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Patty Baumer: Keep On Rolling

This story is part of the Winter 2019 Beacon Magazine: The Resolve Issue. Read more from the issue here.

Patty Baumer, a local Lewes travel agent, has a love for the water, new adventures, and naturally, travel. Last August, she and her husband purchased a new boat, excited to explore the local waterways with friends and family. However, Patty relays how on Saturday, August 18, a day meant to be full of relaxation and fun cruising on their new boat in the Roosevelt Inlet, ended up being a horrible nightmare.

“A fishing boat sped by way too quickly causing a large wake,” Patty recalls. She lost her footing and as their boat flew up in the air, it collided with her back.

“I remember my husband asking me ‘Are you okay?’ and feeling such intense pain. While I had not lost consciousness, I felt the air go out of me, like I could barely breathe.”

Help arrived to the scene, and Patty recounts as she was being transferred into an ambulance, exclaiming that something was hurting her legs.

The EMT said, “The bad news is that there are greenhead flies biting you, but the good news is that you can feel it and are not paralyzed.”

At the Hospital

Patty was taken to Beebe Healthcare’s Emergency Department in Lewes for evaluation. A CT scan revealed that Patty had fractured her second lumbar. She was referred by the ED doctor to Abimbola Afolabi, MD.

Dr. Afolabi is a board eligible, fellowship trained orthopaedic surgeon, specializing in non-operative management, as well as surgical treatment of different spinal disorders. New to the area, Dr. Afolabi joined the practice of Orthopaedic Associates of Southern Delaware, P.A., in May 2018.

Dr. Afolabi shares her medical approach: “Aiming for comprehensive care, my goal is to partner with my patient’s primary care physician, pediatrician, radiologists, neurologists, and physical therapists or other medical professionals to establish the best non-operative treatment plan for my patients; in most cases, and only after exhausting conservative treatment methods, I will recommend surgical treatment options. With my individual patient’s goals in mind, and if surgery is necessary, I perform spinal surgery utilizing the most effective and safe techniques tailored for each person.”

Fortunately for Patty, after Dr. Afolabi’s assessment, back surgery was not required, but extensive physical therapy, pain management, and a back brace for stabilization were instructed to treat the fractured second lumbar.

“During my stay at Beebe, I appreciate how Dr. Afolabi regularly checked in on me, keeping me up-to-date on everything that was happening. Everyone at Beebe was wonderful, and Dr. Afolabi was especially great,” shared Patty.

Road to Recovery

As Patty pushed through her physical therapy, she recounts it was a slow process to healing, and the team wanted to get her up on her feet right away.

“You don’t realize how many times you bend in a day, until you can’t,” said Patty. “In the beginning I cried, as it was the worst pain I ever felt. After rehab, my lumbar was more compressed, and I was given a different back brace to help with that.”

Patty thanks her husband for his help during the recovery process.

“I live with my husband, and he has the patience of a saint. It was hard not being able to drive myself during the recovery period, as I’m not always the best passenger,” admitted Patty.

Around the 10-week mark, I was allowed to cautiously remove the brace, but to still use it if and when or if needed.

“A friend of mine who broke her back years ago gave me the sage advice, ‘Take it week by week in terms of measuring your progress instead of day by day.’ That was helpful to me, and kept me encouraged on my road to recovery,”

Moving Forward and Travel Bound Again

After consulting with the doctor, Patty checked in about her tentative travel plans to see if that would be allowable. Dr. Afolabi was very pleased with her progress and her hard work with the rehab.

Patty was excited to resume to her normal activities and her passion for the travel industry. Keeping up with her skills as a travel industry professional, Patty attended CruiseWorld in Fort Lauderdale this November to learn and immerse herself in educational and networking experiences.

Following her work conference, Patty and her husband embarked on an international trip, including a river boat cruise on the Danube, which she helped to plan.

“While naturally a little nervous for the long airplane ride and how my back will feel, I am excited about my healing progress and that I got the green light from Dr. Afolabi to partake in these trips. I feel very fortunate for the terrific care I received at Beebe. Dr. Afolabi was wonderful at explaining everything thing to me, and setting expectations as to what to expect following my broken back. I am so happy to be on the road to recovery and returning to the things that energize me and that I love to do, including travel,” shared Patty.

“During my stay at the hospital at first I didn’t realize it, but ironically, we (Dr. Afolabi and I) are next door neighbors too!” It truly exemplifies neighbors caring for neighbors.

Read more from the issue here.