Roller-skating grandmother back on her feet at St. Luke’s
At 57, Barbara DiMarcantonio of Martins Creek, Northampton County, knew enough to wear wrist guards when on New Year’s Eve one year ago she went to the roller rink with her granddaughter. But her skate hit something sticky or slippery on the floor, and instead of falling on her arms, her legs splayed apart.
“It sounds pretty benign,” said orthopedic surgeon Nicholas Avallone, MD of St. Luke’s University Health Network Orthopedic Care. “But she fell the wrong way and suffered a debilitating injury.” The injury was a rare avulsion of the hamstring, a complete tear of the hamstring tendon from the pelvic bone.
Dr. Avallone sent DiMarcantonio for an emergency MRI.
“Dr. Avallone told me that if it comes back as a large tear, I would be on the operating table the next day, or I’d be in big trouble,” she recalled. “He said to tell my husband I would be non-weight bearing for two months. I nearly fainted.”
DiMarcantonio has been clinical coordinator of the operating room at the former Warren Hospital. When she arrived at St. Luke’s Warren Campus for her surgery, her old O.R. team, including Joanne Muentz and Peggy Carr, was handling her case.
“I was never so happy to see someone in my whole life,” she said.
Dr. Avallone repaired the tear by placing three surgical anchors to attach the tendon back to the pelvis.
“I know I have perfectly-placed surgical anchors,” Barbara said. “I’m really grateful for Dr. Avallone’s skill. If he wasn’t here, I’m sure I would not have had the same results.”
For the next two months, DiMarcantonio’s lower body shrank because of atrophy as the surgical repair continued to heal. Her husband Joe and son Drew took care of her, with Joe helping dress her and get her in and out of the shower.
When the surgery was sufficiently healed, she started rehabilitation with Christian Plunkett, DPT, of Physical Therapy at St. Luke’s Hillcrest location.
Her recovery was rapid, and in August, she began working with Fran Brown of St. Luke’s Fitness & Sports Performance, Hillcrest Plaza, Phillipsburg,N.J.
She recently began her three-month reassessment program.
“I’m really grateful for my family and the care I received from everyone at St. Luke’s,” she said. “I’m hoping to never need this type of care again. I’m a nurse, a caregiver, a mom, a grandmother.
“You never want to be the one to have someone take care of you. But I am so grateful to Dr. Avallone, the O.R. team, Christian, Fran and so many at St. Luke’s who took the time to care for me.”