Paulette Gangemi

I just wanted to take a moment and share my story and wonderful experience with The Women’s Sports Medicine Center and Doctor Sabrina Strickland at Hospital for Special Surgery.

As you can see, I am not “local” to NYC. It is an effort to come to Manhattan, but the effort it well worth it.

I have had a lifetime of knee problems starting with a patella dislocation at age 14. In spite of repeated dislocations and unsuccessful surgeries I still managed to ski race in college in Vermont, Rock Climb, Backpack and competitive cycle and mountain bike. Recently in the past 5 years, as I approached 40 years old, I noticed I was unable to do basic life activities and athletics. It was a slow progression to inactivity and very upsetting. Other orthopedic surgeons told me to “stop all activity to preserve the joint” and I was truly at a low point. I was planning on training to become a volunteer ski patroller at a local mountain in PA and after seeing non-HSS physicians this goal seemed so far past my capabilities I had almost given up hope. I decided I was going to do everything possible to remain as active as I could, so I started researching HSS. (Best reputation in the world for Orthopedics, so I thought why not, I have nothing to lose)

I made a list of qualities I wanted in a doctor. I preferred a female surgeon, because I felt they may understand my situation better, I wanted a doctor who skied and understood the “skiing culture” and a doctor who went to a top university and specialized in knee instability. Honestly, I had low hopes of finding anyone who fit that description, until I read Sabrina Strickland’s profile.

My first appointment with Dr. Strickland was totally different then the lifetime of appointments I have had with other surgeons. She took the time to get to know me, my history and what I wanted to do, she understood skiing, that I was an educated patient and motivated. Dr. Strickland made me feel like it was possible to train hard, patrol and prepare for an MPFL reconstruction after ski season.

She ordered custom knee braces which were immediately helpful, ordered PT and monitored my situation closely. I was able to train, get very strong and become a Volunteer Ski Patroller that next season. I had a very successful first season patrolling and recently had the MPFL reconstruction.

Even at 2 weeks post op I could see the difference in where my patella is and how it tracks in my knee. I am now 3 1/2 years out of surgery, passed my Ski Patrol toboggan test (transport) 2 years ago and am more functional than I ever thought possible.

The entire experience at HSS was positive and singularly focused on getting me back to sports. I cannot thank HSS and Dr. Sabrina Strickland enough for giving me my life back and continuing with follow-up care so that I may realize my full potential.

Beth Shubin SteinPaulette Gangemi