Katie Donahey – Ulnar Nerve Transposition

My name is Katie Donahey and I am starting my junior year as an outfielder at Yale. I have been playing softball for as long as I can remember. As one of five girls in my family, three of which play Division 1 softball, softball has always been my passion. My elbow journey started my rookie college season. I had been experiencing elbow pains for months, but with the spring season approaching, and my previous season canceled due to Covid, I was eager to compete. I was able to manage a bit through the season, and one series about halfway through our season I felt a pop in my elbow during my warmup. I finished the game and the next day I woke up to a different arm. My elbow was swollen, my hand was blue, cold, and numb. I called my athletic trainer and we decided to get in to a doctor as soon as possible. About a month goes by with the same symptoms. In New Haven, the doctors were confused and suggested compression and rest. After getting an MRI and discussing my symptoms more with a surgeon, we decided to go through with surgery regardless. Officially diagnosed as a traumatic rupture of the UCL, I underwent the reconstruction with allograft.

Throughout my recovery, I kept experiencing pain, numbness and tingling, and nerve sensations. Initially I believed this was a result of the surgery, and a typical aspect of the recovery process. When I started progressions again, I could not escape this pain and numbness. Both throwing and hitting seemed to worsen these symptoms. My arm would frequently go numb, and it always felt weak, almost like there was neurological disconnect. With the season quickly approaching again, I was set on competing. To not compete would have felt like a waste of all my hard work to make competing in this season possible. My symptoms persisted throughout the season, and I knew I needed to do something about this. My friends on the baseball team and football team who experienced similar symptoms before suggested that I see Dr. Ahmad.

The Monday after our last game, I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Ahmad to hopefully get some answers. Right away, I felt so comfortable in his presence. He genuinely wanted to help me. Dr. Ahmad talked with a knowledgeable, soothing tone, and after a couple minutes of discussion and examination, he diagnosed the problem. In a telemed appointment soon after, Dr. Ahmad discussed the options with me and my family, and we were able to schedule my nerve transposition for mid June, less than a month after my initial appointment with him. Dr. Ahmad and his team have been so helpful throughout my recovery, and they genuinely want to see me succeed. Now four weeks into my progressions, I am very happy to say I am doing great and all of my nerve symptoms are gone. I am so grateful to Dr. Ahmad for helping me, and I can’t wait to play painlessly again!