Junior Shelby Parscale has, in the last two years, been to school, stayed home, and even visited the Dominican Republic, but it was visits to doctors offices and operating rooms that kept her from the place she really wanted to be: the soccer field.
Parscale who said she has been playing soccer since she could walk called the Legacy Park fields her “a second home” as a child.
“Both my parents were on the committees there so I basically grew up there in strollers, all the people that worked there knew me, so as soon as I could play I was playing,” Parscale said.
Parscale said she recalls those early days, playing rec soccer where she was coached by her dad, and realizing that the sport she had always know became something she loved simply because the field “was a place to get away from it all.”
However, the world Parscale had been building since childhood started to come apart in December of 2016.
“Usually I’m a defender and they moved me to forward [so] I was playing out of position and every time I play out of position I get hurt,” Parscale said, “But I was going to shoot and a defender came up and instead of hitting the ball she hit my ankle and so then it just went downhill from there.”
Parscale said she initially thought she had only a sprained ankle, something she said she’d had eight or nine times before, “so I treated it like a sprain,” she said. However, after two weeks out of the game Parscale said she still didn’t feel any better.
It was time to go to the doctor.
The first doctor visit left Parscale off the field for another two weeks and put her in physical therapy three times a week. All those involved in the injury process still thought it was just a bad sprain. But when fourteen days later nothing had improved Parscale was back at the doctors, this time meeting with a surgeon who, after X-Rays and an MRI, concluded that she had torn her ATF ligament which is on the outside of the ankle.
Parscale said the new plan was to try four more weeks of physical therapy, which didn’t work, and two weeks of medication, which also didn’t work. So about ten weeks after her injury Parscale found herself in the operating room.
Parscale’s surgeon repaired her torn ligament with an anchor and suture tape. After an eight week recovery period and another round of physical therapy it was August 2017 and Parscale said, “I was supposed to be completely fine.”
Low and behold she wasn’t. Parscale said her doctor concluded that her body was rejecting the anchor and suture tape they had put in during her first surgery. Since her ligament has healed Parscale said she technically didn’t need the anchor or tape any more and the goal of surgery number two was to take it out.
While recovering from her second surgery Parscale’s family took a trip to the Dominican Republic. Parscale said her ankle which had been relatively stable in the States began leaking fluid and being altogether extremely painful while in the Dominican.
So back to the doctors they went.
Parscale was given medication but as before she said it didn’t work.
“Then I came back to school,” she said, “It still hurt to walk so I was on crutches for a while and then on a Friday night when I got home from school it hurt so much that if I had had a saw I would have cut off my foot.”
Parscale said she went to the ER where she received emergency surgery in what was January of this year. Following the operation she said she met with an infectious disease doctor because it was concluded that she had a staph infection. The infection was thought to have come from her ankle never quite healing after her second surgery, but Parscale said the salt water in the Dominican couldn’t have helped things.
“He sat me down and was like ‘this is serious, this is not something to joke about’,” Parscale said. Her course of treatment IV infusions of antibiotics via a PICC line that was inserted into her arm. She said the line was threaded through a vein in her arm into her heart.
“They had an X-Ray of my chest and my arm, it was like live action, like I could see my heart beating on this X-Ray it was crazy,” Parscale said.
The infusions lasted four weeks Parscale said but their impacts were harsh.
“The medicine made me sick, so I missed a lot of school. It made me dizzy and I had chest pain and a few times it made my throw up,” Parscale said it the side effects were mostly due to the medicine being injected basically directly into her heart.
Even with the infection now gone Parscale said her ankle still isn’t soccer ready, “If you look at it, it’s okay. But it’s still inflamed and it’s still going to cause a lot of pain for a while. So, right now I still can’t run. I can’t play soccer.”
Parscale said that throughout her entire recovery process she has missed a lot of school but what she misses even more is soccer.
“I wish I could play so much. I miss it. Hopefully one day, I’m really hoping to play soccer again.”
Parscale said she has received major support from her family and friends throughout her two year ordeal. She said she received support even when she didn’t feel like sharing all of the details of what she was going through, “I kind of stepped away from all of it and I didn’t want people to visit me. I didn’t want to leave my house. I didn’t want to leave my bed. It was depressing.”
Junior and friend Grace Chapman admits she didn’t know the details of Parscale’s recovery. “All I knew was that she was in a lot of pain and it was keeping her from doing something she really loved,” Chapman said.
Parscale said her friends were “persistent” in their attempts to bring her back into a world outside her house.
“I would have to ask over and over again to try to get her out of the house,” Chapman said, “or she would just say she was hurting and couldn’t do anything so I would just bring food or something and come sit with her so she at least had someone there with her.”
Chapman said her goal was for Parscale “realize she wasn’t alone and so that helped her get back out and doing things she didn’t want to do.”
Renee Parscale, Shelby’s mom, said she noticed the impact Shelby’s friends were having on her.
“Her friends have been amazing. Between being on crutches and/or wearing a boot, she was not allowed to drive after each surgery. Her friends would always come get her and bring her home from school and social events. When she didn’t feel good enough to leave the house they would come over with flowers and balloons and her favorite foods. Shelby knew it wasn’t fun for them to just lay around, but that was all she could do, and they did it because they are such great friends. I am so thankful for her friends that stuck through her during this dark time, they are some quality people,” Renee said.
Shelby said also that her mom “has been [her] number one supporter” throughout her recovery.
“I always knew Shelby was a fighter,” Renee said, “I just didn’t know how strong of a fighter. She hardly ever cried or showed her emotions, but every time we left the doctor’s office that was her weakest point. She would cry a bit but then say, “I’m fine, everything’s fine”. That has been her mantra all the way through this. There was a very dark time when I was very worried about her, but she talked openly with me about everything and we got through it. It brings tears to my eyes just telling you this.”
Shelby said the combination of ankle surgery and the PICC line left her bedridden for two weeks so her mom helped her “with everything from eating, to showering, to getting dressed, everything.”
“It has been a long road of recovery. So long that I forget everything she has been through. When I think back it just breaks my heart,” said Renee, “Three surgeries in 9 months is a lot for one person to handle but add in the staph infection, the scary heart pain from the first PICC line, having to get a second PICC line, infusions for 4.5 weeks, the rashes from the medicines, the midnight visit to the ER because the PICC line was clogged, getting her wisdom teeth out right after the PICC line came out, missing school, missing being a wrestling manager, not playing soccer, it was truly horrible.”
For now, at least, Shelby’s future does not include a return to the soccer field but she has found ways to fill her time with new hobbies. Shelby was the Varsity wrestling manager this year and plans on managing boys soccer next year. She said she has also discovered a passion for journalism specifically production and editing in broadcasting.
“I really enjoy it. So I finally decided that that’s what I want to do with my life,” Shelby said.
“She works really hard on broadcasting,” Chapman said, “and does everything she can to help Titan Television. She found it was something else she really loves and I think that really helped her cope.”
“She has so many plans for her future and she is bound to make it happen,” Renee said, “I have no doubt Shelby will accomplish everything she sets her mind on. I recently heard a great quote that reminds me of Shelby: ‘There is no growth without struggle’ and she has definitely struggled and I can see so much growth in her. There is still more recovery. The doctor said it could be up to a year with everything she has been through to get back to running without pain. She is determined to make that happen and I will do anything to support her. Her attitude and drive amaze me every day.”