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UR Medicine / Anesthesiology / Pain Treatment Center / Success Stories / Fighting Back From Pain After A Near-Fatal Car Accident

Fighting Back From Pain After A Near-Fatal Car Accident

The emergency crew didn’t expect to find anyone alive inside Kim Reeb’s wrecked car.

“I lost control of my car,” Kim recalls. “My hood ended up around a tree. My legs were wrapped around the tree with the rest of the car.”

Rescue workers took 3 1/2 hours to free Kim’s body from the wreck. Her femoral artery was severed—pressure from the tree and the car had kept her from bleeding to death. She had a shattered fibula, a shattered ankle, and much of her right calf muscle was missing.

Kim was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital, where she would be in surgery for 6 1/2 hours. An avid dancer and cheerleader, Kim was just 17 years old at the time.

In the weeks and months that followed, Kim would have numerous additional surgeries. With the trauma from the injury and reconstructive surgeries there was significant nerve injuries. As a result, Kim experienced intense, stabbing pains. So Kim’s doctors referred her to the UR Pain Treatment Center, where she met Janet Vaughan.

“I was stubborn and angry,” Kim says. “I wasn’t nice to Janet in the beginning. But she handled that well!”

Several medications were prescribed for Kim’s pain and inflammation. Janet then worked with Kim to fine-tune the medications and the amounts. One of the most important aspects of working with Janet, though, was the encouragement she gave to Kim.

“I thought I could do better than sitting in wheel chair,” Kim says. “Janet encouraged me to do my best and not give up.”

By the time of her high school graduation, Kim was happy that she could just stand again. Gradually, though, Kim’s pain got better. With the help of her stubborn will, Kim regained more and more function in her legs.

Kim pushed herself to get up and exercise. Then, she decided to enroll in college. That required Janet’s help again for a delicate balancing act.

While the medications Kim was taking helped manage her pain, some would make her mentally foggy—and Kim wanted to make sure she was at her best for college.

“Janet had to make sure I could think clearly,” says Kim. “But not be in so much pain that I couldn’t function.” With Janet’s patient assistance, Kim found a level of medication that controlled her pain while giving her mental clarity.

Four years later, the results were astonishing. Kim graduated with a degree in professional and technical communications from Rochester Institute of Technology. Her goal is to become a motivational speaker.

It’s easy to understand why: “I can waterski now,” Kim says. “I can do an hour on the elliptical trainer.” What’s more, Kim continues to reduce the amount of medication she needs.

For her amazing recovery, Kim credits her own stubbornness, her mom and the UR Pain Treatment Center.

“They have a different kind of doctor,” she says. “They help you manage your life, as well as the pain you are going through.”

And of course, she credits Janet: “She always listened to me. She’s one of the people who really encouraged me to get where I am.”