Tough as nails

Senior returns to track from severe injury

Senior+Abby+Carraway+lifts+in+the+weight+room+to+prepare+for+the+track+season.+Carraway+has+recently+returned+from+an+injury+that+started+her+freshman+year.

Caroline Dolberry

Senior Abby Carraway lifts in the weight room to prepare for the track season. Carraway has recently returned from an injury that started her freshman year.

For a moment, Abby Carraway takes a breath.

Then she’s out sprinting the 400 trying to make her pace of 69-70 seconds until she hears a rip and falls. It’s her junior year. After a while, the smell of bleach was numb in her nose as she laid down on the CT table then the MRI table. They told her to sit, stand, lay down, hips open and hips closed trying to figure out what happened. She had two torn labrums. The muscle that kept her hips in place was falling apart.

Carraway’s injuries began freshman year with an overuse injury called iliac apophysitis. Her growth plate was inflamed and ripped away from her bone.

“Freshman year was the original injury,” Carraway said. “It started getting bad sophomore year because I was supposed to take a rest after that first injury, and I took probably like a month [to] two month’s rest. Then I started running again, and I started training for powerlifting again. I was running at night, and I was lifting in the morning. It was building lean muscles. It was tearing. I was still running, still PRing and by the time I hit junior [year], I got through the practice season. It was two weeks before the first meet. I couldn’t do it anymore.”

After her labrums were torn, Carraway’s body tried to heal itself instead it created bone spurs in her hips. Now, whenever she moves her hips, it clunks into a bone. The scans revealed she has two birth defects in her hips, making her more susceptible to the injuries.

“I had one where my pelvic floor doesn’t rotate,” Carraway said. “When I sit and stand, it stays in the exact same position. That means when I sit it pinches on my nerve endings; when I stand up, it rips them. All my nerve endings and my hips are very messed up now. Normal people’s [socket and ball] is [at] 25 degrees. Mine is eight. When I walk forwards, sometimes my hips just dislocate.”

Carraway had hip injections where the doctor took a 5-inch needle, had her lay down and with the guide of an ultrasound stuck the needle into her hip socket.

“You can see this giant needle going into your hip, and they’re talking you through it.” Carraway said. “Then you feel a bunch of weird pressure. It’s just a whole bunch of cortisone, which is a steroid basically going into that socket. It just feels full and heavy after. It’s really an odd feeling. Cortisone just makes your pain feel less painful. It doesn’t really do that much, but they did it twice to try to help. [It] helped for two weeks, and then it stopped.”

I couldn’t do much. I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without excruciating pain, without having to put my hip physically back in place. People being there for me meant a lot.”

— Abby Carraway

Since her body can’t naturally heal from the injury to her hips, she would have to undergo a hip reconstruction where they break parts of her hip bone and put it back to its proper place. Carraway also could have labrum surgery, but says it’s “like putting a bandaid on a gash.”

“​​I’m 17 still,” Carraway said. “If I had a hip reconstruction, I’d have to have a hip replacement within the next ten years. It was a lot of work going into it. I would have been in a wheelchair for six weeks. I would have been in crutches for close to six months. I was not mentally prepared to go through that kind of thing. My doctor, he recommended, he’s like, ‘You’re so young. You might have to get a hip replacement in the future. You probably will have to get a hip replacement in the future, but [the] future is better than right now.’ Right now it’s not worth it.”

Through the past four years, Carraway has spent about a total of eight months of physical therapy.

“It was really frustrating,” Carraway said. “I’ve been to a few different surgeons and a few different tests. I have to live in pain basically for the rest of my life. Physical therapy does help. I do my hip exercises almost every single day for the past year now. It’s frustrating. I couldn’t run cross country my senior year, and I’ve been in cross country for six years now. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do track either.”

However, with the help from her parents, paying the piling up of medical bills and support from her friends, Carraway works out everyday now from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., sometimes to 8 p.m. 

“My friends were there for me,” Carraway said. “It was tough on me mentally. I really wanted to be there to do sports my senior year because it’s always been a really big part of who I am. It’s like athleticism. I’ve always been known as the strong friend, the fast one, but then that happened. I wasn’t strong anymore. I didn’t feel strong. I couldn’t do much. I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without excruciating pain, without having to put my hip physically back in place. People being there for me meant a lot.” 

Eliza Coit has been friends with Carraway since middle school.

“It’s been a blessing to see her grow through this experience,” Eliza said. “I’ve never seen anyone so motivated to get back to what she loves. There were periods of time where it got really rough for her. I was worried about how it would turn out, but seeing her be able to throw again and get back out there is beautiful. She’s finally come full circle in her recovery and is back to getting things done.”

Cross Country and Track and Field Coach Carly Littlefield has coached and known Carraway since seventh grade. 

“I have seen Abby in every phase of Abby, and to watch little Abby become middle Abby to now grown up Abby has been really pretty cool,” Littlefield said. “She is just a great teammate, a great leader, super enthusiastic and encouraging to others. I think that her growth over the past, especially four years, has been really cool to see where she is today. After all the stuff she’s been through with hip injuries, she loves to work out; she loves to run. She loves to be a part of a team, so keeping her on board this year as a manager for cross country was, I think, awesome for her and for our team.”

Before her injury, Carraway was powerlifting a 275 deadlift, around 225-35 squat and benched 135; she was running a 5k at 23:47. Carraway now goes on two, three or four mile runs, but she spends more of her time working out in the weight room.

“I’ve been practicing heavy deadlifts a lot lately,” Carraway said. “It hurts for a day, and then it goes away. The more I work out. The more I strengthen my hips, but I have to be really careful. There’s a really fine line between building those hips and tearing them more. I’ve been really cautious with how heavy I’m lifting [and] how often I lift each muscle group. I’m not sure how much my body can take anymore.”

On Feb. 18, Carraway threw varsity shot and discus at the Mckinney Boyd meet. She began training for throwing last month, and she’s been working out since the summer, consistently in the past three months.

“[It’s] really nice,” Carraway said. “I was losing my mind not being able to do sports. It does hurt, but my hips, I’ve strengthened the muscles around them so much now that I can feel when it pops out of the socket. I can feel all that kind of stuff, but it hurts a lot less because my muscle is there to keep it in which I didn’t have much of before. I definitely don’t have the bone to keep it in, but it feels really nice to be able to do sports again.”