Katharina “Kathy” Meyer
Date of Surgery: 9/25/2018
Update (5/2019): Kathy returned to guiding and successfully passed her ACMG Ski Guide Exam last Spring.
I live outside of Golden, British Columbia, Canada. When I was 11 years old, my family immigrated from Switzerland to farm in Canada. Some of my relatives were avid mountaineers and mountain guides in Switzerland, which inspired me to pursue a career as a guide. My mom taught me to ski when I was 14 years old at a small ski hill in Northern Alberta. Skiing has since become one of my passions. A highlight for my four brothers, sister and myself would be an annual family ski trip to the Rocky Mountains. When I was 18 years old, I moved to Lake Louise to start my pursuit of exploring the mountains.
I currently work as an ACMG Ski guide, guiding a blend of heli-skiing and ski touring. In the winter I mainly work for Canadian Mountain Holidays, Battle Abbey and Great Divide Mountaineering. I plan to continue to pursue my dream of becoming a Mountain Guide.
Treatment Procedure and Recovery Plan
On September 25, 2018, I received arthroscopic hip surgery at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado. The next morning, I started my physiotherapy treatments. I was in Vail for 2 weeks, where I was able to work with a physiotherapist twice a day. I was on crutches for 5 weeks. I wore a hip brace for 3 weeks and wore calf pumps for a month. I also slept with a CPM machine, which moved my leg continuously while sleeping for a month. I was very diligent with my rehabilitation program which has paid off immensely. Twice a day I would be on the bike and do my specific exercises. I started water therapy a week after surgery. Almost daily, I would go water jogging and swimming, which greatly helped my recovery. My lower back pain and sciatica flared up again after surgery. So, at my post-operative follow up appointment mid-December at the Steadman Clinic, it was confirmed through an MRI of my lumbar spine that I was also dealing with a herniated disc in my L5-S1. Through the help of the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation as a special case, I was also able to get two epidural steroid injections for my lower back, which reduced the impingement on my sciatic nerve. I was able to go back to ski guiding heli-skiing and ski touring 3.5 months after surgery. I just completed and passed my full ski guide exam with the ACMG this Spring.
"I am forever grateful for the incredible gift that the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation has given me. It is so awesome to be given a second chance, to be back doing what I love and to not be in pain anymore! I have been dealing with lower back/hip pain for about 10 years. The pain became unbearable this summer and I was also having lots of trouble doing basic tasks such as standing, sitting and walking. Navigating through the Canadian healthcare system was painfully slow. Since this was a non-life-threatening injury, I was low on the priority list to get help quickly. I could not work and also had no workers compensation or insurance available to me as this was an old chronic injury. I ended up paying for a hip MRI privately as the wait times are so long in Canada. By the time I was able to see the Musculoskeletal Specialist, he could not believe how well I was doing considering the injury. He recommended that I see a surgeon as soon as possible. The fastest way for me to see a Surgeon through the Canadian system was going to be a minimum of 8 months. Meanwhile I am in a lot of pain, deteriorating and unable to work. Surgery is always the last resort. However, it did not take much to convince me that I needed surgery considering the pain I was in. I had tried so many different therapies over the years that helped temporarily yet did not deal with the root issue. When I realized how long this process was going to take through the Canadian healthcare system, I applied for assistance through the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation. Soon after I submitted my application, I was approved for full funding to get surgery at The Steadman Clinic. My recovery has amazed my family, friends, doctors and physiotherapists as I was able to go back to ski guiding 3.5 months post-surgery and pass my ACMG Ski Guide exam last Spring. My success is because of the incredible support I received from the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation. Thank you for all that you have done for me! "
- Katharina “Kathy” Meyer