The last thing T.J. Moffitt recalls as his car slid on a patch of ice at the crest of a hill on North Liberty Road was thinking, “This is going to hurt,” then he laid down across his front seat. In between waves of consciousness and unbearable pain, he heard a man’s voice. He was trapped inside his Chevy Cobalt, which was wrapped around a big tree, and firefighters were working to free him. “I remember asking someone to please call my wife,” he said.
On the short ambulance ride to Grove City Medical Center, he heard a medic calling ahead to advise hospital staff of a “trauma alert.” Once he arrived at the emergency department, nurses asked him repeatedly for his name and birthdate, and if knew what had happened to him. “I kept thinking, ‘why are they asking me the same things over and over?” he said. While one nurse remained near his head explaining the care he was receiving, others were assisting the doctor and managing his pain and nausea medications.
The winter storm conditions prevented him from being transferred to Allegheny General Hospital by air, and Moffitt recalls the ambulance ride to Pittsburgh being long and painful. During his 5-day stay, he had multiple surgeries to repair the fractures he’d sustained to his arm, shoulder blade and back; he also suffered a ruptured spleen that didn’t require surgery. Physical therapists picked up where his surgeons left off: “Those physical therapists are like personal trainers, they do not take ‘no’ for an answer, ever,” he said.
Moffitt calls his recovery a “journey,” filled with doctors’ appointments, dressing changes, special equipment, visiting nurses and physical therapy, which has impacted his role as husband and father to his young son. He and his wife appreciate the support they’ve received from close friends by visiting, lending a hand around the house, picking up groceries and prescriptions and getting him to doctors’ appointments.
Anticipating his return to work soon, Moffitt assesses his new normal. “I am not back to strength with lifting, tugging, pulling and what I could do before my accident,” he said. Due to the location of the injury he sustained to his upper arm, he’ll never be able to fully extend it. “I am glad to still be here for my family, but it has been a life changing event,” he said.