In the Fall of 2019, I was a softball pitcher in my junior year at Oklahoma State University. I began experiencing numbness and tingling in my left elbow. Also, I could not grip the softball. My arm had been swollen for a couple of weeks and so I decided to get it evaluated by my trainer. I met with our athletic trainer and he said that I had a stress fracture in my tibia. He recommended I take time off from softball for 6 weeks.
I had gone home to Minnesota for the Christmas break and my elbow had not improved. I made an appointment to get a second opinion. I had a MRI and the results showed that my ulna nerve was displaced and impaired as well as the UCL was torn. I was told this was caused from over usage and that it could heal on its own.
A few months later, my velocity remained down and I still could not grip the softball. I was not performing to my full ability. My mother understood my concerns and began researching online for solutions to my symptoms and condition. She found information about Dr. Jeffery Dugas, orthopaedic surgeon, on the Andrews Sports Medicine website. She read that he performed the UCL repair surgery.
Dr. Dugas came highly recommended from other baseball players I knew including players from the Minnesota Twins. I needed to be sure of the direction I would take with my injury because I only had a couple of years of eligibility left. I did not want to have the Tommy John surgery due to it lengthy rate of recovery.
After my appointment with Dr. Dugas in Birmingham, he felt that I was a candidate for the UCL repair. I had a successful surgery and Dr. Dugas was great at providing a packet of information for what I needed to do moving forward. My next steps in the recovery process was physical therapy. The morning after surgery, I met with Kevin Wilkes at Champion Sports Medicine. He prescribed exercises for overhead and underhand progression for me to do over the next three months.
I have to admit that I am now throwing my best. If I had not had surgery, then I would had been done with softball. It has been two years since my surgery. I graduated from Oklahoma State and am now attending Purdue University to earn my master’s degree. Because of the Covid pandemic, athletes were grandfathered in for a fifth year. With that being said, I am grateful to be able to continue my collegiate softball career at Purdue.