pursuing a career as a professional dancer!
In the fall of 2007, I was about to begin my senior year of college at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, as a jazz dance performance major. I had spent the summer training on a full scholarship in Hollywood at the prestigious, EDGE Performing Arts Center. There, I danced alongside the industries best performers and I was unbelievably excited to return to school to share my incredible experiences with my friends and faculty at the University of Arts.
A week before I returned to Philly, I awoke in the middle of the night to get some water. Sleepily, I stumbled into the kitchen and the next thing I knew, I had collapsed to the floor. I had no idea what had happened, just that my left leg had completely given out. I stood up, and as I did, realized that my leg was locked in a 90 degree angle. Though I could bring my leg backwards, through flexion, every time I tried to move it through extension, it would lock at around 90 degrees. At this point, I grabbed my calf and physically and painfully forced my leg to straighten. The next couple of days, I realized that what seemed to be a small bone was visibly floating around below my femur. When it was on the medial side of my knee, it would lock; however if I pushed the bone over to the lateral side of my leg, I was pain free and had full range of motion. At that point, I began taping the bone to the side of my leg until I could get back to the East Coast to see a doctor. This way I could walk and even dance without the worry of my leg locking. When I returned to school, my ballet professor recommended Dr. Nick, and I have to say, it was the best recommendation I could have ever received.
From the moment I met him, I knew that this he was willing to do whatever he could to help me. He also, having worked with both athletes and dancers, knew how crazy we can be about our craft and understood that NOT DANCING was not a solution. A week after my first appointment, I was having my first surgery, an arthroscopy, where he removed the bone, which actually ended up being two bones, that had broken off of my femur. From there he determined his plan of action. I was diagnosed with an osteochondral lesion of my medial femoral condyle. Dr. Nick thought that best road to recovery was to use Carticel. From what I gather about Carticel, he sent samples of my cartilage cells to a lab in Boston, where they were able to grow new joint cushion from my cells. Six weeks later, I returned to have the “baby joint cushion cells” implanted into the “pot hole” in my knee. I was scheduled to have an early surgery, however hours later nothing had happened, and come to find out, there had been a horrible snowstorm in Boston and my cells were delayed from the airport. Someone in Boston drove my cells to another airport where they were then flown to Philly and then delivered to the hospital. Since Dr. Nick worked for the 76’ers basketball team, he was scheduled for a game that night; however, he stuck around all day long, just to do my surgery. I was not just another patient, I felt like I mattered and that made going under the knife so much more calming. Though the recovery process was both intense and long, Dr. Nick made sure I was healing properly.
Because of him, I have been doing what I love, performing as professional dancer for the past 4 years. I have danced on cruise ships in Europe and the Caribbean, in shows in NYC, and in companies in the Los Angeles area. I am extremely grateful to Dr. Nick for the gift he gave me, the ability to pursue what I love more than anything.