Students cope with going “under the knife”

Nycea Patterson

Being a high school student is a task in itself—but what if in addition to those tasks, you had to deal with the time-consuming, painful, sometimes emotional process of having surgery?

Hospital visits and test prep, ice packs and chemistry books, football practice and pain medication; all have gone hand in hand for some students.

Shoulder to Shoulder

Jacob Ulinski (12) is all too familiar with this struggle. On January 11, 2011, he had surgery on his left shoulder to patch a joint called the labrum, which he’d torn playing football. “It’s a part of the shoulder I didn’t even know was there,” he said.

Though his shoulder was essentially held together with screws, Ulinski was still optimistic about his surgery; it could have been worse. “I was happy that the surgery was on my left shoulder, because I’m right handed,” Ulinski said. “But I wasn’t okay with the fact I would probably have surgery on my right arm as well and not be so lucky.”

Eleven months later, Ulinski did have surgery on his right shoulder. He missed approximately two weeks of school, but came back ready to tackle his schoolwork.

“Teachers were really helpful in giving me my assignments to make up. They knew why I was absent, and wanted to make this process a little easier for me,” he said.

Beating the Crowd

Students who have to face the additional task of braving the hallways with crutches after having surgery are, fortunately, greeted with a clear path. Students have the benefit of leaving their classes five minutes early and beating the crowded hallways so they can arrive to their next class safely. Students who are wheelchair-bound have access to the elevator as well. 

After getting cartilage replacements on her right knee on November 3, 2011, Emma Roberson (12) experienced this firsthand.

“Leaving class early helps because I always feel rushed in the halls with the other students,” Roberson said. “It also gives me time to either make it to the elevator or get down the stairs when other kids aren’t around.” 

Roberson has a six-month recovery before she can play any sports again; her full recovery will take an entire year.

Though a surgery that cuts into the school year is a heavy burden for many students, it doesn’t have to be devastating, and many students make it through the process healed and ready to go right back to normal, with the exceptions made for their circumstance.