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USS Silversides submarine provides space to recover for museum's dedicated director

Executive Director of the Museum, Peggy Maniates, was left nearly immobile after a hip replacement surgery in July 2020
USS Silversides Director
Posted at 4:51 PM, Nov 30, 2021

MUSKEGON, Mich. — The executive director of a longtime West Michigan museum is recovering from complications related to a hip replacement surgery inside her unique workplace.

Peggy Maniates has been the executive director of the USS Silversides Museum in Muskegon for the last 5 years. She was temporarily set back in her abilities after suffering complications from a hip replacement surgery in July of 2020.

The USS Silversides was christened at Mare Island Navy Yard in Solano California on August 26, 1941. The fleet-type submarine was eventually moved to Muskegon on August 7, 1987.

The vessel saw significant action during World War II, with over 20 confirmed sinkings.

Preserving the submarine's rich history, including the stories of West Michiganders who served aboard, is what Peggy is most passionate about. Her surgery made the task increasingly difficult.

“Things didn't go quite right," she told FOX 17 Tuesday.

"And I suffered femoral nerve damage in my left leg, which made it very difficult for me to walk, and my leg would go out from underneath me without warning.”

She began the process of physical therapy at Mary Free Bed.

“When someone comes in first session and says I've got a submarine, you know,” explained Mark Stevens, one of Peggy's therapists at Mary Free Bed.

“She's got to be able to climb up and down this ladder, she needs to be able to step through hatches.”

Peggy was left spending much of her time at work either stuck in her office, or in some cases, using a donated wheelchair to get around the museum building next to the submarine.

“One of the greatest things about being in a museum is telling those stories, and interacting with people and seeing how they react," she said Tuesday.

"And not being able to do that is very hard.”

During therapy sessions, Peggy and Mark would practice the movements that she would later need to navigate the submarine.

“He had us measure the heights that I would have to be able to lift my leg, the angle of the ladder,” she recalled.

Eventually, they moved their sessions to the submarine itself.

“Each goal, each step she's had, we've gone through and we've achieved a new goal, made a new goal,” Mark said.

Slowly, but surely, the act of climbing through a narrow hatch below deck wasn't something she had to carefully calculate at every inch, and started to become muscle memory once again.

Peggy says, “Going through a whole period of time where you think your world is going to be extremely limited, and having those opportunities open back up, is absolutely amazing.”

You can find more information on the physical therapy services provided by Mary Free Bed at their website HERE.

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