Keeping Hope Alive
-Billy Cioffredi, PT
Hiking Mount Cardigan has been one of my favorite physical activities and part of my mental well-being. In April 2021, as I was just starting my descent for the hundredth or so time, I felt a twinge in my left knee. It didn’t twist or give out, so I didn’t think much of it and just took it easier coming down. My knee was sore, but I thought in two weeks with full rest it would calm down. That didn’t happen.
I was diagnosed with a 2.6 centimeter area of permanent damage of the white, shiny cartilage at the end of my thigh bone. The last two years, I have been working to adapt to this new normal. Initially, there wasn’t even the thought of walking on some trails, and certainly not skiing, but as time went on, I began to make progress. In the late summer of 2022, a year and a half later, I made my first attempt to hike back up Mt. Cardigan. I took my time, working slowly to get up and down without causing pain or swelling in my knee, and I eventually made it! It was a blessing to enjoy nature that way again.
These last few months, I decided to participate in our organization’s inaugural preseason ski conditioning class for adults. The class was led by two of our Performance PTs, Neil MacKenzie and Nick Franssen. High-level skiers themselves, they have provided care for skiers of all levels and Nick continues to work with the US ski team. I hadn’t jumped or hopped on that leg in nearly two years and was concerned I might incur a more debilitating injury, but I decided to put my trust in them and give it a try.
Ultimately, it was an exceptional experience. I was surprised to find how much both my strength and balance had diminished, but I was still able to make significant progress each week. By the end of the sessions, I was even performing some light hops and skips on my left knee without a problem. It gave me hope and did a lot for my confidence; so much so, that when my son came home for Christmas break, I was able to ski with him! We had a great time, catching some good snow at the Dartmouth Skiway, and I had no knee pain or swelling.
I don’t know if I will ever be able to run again, but I am grateful for the expertise and the support of my staff. They allowed me to not give up hope in the possibility to one day get back to one of the activities I love; one that supports my physical and emotional wellbeing. More than ever, I think about our patients, and how essential it is to provide hope and support in our care. This is no more true than Becky Ackerman’s story in the January 2022 Newsletter. Her resilience is an inspiration for anyone finding their own way down new and changing paths in life.
Wishing you a healthy, happy, and hopeful New Year,
Billy Cioffredi, PT
Cioffredi & Associates Founder