After losing her father at age 10, Marissa Artemus began playing volleyball to get her through it. She didn’t know that the emotional pain she was going through would soon be accompanied by physical pain.
While at a routine physical that is required for high school students to play sports, Artemus was informed that she had scoliosis. She was told that her curvature had already advanced so much that bracing wouldn’t help and she would need a spinal fusion and a metal rod placed in her back. The recovery time would be at least a year, and that was if the surgery and recovery went well. The 16 year old requested that the surgery be scheduled after volleyball season was over.
The surgery went well and she was on her way to recovering when another curveball was thrown her way. A truck ran a red light and hit the car Artemus was traveling in, aggravating her back and causing her to go through physical therapy.
“I was scared that the rod or bolts would move and that I would have to get surgery again and relive that pain,” said Artemus.
During her months of therapy, a few things kept her going.
“My love for volleyball and a determination not to let this surgery hold me back from my full potential,” she said. “I wanted to make my deceased father proud. I also had strong support from my family and friends.”
She was released from her physical restrictions after six months.
Now, the Columbia, South Carolina teen will be traveling to Orlando, Florida with her team, the Columbia SC Starlings, for the 42nd AAU Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships. This will be her first year attending and she is looking forward to the challenge.
After everything Artemus has been through, she has learned a lot about herself.
“I have learned that I'm much stronger than I give myself credit for,” she explained. “I have to be determined and that life is lived day by day and that everyday counts. Life is what you make of it.”
While her recovery is going well, her life has been altered because of her physical setback.
“Physically, I stretch and take breaks,” she stated. “I have learned to care for my body as an athlete. Physiologically I just try and stay positive by telling myself the pain will go away and that it will pass.”
Most importantly, she has learned a lot about facing what life throws at her.
“It has shown me that being afraid is fine as long as you don’t let it hold you back,” she said. “Face your challenges head on.”
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