Finding a Doctor Who Understands the Female Athlete: AnnaMaria’s Journey

AnnaMaria playing Volleyball

After tearing her meniscus multiple times and countless surgeries later, AnnaMaria Evers knew it was time to find a doctor who understood her as an athlete and could help her get back to being healthy. 

AnnaMaria was an active athlete, playing both volleyball and basketball. “The surgeries never stuck, and it was when I tore my meniscus for the final time as a sophomore in college, I knew I needed to find a doctor who understood me and my drive to get back to the gym/court,” said AnnaMaria. After doing research online, AnnaMaria and her family found Dr. Lauren Redler of Columbia Pediatric Orthopedics in 2019. “We called and got an appointment with her the next day. I was looking for a female doctor who played sports, it was important to have a doc that knows what I was going from and what I wanted to get back to, which was working out as quick as possible.” 

In meeting with Dr. Redler, AnnaMaria made a game plan for next steps in her care journey, which meant surgery. “She read the anxiety off my face and she immediately took out a pen and paper and drew pictures of my knee and really talked me through everything; what could go wrong and how she could fix it, the steps it would take throughout the surgery, what my bones would look like, what the scars would look like, etc. she really talked through everything. It was so comforting,” said AnnaMaria. 

Dr. Redler answered every question I didn’t even know I had. I was weary to have a big surgery at such a young age and called Dr. Redler when I got home from my appointment, and she re-explained everything to my parents and made us feel so comforatble with next steps.

Before meeting Dr. Redler, AnnaMaria never knew why she kept tearing her meniscus. “Dr. Redler was the first person to ever tell me that I have a knocked knee in one leg and was bow legged in the other, which made me off balance, and was the reason I kept tearing my meniscus. The only way to fix this was by having part of my femur removed.”  

Annamaria in the hospital

So in the spring of 2019, AnnaMaria had a knee scope, partial lateral meniscectomy (small removal of meniscus), and a distal femoral osteotomy (DFO) which is a surgical cut of the bone at the bottom of the femur. This surgery helped correct AnnaMaria's “knock knee” alignment, which was likely part of the cause for previous failed surgeries. Later in 2019, AnnaMaria had a knee revision lateral meniscus transplant which was done after her DFO healed, which overall replaced the damaged knee meniscus. “Dr. Redler didn’t rush me to have the next surgery, she told me to recover and see how I felt and if I even wanted to do the next surgery at all, which was comforting,” said AnnaMaria. 

“It was in the spring of 2020, when AnnaMaria had a final surgery with me, where I did a removal of hardware in her left femur to remove the plate I used for her distal femoral osteotomy. Everything went very well,” said Dr. Lauren Redler. 

Now post-surgery AnnaMaria is back to working out. “I have had no complaints after my last surgery, I can work out perfectly fine, it is painless and there is no swelling after my workouts, which is the first time in six years," said AnnaMaria. 

My knee is in perfect condition, it’s like I haven’t had any surgeries. It’s been a long road, but I feel like I am on the other side now, thanks to Dr. Redler.

“I brag about Dr. Redler to anyone who will listen. One piece of advice I would give others in my situation or a similar situation would be to just meet with Dr. Redler because its normal to have anxiety about having a surgery this big. Once you meet her, all your anxieties will go away. She can educate you and will make you as comfortable as you can be before going into the operating room. Once I found a doctor, like Dr. Redler, who generally cares about me, I couldn’t go anywhere else.” 

AnnaMaria is now a senior in college and pursuing a career in psychology with hopes to be a future child life specialist thanks to her encounter with a child life specialist during her time in the hospital during surgeries. “Dr. Redler even helped me connect with the child life specialist team so I could learn more about what they do, which was really awesome and helpful,” said AnnaMaria. Aside from her future goals of being a child life specialist, AnnaMaria is looking forward to playing volleyball again in the near future.