Doctors see an awful lot in their line of work: the good, the bad, and the ugly. They especially like to tell of the good, including the story of a woman who beat the odds in a lot of ways.
Janeann Williams will be 76-years-old next week, and still she’s as independent as ever in her home near Hazleton. That’s an unlikely end to the story that begins in the summer of 2011. That’s when she was told, after years of pain, that she’d have to get one of her hips replaced. She was walking in a parking lot to get an MRI…
“…and that’s when I was hit by the garbage truck,” she says matter-of-factly.
Janeann wasn’t just hit. She’d been run over. Doctors later said they noticed a tire print on her torso.
“I was laying on the ground and I could see the undercarriage of the truck. I was praying for it to hit my head so that I didn’t have to be a cripple for the rest of my life,” she recalls.
Next thing Janeann knew, she was on a flight to Geisinger Medical Center near Danville, with a list of injuries too long to name. Her daughter Lori Carswell, a former trauma nurse in the Lehigh Valley, prepared herself for the worst.
“They call her the miracle woman! Really they didn’t know if she would make it,” Lori told us.
“Little lady versus garbage truck usually doesn’t go well for little lady. but she had done very well in the post injury phase,” said Dr. John Lynott, an orthopaedic surgeon at Geisinger. He was impressed with Janeann from the start.
First, he said, she had a constant stream of concerned family members at her bedside- he says it was clear she was the beloved matriarch of the family. But he also noted her resilience, explaining how severe and painful her injuries were.
“She was rock solid and tough and would have done anything we asked her to,” Dr. Lynott said.
But even after the surgery to fix her injuries from the accident, and even after all the check-ups and physical therapy, there was still one lingering issue: that hip replacement she never got around to scheduling.
“It was just encouragement and perserverence..connecting with her on a personal level..willing her to hang in there,” said Robert Emery, a physician’s assistant at Geisinger.
So last May, Janeann had one more surgery, a hip replacement. And to watch her walk now you might never even guess.
“It’s amazing! Amazing to me. She walks better than she has in 10 years. She can drive again. She’s completely independent,” said her daughter.
“I am put together! Let me tell you that!” Janeann laughed.