In 2006, The Plunkett’s, were venturing to Logansport to enjoy their family’s company and some turkey on Thanksgiving when their holiday was put to an abrupt stop by a head on auto collision. Phoebe Plunkett, 10, woke from her nap to hear her sister screaming hysterically beside her and the front window of their car shattered into a million pieces.
Gathering her bearings, Phoebe immediately glanced down at her black and blue crippled ankle, and then at her motionless mother in the driver seat in front of her. She was unsure that her mother was alive. Phoebe and her mother, Rosie, lives changed forever that day.
The mother-daughter duo were life-lined where shortly after, they met OrthoIndy physician, Dr. Renn Crichlow, an OrthoIndy orthopedic trauma surgeon. Phoebe watched as her typically jubilant and optimistic mother was rushed away with a sheet covering her body and wondered if she was going to make it. Despite her self-less and compassionate nature, Phoebe had also suffered extreme injuries. She had a broken tibia and fibula as well as a crushed growth plate in her ankle.
Another injury that caused extreme concern for the ten-year-old and her family was the crushed growth plate in her ankle. Growth plates are the softer parts of children’s bones where growth occurs and ultimately determine how a bone grows. 15 percent of childhood fractures involve a damaged growth plate and typically occur twice as often in boys. Phoebe was a rare case and because of the severity of the crushed plate, surgery was an immediate decision.
Under Dr. Crichlow’s direction, Phoebe had an external fixator put in her right ankle.
In the beginning, Phoebe had very limited activity. For the first ten days after surgery, she was put in a cast to help further stabilize and ensure proper reconstruction of her bones. She was also required to use a walker for the first month post surgery.
Rosie had a longer path of recovery to encounter. She spent multiple days in the hospital and went through vigorous surgeries to correct her injuries. She had multiple compound fractures and broken bones in her lower leg, forearm, elbow and wrist. She had also suffered an acetabulum fracture.
The path of recovery was a slow and gradual one with progression from the hospitals, a wheelchair, walker, crutches and a cane. For an active and optimistic mother, Rosie had a very hard time adjusting and sought out Dr. Crichlow for emotional support during her recovery.
“Dr. Crichlow was prompt with his response and put things into perspective for me,” said Rosie. “I remember him saying that if I thought of my recovery as a baseball game, I would be in the sixth inning. He helped me set realistic goals for my recovery.”
“Maybe it’s because I’m a first and second grade teacher, but I felt I had a strong connection to Humpty Dumpty. It has taken patience for me to be put back together again, but Dr. Crichlow and OrthoIndy did it! Too bad they weren’t an option for Humpty!”
Rosie and Phoebe firmly believe that their success stories could not be contributed to one person, but to the entire OrthoIndy team.
“Everyone, and I do mean everyone, worked together as a team to ensure our success. Schedulers, receptionists, x-ray technicians and nurses always made my family feel as if we were a part of that team,” said Rosie.
“I have a very good relationship with Dr. Crichlow. We joke back and forth with each other. I love Tasha at the front desk and the people in the cast room,” said Phoebe.
The dynamic duo both went under separate surgeries and different recovery paths, but their bond strengthened as a family post accident. Phoebe has returned to running and training for marathons and Rosie has returned to her energetic self, staying busy with her students and even took up cycling.
“I am finally at a point where I feel all of the surgeries are behind me and there are very few activities I am unable to do… life is good,” Rosie said.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Crichlow please call 317.917.4384. or learn more about foot and ankle treatment at OrthoIndy.