Shannon’s Story

My name is Shannon Greenwood, and I am currently a redshirt senior at Western Carolina University (WCU). I’m majoring in Integrative Health Sciences with a minor in Psychology. I am planning to graduate this December 2022. I’m also in the Honors College at WCU and want to go to medical school to become an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon.

I am from Tampa, Florida and am currently on the NCAA Division 1 Women’s Soccer team at Western Carolina University, but my time here hasn’t gone traditionally. I have always been incredibly active and played every sport growing up. I mainly focused on track and soccer, with even going to the Junior Olympics for the half mile, mile, and two mile in 6th grade. I placed 4th in States for the 3000m in 8th grade and have been naturally fit. My mom ran track in college, and my dad played baseball until college, so my family has been active, as well.

I committed to WCU when I was a junior in high school, and after that had some unfortunate injuries. I was sidelined due to ankle surgery and multiple toe and shoulder surgeries for two years. Therefore, I had to redshirt my freshmen year of college (Fall 2018). I stayed home from school in Spring of 2019 and took a medical leave to recover and get back in shape for soccer. Through the help of my trainer, Drew, I got back in great soccer shape and was cleared in May of 2019. I was extremely fit and was running every other day.

I and many others thought I was through with injuries and was finally on the up. However, on June 9, 2019, I ran an easy paced 7 miles with one of my trainers, and felt great up until we stopped and then this horrific bilateral hip pain set in. I didn’t feel any pain throughout the whole run, but right when I stopped, I couldn’t move either of my legs and it felt like I tore both of my hip flexors. I was confused, but just thought I was insanely sore from the run, and I would probably feel better the next couple days. However, this horrific pain did not go away, I ran on it for a little, but then tried completely resting with physical therapy and it wouldn’t subside. Finally, I went back to the orthopedic surgeon I saw for my previous injuries, he had me get an X ray and an MRI, and all it showed was a L>R iliopsoas mild strain. Given this, he felt I was fine and said to just keep doing physical therapy and maybe consider an injection.

It wouldn’t go away so I finally went to a hip specialist, he took an X ray, and came in telling me I had left hip dysplasia. He felt my right hip was probably a labral tear and impingement, but no hip dysplasia. He told me I would have to get a PAO, but he didn’t do them so he told me I would have to find somebody that does. Honestly, this flipped my whole world upside down, because in a month I was expected to play college soccer, and now I’m faced with the unthinkable and wondering if I’ll ever play soccer. I was in shock because I never had any hip pain growing up. The only thing I could think of was that my left hip was tight a figure four stretch, but that was it.

I was terrified to tell my coach given that I was just sidelined, but he was very understanding, even though he was shocked. Coincidentally, my teammate had a PAO a year before this, and I went and saw the same doctor she had. He confirmed the diagnosis and told me I needed a PAO on my left hip soon. I kind of begged him to let me play on it for that season and get surgery after the season, and he said I could, but he didn’t think I would last. I ended up playing on it for Fall 2019 and lasted twelve games before it was too painful. I had three assists for the season and started a lot of those games.

I made the mistake of having this done while the semester was still going on, and when I was flying back to school on 12/9/2019, I slipped in the airport coming off the plane and did like a split. My surgeon had me go to the hospital locally and we confirmed that the PAO was okay. However, as time went on, we obtained an MRI and my labrum re tore and I ruptured my ligamentum teres. I stayed home and took online classes given the situation, and had my third hip surgery on 02/03/2020, where they repaired my labrum and debrided my ligamentum.

I had my left PAO surgery done on 11/11/2019, and man I’m glad I didn’t fully grasp what was coming because it was brutal. I got out of the hospital three days later and had to fly home to Florida which was not fun. Unfortunately, I had to have hip surgery again on 11/18/2019, because I had a reaction to the nickel in the stainless-steel screws, so they had to be swapped for titanium.

My surgeon said he had some concern though about my labrum anteriorly, because he said it looked small in the front and he worried without the ligamentum if it would make my hip unstable. Unfortunately, he was correct, and I ended up needing a labral reconstruction (4th surgery) on April 30, 2020. They put in a cow tendon patch to try and support my capsule since I had four scopes at that point, but I ended up reacting to it somehow, which we still don’t fully understand. I spent 11 days in the hospital for this, and every other possibility was ruled out, so they decided to take the cow tendon patch out on June 4, 2020. Once it was removed, my skin issues resolved in a week.

