July 30, 2009

Healed

At the end of last summer, Boy in Black had to stop playing Ultimate Frisbee – a sport he loves passionately – because of an injury that was diagnosed as a pulled groin. Rest was supposed to heal him, but it didn’t. All winter, Boy in Black went for repeated doctor visits and several rounds of physical therapy. Every time he got a new diagnosis, he’d come home and look up information on the internet. Then he’d go back to the doctors to ask why they hadn’t done this test or that test. (“That kid ought to be in med school,” our family doctor said to me.)

He had an MRI. He had X-rays. He had to keep fighting the insurance company that didn’t want to pay for physical therapy or expensive tests. He took antibiotics at one point with the theory that perhaps an infection was involved. An orthopedic doctor diagnosed the injury as osteitis pubis, an inflamed pubic bone, and sent him for a bone scan that involved him taking radioactive isotopes. But the bone scan came back negative. Four doctors, two physical therapists, and multiple tests could not pinpoint the problem.

Nothing helped. Boy in Black ended up sitting out of Ultimate for his whole junior year of college. He still went to every practice to support his teammates from the sidelines but he simply couldn’t play.

It was difficult to see how down he was. He didn’t complain much – he knew full well what a privileged life he still had, even with the injury. But he spent an awfully lot of time just lying on the couch, watching youtube clips of Ultimate tournaments on his laptop. He still practiced his throws constantly and talked about Ultimate non-stop. He convinced all his siblings and most of our extras to sign up to play on a Summer League team – and said he’d be willing to be captain of the team even if he couldn’t play.

He would hold family meetings to brainstorm ways to solve the problem. “What kind of expert haven’t I seen yet? Should I make an appointment with a urologist?” We spent most of the winter talking about his groin. The serious talk was mixed in with a constant sprinkling of jokes about his "junk." Whenever Boy in Black would come home, I’d look up and say, “How’s your groin today?” All of us – family, extras, his teammates – wanted desperately for him to heal.

Then an older player in the Snowstorm City League recommended his physical therapist. “Your insurance won’t pay for it, but go to him anyhow. He’s really good at figuring things out.”

Smart Physical Therapist listened carefully to his story – and then measured his legs. One seemed to be a little longer than the other. “It’s your SI joint,” the therapist said. “That’s causing the problem.”

“This is going to hurt,” he warned, and then yanked hard on his right leg until Boy in Black could hear it pop.

And that, pretty much, was it. In five minutes, the physical therapist diagnosed and cured an injury that had plagued him for nine months. A few days later, Boy in Black was playing Ultimate again.

He still had some pain and some inflammation so he took it easy at first, but he’s played a little more each week. Last week, he went to a tournament in Country to the North, and he played hard. He’s not 100 percent yet, and he's still going to physical therapy, but he’s healing. He’s looking forward to being back to full strength for his senior year with his college team, a group of guys who elected him to be a captain of the team even when he couldn’t play.

The best part is that he’s so damned happy. It’s great to see him smile again.

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The photo was taken by Sunshine, one of his teammates. Ironically, Boy in Black is the kid in the photo wearing the white shirt. He only gets to wear black half the time at a tournament.

40 comments:

julieunplugged said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
julieunplugged said...

What fabulous news!! And I get to be the first to comment. He looks like he could reinjure in that flight through the air! lol

So glad you linked off of twitter.

susan said...

This is such wonderful news! Hurray, hurray, hurray. And thank goodness for that combination of optimism and perseverance or whatever that kept Boy in Black going during the year. Big smiles here.

liz said...

Jumping up and down and squealing!

Terry said...

I'm so happy for him! And for you - it's so hard when our kids are hurt. Hope he has a great season!

bitchphd said...

Thank god.

Patrick said...

How wonderful! Yes... thank goodness for his determination in the face of constant bad news.

ScienceWoman said...

Yay! I'm so glad he's back to his ultimate game.

BrightenedBoy said...

Yay! So happy to hear that! Please send him our heartfelt congratulations!

Karin said...

