I drove up to the court to see my son pounding a beautiful forehand winner up the line. What a welcome sight. It wasn’t very long ago we wondered if he would ever hit the ball like that again. The first of December was the last time he hit a tennis ball. This is something for a young man who has spent between three and five nights a week practicing for the last seven years. The doctors pulled him out of the game as we waited for surgery.
This is not the first time he has faced surgery. Last year during my son’s high school tennis season he kept complaining of pain in his wrist and forearm, and felt like he was loosing his grip. We sought medical attention immediately and they thought he was suffering from overuse. He rested the arm but continued to have pain. To make a long story short, he was finally diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. The nerves and blood vessels to his right arm where being compressed and everytime he raised his arm he was cutting off blood flow to the arm. The nerves were being compressed to the point that his pinky and ring finger where becoming paralyzed. He was scheduled for surgery to remove his first rib, and two muscles in his neck in hopes to relieve the pressure.
I am happy to say that the surgery was a success and he worked hard last year to bring his game back. It took almost six months for him to get his game back to where it had been and by the time the school season rolled around he was hitting the ball better than he ever had. That is why it was so disappointing when he started to experience the same symptoms in his left arm by the end of this years season. Another trip to the doctors confirmed that he had begun to loose motor and sensory function of his left hand. Although extremely rare he was suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome on the left side as well. Once again surgery was scheduled.
Alex was discouraged. He felt he had beat the odds last time and wondered if he would be able to do it again. Could he be lucky enough to avoid the complications of this surgery twice and did he have it in him to fight back again. With the hope of college tennis looming in the background he knew he had to give it his best shot. Once again he came through the surgery with flying colors, this time it was much less invasive and they were able to spare the bone. As his arm healed he dedicated himself to keeping fit.
He walked back onto the tennis court for the first time in two months with a guarded confidence. The arm felt good and he was happy with his level of fitness. Now he just needed to see what it could do. The coach told me you would never he had been off the court. His serve still has some work but the rest of his game is just as good or better than it was before. He is looking to hit the tournament circuit again and has found a new appreciation and passion for the game of tennis.