Rough Road to Recovery: Drumheller Works Hard to Return to the Stage

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Rough Road to Recovery: Drumheller Works Hard to Return to the Stage

Senior Kamryn Drumheller (on the right) injured her knee during her junior year and had to work hard to be able to return to the stage.

Senior Kamryn Drumheller (on the right) injured her knee during her junior year and had to work hard to be able to return to the stage.

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Senior Kamryn Drumheller (on the right) injured her knee during her junior year and had to work hard to be able to return to the stage.

Photo Submitted

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Senior Kamryn Drumheller (on the right) injured her knee during her junior year and had to work hard to be able to return to the stage.

By Olivia Hamilton, Scott County High School

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The extremely determined, talented, and outgoing Kamryn Drumheller has been dancing for fifteen years and is a part of the Scott County High School Dance Team and Performing Arts Company at United Talent. “I started dance when I was 3, and I love the way dance makes me feel. It’s a feeling that I don’t get about anything else,” Kamryn explained. “When I’m dancing, everything that’s wrong at the time is out of my head.”  Kamryn never anticipated that there would be a time when she wouldn’t be able to dance away her troubles until she tore her ACL and meniscus.

Any athlete expects to have injuries, but they are often small.  This was the same for Kamryn. “Any injuries I had before the accident were just pulled muscles,” recalled Kamryn. “This was my first major dance injury I’ve ever experienced.”

It all started January 21, 2018, at a SCHS dance team practice. “There was a competition coming up the next weekend,” Kamryn stated. “We were running our hip hop dance for the last time, and I had completed a standing head spring.” When she landed, Kamryn’s left knee inverted and she heard two pops. “I was standing there like, ‘Ok I can’t move and I just heard my knee pop so this isn’t good,’” she recalled.

Kamry immediately dropped to the floor and started crawling out of the room. “My assistant coach Cassidy came running and it was just a big moment,’’ she further explained.  Her coach started to help her evaluate the situation and determine if she had injured herself seriously.

“We stretched my leg out a little bit, and then I tried to stand up. I couldn’t put any weight on it,” Kamryn stated. She took a visit to the doctor but no news was discovered. Kamryn was instructed to rest up and heal.

For the next week Kamryn was on crutches, then after another week of icing and heating, she was free to start walking again. “At the time I didn’t know if I had torn my ACL or my meniscus or both,” Kamryn reflected, “but it still wasn’t totally better so we went to physical therapy to see if that would help.” With the help of physical therapy, Kamryn progressed quickly and after a month, was well enough to attempt walking without the aid of crutches.

As dance team competitions approached, Kamryn was not well enough to compete with her team at nationals. “That whole time was rough,” explained Kamryn. “The moment I had hurt my knee, I knew high school dance team was over for my junior year because the season was just about to end.”

But Kamryn still had hope that she could finish off her year at her home studio, United Talent in Georgetown.  “I really wanted to get through those next competitions,” said Kamryn positively. “I would really of loved to dance at recital so I was like, ‘we’re gonna get this better.’”

Kamryn went to physical therapy several times a week trying to get her quad muscle stronger with lots of strength exercises. Sometimes, Kamryn struggled with staying persistent. “Physical therapy was one of the main things that made me so frustrated and upset,” Kamryn recalled. “I started to lose hope that my knee was never gonna be back to the way it was.” However, she pushed through and after only few weeks of physical therapy Kamryn was running, walking, and dancing normally wearing only a knee brace or wrap.

A Return to the Stage

She was finally well enough to compete in March at Dance Masters of the Bluegrass. Dance Masters is a non profit organization associated with Dance Masters of America. The purpose is to enable dance teachers and students to meet for a collective and unified study to further benefit the art of dance. “Everytime you go out to compete, with all the adrenaline any kind of pain in your body just like adrenaline takes it away.” said Kamryn. “But when I got off stage my knee was starting to hurt, but I was like ‘I’m fine, I just had an injury it’s gonna take a while for it to get better.’” Still at that time Kamryn was unsure if she had torn anything or not. She had gone to doctor but hadn’t gotten anything back.

