Road to Recovery

Student shares what it’s like to get surgery in high school

Bryn Deer, Fall 2016 j1 journalism student


With homework, friends and sports, high school can be an overwhelming four years. Freshman Elizabeth Phillips knows this well.

Earlier this year, she received surgery for a labral tear in her right hip, along with a misshapen bone. Upon getting back to school, she found a mountain of homework and a new school full of new people waiting for her.

phillips-featureAlthough she admitted that she doesn’t remember much other than the pain, she recalls crying from relief and joy when she saw her parents after the operation.

“[Before I went into surgery,] they put the anesthesia in fast enough that I don’t remember any of it,” Phillips said, “All I remember is that they were carrying me away, and [the nurse] was talking to me, and I wasn’t nervous then, so I thought I was OK.”

The hospital stay was good, Phillips said. They had helpful nurses, and she spent most of her time sleeping. The hardest part came after.

“When she was up and walking, she had to have her hip brace; when she was on the couch, she had to wear these boots that kept her feet together so she couldn’t rotate her hip out, and she had to have the CPM (Constant Passive Motion) machine at night when she slept [to keep her hip moving],” said Tracy Phillips, her mother, “But I didn’t really realize how much care she was going to need.”

After missing 15 consecutive days, Phillips went back to school.

“It was really rough. I had to spend my weekends doing homework for hours and hours and hours.” Phillips said. “I ended up getting all caught up, so I have good grades now, but for a while I was definitely struggling.”

Luckily, most of her teachers were willing to help Phillips readjust, and worked to help her get back on track.

“[My teachers] definitely gave me a lot more time to finish projects and things, and they counted some of the stuff I missed exempt,” Phillips said. “They would schedule times with me after school to talk about what I had missed. Everything was posted online, so I could do my work while I was at home.”

She has still faced challenges, including constant hip pain and medicine that made her feel worse.

“It made me really nauseous — I would get up and feel like I couldn’t move. Whenever I’d stand up I’d feel lightheaded, and I passed out a couple times.” Phillips said, “When I stopped taking it, I felt so much better right away.”

Phillips, while still not feeling 100 percent, is doing much better. She will need surgery on the other hip for the same reason, and she plans to do it during the summer to avoid the stress of homework on top of recovery.

“I’ve learned not to take anything for granted,” Phillips said, “Once you get injured, you suddenly can’t do a sport you love. Watching people do something you love is really hard. It does get better, though. It doesn’t seem like it at first, but it gets better.”