"My rehab team helped me not only to find the physical strength needed for rehab, but also the mental strength to push through the frustration."
On May 30, 2015, Meredith awoke from a haze of anesthesia to a new reality. She had undergone eight hours of extensive surgery during which several titanium rods, screws, and a steel cage were implanted into her body in order to realign her spine. It was her 25th birthday.
24 hours prior, Meredith was an active, independent individual who ran half-marathons, danced in a ballet company, and volunteered as an EMT on a rescue squad in Vermont. She was helping some friends move into a new apartment when a piano accidentally fell directly on top of her, paralyzing her from the waist down. Now, finding herself in the unfamiliar role of rescuee, the quick-witted and logical Meredith miraculously maintained her composure–self-evaluating the state of her own body and what steps needed to happen next to get her safely to the hospital, as the gravity of the situation began to slowly sink in.
After spending a week in the surgical intensive care and inpatient units of the acute care hospital, Meredith was stable enough to be admitted to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital to begin her journey of recovery.
When Meredith first entered Spaulding's doors, she was nearly completely dependent on others–unable to roll in bed, sit up, get dressed, stand or shower unassisted. She had minimal feeling in her legs. Meredith worked with a comprehensive rehabilitation team, including an occupational therapist to address her challenges with activities of daily living, such as dressing herself, and a physical therapist to work on motor training and muscle strengthening.
"The therapists push you hard," said Meredith. "They push you beyond your comfort zone to really find your strength despite your injuries." Meredith made tremendous strides during her time at Spaulding, and, was discharged home after one month with the ability to walk short distances using a walker and braces on her legs, while using a wheelchair the remainder of the time. "The thought of walking at one point had been just a distant dream," said Meredith.
Today, Meredith is doing remarkably well. She has since relocated to Boston permanently and continues to build her strength as a participant in Spaulding’s Adaptive Sports program and aquatic outpatient therapy. She has become an independent monoskier, received her national classification for Paralympic swimming, and regularly participates in adaptive rock climbing. Meredith has also returned to work fulltime as a Cardiac Rhythm and Heart Failure Clinical Specialist for a major medical device corporation. Additionally, Meredith has shared her story as a featured speaker at multiple speaking engagements, including Winterfest, Spaulding Professional Council’s annual fundraising event, and The 2016 Vermont EMS Conference.
"My rehab team helped me not only to find the physical strength needed for rehab, but also the mental strength to push through the frustration and fear, the emotional strength to wipe the tears off your cheeks and to trust that when you stumble, your therapists will catch you, and the spiritual strength to believe in miracles."