Kamryn danced through group routines the entire day of competition and that night were solos, she had a jazz and contemporary number. “The jazz style dance was first and I was all pumped up of course and excited because this was the first time I was getting to do my solos out on stage,” said Kamryn. When she went on stage with all her friends and coaches were on the sides for support. “They were so happy I was finally getting to do it!” Kamryn exclaimed.

Kamryn was halfway in her dance on the floor getting ready to do a body roll up and her knee snapped again. “I heard two pops over the music,” explained Kamryn. “I went down hands on my knees and I was like ‘nope, I’m gonna get up and try to get through it’ but I couldn’t walk on it so I limped off stage in the middle of the dance.”

In just a few seconds, her coaches were down on the floor helping her along with all her dance friends. “They were really helpful which was awesome,” said Kamryn. However she couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed from the amount of people backstage and from other studios watching it happen. “I was sobbing at that moment, because of course I was embarrassed, but also because I knew I couldn’t dance the rest of the season,” Kamryn stated.

A week later Kamryn went back to the doctor for additional MRIs and X rays trying to figure out what was going on. It took a few weeks to get the results and they finally reported that Kamryn tore her ACL. “I already knew ACL recoveries took 6 months to a year. I was filled with frustration and disappointment,” Kamryn explained and knew that surgery was in her future.

The Struggles of Surgery

Kamryn’s surgery was April 19th. The doctors came out before she was out of the operating room and told her mom and dad they found out she also tore her meniscus while completing surgery on her ACL.“They were guessing what happened is first time I hurt my knee was the meniscus because I was able to get up and walk after a week,” said Kamryn “but what went wrong is I kept dancing on it from where that quad muscle was weak and the weight was going into my knee.”

“The surgery had the worst recovery ever,” said Kamryn. “I would never wish for someone to go through it. I was waking up every night at 3 AM sobbing in pain and I had to wake my mom up to bring me a pill because I couldn’t walk or even move my leg because there was no muscle at all. Also, just crying just because while all my friends were at dance practice learning their routines, I was just sitting on the couch.”

Kamryn was physically restricted to move at all. Her mom had to bring her food, drinks, or anything she needed for the extent of a week. “I ended up losing two pounds that whole week because I did not eat.” Kamryn said. “It was awful.”

But there were some positive moments after surgery, “I had a lot of my friends come and visit me and there were times I was able to get up and go to United Talent and Scott County Dance Team practices to see my dance friends during summer,” Kamryn reflected. “Once I was able to get up and start using my crutches it wasn’t too bad, because I was able to move on my own a little bit.” Kamryn was able to walk well without her crutches two months after surgery.

On August 16th, 2018, Kamryn had a scar tissue removal surgery to straighten her leg. “To sum it up, I basically didn’t do enough in physical therapy or at home.  My knee was stiff and stuck where it was, and it wasn’t able to move because of the scar tissue,” said Kamryn. “So they had to go in and remove all that.”

Moving Forward

The recovery was not as bad as the ACL surgery, and Kamryn only had to walk on crutches for three days afterwards. “I came out of surgery and my leg was straight and I said thank God!” exclaimed Kamryn. “The day I got out of surgery, I begged my mom and she let me sit at a dance team practice.” Kamryn was hopeful that she would be back on the dance floor with her teammates soon after this.  

Senior Night on October 19th was the first time Kamryn was able to dance in front of a crowd since March, 2018. “So that was an exciting night,” Kamryn reflected. “I still was a little wobbly and very scared, but the routine looked good.” Kamryn teared up from happiness while running off the field. “I was so happy,” Kamryn exclaimed.  “It was such a good feeling!”

Perseverance Pays Off

Today Kamryn’s future with dance looks bright.  “I’m completely recovered from surgery, but my quad muscle is not healed all the way, so I can’t yet dance 100%,” Kamryn confirmed. But if there is an athlete injured right now Kamryn’s advice for them is to stay positive and never give up on yourself. “That is a mistake I made. I had to have a second surgery because I gave up on myself and said ‘This is never gonna get better, I’m never gonna get anywhere’ so I just gave up.”  She hopes that others avoid that same mistake.  

This story was originally published on The Cardinal Spirit on February 5, 2019.