Sometimes the highest mountain can’t be seen until a person looks from the deepest valley.
Washington senior Lexi Lemon has seen her share of mountain tops pitching for the Hatchets and summer and travel teams.
She is on single season and career school softball lists for record hitting and pitching performances, and is considered one of the better pitchers in southwestern Indiana.
But all of that nearly came to an end this spring after Lemon was examined for pain and a numb feeling that often left her incapable of squeezing her glove hand during games.
Lemon stared experiencing the feelings her sophomore season. The problem for the pain was difficult to diagnose, but it was a situation she could play with.
Raynaud’s Disease, a disease that causes blood vessels to narrow restricting blood to the skin, was considered. The cause of Raynaud’s is unknown.
But the situation continued as her junior year started. While the problem had been more or a nagging nature, the pain increased at the plate and her left hand became more and more less usable while catching a ball.
“I had been experiencing some discoloration and pain in my left hand for about a year and half,” Lemon said. “I kept going to doctors and they thought I had Raynaud’s disease and maybe carpal tunnel. There isn’t anything you can do about Raynaud’s.”
“It just kept getting worse. We had ultra sounds done, but they really couldn’t find anything,” Lemon said. “It was starting to go up through my forearm and elbow. I was beginning to lose feeling in my arm, and it was getting really bad in games. I used hand warmers, and it wouldn’t go away.”
A final ultrasound and X-ray made progress just before the Hatchets started the May portion of the 2012 schedule.
“They thought I had carpal tunnel too, but they actually found an extra rib, a cervical rib,” Lemon said. “They went down with an ultrasound and they found the artery that went down through my elbow was nearly 98 percent closed.”
Lemon’s pitching coach Mike Sanders, who is a retired chiropractor, has a daughter pitching college softball who also suffered similar symptoms. He suggested the family try a doppler ultrasound from experience.
“Our hospital in Washington found the problem,” Lemon said. “The doctors were on top of it and the radiology department did a great job. They sent me to Evansville to have emergency surgery, but it was the hospital here who found it. They pretty much saved my arm, my life.”
Doctors later told Lemon that she could have experienced permanent damage to her left arm if had continued to play, possibly as soon as the next game, May 2.
The first surgery was at 2 a.m. Following the first surgery, three blood clots were found in the arm. Surgery was scheduled for the clots, but pulse in the arm was lost, causing a second emergency surgery.
The third surgery was for the rib removal and repair to the artery. The only hospitals able to do the procedure are in Baltimore and Indianapolis.
The extra rib was removed, as well as extra muscles that were not needed. A bypass for the artery was needed. Ten inches of artery from her leg was used for the arm.
Following three May surgeries at two different hospitals, Lemon has been working to rehabilitate her left arm and neck.
Progress has been good.
“I’m working to get back to my normal self,” Lemon said. “I couldn’t move my arm for several days. I’ve been working to get my strength back.”
While missing the season, Lemon discovered that mountain top while looking from a rather deep valley.
“Paige (Hawthorne her catcher at Washington) sent me texts about the games while I was in the hospital,” Lemon said. “We’ve been a team since we were freshmen. Her family sent me a gift pack of sunflower seeds. She was there for me the whole time.
“The team was really great too,” Lemon said. “We kept each other up. The team was there for me everyday. The entire softball community from Washington, Loogootee, Barr-Reeve, Jasper, Pike Central, Forest Park, Elletsville. Even travel teams thought the state. Everyone was just great.”
Lemon is still dealing with what could have happened. She finds it hard to believe she could have lost her arm, or bled to death from internal bleeding.
“Don’t ever take anything for granted,” Lemon said. “I took my time for granted. I didn’t want to go to doctors. I didn’t think it could be fixed because Raynaud’s can’t be fixed. I think God was by my side through this whole thing. It was just unreal.”
At the same time, she is hoping to start practicing again by October. She can’t wait for a new high school season to begin.
“I’m going to be back stronger and better than before,” Lemon said. “I won’t have to worry about hurting, and I’m hoping to be a better hitter and player than I’ve been in the past. I’ll have my strength, I will be able to bat and pitch like I can.”
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Boys and girls entering grades three through eight this coming school year wishing to participate may register when the camp begins at 9 a.m. The camp continues each day until 10:30 a.m. through Thursday.
Each player should bring a racket (one can be provided), a towel and a water bottle.
The cost of the camp is $25 per person. Checks should be made to WHS Boys Tennis.
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Coaching positions open include: varsity and junior varsity volleyball; junior high volleyball, and junior high boys soccer.
Persons interested in these positions should contact athletic director John Howell at 812-254-2050, or email at email@example.com.
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