Unfortunately, then, I was in the airport two weeks after that surgery and a TSA agent accidentally ran into my left foot in the wheelchair during my security check. I immediately felt something pop and had tons of pain, and just got so scared that something bad happened. My surgeon was concerned as that mechanism can cause some damage. Fast forward a couple months, my doctor consulted with his partners, and they all felt the MRI showed my labral graft detached, and there I was again scheduling surgery again.

My 6th hip surgery was on 09/02/2020, and my surgeon thought going into it he would just be able to reattach the same graft back down. However, after surgery he said my labral graft was detached and it was irreparable, so he had to prepare a new cadaver graft and reconstruct it again. He also said I had severe synovitis and scar tissue everywhere. He was concerned about the amount of inflammation and scar tissue that he had me come up for 3 weeks following surgery to get injections to try to calm it down. Following this, I had severe skin reactions again and we tried everything to calm it down. It wouldn’t go away, and my surgeon got a kidney rejection specialist and a dermatologist involved to try to look at if this could possibly be the cadaver labral graft. They said there was a very rare chance that the graft maybe had some leftover cells that were undetected, and it was causing a “rejection”.

We tried everything for four months to try to get it to go away, and it just kept getting worse. They removed the graft on 12/28/20 and decided to make it a two-step procedure to let my immune system calm down. Again, within a month, my skin was completely back to normal.

My 8th hip surgery was scheduled for 04/07/2021, where they used my left IT band as an autograft and reconstructed my labrum with it. After that, my physical therapy passive ROM was a little rushed too soon which we think caused inflammation which turned into scar tissue. I was just having all sorts of issues at that point, and my hip started audibly subluxing in July of 2021. My doctor had me see several high-volume surgeons to get some opinions about what the next move should be, if any. I had such a hard time with this one, because a lot of surgeons I saw were truly stumped on what to do.

In my head through all of this, I was determined to play soccer again. And, not just to step on the field again, but to play well again and compete. It was very disheartening to have some surgeons even say to get a hip replacement at that point. I also had many surgeons say I would never play again. I was totally against that, because I had mild arthritis and with my dad being a nurse anesthetist, he was against that too.

I finally had one doctor shed some light on what to do, and it was my doctor’s good friend. He said obviously this surgery may not even work, because I’ve had so many scopes. He recommended doing an aggressive AIIS decompression- detach my hip capsule to get to the AIIS bone, resect it, and then reattach my capsule. He also recommended an extensive scar tissue debridement, injection of Euflexxa to try to decrease scar, do the scar tissue injections following the surgery, and to evaluate my current labral graft.

I had that plan done with my original surgeon for my 9th hip surgery on 10/20/21. This surgery went just as planned, and he said my labrum was covered in scar but was intact after he took the scar out. I was feeling overwhelmingly grateful for my surgeon for never giving up on me through all of that and being so determined to get me better.

I finally was on the right track, and my surgeon and I were feeling like I could play again if this worked. I was still in online classes at this point (Fall 2021-Spring 2022) through WCU and maintained a 3.9 GPA. I was still on the soccer team and my head coach remained in my corner through all of this. I worked endlessly in physical therapy, with Keith, and my strength coach, Drew, who never gave up on me either. I was so determined to not let this awful situation be the reason I don’t play soccer again.

I got cleared from my surgeon on July 29, 2022; and reported for soccer to WCU for the first time in three years. I passed the fitness (beep) test at a score of 36, which ironically was the same score I won our fitness test in 2019 (3 years ago). I have been playing since August and we currently just started conference play. My head coach told me the other day that he was shocked and so proud of me because he really thought I would never be competing to play again. He said he knew with my drive I would be back on the field, but he thought I wouldn’t be able to be the same player because of my hip. However, he said I totally shocked him as I am playing almost just as good as I was three years ago.

I have been playing in majority of the games so far and have been getting a lot of minutes in the games. I know I talked about all the bad, but there have been some good things that have come out of this, as I have met the most incredible people and have learned more through experiencing this than I ever could as just a medical student. I hope this story inspires people to never let people put a limit on what you can do, because you can really do anything you put your mind too. I’m not sure what the future holds in terms of my left hip, but as of right now I’m enjoying being back doing what I love on the soccer field