To her alarm, one super-active U.S. girl suddenly found herself struggling to carry out day-to-day activities. You see, she started experiencing agonizing sharp pains in her ribs when attempting even the simplest of everyday tasks. Something had to give, then; but such a fit and healthy young woman had a hard time convincing medical professionals that there was anything actually wrong with her. Eventually, however, she needed surgery to fix her problem. And afterwards she claimed that too many doctors had overlooked the cause of her excruciating pain.
The girl in question, identified only as Haley, was a 16-year-old who has had a pretty rough time of things. She has always been an active person and found a particular talent in the pool. In fact, she has been swimming since she was 18 months old and became so good at it that she joined a team and started entering competitions.
About a year and a half after she began swimming competitively, though, Haley noticed an occasional pain in her left side. Unfortunately, this discomfort gradually increased in frequency and severity until it was bad enough to warrant a visit to the doctor. But Haley and her family maintain that no one could give her a real diagnosis. Apparently, the advice was that Haley had simply overused her muscles and needed to take it easy.
According to Haley’s mom, Beth, the initial doctor told her daughter to take a couple of months off from swimming. The hope was that with Haley having overreached herself, this time off would allow her body to recover. So the teenager gave up swimming. And yet unfortunately for her, the pain did not relent, even though she was looking after herself.
Consequently, Haley and her parents decided to investigate further into the mystery pain. The family went to more doctors; however, they say that these alternative consultations were also unable to offer a solid diagnosis. Indeed, Haley was no closer to fixing or even identifying the cause of her severe pain, and she was beginning to get desperate.
Even the most simple of activities were becoming a struggle for the teenager by this point. Haley later said that routine actions, such as strapping on a backpack or using a hairdryer, became agonizing ordeals. In fact, it got to the point where walking around the neighborhood with her dad, Brian, left her breathless with pain and reduced her to tears.
Haley began to think that she may never be able to return to swimming or, indeed, a normal life. At this point it had been six months since the pain had first started, and she wasn’t seeing any improvement in her condition. What’s more, there still wasn’t an explanation for her serious symptoms. And the teenager’s mom and dad were finding it extremely difficult to observe her suffering.
“It was just really hard as a parent to watch your kid be in pain and not be able to do anything about it,” Beth told a film crew from the popular syndicated daytime TV show The Doctors. You see, Haley’s story was so remarkable that in March 2017 it formed a segment on the health and wellbeing panel program.
Furthermore, acccording to Haley, it actually ended up taking a whole year for a doctor to work out what was wrong with her. And 12 months is a long time to endure an undiagnosed and debilitating pain. Worse still is Brian’s claim that one doctor, who was unable to identify what was physically wrong, had tried to tell Haley that the pain was all in her head. Understandably, then, this was something her dad was particularly outraged to hear.
Finally, though, there came a very welcome breakthrough. Haley got an appointment with a medical professional who had a strong suspicion about the root of the teenager’s unbearable pain. They suggested that the cartilage surrounding the swimmer’s lower ribcage was moving around too much – a condition called slipping rib syndrome.
After first reading up about the complaint on the internet, Beth managed to book in with a specialist – a pediatric surgeon named Dr. Lisa McMahon based at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona. And, thankfully for Haley, it proved that McMahon knew exactly what the teenager was going through.
You see, McMahon had actually suffered from the self-same condition herself. The surgeon was very knowledgable about the condition, then. Subsequently, McMahon informed Haley and her family that, unfortunately, slipping rib syndrome requires surgery to cut away the floating pieces of cartilage. But Haley put her trust in the surgeon, and the procedure was successfully carried out. Mercifully, too, following the operation, the teenager’s life has drastically changed for the better.
After her surgery, Haley appeared in person on The Doctors along with her parents and McMahon. And when asked by anchor Dr. Travis Stork how she was feeling these days, Haley only had positive things to say. “I am most definitely feeling better,” she replied with a smile.
The teenager then told the watching audience how she no longer experiences pain in her ribs when she breathes deeply. In fact, Haley’s recovery had progressed so well that she was already back in the water getting into swimming again. She continued, “It’s nice to be able to live again without having to worry about your ribs popping.”
Nevertheless, Haley and her parents have expressed disappointment in the series of doctors whom they saw. The family claim that these medics were unable to pinpoint the teenager’s problem for simply too long. However, McMahon did explain that the slipping rib syndrome is largely “unrecognized and undiagnosed.”
Because McMahon had suffered with the same condition, though, she was able to treat Haley with real empathy. And the surgeon was also able to reassure the teen that her pain was coming from a “real source.” In other words, Haley wasn’t making it up after all.
Now that the surgery is over and Haley’s recovery is well underway, she should no longer have anything to worry about. However, McMahon warned that some of the cartilage may grow back given that the teenager is still growing. For the time being, though, Haley seems to be healthy and looking forward to diving into a bright future.
And the young swimmer’s appearance on popular TV show The Doctors may have positive ripple effects, too. Indeed, considering the fact that slipping rib syndrome is so relatively unknown, the teenager’s story might help to spread the word about the condition. What’s more, Haley’s appearance could also assist others suffering from a similar undiagnosed pain to find a solution to the problem.
Still, while Haley is now better, the young swimmer and her family’s claims about doctors dismissing her symptoms have caused quite a stir online. Indeed, some internet users have expressed particular outrage that the teenager was allegedly told that the pain was all in her mind. Others, meanwhile, have suggested that if Haley had been a boy in the same position, she would have been taken more seriously.
But putting these misgivings and accusations aside, what is most important is that Haley’s terrible agony has now ended. Happily, she has her normal teenage life back and is able to enjoy her activities in the pool once more. And, hopefully, now that her painful journey has been shared on nationwide TV, her story may help plenty of other people to find a similarly happy ending.