In the spring of 2015, Geralyn Ritter fled Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station to catch a train to New York. The next thing he knew, he was fighting for his life by being tied to a fan at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
Ritter, 57, of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, told The Post: “I remember realizing we overcame seven and remember screaming.” “It was my last memory.”
The famous Amtrak train accident On May 12, 2015, eight people were killed and more than 200 passengers were injured. Ritter was among 11 passengers who were seriously injured, and the pharmaceutical director recounts his traumatic experience and unbearable recovery in his new memoirs. “Bone-to-Bone: Trauma and Treatment Memoir,”(Core Media Group) came out on Tuesday.
“What strikes me over and over again is how ordinary the day is,” he said. “Seven years ago, my life was normal that morning,” Ritter told The Post. “I was healthy and I will never be so healthy again.”
On the eve of the accident, Ritter was sitting in a business class holding the first car on the train. Her husband, one of his three sons, sent a message that Stephen, then 8, was doing well in baseball practice that evening. Then he got up to get something from his briefcase and realized that something was missing.
“I saw that we were going faster,” he said. Usually the train leaves [of Philadelphia] it’s really slow and I’m always impatient, “he said.
His instincts were right. The Northeast Regional Service entered the Frankford Junction curve at 106 miles per hour in Northern Philadelphia – more than twice the 50 mph limit for the infamous 90-degree turn. The engineer pressed the emergency brake and seconds later according to the report Accident report of the National Transport Security Council, the train derailed.
“I remember feeling like the train had overturned and I thought it was impossible because the trains don’t fly,” he said. I realized we were, ”Ritter said, stepping back.
Life went wrong
Ritter’s body was thrown off the train with such force that his abdomen pushed above the diaphragm toward his chest. Or what’s left of him. Many of his ribs were crushed and his lungs collapsed. He broke his pelvis and numerous vertebrae in his neck and back. He tore his diaphragm and bladder, cut his spleen and intestines. He lost a lot of blood and could not breathe.
“It simply came to my notice then. My colon was under my armpit, “Ritter said.
Complicating matters was the fact that he did not have a wallet and was separated from his briefcase, so no one knew who he was.
“I was Jane Doe,” he said.
Doctors were not optimistic about his prognosis.
“They weren’t sure if I was paralyzed at the time,” he said. “My surgeon then told me, ‘I have no explanation for how your body absorbs so much power, and you don’t have a brain injury.’ This is one of the reasons I tell my story because I remember it. ”
Meanwhile, Ritter’s husband, Jonathan, finally found her after a hospital search. At first, he did not recognize his wife, who was blindfolded and on a ventilator. But when he saw the watch he had given him, which miraculously survived the accident, he knew it was him.
We found himhe sent a message to his eldest son Austin. He is alive.
However, the doctors feared that he would not survive.
“They told my family I couldn’t do it,” Ritter said. His brother flew from Fort Worth, Texas. He wore a dark suit.
A month later – and numerous surgeries to restore his bowels, reconnect his pelvis, and put on his broken ribs – Ritter was released from the hospital and went home in a wheelchair. By September, he was able to walk short distances, but his long-term recovery was just beginning.
The road to recovery
Fighting pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, Ritter became increasingly depressed and addicted to drugs.
“I was in large doses of fentanyl and Oxycontin, “he recalled.” I was lying on my back in bed and couldn’t even reach the pill bottle next to me. “
Lack of mobility and independence would be difficult for every healed patient; For Ritter, who jumped from a plane flying home from China and ran to a local baseball court to live to greet his boys, the change in life was hell – both for her and for her marriage.
“My husband had to move from focusing on his career to being a full-time caregiver for me and our sons,” Ritter said. “We both reacted differently to stress. He was very angry about the accident and I was just sad. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to give each other what we need. “
In time, he became addicted to opioids.
“It simply came to our notice then. We were very grateful to have lived and not suffered a brain injury, “he said.” But you can be grateful for the great pain for so long. “
Six months after the accident, he decided to give up medication under medical supervision. He resorted to unified methods of pain control – meditation, breathing, exercise and gentle yoga.
He was successful and now relies on over-the-counter medications to manage his pain.
“Only Advil and Tylenol,” he said proudly. “But I take a lot of Advil and Tylenol.”
He and Jonathan eventually received professional advice to help them adjust to their new realities. They will soon celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.
In 2017, Ritter was finally able to return to the office. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Organon, a healthcare company in Jersey City. He returns to the train, including Amtrak, who initially admitted to being nervous.
“Going back [was] long, ”Ritter said.
In the seven years since the accident, he has performed more than 30 surgeries, including major abdominal surgery on scar tissue. In August, he will undergo a hernia operation.
“Everyone is facing great setbacks,” he said. At some point, we’re all going through something, “said Ritter.
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