When Taylor Parr took to the mound, her mantra given to her from her dad was “don’t let your opponent see your pain.” That plan isn’t as easy to follow when your ribs are separating from your body.
The 16-year-old Quesnel softball pitcher’s mantra will be easier to follow now that she’s gotten surgery to fix slipping rib syndrome.
“I was suffering for 13 years, and it progressively got worse over time,” she said, “When it first started it was just a sharp pain. I had to quit so many sports because of it. It got to the point right before my operation I was struggling to even pick up a milk jug.”
Slipping rib syndrome is caused when the cartilage on ribs slips and moves. The treatment is to remove the ribs with misplaced cartilage through surgery.
The pain caused Parr to collapse on the pitching mound when she was 12-years-old.
“It started to give me a nauseous feeling, clicking the entire time,” she said. “It would get to the point where I wanted to throw up. I’d always be behind a dugout almost throwing up or crying. I kind of got used to it after a while.”
Every solution Parr and her family tried — painkillers, braces, massages, ice packs — would only provide temporary relief before the pain and a disturbing clicking would return.
Desperate for solutions, Parr’s dad stumbled across an article profiling Victoria long-distance swimmer Jill Yoneda, who had a similar surgery. Before long, the two athletes had exchanged numbers, and Parr was booked in for a surgery with Yoneda’s doctor. Parr even met with the swimmer the night before the surgery.
“It made things a lot easier on me,” Parr said. “I was so worried. It’s so rare, (the doctor) hasn’t done many operations. They were shocked to see a 16-year-old.”
At first doctors didn’t believe Parr had something wrong with her, chalking up her symptoms to growing pains or wanting to get out of playing sports.
While the pain forced Parr to slowly give up sports, she would never stop pitching, no matter how much pain it caused, even adjusting her pitching motion to deal with the pain.
“(Softball) was the one that I fought for more,” she said. “There were so many things in my life I started to give up. I was doing cross-country running, volleyball, basketball, everything had to come to a stop… Everything you love to do is taken away from you.”
It isn’t just sports where Parr has seen an improvement.
“I’d be in so much pain, I’d be in bed for a day or two, not able to move,” she said. “I can say I’m happier now… When I could pick up a milk jug again, I was so excited.”
Parr is hoping to add velocity to her pitching now that she’s healthy. She was last clocked at 63 miles-per-hour while playing with an all native touring team.
When she next takes to the mound in a competitive game, she won’t need to hide her rib pain. Although she did joke now that the pain in her ribs is gone, she’s feeling the other aches and pains of high level competition. So her mental toughness may still come in handy.
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