“Get Up and Live” – Frank and Sandy McGwier’s Battle Against Injury

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Frank “25 Hours and 6,000 Miles” Frank and Sandy McGwier are a team in life.  Residing in the Bahamas, this husband and wife duo share a love for the outdoors, skiing, fishing, and travelling. In the past two years, they also shared similar fates when they both became patients of Dr. Peter Millett. Their story is both happy and sad and makes a full circle — injuries now behind them, successful recoveries, and a wealth of gratitude for the ones they say gave them their lives. The story begins a few years ago when a local Bahamian orthopedic doctor diagnosed Frank with a case of biceps tendonitis and shoulder impingement.

 

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Frank knew that he would have to have surgery at some point, but he wanted to wait until he finished a big ski trip to Vail that he and Sandy had planned. He knew he wanted to find the right surgeon to perform the surgery.  Little did he know how important this trip to Vail would become and how Dr. Millett would soon become an instrumental figure in both of their lives. In late March, while skiing in Vail, Colorado Sandy experienced a traumatic fall and ‘blew out’ her knee.  Immediately after the fall, she headed to Vail Valley Medical Center at the base of the mountain and was examined by Dr. Millett.  It was during that visit that Dr. Millett informed Sandy that she would need surgery for her ACL injury and they scheduled it to take place later in the Spring. Once Sandy’s injury was discussed, Frank turned his attention to Dr. Millett and asked him if he would examine his shoulder. Dr. Millett did a full examination with x-rays and confirmed that he could benefit from surgery too for his biceps tendonitis and shoulder impingement. Knowing that their surgery plans were somewhat delayed, Dr. Millett provided the duo with strict instructions and pain medication should they need it until their surgery dates arrived.

Frank and Sandy returned to Vail two months later so that Dr. Millett could repair Sandy’s left knee—which involved a full ACL reconstruction and a meniscus repair. A few months later, Frank returned for his shoulder surgery and underwent arthroscopic surgery to address his shoulder impingement and rotator cuff and to fix his biceps tendon.  Both would adhere to the strict protocols that Dr. Millett put in place for them and by the following year, both were injury free and pain free. “Between February and November of that year, Sandy and I got to know Dr. Millett very well. He and I share a love for fly-fishing and by the end of our experience the three of us had become friends. The whole team that works with Dr. Millett seemed like a long-distance family. I kept Dr. Millett’s number in my cell phone—and I’m so thankful I did, because like a close friend, he continued to be there for us in a desperate time of need,” said Frank. Moving on with their lives, Frank and Sandy planned a trip to Patagonia Argentina last spring to fish in the Andes. Several months later in August, they returned because of their love of Argentine culture and cuisine. While walking in the capital city of Buenos Aires one Saturday evening, the couple was viciously attacked in a street robbery by four adult men.  Frank tried to protect himself but unfortunately had his right humerus shattered.  That same night, the couple would visit two area hospitals in Buenos Aires and with great assistance from the medical professionals there and local Argentine friends, Frank was stabilized.

It was confirmed that Frank would need shoulder fracture treatment surgery on his damaged shoulder. More than 4,000 miles away from home and in need of major surgery on his arm, Frank reached out to his friend, Dr. Millett. “I was in trouble and quite frankly, pretty shaken up,” said Frank. “ I contacted Dr. Millett by email Sunday afternoon and then we immediately spoke by phone. His concern was obvious and real. Thank goodness he was home and ready to help. Dr. Millett asked me to send him my x-rays and after further consultation that day, he confirmed that fracture required major surgery to repair the damage.” That same afternoon, Frank and Sandy made arrangements to leave Buenos Aires, and on Tuesday they flew 25 hours and over 6,000 miles to arrive in Vail on Wednesday night. “I trusted Dr. Millett and he alone to do this delicate and intricate shoulder fracture treatment surgery. We were welcomed with opened arms by his staff. Dr. Millett’s support people had arranged for my immediate MRI, CT and X-rays on Thursday morning and by Thursday afternoon, I was prepped and ready for 3 hours of delicate and challenging surgery performed by Dr. Millett and his surgical team,” said Frank.

The nature of Frank’s injury was both physical and mental. According to Frank, “All of our sensitive issues were professionally dealt with by Dr. Millett and his assistants. Their care was welcoming and comforting. When we returned to Vail for my 6-week check-up, we found out that things were healing well, but I also began to learn the gravity of my injury and the severity of my specific case.  It made me thankful that I had this truly gifted surgeon perform this delicate procedure.  It also made me realize that Dr. Millett can put together a team of professionals to help with the medical portions of the treatment, business aspects of facilitating the treatment in today’s insurance environment and physical therapy protocols, but it is up to the patient to reach out, be communicative and actively participate in the recovery process. All said and done, the whole healing process has been wonderfully assisted by Dr. Millett and his exceptional medical and other professional support people.”

Back in the saddle again, Frank already has another fishing trip scheduled in March to Patagonia with full intent to complete this story with full use and function of his arm, fly fishing in some of the most beautiful waters in the world. “I’m not an athlete or superstar; just a regular guy. Having someone with the dedication, talent, smarts and skills as Dr. Millett and the rest of the team help guys like me get our life back. They say ‘getting knocked down is life; it’s how you get up that is living’.  Dr. Millett and his team helped with the ‘get up and live’ and for that, I’m forever grateful.”

While clinical studies support the effectiveness of these procedures, individual results may vary. There are no guarantees of outcome. All surgeries involve the risk of major complications. Before you decide on surgery, discuss treatment options with your doctor. Understanding the risks of each treatment can help you make the best decision for your individual situation.  Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits. Only your doctor can determine the appropriate treatment for your situation. The clinical information and opinions, including any inaccuracies expressed in this material by patients or doctor are not necessarily those of Peter Millett, MD and should not be considered as substitute for medical advice provided by your doctor.