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10 Years Have Passed Since My World Was Turned Upside Down


Just Landed in Cocoa Beach, 2009 (Before the injury)

Just Landed in Cocoa Beach, 2009 (Before the injury)

Sitting here, it’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 10 years since my “world was turned upside down AKA I was wheelchair/crutches bound for 8 weeks!  At the time, this was completely devastating to my lifestyle.  I was 23 years old, a year into my Chiropractic Doctoral program, an athlete who craved good workouts during the stressful months of grueling education, I was far away from my family, and I was injured worse than I had ever been before!  If you’ve ever needed surgery on your leg, you understand the LONG haul that happens after that……with the worst of it being the rule where you [can’t get your leg wet at all for 6 weeks]….or in other words, you can’t even take a stinkin’ shower or bath without HELP! Yuck. If it weren’t for Dr. Marley’s non-stop assistance with EVERYTHING, including pushing me all around Palmer College in a wheelchair after my intense surgery, I don’t know what I would have done.  Being injured is hard; not only your body, but also your mind.

Let me take a step back and tell you what happened.  Dr. Marley and I had the privilege of attending “ChiroGames” in 2009, which is just a fun weekend of friendly, athletic competition where all of the Chiropractic Colleges get together to face off in a bunch of sports.  I was on the women’s basketball team and Marley was on the Co-Ed softball team.  Sounds fun, right?  I mean, we’re talking a trip to Florida in November (which sure beats Iowa that time of year)!  Everything was going great until the last 3 minutes of our second game when I planted my foot wrong and immediately fell down to the ground in agony.  {At this point in my life, this was the most tremendous pain I had ever felt…but then came natural childbirth – & that’s a whole ‘nother story for a different time}!

florida 2009

Shortly After My X-ray Confirmed A Broken Tibia


At first, everyone just assumed that I busted my ACL or my meniscus, (that would have been the classic injury), but they took me to the sponsoring Chiropractor’s office for an x-ray right away just because of the amount of swelling.  What I saw on that film just destroyed me (see below).  I had broken my tibial plateau and it wasn’t pretty. My thought process went something like this: “S#*T. Are you kidding me? I am in FLORIDA on what is supposed to be a fun VACATION & here I am broken, literally. What am I going to tell my parents?  What do I do next?” Luckily my Aunt and Uncle were at that game cheering me on when it happened, so they came to the rescue & treated me like their own kid during this debacle!  Our Palmer teams weren’t supposed to fly home for another three nights, so I did my best to just tough it out.  I wanted to be there to support our team, but more than anything else, I think I was avoiding reality.  I decided to forego going to a hospital in Florida because I understood that I would need surgery on this, and I didn’t want to get stuck down there should something go wrong or I need any sort of extended care.

My First X-ray revealing a broken tibia! :(

My First X-ray revealing a broken tibia! :(


We decided to fly home one day early because Marley ended up spraining his ankle so badly that he could hardly walk on it {talk about bad luck for us that trip – you should have seen him rolling our luggage and pushing me in a wheelchair through the airport, all while limping on a sprained ankle – we were a site to see for sure}!  As soon as we landed in Iowa, we pretty much went straight to the hospital.  They admitted me for surgery immediately which meant that I had no choice in my Orthopedic Surgeon, just got whoever was on call.  His name was Dr. Pyevich and he specialized in Pediatric FOOT & ANKLE surgery…..keep in mind I was 23 years old with a broken KNEE.  Needless to say, I didn’t have the best outcomes from the surgery.  Not only could I barely come out of the anesthesia, so I was forced to spend the night in the hospital, but my knee didn’t heal properly due to the placement of the screws.  Even months after my surgery and my Physical Therapy had ended; I was still having tremendous pain, so I ended up having another surgery to remove the hardware and finally allow my knee to truly heal. 

4 weeks after my first surgery.

4 weeks after my first surgery.


After enduring all of this, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and pulling myself out of this dark time, I had my final post-op. visit with Dr. Pyevich.  I was so hopeful that I would be “released” to return to normal activity.  But that’s when I received my final {blow} – my Doctor looked me in the eyes and told me that I could never run again.  That I would have to find another hobby, but sports would have to be a “thing of the past”.  I was devastated.  I left the office in tears, wondering why this was happening to me, playing the victim card, and contemplating finding a different Doctor for a second opinion.  But once again, Marley seemed to save the day because he didn’t let me sulk!  He said, “well babe, let’s just prove him wrong.”  So that’s precisely what I did!


I wonder what Dr. Pyevich would think if he knew what I’ve done over the past 9 years! I’ve competed in countless street races, trail runs, adventure runs, & Bolder Boulders, AND I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. We took an x-ray on my knee yesterday in the office and what I saw truly amazed me. The body has such a strong capacity to heal, doesn’t it!? Healthy is Normal & our bodies crave being in a state of Ease (NOT DIS-ease)! While I still have some stiffness in that knee due to the irregular joint surface and the tears in my meniscus, I am able to RUN pretty much anytime I want! My knee certainly does not look perfect (you can even still see where the screw holes were & I have some joint mice & early degeneration), but I’m certainly happy with where I am right now. Seeing this x-ray motivates me to run more regularly than ever because I know for certain that the minute I stop exercising (specifically running) is the minute that knee begins to wear out at a faster rate. Simply put: “If I Don’t Use It, I’ll Lose It”!


This post isn’t to rally you to go against your doctor’s advice, but more so to trust your instincts, follow your dreams, and never give up on yourself! I can’t imagine where my body, mind, and soul would be right now without running in my life. Of course, I haven’t done this alone either. During this entire time, I have been receiving World Class Chiropractic care (from Dr. Marley) on my spine, pelvis, and feet/ankles to ensure my knee had the best possible chance at healing! If you’re struggling with a diagnosis of ANY kind that you’ve been told you will live with forever, come see us! Let us do a detailed Chiropractic evaluation to determine if we can help you get back on your feet and start chasing your goals again! Here’s to pushing through the hard times and reaching the “other side”.

“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.”


Your biggest cheerleader when it comes to your health,

Dr. Heather Smith DC CACCP

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