Cate Smith


My name is Cate Smith, currently a rising Junior at Clemson University on the Rowing team. I am from Westchester, New York, which is a relatively large county that sits right outside of New York City. And I had gone through two hip surgeries in two months, the first being on March 14th that I found out I was having a week before it happened; and the second being one week ago on Friday, May 10th. My diagnosis was torn labrum on both sides caused by new bone growth and impingement. The bone impingement is just how my body is made and also produced by muscle tightness in my pelvis due to constant use and strain from rowing. Which further worsened the rotation making the impingement worse. This impingement was the primary source of my pain, and anytime my leg moved past 90 degrees of my hips, I would be in so much pain from my pelvis and femur hitting each other. It got to a point where sitting, walking, and most normal daily activities became so painful. This went on for months, having my treatment be rehab and PT to try and strengthen the muscles. Every time I saw my original doctor, I was given false hope to believe I would be back and to stick to my timeline and PT.

After months and months of pain, no real answers, and frustration, one day in early March, I walked into my training room and looked at my rehab exercise sheet and just broke down. I had enough and was so tired. My trainer and I talked all morning and decided that I needed answers, and it was time to see the surgeon. When that day came, I had fully expected the doctor to look at my scans and chart to say that the damage was too severe, and I would never row again. I had made peace with that in my mind. What happened said, "I can fully repair this with arthroscopic surgery, and you can row again.". The problem was that my labrum was torn in a place where no MRI could see, so there was no way of knowing. My doctor said based on how much pain I was in and had no improvement, and he said he was 98% sure my labrum was torn. And if it weren't then it would be soon because of the impingement, Once I did have the surgery, the doctor came back and showed me the pictures he took of my labrum, and it was like "a dog chewed it up" with a sizeable longitudinal tear going alongside my bone. Finally, I felt like someone believed the pain I was in, and that it was not all in my head. Knowing how bad it was on the left side, the doctor said it would be safe to assume the right would be the same. So now I am exactly one week post-op from my second surgery, I can say that I am feeling good and recovering well so far. As for the future, I do not know if I will be able to row again. Both my sports medicine support staff, and my main goal is to get me back to a healthy, functional life. If I get to row still, that is the cherry on top of it.

Bailey Cartwright