Former Marine Greg Allen Learns Patience and
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A former marine, Greg Allen is used to toughsituations and difficult terrain. However, he didn’t anticipate black ice in a parking lot would lead to his worst injury to date. As he was getting into his truck on January 20, 2014, he slipped on ice and landed on the sharp metal door plate of his truck, shattering his leg and rendering him unable to stand up. Fortunately, a good Samaritan across the street heard the fall, called for help, and covered Greg with coats to keep him warm in the frigid temperature.
Glen Ellyn firefighters—who, coincidentally, were childhood friends of his—rushed Greg to the hospital. Doctors immobilized him and performed surgery, inserting a rod into his leg and completing several blood transfusions. Though the surgery was a success, doctors recommended Greg continue treatment at Marianjoy. “There was no way I could have gone home,” says Greg. “I had to relearn so much.”
Although Greg was nervous about what lie ahead, he felt better as soon as he arrived at Marianjoy. “From the very moment I came into the building, every member of the staff I had the pleasure of coming into contact with went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and at ease,” he says. “They are to be commended not only for the level of professionalism that I experienced, but also, and perhaps even more importantly, for the level of compassion and kindness that went along with it.”
One part of Greg’s experience he particularly appreciated was Marianjoy’s focus on his goals. “In my military and athletic background, I’ve been impatient my whole life—but Marianjoy taught me patience. I wanted to stay for the whole course of treatment at Marianjoy, however long that would take. The time I was lucky enough to spend there was amazing.” Greg wanted to get back to his old life, but he learned to focus with his care team on smaller tasks first, like daily living activities and eventually walking again. “Doctors Raju and Lopez were extremely thorough regarding my treatment goals and schedule, while at the same time being very compassionate in doing so,” he says.
Greg’s work ethic and determination paid off. “He was a very hard worker, always very motivated,” says Dini Mapa, his physical therapist. “He was also very friendly towards other patients and motivated them, too.” After 13 days of inpatient care, Greg was able to return home. “Without Marianjoy, I couldn’t have made the transition from hospital to home,” he says.
Greg applied his newfound patience to his transition back to everyday life. “I learned you have to accept what you can’t do, at least at first,” he says. “Because it was difficult to move from the gas to brake pedals easily, I decided not to drive for three months. Marianjoy’s driving facilities were really helpful, though, in getting me back to driving eventually. Because I was wary of the icy conditions outside that had caused my fall, I appreciated that so much was available indoors.”
Now, Greg is back to work at the same company as before, but in a different capacity. “My company has been very supportive, working with my new capabilities,” he says. “I have shifted from field work to business development, which I think is a better fit.” Even so, Greg can’t believe how “back-to-normal” his life has become, in spite of his major injury. “My priorities are different now; I don’t take the same things for granted. I want to give back in some way to give thanks for all I received. I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today without Marianjoy.”