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Rolling Along

May 13, 2019 2:39 p.m.

Injury does not slow down Teutopolis native.

When Tammy (Kroeger) Smith was in fifth grade, she fell while roller skating and broke her right wrist. Her mom told her to never get on roller skates again.

Fast-forward 38 years to Tammy roller skating with her kids in their school gym. She took a turn a little too fast, lost her balance, fell backward and broke her fall with her elbow. As she lay there, the directive Tammy’s mom gave her decades prior reverberated through her head: never get on roller skates again!

Tammy’s husband, Shannon, was out of town, so she had to place the inevitable call to her mom for help getting medical care. “I was dreading that call!” Tammy said. “At 49 years old, all I could hear my mom say was, ‘I told you never to skate again,’” she said laughing.

The Teutopolis native went to Bonutti Clinic in Effingham for an evaluation because she knew and trusted the care she would receive there. An X-ray revealed that Tammy needed to see an orthopedic surgeon. “One of my friends had spoken very highly of Dr. (Frank) Lee at the clinic, so I went to see him,” she said.

“Dr. Lee told me in advance [of the surgery] that he couldn’t guarantee how much flexibility I would regain. He said that I may never swing a golf club again,” Tammy recalled, remembering she felt fairly depressed about that news.

Dr. Lee stabilized her break with a six-inch metal plate and 14 screws. Following surgery, she wore a removable cast. “He was phenomenal!” Tammy said. She completed several weeks of physical therapy thereafter, yet Tammy struggled to bend her arm; Dr. Lee performed a minor procedure to release the scar tissue and return her mobility. 

“My kids and husband helped me so much,” Tammy said. “You don’t really think about all of the things that you naturally do with your arm, like reaching for items or even getting dressed.” She is thankful for her then 11-year-old daughter, Halle, and 9-year-old twin sons, Colton and Callaway, who pitched in to help her out.

Four years have passed and Tammy has just a faint scar underneath her forearm to provide evidence of her skating mishap.

“I saw Dr. Lee at a golf tournament and I made a point to show him that I could swing a club again,” Tammy said mischievously. “I am really grateful to him for giving me back my mobility.”

Tammy has— at least for now— hung up her skates.

For more information or to make an appointment with any of the Sarah Bush Lincoln orthopedists, call 217 342-3400 for the SBL Bonutti Clinic or 217 238-3435 for SBL Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.