Abigial Merritt

Abigial Merritt


Abigail’s Story

High school senior Abigail Merritt found her final season of soccer cut short when she fell and tore the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in her knee. Because the ACL is a critical component for keeping the knee joint stable for active individuals, she knew that she wanted the best doctor to fix her knee. After meeting with multiple physicians, she chose Geoffrey Van Thiel, MD because she was confident he would get her back to the life she wanted.

Abigail’s Diagnosis

At the time of her diagnosis and learning she would need surgery, Abigail began to speak to other students who also had their ACL’s repaired to understand the experience.

“I listened to what other people had to say, and did my own research. I met with multiple physicians and when we decided to go with Dr. Van Thiel I was very confident in the decision,” explained Abigail. “I knew that he would be the one to help me. I appreciated that he carefully explained the multiple ways to fix my ACL and communicated carefully my options.”

Dr. Van Thiel suggested having surgery sooner than later as Abigail was already physically strong from the soccer season and that would prove to be helpful during the surgery and her recovery.

“I wanted to have this fixed so that I wouldn’t have issues in the future,” she shared. “I want to be a mom, an active mom, and I don’t want to worry about my knee. Having this fixed appropriately so that I could live a full life was very important to me.”

Abigail’s Surgery

Abigail’s surgery was performed as an outpatient procedure at OrthoIllinois Surgery Center.

“The nurses were great and helped me a lot,” she recalled. “They calmed my anxiety. I had never had surgery before and it was a comfortable environment. Meeting with Dr. Van Thiel before the surgery started was also nice as I saw how confident he was.”

Abigail’s Recovery

The surgery was a success, but her first week post-operatively was challenging due to experiencing nausea from the pain medicine. Once she was off of the pain medication she felt much better and started physical therapy. She knew that she would need to work hard during physical therapy to make sure she would not have issues later in life.

Abigail finished recuperating during the summer and was ready for her college freshman year in the fall. Abigail is now a student at Olivet Nazarene University majoring in Dietetics and minoring in Chemistry. Her recuperation goal was to be out of the knee brace she wore while healing by her first day of college, and she was!

“I knew that recovering from surgery wasn’t going to be easy. I knew that it is hard to be a patient. I wanted to be ready right away,” Abigail stated. “But Dr. Van Thiel had prepped me for the whole process, which made it easy and working through recovery better.”

Mission-TripOver winter break of her freshman year, Abigail was able to participate in a mission trip to the Dominican Republic where she helped build houses and taught Vacation Bible School. And thanks to Dr. Van Thiel, Abigail didn’t have any issues with her knee!