Powering through surgery


Hailey Robarge

Feelings of discomfort and loneliness crowded around Sr. Kylie Braam’s mind as she sat at the beach, watching her friends enjoy a game of beach volleyball without her. It had only been five weeks since her second knee surgery.

   Braam was enjoying a day at the beach with her friends when a group of boys asked them to play volleyball. Completely forgetting about her injury, Braam was quick to accept the offer.

   Three months prior, Braam would not have accepted the offer to play. “[Doctors] didn’t know what was wrong after an MRI and an X-ray,” Braam said. This injury wasn’t from one event in specific, Braam believes the pressure was built over time. 

   Braam was preparing to go into surgery after months of suffering. “I saw my friends all doing things outside and at the beach, and I wasn’t allowed to go to the beach, hang out in the water, and walk around. If I wanted to go somewhere, I was pushed in a wheelchair and got many weird looks since I wasn’t actually in a brace.”

   “The doctors thought I had Plica Band Syndrome which is a fold in the lining of the knee. The plica attaches to the lower end of the patella (kneecap) and runs sideways to attach to the lower end of the thigh bone. Once they got into the knee, they realized that I had cartilage peeling like paint on a wall, they cut the peeling cartilage and I now have 46% cartilage remaining in my left knee,” Braam said. 

   It was hard for Braam to keep a positive mindset, but she has prevailed. “I felt embarrassed and felt like no one really believed I had surgery since there are only two incisions on each of my knees that look like cuts.”

   Over the last few months, Braam has been forced to make some tough decisions, including giving up dance.

   “I did dance for 16 years and have been doing dance everyday through school, which helped release my stress… Since the surgery, I’ve had to heal so I’m not allowed to do dance.”

   Life has changed immensely for Braam, but her supporters have stood by her. “My mom and my friends have made sure I’m resting and not overworking myself,” Braam said.

   “My left knee is pretty healed but my right knee is still healing more since it was tissue. My knee pops when I walk at times and is pretty sore after walking to different buildings since it’s getting cold out…” Braam struggles at West Ottawa because of the walk between buildings.

   Having surgery two and a half months apart was tough for Braam, especially during COVID. “The only problem was wearing a mask while getting my IV because I passed out from it and it was hard to catch my breath from it.”

   Braam had assistance from her boyfriend Sr. Wyatt Renkema, and he learned from her struggles. “She taught me a lot about how to take care of people after surgery and how to support her through a rough time,”

   “Since Kylie’s surgery, she has been happier and less stressed about her knees hurting. I was going to do anything I could to make sure she was okay,” Renkema said. He would help Braam out in any way possible, he helped her in and out of the car, he pushed her around in her wheelchair, and he helped her move around her house.

   In order to keep a positive attitude, Braam stayed close with her friends and family. She did as much as she physically could while living in such a fragile state. Regardless of Braam’s injuries, she did not let it consume her, she kept her head held high and remained strong to the point where she would even forget about the pain in her knees at times.