To celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary together, Darrell and Elizabeth Cousino traveled from their Toledo, Ohio home to Costa Rica for a vacation full of fun and relaxation.
A few days into the trip, the couple was enjoying the ocean when an unexpected wave knocked Elizabeth down. At first, Darrell was unsure what had happened. However, shortly after, he discovered that Elizabeth had dislocated her elbow.
“Everything changed so suddenly. One second, we were having a great day and then all of the sudden she is injured, and the focus of my day has changed,” Darrell recalls.
They went back to the resort hotel and ultimately ended up in a hospital four hours away. She was seen by an orthopedic surgeon who attempted to relocate her elbow, but then informed her it was too unstable to relocate adequately. He placed her in a cast and suggested she return to the United States right away for further orthopedic care.
The Cousinos booked the quickest flight home and were back the next morning.
“I was really grateful for all the support people gave us,” Darrell shares. “Here we were with a nightmare medical scenario in a country foreign to us. On the way home, I was texting people who I work with at St. Vincent Medical Center to determine who would be the best doctor to treat her. It just so happened to be Dr. Momoh at St. Charles Hospital.”
Enesi Momoh, MD, one of our orthopedic surgeons, specializes in shoulder and elbow pain.
“I was in a lot of pain at that point,” Elizabeth says. “We brought our X-rays to St. Charles, where it was easy to see that there was a problem. It was a pretty quiet day with very little wait that morning. It was clear I didn’t have good pain control and my elbow kept popping out again.”
After an orthopedic consultant with Dr. Momoh, he diagnosed Elizabeth with a persistent elbow dislocation, also known as a closed elbow reduction, which, with swelling and soft tissue damage, can make it extremely painful for a relocation.
“I stayed overnight and received pain control to a reasonable level while also getting some rest for preparation to go under anesthesia,” Elizabeth adds. “Everyone was attentive to a good outcome after the long journey we had been through.”
Then, the next day, Dr. Momoh relocated her elbow under general anesthesia.
“Just good people with good support. It was really meaningful,” Darrell says. “The sense of relief once we got to St. Charles – that was really part of it for me, emotionally. I was able to say ‘OK, now we’re back in community. We’re back with people we know.’ It was a safe space after 48 hours.”
Today, Elizabeth is healing, recently getting her arm brace taken off and enrolling in physical therapy at St. Charles Hospital as well. Elizabeth looks forward to making her way back into the water eventually.
“I started therapy with a 59 percent deficit in mobility in my arm and wrist. That has been reduced to a deficit of 30 percent,” Elizabeth states. “The last three weeks of visits will be moving toward strength and extension and a plan for return to some athletic activities, like swimming and kayaking. I’ve always thought of physical therapist as magic anyways, but because this was such a painful injury, they have been so helpful in getting me the right care. I’m hoping by the spring my experience will simply be a great story to share.”
“I’m just so grateful – for person after person,” Darrell adds. “It’s really great to be in community with people with who support us. I’m, of course, thankful that my wife is doing better.”
Learn more about the sports and orthopedic services we provide at Mercy Health.