MAKE IT HAPPEN
With Kristin Judge
BOY, DO I HAVE A STORY TO TELL about not being able to do what I love (hiking the high peaks) and how I have been able to get back to being me! It all started In October of 2020, when I was sidelined from hiking, because of major foot pain. I thought I ruptured my achilles tendon or broke something, so I went to the ER where they found I had bone spurs under my achilles tendon on both feet.
Fast forward two and a half years and two achilles surgeries later. My second surgery was February 28th 2023. A very successful surgery thankfully. My outlook was starting to diminish and I was very eager to get moving again. When they talk about athlete depression – It is a real thing; no matter if a hobby, professional, semi pro, a passion or a release. Not being able to perform and do what you love really plays with ones mental game. Thankfully, I was able to get in quickly for Physical Therapy appointments with Cioffredi. I had my first appointment on March 17th and I walked out of that appointment with lots of positive thoughts. My therapist, Nick, was so communicative, so positive, listened to my goals and assured me that we would make it happen.
“IT IS A REAL THING; no matter if a hobby, professional, semi pro, a passion, or a release. Not being able to perform and do what you love really plays with one’s mental game.”
The biggest thing that he stressed to me was that I had to put in the work! And boy did I put in the work, and so did he. The hands on approach was amazing – he would explain and perform every exercise, stretch and movement along with me. Having that communication and time helped me understand why each exercise was important and what it did for my recovery. We pushed hard every appointment – there were lots of laughs, tears, set backs, frustrations and accomplishments.
As a whole, the other Cioffredi team members encouraged and cheered me on. I worked hard at home, putting in hours a day of exercises, icing, resting and everyday keeping a positive outlook. As time went on, exercises were given to me that focused on daily routines as well as hiking and skiing goals, focusing on balance, strength, confidence, and cognitive skills. I started walking daily again with my dog, Orlaigh. I was gaining more strength, more confidence and my depression was going away.
One of my first goals was to hike on my birthday. 69 days after surgery, on May 9th, I went on my first hike. One month later, I was on top of Table Rock for my birthday. At this point my weekly sessions were over, but everything I learned wasn’t. I actually wrote out on paper – “You have to put in the work” and hung it in my work out area. I kept walking, putting in miles a day with Orlaigh, and the pain kept fading as my strength was building.
On July 29th at 3am, I laced up my boots to tackle my next goal: Hiking up the Mt. Washington Auto Road for an adaptive fundraiser. My team consisted of five, three of my closest friends and my adaptive athlete, who is 81 and suffers from a TBI. I was there to be his guide, his support to the summit, as my friends were there as mine. As we passed each mile marker, each 1000 ft. of elevation our goal was being reached. I passed the spot that I had to give up last year and yelled out “NOT THIS YEAR!” When we reached the summit together, I can promise you, there were many tears of joy shared. My last big goal that was set during my physical therapy sessions was to hike a 4000 ft. mountain for Flag on the 48 on September 9th. 26 days before September 9th, I hiked not only one but two 4000 ft. mountains. Talk about tears of joy and hard work paying off!
“I passed the spot that I had to give up last year and yelled out NOT THIS YEAR!”
During these last three years, I had thoughts that I was never going to be able to do what I love again – No more hiking the high peaks. I thought I’d never walk my dog without pain; Skiing was going to come to an end. I wouldn’t be able to work as a bartender without having to take so many breaks to rest my feet.
But on October 4th, I hiked my seventh 4000ft. mountain.
I am so very thankful for my surgeon and the success of the surgeries. My biggest thank you goes out to the Cioffredi team. The entire team laid out the stepping stones and guided me to a successful recovery. Without their help, encouragement, and teachings and myself putting in the work I wouldn’t be where I am, crushing my goals. I share my story with you to express that with determination, hard work, and dedication you can reach the goals you set. My biggest advice is… YOU HAVE TO PUT THE WORK IN!
“With determination, hard work, and dedication YOU CAN REACH THE GOALS YOU SET.”