Ever since a couple of *not very smart* decisions I made during my senior year of high school my knees, ears, and generally my overall health have all taken major hits. As a senior I decided not to play select, AAU, or high school basketball for the first time in 6 years, and instead opted to just go to the gym and play full court games for 2-3 hours at least five times a week. Having a structured team environment with regularly scheduled practices and games meant that my body was on the exact same schedule day to day, and our coaches always knew when to ease practice up or to cancel it if we’d had an especially rough week. All this meant that my body, and my knees specifically, were in decent shape and well taken care of for most of my middle and high school tenure. As I mentioned earlier however, my senior year this all changed as I went away from this structured, repeating pattern in favor of one that took no breaks and was as unpredictable as the weather our games were played in (have I mentioned I’m from rainy Seattle yet :p) . I played 15– 20 hours a week of non-stop full court basketball with insane amounts of cutting, running, jumping, and stopping as opposed to the 6-10 hour weeks in high school which were mostly composed of dribbling, shooting, and running plays at 50% speed for extended periods of time. It was quite the change of pace to say the least, and it’s safe to say my body paid the price.

My knees simply couldn’t keep up with the extra time and intensity, and slowly they started to ache and pain. After what I considered a “normal” 3.5 hour gym session where I played 8-10 games I would start to feel extreme pain in my patellar region, which I initially just waved off as fatigue from playing for so long and being out of shape. Soon, however, after these issues kept coming back and after an unfortunate summer incident where I jumped a flight of stairs and landed so hard that I couldn’t walk, I realized that my knee issues weren’t trivial. There was a serious problem, and I needed to get it checked out; unfortunately, my pediatrician from back home wasn’t exactly qualified to diagnose the issue, and right before I left for college he told me everything was fine and I had nothing to worry about; just ice and stretch and I’d be fine. Unfortunately it wasn’t as simple as that, and over time I realized that his rest and recovery plan wasn’t gonna cut it; thankfully, as usual, Hopkins had me covered.

Upon getting to campus I continued to play basketball, stretching and occasionally icing as suggested by my doctor back home. Unfortunately, after doing this for about a year, I made the executive decision that it simply wasn’t going to be the end-all solution. I decided to take a chance on the university health and wellness facility, known as hell-well by students, and it has easily been one of the best medical decisions I’ve ever made. As soon as I went in they did a series of extensive tests and diagnosed me with patellar tendonitis, and told me the exact exercise routine that I should be doing before and after every athletic endeavor. Furthermore, the doctor who saw me wrapped a bunch of seemingly random devices around my knee, and then showed me a specific brace that would ease the pain from tendonitis and was specifically for basketball players. I was in absolute shock that a free university healthcare system could be so extensive and thorough, and could cater to my individual needs so well.

All this being said I walked away from the appointment thinking “Well, that was way better than my pediatrician, but in the end all I got were a set of exercises and a recommendation for a brace.”…oh how wrong my analysis was. As soon as the brace was shipped to me, which was about a week later, I skeptically tried using it in coordination with the suggested exercises. Remarkably, I felt no pain whatsoever before, during, and after playing. “It’s just a first time fluke – beginners luck” I thought to myself. But no, every time I’ve played, all the way up until this day, the combination of exercises and the brace that was ordered for me by Hell-Well has kept me pain free, and I can’t be more thankful.

I’ve gone back to Hell-Well numerous times since that day, and every single time I leave feeling better than I did coming in. I’ve had hearing issues which a team of five doctors has worked with me to fix and maintain, I’ve been given personalized treatments plans to beat the flu and the common cold, and I’ve gotten a bevy of shots and immunizations from Hell-Well that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten had I waited till I’d gone home. The Johns Hopkins Health and Wellness center has saved me numerous times, and it’s to them that I dedicate this blog; from the bottom of my kneecap…thank you Hell-Well.