My name is Madi Haines and I am a freshman at the University of Colorado. My journey began four years ago, during the height of my competitive basketball career. I had been seemingly healthy my entire life, but started having some pretty intense pain making it nearly impossible to run. I suspected that my body was just exhausted from playing on three teams, training nearly five hours a day and having about twelve competitive games a week! It started as patellar tendinitis, bursitis in my Achilles and pain deep within my hips. I had a one-on-one coach who started me in a yoga program, athletic trainers popping and repositioning my hips almost daily and nothing was helping. My competitive coach suggested I get a second opinion as it was affecting the way I competed.
I met with a surgeon on July 2nd, 2015, who diagnosed me with FAI (femoral acetabular impingement mixed-bilateral), AIIS impingement and torn labrums. For any athlete, surgery is their absolute worst nightmare. So in hopes of avoiding it, I agreed to give up basketball for the summer, did injections and started with twice a week therapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles. Since FAI had dropped a giant boulder in between me and the game I loved most, I decided to find a way around it. I was only 15-years-old, but began running basketball camps and started assistant coaching a 14U team. By the end of summer, despite therapy, I found it hard to walk, sit and even sleep. I went in for more tests and it revealed that my boney abnormalities wouldn’t improve without surgical intervention.
October 13th, 2015, I went into a seven hour surgery to repair my labrum and smooth out the ball and socket. Everything seemed to be going smoothly and then, like every great mountain the terrain got rugged. I had an accident and dislocated my hip, blew through the capsule and destroyed the labrum. December 8th, 2015, surgery two and six hours. Starting over was very difficult, but I made up my mind that I would make comp ball summer 2016. However, after several painful months of therapy, it was very obvious that I couldn’t return to basketball without first operating on my right hip. We scheduled my next surgery for April 15th, 2016, which was just enough time to recover and be ready for high school ball that winter.
I went into surgery where it was discovered that my right hip was a lot worse than my left hip, but they fixed everything and I was expected to make a full recovery. This day was supposed to be the last of surgery, the end of the road, but in so many ways it was just the beginning…
I woke up from surgery and was hit with an even bigger storm. This time the mountain seemed IMPOSSIBLE to climb. It started as knee pain more excruciating than anything I had ever felt. Doctors were baffled and image after image showed that I was fine. It would take only a few more weeks before this monster would make itself known. During this time, my hip pain persisted and I was doing all I could in therapy to recover despite my body failing me.
In August of 2016, I started with neurological, gastrointestinal, and immune system issues. I was hospitalized, underwent experimental treatment and was being treated for a disease called RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy). I was miserable, exhausted and terrified that I was dying, but because of basketball, continued to fight. After a 36 day admission, I was discharged and basketball season was finally right around the corner. I had now missed a full year of the sport and decided it would be smart to pretend I felt better to doctors so that they would clear me for play. On November 8th, I was cleared and on November 13th I made my varsity basketball team. The weeks leading up to our game, there was no hiding that my hip pain was at its peak and that I was becoming very ill. My mother, my biggest advocate, was catching on to my games, but aloud me to play in our first game of the season. I had worked so hard, started AND played the entire 40 minutes.
The following day, I had an appointment with my neurologist who decided that basketball was no longer on the table and I could try again in the summer. I then was meeting with every doctor in the state and having many painful procedures. Until I found myself on the table with an oncologist in the room. A doctor I never wanted to meet, where I had a bone marrow biopsy, endoscopy and colonoscopy so they could take biopsies of my gut and colon the following day. That day I was diagnosed with Systemic Mastocytosis, a blood disease and a form of Mast Cell. Much like Leukemia, it required many hospitalizations, different therapies, IV treatments, poisonous medications to be pumped into my body, injections and high-powered steroids.
After two years of battling this terrible disease, I was finally pronounced in remission. So my doctors finally gave me the clear to fix my hip so that I could continue my basketball career. It was now February 2018, I had many more failed hip surgeries, but was finally meeting one of the best hip surgeons in the nation!!! During the appointment, my world was flipped upside down, yet again. I was diagnosed with shallow hip sockets, femoral retroversion, tibial torsion and trochlear dysplasia. WHAT?! I was getting ready to finish my junior year of high school, so we started physical therapy to get me ready for some very invasive surgeries.
In July 2018, I had three very major surgeries to break, rotate and realign my pelvis and femur. As well as repair my torn labrum, fix the cartilage damage and remove scar tissue. I recovered for six months, all while non-weight bearing, and then in January of 2019, had an MPFL reconstruction and tibial osteotomy. It was the toughest twelve months of my life and during this time I official lost the biggest part of me and my identity: basketball. I lost the ability to be active, many scholarships, and my dreams of playing DI basketball for the Kansas Jayhawks were destroyed.
To say that this journey has been exhausting, challenging and painful would be a complete understatement. I lost the biggest part of who I was, while almost losing my life. However, I would never change this journey and what has happened to me. I learned that basketball was a gift that God put into my life to help me through some very difficult times because it gave me a reason to keep going; however, it was never meant to become my whole life. I was meant for something better. This journey has given me a chance to find my true identity, given me a voice and the chance to influence thousands of young athletes. I recently found my true calling in the medical world, accepted a full-ride academic scholarship to CU and will be majoring in biomedical science to hopefully pursue my dream of becoming an orthopedic surgeon someday soon.
God had a plan for me, just as He has for every one of YOU! Just keep hope and prosper. You’ve got this!