Saturday, February 2, 2013

"NFL Players Sustain This Injury"

August 2006

It's 4 vs. 1. Four say there is a hip injury and 1 says there is not. I tried researching doctors and only found one in Colorado. I lived in Illinois; that's a problem. Not having any success, my dad called the "super-specialist" to see if he knew of any other doctor in the area. He told my dad that he already had his "expert" opinion, but if he really felt it was necessary, he could bring me to see Dr. K who worked at a different well known Chicago hospital. The best decision I made was seeing Dr. K at the end of August 2006. I have been with Dr. K over 6 years now.

My nerves were through the roof the day I saw Dr. K. I didn't have good luck with doctors in the past and I didn't want him to be like the others. I had to bring all of my records starting with my ankle so he could see all that had been injured from this fall. When he walked into the room he introduced himself and was very nice. He then said something that threw me for a loop. He said, "How HARD did you fall? Your MRI shows that you fractured your calcaneus (heel bone)." WHAT?!? Back with the ankle injury I was told there were no broken bones; this explained why I couldn't walk on my heel. I told Dr. K that I landed VERY HARD. He proceeded to tell me, he could see that. When he put my films up, he pointed to the bottom LEFT of the MRI; not the top right like the previous doctor and said, "So, how is the super-specialist?" dripping with sarcasm. "You DO have a detached posterior acetabular (ass-a-tab-u-lar) labrum. NFL players sustain this injury when they land trying to catch a football." When he examined my hip he was able to move it in ways that aren't normal. When I was standing and put all my weight on my right leg, my hip was subluxating (partial dislocation) out the back. He said surgery is needed in order to correct the problem. The first surgery date that was open, was September 21, 2006. Exactly 1 year from the initial fall.

My niece Emily can still make anyone happy when they're having a bad day

My niece Lizzy is still my little sidekick.

September 2006

I missed a week and a half of school. Surgery consisted of tightening the capsule in the hip and putting 2 anchors in the back to reattach the labrum to the bone. There isn't any type of bracing or casting that is used; just the use of crutches for 6 weeks. Recovery was difficult because anytime you go to sit or stand, your hip joint has to move. You don't realize how many times you bend your hip in a day: using the bathroom, taking a shower, getting in/out of the car, using stairs, getting comfortable in bed. It sounds so basic, but getting comfortable in bed was one of the hardest things to do; no matter what you do, you end up having to move your hip. I watched a lot of movies and worked on a lot of homework. When I went back to school, I started having a lot of shoulder/scapular (shoulder blade) pain. I remember coming home from school the one day and telling my mom I felt like I was slouching. She noticed it and said try to sit up straight. I couldn't. There was a lot of pain over both shoulder blades. I didn't want to use a wheelchair so I continued using the crutches. Little did I know, this was one of the first major signs that I had a shoulder injury. Before I could even think about my shoulders though, I had to focus on rehabbing my hip. I started physical therapy 5 weeks out from surgery. As I got better and therapy progressed, I was thrown for a double major loop. My right knee that had already been operated on was "giving way" and my left hip was shifting out of place as well.

November 2006

When I saw Dr. K, instead of him saying "this is impossible" or "you're making it up", he told me I had to once again go for MRI testing. The MRI arthrogram of my left hip showed I had a torn labrum (cartilage) which probably happened from having to support myself on the crutches for so long. The knee MRI appeared normal but when Dr. K examined it, my patella (knee cap) was now shifting towards the center of the body this time. Both my hip and knee would require surgery. It was decided that I should have the right knee done first because I would need at least one stable leg to stand on because I would be on crutches after the left hip surgery. Up until surgery on my right knee in December 2006, I had to always use crutches because I had an unstable joint on each leg. The crutches continued to make my shoulder blades hurt more and more. I eventually changed the way I was crutching by rolling my shoulders forward to get the weight of the backpack to sit differently. This relieved the pain and pressure so I continued doing it; I now know that was the worst thing I could have ever done.
Knee before being fixed

Knee after being fixed. Notice the patella doesn't move in anymore

Luckily with the knee surgery, I had it done over winter break so I did not miss any school. I was on crutches for 4 weeks and began physical therapy once again. Therapy went great. Since I was progressing, and wasn't having issues with my right leg, I was able to schedule my left hip surgery for in March 2007. In February, my shoulder blade pain was getting hard to tolerate. I played the cello in school and would have to stop playing and rest my left arm on the "shoulder" of the cello because it hurt so badly. This whole injury thing was taking a lot longer than I could have ever imagined. I started coming to terms that I was never going to play competitive soccer ever again. This was very hard to wrap my brain around. I needed a new outlet for stress relief so I started to take my drawing class more serious. I started doing more drawing for fun and not because I had it for homework. Drawing provided stress relief and it was something that I had complete control over.

Frog done with colored pencil in 2007

Tiger done with just pencil in 2007

March 2007

When it came time to have the left hip surgery in March I was dreading it. My shoulder blades were screaming at this point and I couldn't bear the thought of having to go back on crutches for the next few weeks. Luckily though, there ended up not being a labral tear in my hip. Instead, it was strictly a very loose capsule issue that needed to be tightened. At my 1 week post-op appointment, I remember Dr. K asking how I was feeling. I was completely honest. I told him I felt awful and everything was hurting. My knee, my hips, and most of all my shoulders were hurting. That day I learned, I needed to be careful expressing how I was feeling. Rather than acknowledge the fact that I had just had 5 surgeries this past year and was still healing, Dr. K said, "Sometimes pain medications alter ones' mood." He then proceeded to ask if I was depressed which I was not. I acknowledged that depression can cause many symptoms but that was not the cause of my pain. My hips and knee hurt due to surgery and my shoulders hurt because I thought they were injured. I then asked Dr. K, "If I don't use the crutches, will I damage the repair in my left hip?" He said, "No, but most people use them for a couple weeks." With the reassurance that I wouldn't harm anything that had just been corrected in my hip, when I got home I put the crutches against a wall and never went on them again. I would rather hurt every time I took a step in my hip rather than experience the sharp, stabbing, awful pain I had in my shoulder blades from having to support my body weight on crutches. I will never be able to go on crutches the rest of my life due to the extensive shoulder issues that were soon to follow.

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