Dr. Ted Rummel is an orthopedic surgeon who has practiced at BJC Progress West Health Care Center in St. Louis, Missouri since 2007. His patients love him for his compassionate bedside manner and outgoing personality. His wheelchair doesn’t get a second glance or thought. “His patients love him,” said Lisa Weindel, Surgical Services manager.
Rummel appreciates the kind sentiments from his colleagues and his patients. “I just wanted to help people. It’s a tremendous field,” he says of his chosen profession. “People most of the time, they get better.” His own experience makes him appreciate that. Once very active, on a day in September 2010 he experienced numbness in his leg. Within only a few days he’d lost all feeling and motor ability. The cause was a congenital defect called a cavernous hemangioma, which had ruptured and hemorrhaged into his spinal chord. It left Rummel a paraplegic.
“It was unbelievable that this man with all this energy and everything was to have this diagnosis,” said nurse Diana Eisenbath.
Although Rummel was grateful to have survived the condition, he feared that his career was finished. After weeks in the hospital and in rehab, however, he decided he was not going to let anything stop him doing what he loved. “I can’t stop doing this,” he said. “This is what I like to do. I pick up my medical journals and I’d read them and I loved reading them.”
And so just eight months after that fateful day he rolled back into the hospital and back where felt he belonged–in the operating room doing what he does best. “We can rotate the table,” he explained. “The chair goes up and down and back and forth.”
To his patients and colleagues, Rummel is an inspiration–a shining example of what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it. “It was very scary and so now this is very special to be able to be back to work,” Rummel said of the experience. “I’m not going to let being a paraplegic determine who I am.”