We love our Desert Hand Therapy patients and are fortunate to witness their incredible and inspiring outcomes and stories. This month’s story is from Stephanie. She suffered a devastating accident and was told she might never walk again, which would have prevented her from realizing her dream to become a police officer. Here’s Stephanie’s amazing story.
I’ve been a patient of Desert Hand Therapy since January 2000. I’ll never forget my first therapy session with Chris Reynolds because he canceled. However, there’s a lot more to this story…
I needed hand therapy for my right wrist, left wrist, right elbow and right shoulder. In August 1999, I fell approximately 60 feet off the 202 freeway after stopping to help an accident (I wasn’t in a car). I was working for the Tempe Police Department as a police recruit and was coming home from a friend’s house when I stopped to help on the evening of 08/09/99 and jumped/fell off the freeway to avoid being hit by a car. I fell onto the dry river bottom since it was before Tempe town lake. I’m the only survivor who has fallen from this spot as several others have had similar accidents, but they’ve all perished. I was in the hospital about four months and when released, I needed extensive therapy.
When I met Chris, I was in the “mean and determined” healing stage, you all know this stage of the mental game. I felt every medical professional at this point had given up on me and some had even told me they had. I was convinced the entire medical field was against me because I was a hard case with A LOT of injuries. Obviously, this wasn’t true as I have had many excellent doctors who fought to save my life—but the mind is a funny thing.
I was angry and I felt that I was completely alone and everyone wanted to see me fail. I was on a mission to recover as quickly as possible and get back in the police academy within the year. In the hospital I was told I would never walk, I would never run and most likely would lose my right arm. This made me very angry! When I called to make the first arm appointment with Desert Hand Therapy, I asked if I could come to the office a little earlier than the first appointment because I had to fit in several therapies in the day before going to work. They said it was unusual but had heard about me and really wanted to help, so they graciously agreed.
My first appointment was early morning in the Phoenix office. I’m sitting there waiting for Chris Reynolds, about 15 minutes after our appointment, and he still wasn’t there. I was getting pretty stressed about his being late and trying to make all my time commitments for the day. Then the receptionist says that I have a phone call, which I figured was going to be one of my rides – I had to rely on friends and taxis because both my arms were broken, and I was in arm and leg braces. When I picked up the phone Chris introduced himself and said, “I’m sorry I’m not able to make our appointment today”. I was furious, and I proceeded to tell him how upset I was that he couldn’t make our appointment.
You see, by this time in my healing, I had over 16 surgeries and had about five left to go. I had had enough of the medical field acting like they were too busy and being inconsiderate. Chris Reynolds, whom I hadn’t met before, let me finish my frustrated venting and then proceeded to tell me he was in the hospital. I felt like a jerk and with tears in my eyes I couldn’t help but think, “who’s inconsiderate now?” I met Chris the week after and realized he is one of the kindest, most thoughtful and generous men I’ve ever met with a heart that heals and a genuine soul. Chris Reynolds has a passion for what he does and has faith in his clients. I’ve seen him pick up a phone to call the doctor immediately to clarify a therapy plan, or take out a book and look something up to help a patient understand the way the arm works or how things are connected more times than I can count. He genuinely cares about his clients. I’ve not been a constant patient since 2000, but I was for over two years and I can say he was one person in my medical world that truly believed in me. Actually, one of the few in my ENTIRE world that believed I could do it.
I became a police officer in 2003 and I feel Chris Reynolds was placed in my path to help me succeed. I don’t know if I could have met my goal with any other therapist. Chris worked hard coming up with new ideas and ways for me to get stronger. I came back to therapy in 2016 after an elbow surgery with plans of only 8 weeks of physical therapy. The recovery didn’t go-as planned, and I had several surgeries over the past two years which eventually led to a complete elbow replacement. It’s been a complicated case and I’ve had both Arizona and Minnesota doctors. Chris Reynolds and the team at Desert Hand Therapy have worked with everything I’ve thrown at them. They’re truly caring and a very professional group of therapists. I am very fortunate to have them as part of my care team. I have referred dozens of people to Desert Hand Therapy and will continue to do so.
I’ve attached several pictures. One of me two months after my accident and an external fixator in my arm, next of me graduating the police academy and last one of Chris and I during my last round of PT.
Thank you, Chris. I will always be grateful!