Lonely And Hurt
Hayley clutched her side again, “What was that… the hundredth time today?” she thought. The pain was severe but what hurt the most was that nobody would believe her.
She had been told by more than one person that the pain she felt was merely in her head. But after the pain continued, finally one doctor asked her to come in for treatment. Her father wasn’t pleased, to say the least.
Hayley loved swimming ever since she started at the young age of 18-months-old Now 16-years-old, she’s more passionate than ever to pursue her dream.
On one day Hayley was having her routine practice and noticed that she wasn’t as graceful as she normally was. Just as she was about to reach to on side of the pool, she clutched her side as she felt an intense pain in her abdomen.
Hayley’s team helped her out of the pool to the safety of the solid ground. She could barely move with how intense the pain was. It had her pinned in place as she tried to take deep breaths.
The lifeguard present didn’t know what to think and decided it best to call her parents. While Hayley may have escaped the icy depths of the water, this was only the start of her problems.
Haylay dismissed the pain as just a pulled muscle. But soon she realized the pain was only getting worse and had no intentions of going away soon.
Hayley’s parents Beth and Brian dismissed her complaints as they knew it wasn’t uncommon for swimmers to feel discomfort in their bodies from time to time. But it was in the middle of that night that Hayley woke up from the pain with a sudden shriek.
The pain that Hayley felt paralyzed her. It wasn’t just the pain in her side anymore, but now she couldn’t even get out of bed.
Her parents woke up from her screams and rushed to her room. They switched on the lights and Hayley weezed: It’s hard to breathe.” Brian and Beth were concerned for their daughter and lost for words.
They took their daughters complaints more seriously now, maybe she’d really hurt herself this time. As they looked at the terrified expression Hayley was making she could barely do anything except lie down in pain.
In the morning that followed Hayley needed help getting dressed and they took her to hospital. They would never forget what the doctors would tell them once they looked at Hayley.
Running Some Tests
Beth and Brian silently sat in the waiting room while the doctor ran tests. Oddly enough, they didn’t ask much about Hayley and her symptons. They seemed to already think they knew what was going on.
Hayley’s parents felt that that was at least good news. If the doctors were confident then so were they. But no one expected the test results to leave them scratching their heads.
The results showed that Hayley was completely fine, according to the doctors the scan results also shoed no bruising or damage of any kind where she was feeling the pain.
They told her that she must have just worked a bit too hard at the pool and that she should stop swimming for a bit. Hayley couldn’t believe what she was hearing, she wouldn’t leave until they gave her a proper explanation.
“You must have missed something, the pain is unbearable!” Hayley cried out trying to hold back her tears. The doctor looked at their chart again and just repeated what he’d already told her. She was fine, nothing came up on any of the tests.
At the very end they finally told her something that would leave her speechless. How could they insinuate that!
With every test coming back with nothing, the doctors told her it must be due to stress. That the pain she was feeling was made up.
Hayley picked herself off the chair and ran out of the doctor’s office. She was crying, no one believed her. Would she just have to endure this pain forever and forget about her dreams of becoming an Olympic swimmer? She needed help from someone.
‘I’m Not Crazy!’
Hayley’s dad found his daughter sobbing in the hospital car park. Although she was a teenager with typical teenage problems, there was no reason to think the physical pain she was suffering was psychosomatic. Did they think she was doing this for attention?
Brian promised his daughter he would get to the bottom of what was going on, but in reality, he didn’t know where to turn.
By this point, even strapping on a backpack or using a hairdryer left Hayley crying in pain. Brian was furious that a doctor would even suggest to his suffering little girl that this was all in her head.
So he did what any father would do. He got to work looking for the best doctors in the country to get Hayley well again. And right from the outset, he faced nothing but obstacles.
Brian was recommended a top doctor by a friend from work and took Hayley directly to see him. But despite a more thorough analysis, he more or less echoed the findings of the first doctor – nothing was coming up on the scans, therefore there’s nothing wrong with her.
The desperate father couldn’t bear to watch his daughter in agony anymore and vowed to do whatever it takes to get her back to her normal life. Then Beth discovered a promising lead.
Clutching At Straws
Hayley’s mom Beth had been desperately scrolling through medical websites looking for some kind of explanation, but nothing useful was coming up.
It took the best part of the year until she discovered the work of Dr. Lisa McMahon, who had had a personal experience that would prove pertinent to Hayley’s case. But would they be able to get an appointment?
Hard To Watch
“It was just really hard as a parent to watch your kid be in pain and not be able to do anything about it,” said Brian “But when we took her to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona, things started to look hopeful.”
Dr. McMahon welcomed Hayley warmly when she arrived at the hospital and said she could see that what she was going through was really tough. Hayley smiled for the first time in months. Finally, someone understood! But could she help her?
Dr. McMahon put her hand on Hayley’s shoulder and told her everything was going to be alright. The budding Olympian swallowed hard as she watched Dr. McMahon go through all the same tests as the previous doctors.
But when they sat down to look at the results, Dr. McMahon was more confident than the others as she explained her diagnosis. She was sure she had found what every previous doctor had missed.
Dr. McMahon explained that Hayley was suffering from a rare condition known as “slipping rib,” meaning the cartilage surrounding her lower ribcage wasn’t staying fixed where it should be and was causing her pain.
The doctor was able to quickly diagnose Hayley’s condition and recommend the correct treatment. But the reason why she was able to detect it so fast is quite a coincidence.
Dr. McMahon had suffered from the condition herself when she was Hayley’s age. The symptoms Hayley described led her to investigate something that any other doctor would have overlooked.
The rare condition is caused by cartilage from the lower ribs slipping, which causes the sufferer pain in their chest or upper abdomen. It usually occurs in middle-aged people.
But diagnosis was one thing, successful treatment would be another altogether – and Hayley’s dad was dreading it.
As she prepared for her first session of physical therapy, he knew she had a long and painful journey ahead of her. Was it going to hurt even more? Would it eventually take her pain away? Would she ever be able to swim again?
On The Mend
Fortunately for the youngster, the treatment went a long way to rectifying the problem and she can now live without every movement causing her to wince in pain. She was even given a designer swimsuit from her idol Missy Franklin who was touched by her story of recovery.
“I am most definitely feeling better,” said Hayley. “It’s nice to be able to live again without having to worry about your ribs popping.” Can you imagine living a whole year in pain without knowing what was causing it?