A Mother’s Intuition…
Brady Conner was a happy, popular kid attending High School in Craig, Colorado — a small, rural, close-knit town located in the Northwestern part of the state. He entered hisfreshman year in September of 2007 and was excited for the months ahead and the opportunity to meet new friends and play football for his school team. With the school year underway and in full swing, the freshmen participated in games and activities to get to know each other better on one sunny afternoon.
One of those activities turned into a game that involved carrying a classmate on your shoulders and then running as fast as you can to race to the finish. “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” said Brady.
On his shoulders was the quarterback of the high school football team; running as fast as he could, Brady was focused on the finish line when another student trip Brady causing him to lose his balance and fall. Brady immediately went into defense mode taking the plunge for both himself and his quarterback. Landing on his left shoulder, Brady instantly felt an overwhelming amount of pain. Barely able to move, he went to the nurse who assumed he had a broken collarbone. She quickly called his parents, who within minutes were speeding to get him to the ER.
“If I knew then, what we know now,” said Conner’s mom, Anne, “We would have taken a detour from that emergency room and hightailed it directly to The Steadman Clinic in Vail.”
In the emergency room, the doctors assumed that Conner’s had a broken collarbone. They did one x-ray that did not show a break. They told Anne and Brady’s father, Dick, that Brady would need a lot of rest and they gave him some pain meds, told them to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor just to be safe, and they sent Brady home.
“My gut told me something was not right,” said Anne. “My son continued to be in a lot of pain and he was eating pain meds like they were going out of style. I knew he had to have some aspect of a broken collarbone or another associated injury. He wasn’t able to play football and he wasn’t himself. I knew that his collarbone needed a deeper evaluation and my employer, a local dentist in town, recommended I call The Steadman Clinic in Vail.”
The very next week the family made the three-hour drive to Vail and waited to see Dr. Millett. “It was a changing moment for us,” said Anne. “Dr. Millett greeted us warmly and we discussed what we had been through the past few weeks and his warmth, compassion and understanding, immediately put us in another frame of mind. He immediately ordered a CAT scan right off the bat. His first glance at the scans and he instantly knew what was going on.”
Brady had suffered a sternoclavicular dislocation, a rare condition that is often times overlooked. In fact, the injury was so severe that his collarbone was ripped away from the sternum. To make the matter even more serious, his collarbone had moved completely out of the normal location and resided right on top of the aorta and was compressing his jugular vein causing headaches and swelling in Brady’s face. Any fall, harsh move or slight impact, and Brady could have died.
The very next day Brady was booked for surgery to surgically repair the sternoclavicular dislocation of his collarbone. This is a technical demanding procedure whereby the collarbone is pulled out of the chest (reduced) and put back into place. The ligaments that support the collarbone and sternoclavicular joint are then repaired to prevent the bone from protruding again into the chest cavity.
“I was relieved and felt blessed to be there. Once surgery was over, we couldn’t believe the true extent of our son’s injuries. Dr. Millett knew how bad it was and he remained so calm during our consultation, so that we would stay calm. We were lead to him for a reason and he saved my sons life,” said Anne.
Following surgery, Brady did great. Returning to high school he was able to resume playing football for the varsity team his sophomore year. Ironically, exactly one year after his collarbone injury, Brady blew out his ACL and MCL playing football.
“It was near the end of the football season when Brady hurt his knee,” said Anne. “Sitting on the sidelines with the team managers, they recommended we head to the ER. I looked at my son, shook my head, and said, no way. The next day, we were driving to the Steadman Clinic. Sitting in the office waiting for Dr. Millett to come in was ironic. He walked in, smiled really big at us, and there we went again.”
Dr. Millett completely repaired Brady’s knee with an ACL reconstruction where the torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is rebuilt with a tendon from the front of the knee (patella tendon autograft). Within a couple of months, Brady was back to resuming his normal activities. He went on to play varsity football his junior and senior years without any problems associated with his collarbone or knee and will play for Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado, a Division 2 school, in the fall of 2011.
What does he want to be when he grows up?
“A kinesiologist,” said Brady. “Dr. Millett opened my eyes to a career that I really didn’t know could exist. He was so awesome to work with and gave me encouragement and literally ‘fixed’ me. I want to study to be a sports medicine/strengthening coach and follow in similar footsteps.”
Anne cannot say enough about the care her son received under the careful watch of Dr. Millett. “He is the most patient and kind doctor I’ve ever met. The difference between Dr. Millett and other orthopedic doctors is incomparable. I have referred so many patients to that clinic because of how wonderful they are. It was truly life-changing.”
As fate would have it, a year later, another member of the Conner family would make a visit to Dr. Millett. Read about Anne’s Snapping Scapula Syndrome.