The Comeback

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Tommy John surgery, more properly known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (or UCL), is a surgical operation in which a ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body (often from the forearm, hamstring, or foot of the patient). The procedure was developed by Dr. Frank Jobein 1974 for pitcher Tommy John, for whom the surgery is named.

       In the summer of 2016 I was playing in the Perfect Game collegiate baseball league in Elmira, New York. I am a two way player which means I pitch and play the field. I would switch between pitching and playing the outfield at the beginning of the summer. Roughly half way through the summer, I was pitching against the Adirondack Trailblazers and threw the 6th inning; I later came back out to throw the 7th inning when, after ten pitches, I threw a slider and felt a “pop.” I knew right then that something had happened in my elbow. I came out of the game and had the trainers look at it; although I did not have the normal symptoms of tearing an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), I knew something was not right in my arm. I talked to the trainers and decided to give my arm two weeks without throwing to see how it felt after some time off. During this time I was the DH (Designated Hitter) which did not bother my arm at all. When I first tried throwing again, my arm did not feel that bad, but I would throw at about 50% and get super tired in my arm after 25 throws which was abnormal for me. The trainers performed treatment on it everyday and still didn’t think that I had the signs of Tommy John. After throwing and realizing that my arm did not feel right, I decided to just not throw the rest of the summer which allowed me to focus on hitting. When I got back to Samford I had our trainers look at it; I also tried throwing again and still could not get over 25 throws without feeling sore or tired. That is when our trainer decided that I should see a doctor at St. Andrews Hospital. I got my MRI, and the results came back within the week; I was told that I had torn my UCL. This was hard for me at the time because I knew what that meant: that I was gonna be unable to play the 2017 season. I had surgery on September 7th and have been recovering ever since.

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                                                    The Day I got my Stitches out 

At the beginning of my rehabilitation, I regained full range of motion in my elbow within a month which is one of the hardest thing to do in the recovery process. I am currently five months and eighteen days out of surgery, and I started throwing four months after surgery. I am on a strict throwing program to allow my arm to get used to the new ligament inside of my elbow. I do arm care five days a week to strengthen the rest of my arm so my UCL doesn’t have to take all of the pressure from the force of throwing. I am currently getting my arm in shape for this summer but will not be fully myself until 12 months after surgery which will put me right back at 100% going into the fall of my junior year. The rehabilitation of my arm has been a process, but every great story has some speed bumps, and this is one that I am going to have to overcome to get back on the Field and play the game I love.

 

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6 thoughts on “The Comeback”

  1. This a great story, Connor. I can only imagine how tough it was when you first got the news, but looking back I am sure you are thankful in some way or another for the journey it has taken you on. Injuries are never fun in the moment, but it’s the people like you who are determined to get back into their sport who can bring positives from the situation. This is an encouraging story, and I hope you can use it to encourage others as they face trials with injury in their sports.

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  2. Connor, what a great read and story. I have heard endless stories of the Tommy John surgery and the slow process that comes with it, but you just have to stick in there! Just look at this as a minor setback for major comeback. The potential is there for you man and I guarantee you come back better than ever. Keep a positive attitude throughout this process and trust yourself to come back with all the work you put in.

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  3. Tommy John is a very common injury among baseball players and most players come back stronger than ever. I know injuries are never fun, but if you work hard and keep the same passion for baseball; you can come back better like many pitchers have! Just know you can bounce back from this with a stronger arm and I bet you’ll be very excited to get back onto the field.

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  4. Thanks for sharing your story. Your perseverance is admirable, and I am very excited to see you back on the mound once the comeback is complete!

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  5. Great story and unbelievable perseverance to come back to play the sport you love. I was in a similar situation in high school when I tore my meniscus and had to miss the rest of the season. Being away from the sport you love is tough and it shows a lot of character with how you come back.

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  6. This was a good way of going about this story. A injury can have a person down for a while through the process. The rehabbing is even harder. Fighting against the pain makes you want to give up. But do not give up! When a person is away from something they love, it will eventually start to bother them. The comeback is really going to show the type of person you really are.

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