'He didn't let me down'

Valentine's Day 2010 is one Rebecca Bauman will probably never forget. The day started like many others. She set out with a small group to snowmobile from Tomah to Cashton for lunch, but Rebecca didn't make it to the restaurant.

"It was a warm day and we were going up a hill. I didn't realize in time that the snow had gotten icy and the sled started to slide," she remembers. "As I was going down the other side of the hill, I overcorrected and hit a tree. The tree won."

Rebecca was badly injured and emergency crews quickly rushed her to Gundersen in La Crosse. "I don't typically go to Gundersen because of my insurance, so it was kind of a fluke I ended up there. I'm glad I did," she says.

Along with injuries to her pelvis, the bone that connects the elbow to the shoulder snapped just above Rebecca's elbow. The elbow was so badly injured that she required surgery. Fortunately, Gundersen has an orthopedic surgeon, Steven Klein, MD, who specializes in complex elbow injuries.

"Her injury was one of the worst I'd seen," says Dr. Klein. "With the type of injury Rebecca suffered, there was a good chance that she could have permanent damage, including nerve damage that would lead to numbness in her fingers."

That was of particular concern to Rebecca who is an avid hunter and in the Air National Guard. "Before I went into surgery, I told Dr. Klein I wanted to be able to pull back a bow and do 90 degree pushups," she says.

Fortunately, Dr. Klein was able to repair Rebecca's elbow during a three-hour surgery that required three plates and 19 screws, but her road to recovery has been anything but easy. The injury to her pelvis caused her to use a wheelchair for several months and she's still in therapy working on getting her elbow back to 100 percent. But, Rebecca is making excellent progress.

"I don't have any numbness in my hand and I'm back doing a lot of what I enjoy. I'm lifting weights to strengthen my arm and I'm able to do pushups again. I'm up to 30 'guy' pushups," she says proudly.

Rebecca was even able to go turkey hunting a few months after her accident and showed off pictures from her hunting trip to Dr. Klein. She hopes to be able to bow hunt again this fall. "I'm so happy Dr. Klein was available to do my elbow surgery," she says. "Everything has turned out great. He didn't let me down."

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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