Back to Hiking 14ers — A Patient Story
Jeremiah Couch is a hiking enthusiast and dude ranch (horse breeding farm) worker in Durango, CO. He was born to missionary parents in Ghana, South Africa and was raised in Ohio, before moving to Colorado.
In the spring of 2018, Jeremiah was working for Vail Resorts. As an employee, he decided to take advantage of the skiing opportunities offered at Breckenridge Ski Resort. On February 6, 2018, during his third time skiing after participating in lessons, he fell and tore his ACL, MCL, and meniscus in his left knee.
As an avid hiker and someone whose career is in manual labor, he was fearful he’d never be able to walk, hike or work again.
Jeremiah said, “I was carried down the hill in a banana (stretcher) to the emergency clinic in Breckenridge where I was cared for.” He shared that although he doesn’t remember being in a lot of pain at the time, it was in that moment while being carried down the hill that he knew something was seriously wrong with his knee. As an avid hiker and someone whose career is in manual labor, he was fearful he’d never be able to walk, hike or work again.
The staff at the emergency clinic recommended Richard Cunningham, MD, board certified orthopedic surgeon. Jeremiah said he immediately got in to see Dr. Cunningham the next day after the accident – Dr. Cunningham reserves some appointments each week on his schedule for emergency visits, which enabled Jeremiah to get seen so quickly.
Jeremiah had an MRI two days later confirming the injuries Dr. Cunningham had previously suspected. Based on the MRI results, Dr. Cunningham recommended both ACL reconstruction and MCL reconstruction surgeries as well as lateral meniscus repair surgery.
ACL Reconstruction, MCL Reconstruction and Lateral Meniscus Repair
On February 28, 2018, three weeks after the accident, Jeremiah had surgery at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, CO. As part of the reconstructive surgeries, Dr. Cunningham had to utilize part of Jeremiah’s quadricep muscle, which Jeremiah admitted initially scared him. Nonetheless, he remembers waking up in minimal pain and excellent care from everyone at the hospital.
Post-Surgery Recovery and Outcome
It was all worth it,” shared Jeremiah. “I’ve been able to resume all of my daily activities and resumed my hiking."
After surgery, Jeremiah completed 5 months of physical therapy at Avalanche Physical Therapy located in Breckenridge. He shared that the hardest part of his recovery was the pain he experienced in his quadriceps tendon for the first week of healing post-surgery.
“It was all worth it,” shared Jeremiah. “I’ve been able to resume all of my daily activities and resumed my hiking. Jeremiah has hiked all 53 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks, which are the state’s highest peaks. Post-surgery he’s hiked 10 of those “14ers.” Jeremiah reports having full range of motion, which he didn’t expect to have after surgery.
He credits Dr. Cunningham and the Vail-Summit Orthopaedics team with his success. “Dr. Cunningham is very genuine, knowledgeable, and caring toward his patients,” said Jeremiah. “I wouldn’t go to anyone else.”