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Diana Ciepiela

My name is Diana, and for 26 years I have never had an injury that has sidelined me like this one has. I was a very active person; hiking, backpacking, running, playing sports and all of that jazz. When I was younger I was part of a dance troupe. As they prepared to celebrate their 50th anniversary in May of 2016, they invited back all of their past dancers to perform in the 50th anniversary show. During a rehearsal in February, I was coming down off of a lift and landed too close to another couple next to me. The guy in this pair accidentally kicked the achilles on my right leg, essentially tearing it. I walked on the torn achilles for a month going from doctor appointment to doctor appointment trying to figure out why it kept swelling and not getting better. After receiving an MRI, I was told that I would need surgery the next day to repair it. Ironically the news that I needed surgery did not shock me, it seemed like a no brainer – fix what was broken. After surgery I knew that I had to follow whatever directions the doctor said to a T, because I wanted to give myself the best chance to get back to the active lifestyle that I had before my injury.

For me, the surgery was the easiest part of this whole experience. I was lucky and was pain free during the whole recovery process. The hard part was getting things moving and working again. After 15 weeks of being non-weight bearing, I knew that first day I walked into Athletico Lincoln Park North and met Kyle that this was going to be an uphill battle. I got really nervous for what was to come after seeing the look on his face when I walked in, still in a boot, and told him when my surgery was. It was not easy. After going through four months of Physical Therapy I was not meeting milestones that the majority of patients would be meeting by that time or sooner. While I waited for my insurance to approve more sessions, I sought second and third opinions from doctors, went through countless MRI’s and tests – all poking my injured leg – until finally the fourth doctor took on the conundrum. Everyday has been a struggle. Most days were really hard and I felt like I was never going to recover. I did everything every doctor told me to do, repeated every exercise countlessly at home that I learned in PT and nothing was changing. I felt stuck and helpless.

265 days after my first PT session (416 days after my injury) I was finally able to stand on my toes! MY TOES! I could not have done it without the rock star of a Physical Therapist Kyle. He honestly deserves a medal! All of his hard work, persistence and patience trying different exercises, different treatments (from electric stimulation to dry needling), even cracking open that old school textbook, finally paid off on that Monday, April 10th 2017. BEYOND THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE! No one really understands how exciting it was to stand on my toes or to walk down a flight of stairs normally like Kyle does. I will be forever grateful to Athletico and Kyle. There are just no words for my gratitude and excitement. Kyle never gave up, even when I had moments that I just wanted to give up myself. He threw every stretch and exercise he could at me determined to get me to this point. Nine months into physical therapy I learned how to walk correctly. I ended up finishing my physical therapy sessions in August, and I can now RUN!

Thank you Kyle and the whole Athletico Lincoln Park North Team for all your patience, support and hard work to get me to where I am today. Even after all of that I have been through, I am coming out of this more confidence and excited with every step, thank you Athletico for getting me this far.

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