The power of optimism

November 21, 2023

Chizi Okpobiri is filled with gratitude.

For the world-class surgeon who operated on his crushed pelvis, for the premier facilities where he received excellent care, and for the loyal friends who remained by his side during challenging days.

Chizi was involved in a traumatic car crash when he was riding in the back seat of a vehicle. He will never forget the life-changing date: Aug. 28, 2021.

His pelvis was shattered, and he sustained a dislocated femur, a punctured liver, and considerable blood loss.

He describes his journey since that day as a constant reminder of “the importance of faith, a strong support system and optimism.” The power of optimism

Milton “Chip” L. Routt, Jr. M.D., Professor on our orthopedic trauma team and early pioneer in pelvic repair, praises Chizi’s determination. “When it comes to determination and resiliency, he doesn’t have a peer.”

Dr. Routt, a leading specialist in orthopedic trauma, performed a six-hour surgery on Chizi Sept. 4, 2021, to repair the acetabular fracture. “He was transferred from another hospital to Memorial Hermann/Rockets Sports Medicine Institute – Texas Medical Center so he could receive expert care of a complicated left side acetabular fracture-dislocation. When he arrived at our hospital, he was six days past a very serious injury.”

Dr. Routt was not scheduled to work that weekend but “I performed the surgery on a Saturday because I didn’t want him to suffer in skeletal traction, waiting another two days over the weekend.”

An acetabular fracture is a break in the socket part of the ball-and-socket hip joint.

Chizi was in the hospital for two weeks. “Being on his back, and in traction, for so many days before he was transferred to us,” says Dr. Routt, “added difficulty to his recovery but his commitment never stopped.”

“God sent Dr. Routt to me,” says Chizi. “He is known as one of the best pelvic surgeons in the world and I am very fortunate he is my surgeon. It’s been miraculous but my body is still healing.”

Friends by his side
Chizi explains that being an orphan since age 10 gave him a high tolerance for pain, both emotional and physical.

“I have a small group of best friends who kept my spirits up and who stayed by my side,” he says. His friends made the difference in his recovery and motivation. “Juan Carveo and his parents, Blanca and Nunn, took me into their home to care for me. Four other friends helped me navigate one of the lowest parts of my life: Alex Jameson, Jessica Chidi, Luiz Melo, and Jennifer Thomas.”

A pharmacist, Chizi could not work for seven months. He was unable to stand and was in a wheelchair and walker until mid-January 2022 while his injuries were healing. He has not been able to return yet to his part-time job as a personal trainer. “I know I’ll get stronger but doing certain movements is still difficult.”

Physical therapy has been an important part of his recovery. “Because my sciatic nerve was injured prior to the surgery, I am still dealing with a drop foot, so I wear a brace,” he says. There are times he is forced to use a cane.

“The trauma from the accident is fresh and I have PTSD,” admits Chizi, “but nothing will take my gratitude to those who helped me.”

“He’s a very fit and athletic guy who loves to be active,” says Dr. Routt. “He’s continuing to improve and has a great early result due to the surgical repair and his hard work to optimize a positive outcome.”

“I have no choice but to be an optimist,” says Chizi. “A positive mindset will take you far.”