So glad that story had such a happy ending! :)

The Vicar of Hogsmeade said...

Whoo Hoo! Here's to a great physical therapist!

Bardiac said...

Good news! Yay!

bsouth said...

What a terrible worry that must have been for you. I'm glad he got fixed but I wish he's seen that smart therapist a bit earlier!

Songbird said...

This is awesome!!!

Seeking Solace said...

Woohoo! That is great news.

kmsqrd said...

I'm so happy for all of you!

jennifer said...

hooray for smart physical therapist! the return of joy is worth it, even if not covered by insurance. Though makes you wonder about insurance's priorities.

cheesefairy said...

The photo is so evocative..boy in flight. Wonderful news that has made me smile this morning.

EmmaNadine said...

After watching a physical therapist work wonders with my son, I echo the "hooray for smart physical therapists" comments. It's great to see Boy in Black getting back to his love and life.

joanna said...

I'm happy for all of you. This is great news.

Madeleine said...

Phew! That was a long haul for him, and all of you.

KathyR said...

Yay! What's an SI joint?

kathy a. said...

great news! i wonder how that escaped detection with all the scans?

Lorianne said...

Hooray for happy endings. Has someone made that Smart Physical Therapist a huge plate of cookies, or sent him flowers, or thanked him on hands & knees for working miracles?

BrightStar (B*) said...

That's great news! What a relief! I hate the idea of people living in pain. I am so happy to hear that he's doing something he loves again.

sherry said...

SI=Sacroiliac

And now he can also do the hucklebuck:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hucklebuck&defid=1177039

word verification: nockmgan

Queen of West Procrastination said...

That is completely fantastic! I'm so glad for the Boy in Black.

Janice said...

This is great news, albeit strange in that Boy in Black is the third person I've heard of in the past year who's had SI joint problems undiagnosable until seen by a PT. Glad that he's finally got relief and make sure he keeps an eye on the PT schedule for the next few months!

Kris said...

What GREAT news !! That made my day.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

Three cheers for the smart PT, and to BoyinBlack for his determination.

Arvind said...

Wow. This is great news!! Talk about the importance of diagnosis!

My mom, who's a doctor, has the exact same (almost magical) way of coming up with an accurate diagnosis via a combination of keen observation and listening well.
In one especially illustrative case, one of my cousins who lives here in the US was complaining about some ailment while visiting my mom in India and within 15 mins, my mom had diagnosed and prescribed treatment for something that had baffled doctors here for nearly 6 months.
We need more doctors like that.

Rev Dr Mom said...

So happy he finally found someone who could help! What perseverance he has!

Hope his senior season is AWESOME!

richard said...

Is it tempting to drop off a note at the office of each doctor he saw?

Lilian said...

Oooh, this is GREAT, AWESOME news! I'm so glad he found a good therapist who figured out what was wrong! What Richard said is true -- one feels like telling all the other useless doctors what the actual diagnosis was!

Thanks for updating us about this, I'd actually been wondering how he was!

jo(e) said...

Oh, I did talk to our family doctor (he's the main doctor that Boy in Black saw -- and he'd had to make the referrals to the other doctors because that's how our insurance works)and tell him the diagnosis. I wanted to make sure he heard the whole story so that the next time someone comes in with something that sounds like a pulled groin, he'll think to check and see if there's a problem with the Scaroiliac Joint. I think it's important for doctors to get that kind of feedback. Physical therapists get more feedback than doctors on something like this because they work with a patient until s/he is actually functioning again.

lizardek said...

that is so great! What wonderful news!

RageyOne said...

gosh, i'm sure that is a relief for all. such wonderful news. glad he is on the mend and back to playing the game he loves.

Kyla said...

That is wonderful!! What a simple fix after all of that. It is so frustrating when that happens and you think, if only the first person I'd seen had been this competent!

Rana said...

Huzzah!

S. said...

(Days late, but I'm just going through my reader now!)

I've recently been getting a lot of chiropractic on my SI joint, and I think it's been out of whack for me since childhood. I'm glad he found someone who figured it out!