How I Got Injured in Softball and Made a Full Recovery

The distinctive beeping of monitors still rings in my ears. I can recall the sensation of the intense surgical lights blinding me while beaming down onto my noticeably shaky body. The incoherent mumbles and the bustle of the staff in the fast-paced operating room still make my heart race. The entire right side of my body, head to toe, was numbed for the surgery, leaving me on edge. “Just take normal breaths and count down from 50,” the anesthesiologist said, I nodded while holding back my nervous tears as she slowly placed the mask over my mouth and nose. I began to count down in my head: 50, 49, 48, 47, 46, 45… I remember getting to 38 before my eyes grew too heavy to open and suddenly I was in an in doped state of complete unconsciousness, similar to a vivid dream. I thought about how I had gotten to this point.

Two outs, bottom of the 7″Raiders were up by one against the Slocomb Red Tops. The scorching sun was beaming down onto the red clay field, sweat was dripping from my forehead and my eye black was smeared across my face. I was playing second base. and Slocomb had a runner on third. I was prepared to stop any ball that came my way in order to prevent Slocomb from scoring. Number 9 for Slocomb stepped into the batter‘s box and I prepared with determination. She hit a line—drive shot to right field and I knew the right fielder would quickly throw the ball to me. My teammates yelled “home, home, home,” and I knew it would be a close play at the plate. I received the ball, set my feet, and launched the ball towards home plate.

As I did this, I heard a loud pop. and a rip, similar to the sound of tearing paper. I felt sharp deep pain radiating down my entire right arm. I grabbed my shoulder, and although everyone was cheering because I got the Slocomb runner out, I was in excruciating pain. No one noticed because they were too busy celebrating the win, but I was hunched over and trying to immobilize my arm. I looked toward my dad and he knew something was seriously wrong. With tears in my eyes, and not wanting to ruin the celebration, I put a smile on my face, while fearing the extent of my injury, and its possible detriment to my future in softball. A couple of hours later: In the recovery room, I drifted in and out of the unconscious, dream-like state that l was under. Trying to hold open my eyes, but the anesthesia was still lingering, the only thing I could feel was the excruciating pain in my throat from the breathing tube during surgery.

After about 30 minutes of my brain battling the anesthesia to wake up, I woke to a bulky black sling that wrapped around my back, up to my shoulder with a little red stress ball attached to the end. I still had no feeling in the right side of my body, but when I began to wiggle around a little, I was rolled back into my room where my parents anxiously waited. The doctor followed and began reviewing the surgery, “It was a lot worse than I expected, but everything went great. It looked like a grenade went off in your shoulderi I’ve never seen a shoulder injury so severe at your age. but I was able to salvage and repair most of the damaged rotator cuff and labrumt”. At this point, I was on some pretty strong pain medicine, so I was not able to think straight at all I began rapping Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady” in its entirety.

Jaws dropped and everyone whipped out their phones to video, as I effortlessly rapped every word without error. I don’t know if I was truly ready to be discharged, or if the doctor and nurses got annoyed with my rapping and unfiltered outbursts, but I was very quickly cleared to go home. I remember specifically telling my dad that “I want chicken nuggets,” but other than that, I don’t remember most of what I said during the long drive home from Birmingham, which is probably a good thing. I knew the recovery process would be long and rigorous, and the doctor required me to start physical therapy the next morning. Coincidently, at about the time of my appointment, the anesthesia had wom off and I was just starting to feel the excruciating pain from surgery for the first time.

The doctor gave me lots of pain medicine to take, but my mom limited the amount I could have because of how addicting they can be. Tylenol and ibuprofen was my best friend at this point. The physical therapist asked “On a scale of one to ten, how bad is your pain?” I answered with “A solid 8.” She removed my sling and began examining my shoulder and the stiches. She said, “tell me if I need to stop.” She poked and prodded as I winced in pain and tears began rolling down my face. I wasn’t necessarily crying from the pain, but the continual thought of how I was ever going to get back to throwing and playing softball when I can’t even move my arm an inch now, raced through my mind. She carefully put my sling back on as we discussed the journey ahead.

This consisted of physical therapy two times a week for a few months, no throwing for 4 months, absolutely no physical activity for 12 weeks, confined to the bulky, immobilizing sling 24/7 for 6 weeks. Basically 5 months of miserable restrictions. Throughout this experience, tears were shed. and frustration and fear overpowered me. I didn’t know what the future of softball would be like, but I was determined to work hard to get back to where I was before the injury. The months went by and even though I dreaded every minute of it, I did the exercises and pushed through the pain. Surprisingly, they were shocked with my progress and how fast I gained back my range of motion and mobility in my shoulder. Two months before softball season, I was cleared by the doctor. Although I still struggle with the unsteadiness and weakness in my shoulder, I’m back and better than ever.

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