Taking Care of Our Weekend Warriors: Rachel's Story

Rachel 300From the people, to the food, to the landscapes, living in the Pacific Northwest is truly unique. And having the chance to enjoy the great outdoors 365 days a year is one of the biggest advantages to calling this place home. Whether you’re a runner, biker, skier, sailor or hiker, there are countless opportunities to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.

But what happens when aches, pains and injuries keep you from doing the activities you love? That’s when it’s time to seek out expert orthopedic advice from your local Franciscan Orthopedic and Sports Medicine team.

Rachel McLain-Rollins, 44, did just that. In January 2013, she was backcountry skiing at Crystal Mountain when her ski collided with a hard surface under the snow, and she felt excruciating pain in her knee. She immediately knew the injury was serious. “I couldn’t walk,” she said.” The pain was so bad and if I tried to stand, my knee would bow out to the side.”

Offering orthopedic options

McLain-Rollins met with Patrick Vaughan, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Franciscan Orthopedic Associates who specializes in sports medicine, including ACL reconstruction, meniscal repair, shoulder instability repairs and more. “We treat patients with new, acute injuries as well as those who suffered an injury years ago, and now experience decreased activity or strength due to that damage,” said Dr. Vaughan. “Living in an area where people are able to be so active means we also see a lot of overuse injuries as well as arthritis.”

Whenever possible, Dr. Vaughan utilizes arthroscopic surgical technique for reconstructions and repairs. For those with more extensive damage, a joint replacement may be recommended.

“With arthroscopic surgery, we only need to make three to four small incisions instead of larger ones that cut deeply through the muscles,” he said. “The result is often decreased pain, shorter healing time and quicker return to activity.”

An MRI revealed that McLain-Rollins had ruptured her ACL, and she needed surgery to repair it. Due to swelling and bruising in the area, she had to wait about a month to undergo the operation. In February, Dr. Vaughan, who performs surgeries at both St. Anthony Hospital and St. Joseph Medical Center, performed her surgery at St. Joseph. “I had never had surgery before, but I can say that if you ever have to go through it, the experience was as good as I could ever hope to have,” said McLain-Rollins. She was able to go home the same day and started physical therapy two to three weeks later.

“From the very beginning, Dr. Vaughan listened to me and answered all of my questions,” she said. “He figured out what my lifestyle was like and tailored everything so I’d be able to get back out there when I recovered.”

Now McLain-Rollins is as active as ever. She rides bikes, mountain bikes, runs, races Cyclo-cross, downhill skis, skate skis and more. “Being active is part of who I am,” she said. “When you get an injury and are unable to walk or sit properly, it’s like losing your identity. I’m incredibly grateful to Dr. Vaughan for putting me back together again and allowing me to go on doing what I love to do.”

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