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COLORADO SPRINGS – The holidays are a season of giving, and this year, a Colorado Springs man is grateful he’s been given a second chance at life.
Jered Wickman’s life took a significant turn in September 2017 when he crashed while riding his motorcycle.
Jered admits he was simply not safe and going much too fast. “I remember the crash, I was going too fast, and I remember my front tire folding over on me. I woke up in the middle of the street and my right foot was tickling the back of my head. I remember passing out from the pain, at least eight times on the asphalt.”
Jered’s wife, Victoria, rushed to the hospital as soon as she got word. She was told he wasn’t doing well, and she didn’t fully comprehend how badly both of Jered’s legs were broken.
Victoria says, “I assumed we would cast him and he would come right home. I didn’t know that he was pretty much on the operating room table, almost gone. I don’t think reality really set in right away,”
Orthopedic trauma surgeon Dr. Peter Fredericks with UCHealth Memorial Hospital knew the reality he was facing trying to put Jared back together, once he saw Jered’s twin compound fractures just above the knee.
Dr. Fredericks remembers, “Both thigh bones were sticking out of his legs. Historically in the textbook, 50 percent of people die from that injury. It’s not just the bones that are broken in these cases, there are also other things going on related to the initial trauma.”
The visible trauma was significant enough. Victoria says “His left femur was broken in seven places and his right was broken in five places.”
Dr. Fredericks’ first job was to stabilize Jered the night of the injury. “The first night was basically cleaning up the open breaks, and getting all the bad stuff out like the road debris… closing the wounds and stabilizing the bones.”
After the first surgery, reality began to set in for both Victoria and Jered. Victoria says, “The nurse was ready to pull the blanket back off of him, and she said ‘Are you ready for this?’ He had metal rods sticking out of his legs, and that right there was hard to stomach. To almost be a widow at a very young age is scary with two young kids”
Jered says, “I came to, and Dr. Fredricks said, ‘We got you back together, you are going to walk again but you’ll walk with a cane the rest of your life’. And that is when it hit me.”
What Jered began to deal with was more than the physical pain from his injuries. He remembers thinking, “I’m going to be down for what I thought would be a couple of months, but it turned out to be a whole year, so that was a rough transition.”
The reality of how the consequences of his accident would affect his wife and kids also began to weigh on Jered. “That was the worst part of it, dealing with that. Knowing that I messed up my life, I messed up my family’s life, my friends’ lives, and all the people that helped me. That is a big burden to handle, big.”
Victoria was faced with taking care of their two young kids, and Jered. “He couldn’t really do anything. He couldn’t even bend his knees for about four months so he was in bed for a while.”
Part of Dr. Fredericks’ challenges in the many surgeries wasn’t just piecing together his broken bones together, but also replacing what they couldn’t find.
Victoria says, “Part of the left leg never made it back to the hospital. He was missing several inches of bone.”
Jered has a couple of theories about the missing six inches of his femur. “It may still sitting by the road somewhere but my buddies tried to find it and never could so I guess a coyote ate it or it was ground down in the crash.”
Thankfully, Dr. Fredericks had a plan. “We essentially had to regrow some of his bone for him. I basically had to put a spacer in there for a period of time to allow his body to form some tissue over the top of the spacer. Then I had to go back in and take the spacer out about six or eight weeks later and add a bone graft in there.”
Along with the bone graft, Jered now has enough hardware in his legs to be his own department at a home improvement store. Dr. Fredericks can’t say exactly how many screws, rods, and plates are now in Jered’s legs. “I don’t count how many screws I use, I just use as many as I feel I need to get the job done.”
Along with Dr. Fredericks’ amazing work, grueling hours of physical therapy, and hard work from Jered with the support of his family, friends, co-workers, and even his employer Mike Maroone, Jered is walking again and is back at work at Mike Maroone Chevrolet. He enjoys playing with his kids and doing things for his wife now that he is back on his feet.
In so many ways Jered has exceeded expectations. He says, “I don’t use a cane anymore. I try to better myself all the time.”
His miraculous recovery and a second chance at life is a gift that will keep giving to Jered, his family, and many others around him. He and Victoria feel they have been so well cared for by their family, friends, neighbors, his employer, the Colorado Springs Police Department, UCHealth and so many others who have taken care of them in ways they say they can never repay.
Jered feels at the heart of it all is Dr. Fredericks’ work in helping rebuild a literal foundation he can now rebuild his life. “Dr. Fredericks is the best in the state. He puts people back together. He did a phenomenal job putting me back together. After the crash I never thought I would be able to walk again, to be honest with you.”
Seems as he moves forward, Jered is even exceeding his own expectations.
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