My name is Nicole Massimino and I am a sophomore on the Women’s Lacrosse team at Notre Dame. During my junior year of high school, I began feeling tingling and numbness in my lower legs while playing. After many doctors appointments, I was diagnosed with Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome in both of my lower legs. This is when the facia around your muscle does not expand enough during exercise in relation to the increased pressure in the muscle which limits blood flow causing numbness and pain. For my junior and senior year of high school, I continued to play through this pain. However, when I began playing lacrosse in the fall of my freshman year, the pain become too much to handle, and I was forced to stop playing. I began looking for solutions; the first being surgery. With the compartment syndrome surgery only having about a 65-75% success rate, I looked into other options one of which was getting botox injected into the muscle. In October of my freshman year I got the botox injections with the hope that the botox would relax my muscle enough giving more room for muscle expansion and blood flow during exercise. Unfortunately, I developed a severe foot drop from the botox, one of the risks associated with the procedure from injecting too much into the muscle. I had drop foot for about 2-3 months until I was able to regain my regular running gate again. At this point, when trying to run, I was still experiencing the same symptoms as before, so I decided to take time off to let the muscle relax itself. The muscle however was never able to relax enough to alleviate my symptoms while running. I got my first surgery in July of 2018 and began rehabbing as soon as possible. This surgery was unsuccessful however, leaving me again to look for other solutions. I talked to doctor after doctor, and even flew to Colorado to get a full evaluation of every joint in my body searching for any other possible cause of this numbness. After performing an extensive 8 week stretching plan, I was left with no choice to have my second surgery this past March.
I now walk around with 8 scars on my legs. Although many people see scars as a sign of pain, I look at my scars and see quite the opposite. My scars are a constant reminder of the amazing support system I have around me. They constantly remind me of how my family is willing to go above and beyond for me and will always be on my side no matter what. They remind me of my teammates who have constantly supported me and who always have my back. Being injured has given me a whole new perspective on sports. Being in the training room everyday, you realize that there is always someone who is fighting a harder battle than you are, so be grateful for your situation no matter what and never give up. I have also learned so much on the sidelines these past two years, but most importantly I have learned to never take a second of playing for granted because you never know which play could be your last.