Dr. Cynthia Kennedy

April Comeback Athlete of the Month 2018

Highlights

Injury: Ruptured Achilles, March 2016

  • Dr. Drake (Achilles), Ortho Montana
  • Surgery: St. Vincent Healthcare

Injury: Total Hip Replacement, October 2016

  • Dr. Sukin, Ortho Montana
  • Surgery: Yellowstone Surgery Center

Injury

RUPTURED ACHILLES

I ruptured my achilles tendon, while doing jump lunges in group HIIT class. It felt like someone had come up and hit me with a baseball bat, and everyone in the class heard the pop when it happened. “In one stupid second, my world was changed.”

I immediately went to the Emergency Room at St. Vincent Healthcare and had it repaired that evening by Dr. Drake of Ortho Montana.

ACHILLES RECOVERY: 15 weeks

The day it happened, on a Monday, was the first of 10 vacation days. I had tickets to fly out on Wednesday for the NCAA Men’s basketball second and third rounds, as I travel to every year. I never technically missed any days of work for this injury.

Following the surgery, I was unable to put any weight on my leg. I was put in a cast with toes pointed for 6 weeks. Then into a boot with heel lifts, where every 2 weeks a lift would come out until the ankle was at 90 degrees. It required me to get around on a scooter, a rolling walker and crutches. I did physical therapy after the boot was off, all the way up to my hip replacement.

HIP REPLACEMENT

Prior to the achilles injury, I had already been seeing a physical therapist, referred by Dr. Phipps of Ortho Montana, for hip pain. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was more than likely a torn labrum. Following the achilles injury, the hip pain continued to worsen, to where I couldn’t even walk down the hallway to my office. I would have to stop every 10 feet and take a huge breath. I’m an athlete. To not be able to walk to my car without being in tears was absolute misery.

I saw Dr. Sukin, a total hip specialist at Ortho Montana. I told him I couldn’t live like this--you have to put a new hip in me. ...PLEASE! He did an x-ray, and recommended I see a specialist at the University of Utah to see if could be remedied with a minimally invasive hip scope surgery. A few months later, I was able to visit the University of Utah, where another x-ray was completed. It was evident, that within 4-5 months, major damage had been done. While putting additional weight on my hip due to my achilles injury, it had accelerated the problem. My hip joint had completely eroded, along with fully tearing my labrum and had no synovial fluid left.

Upon seeing those x-ray comparisons, I knew it could not be repaired with a hip scope. I came back to Billings to schedule a total hip joint replacement surgery at Yellowstone Surgery Center, just seven months after my achilles surgery.

HIP REPLACEMENT RECOVERY

I was out for 2 weeks, and could’ve gone back sooner. It was quite easy--ALL the hip pain was gone right away. I did physical therapy for at least three months following the surgery. I had to go longer than usual, as I struggled with post-op hip flexor tendonitis, which is common in active females.

Although I was unable to exercise the same way prior to the ruptured achilles and hip replacement surgeries, I continued to go the gym on the same days and times as before. This allowed me to be with my friends and support group, and without them would not have been able to get through it. I tried to make the most of the situation, and spent a lot of time working on my upper body, and was able to do pull-ups for the first time ever! I focused on the things I could do, instead of the things I couldn’t do.

Coming Back / Accomplishments

  • Cycle Greater Yellowstone, August 2016 (between the Achilles and Hip surgeries)
    • 500 mile course through the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, organized by Greater Yellowstone Coalition
  • 406 Race Series Duathlon, Women’s Long Course (10k Run / 24 Mile Bike) - Combined, June 2017
    • Finished 1st place
    • Duathlon Race Partner: Mary Evans
  • Summit Grand Teton, August 2017
    • the highest mountain of Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming.
    • Elevation: 13,775 feet
    • Had been training for 4 years, had to take 1 year off.
    • 2 years in a row got weathered off, took 1 year off due to injuries (called my Guide the day after the ruptured Achilles)
  • Cycle Greater Yellowstone, August 2017

A Personal Look

Hobbies: Anything sporty!

Where did you grow up? St. Cloud, MN

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Exercise Physiologist

When you were younger, what sports were you involved in?
Softball, basketball, volleyball

Work / Passion

Occupation Title: MD

Place of Employment

  • Ear, Nose and Throat Associates: partner
  • Yellowstone Surgery Center: surgeon, physician investor

What made you want to become a Ear Nose and Throat surgeon?
The diversity in the patients that I treat: pediatrics, adults, males, females. The interesting and complex anatomy of this region of the body

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