A Family Affair: Knee surgery and beyond

Dr. James Andrews and Drew GibbsDrew (center) and Trey Gibbs before surgery with Dr. James Andrews.
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by Drew Gibbs, Soldotna High School (Alaska) Football Player

Blessed?  Lucky?  Call it what you want — I’ve been a pretty healthy and accident-free kid my whole life.  17 years old and I had never had surgery…until…September 10th — it’s a date that I’ve played over-and-over in my head…surgery day.

I was scared that it wouldn’t go well and that something would go wrong. I’m sure other people have the same worries before their surgery days. But, every time I would think of things that could go wrong, I would immediately remind myself that I had the best doctor in the world — Dr. James Andrews. I believed that he would take care of me. He has done thousands of these surgeries. Dr. Andrews is considered the “Doctor of the Stars.”

Related: Dr. James Andrews to perform surgery on Drew’s knee

No worries,right?

I never expected that the process of getting checked-in for surgery would be so tough. It was the day before my surgery. The whole process took over 3 hours. Paperwork…brace fitting…exam by Dr. Andrews.

Meeting him was AWESOME! While Dr. Andrews was busy checking out my leg, I checked out the enormous Alabama Crimson Tide national title ring he had on his finger. The entire facility was full of pictures of NFL guys that had been his patients. I saw photos of Gronk, RG3, and all the famous guys whose knee damage brought them to this doctor.

Blessed? Lucky?

What an honor it was to get this opportunity for him to work on MY knee!

On surgery day, I was nervous. It was set for 8:00 AM and we were told to be there at 6:30. The waiting was excruciating. As I sat there in the waiting room, I wondered if I would ever get my surgery. They came to get me at 7:30. More waiting…so like any other teenager, I napped. The nurses woke me for an IV setup, blood pressure and heart rate check. Finally it was time for surgery.

When I woke up from surgery, I asked the nurse “w here is the pitcher?” I told her I wanted to talk to him. You see, I had met a young man the day before in the lobby, who was a Division 1 pitcher named Mike James. He told me that he was there to have “Tommy John” elbow surgery. It was early in his career. This injury and surgery would put him out for the rest of his college season. I knew how he felt to miss his season.

Related: Sugery successful

When you dedicate all of your time and effort to one goal, like a sports career, having that goal postponed or eliminated is devastating. We talked and supported each other. I think we became friends. I found-out later that when Mike James woke up from his elbow surgery, he immediately asked “Where’s that Alaska kid?” He told them he wanted to talk to me. Good guy!

Dr. Andrews had done an amazing job and had repaired my knee. After talking to him with my dad, I thought to myself — NOW it’s time for rehab…time to get back at it. I knew that rehab would only be the first step to get back on the field. I miss being on the football field with my team. It hurts my heart so much not to be in the plays — running behind my blockers — the satisfaction of tackling on D. Standing with my coaches on the sideline is joy and heartache at the same time.

I couldn’t be any happier with how the surgery went. The pain was only bad for the first couple days, but I stayed away from the heavy meds. Ice the pain. Good compression bandaging. E-stim my quad. Now at day 14 after surgery I have zero pain.

With the approval of my physical therapists in Alaska, I’m off of my crutches already. I go to physical therapy three times a week. Everything has been going great! I am able to do a leg raise under my own power. My knee is bending at 100 degrees now. I know that I will come back better than ever.

Before I go, I want to thank my Gramma Mary Gibbs. Thank you for doing so much for me. I will make you proud. Have a happy 70th birthday this week. I love you.

I look forward to updating you all on my journey in my next blog. I know I have tons of challenges ahead. I will keep working and get stronger every single day. I am excited for what the future holds for me. God Bless!


Follow Drew Gibbs on Twitter @DrewGibbs28

by Trey Gibbs, Drew’s dad

It’s been a crazy two weeks since I took my son Drew from Soldotna, Alaska to the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Florida to have ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair.  The surgery was two hours long and was a complete success.  I can tell you with authorit,y that there is only one thing worse than worrying about your child getting injured on the football field — it’s worrying about your child lying in a hospital bed after he has been injured awaiting surgery.

What if he has an adverse reaction to anesthesia?  What if he gets an infection?  What if the surgery isn’t successful?  It’s amazing how scary it can be when all you can do is put your faith in the hands of others.

I thank God for Dr. Andrews and his incredible staff at the Andrews Institute for taking great care of my son.  The benefits of taking Drew to the best surgeon in the world will pay dividends for the rest of his life.  Dr. Andrews and his Physical Therapy team will be monitoring Drew’s progress for his entire rehab over the next year.

The responsibility of physical rehabilitation is largely in the hands of Drew and his local physical therapist now.  However, the responsibility of helping my son realize his dreams of playing college football is largely in my hands now.

How do I work 60 hours a week…stay in constant contact with interested colleges…look for new colleges…help keep Drew focused on grades… and be a good husband to my wife and father to our daughters as well?

It going to be hard!  It’s going to be fun!  I will keep you updated every step of the way!


Jeff Fisher’s Editor’s Note: Drew Gibbs and his father Trey Gibbs have agreed to write this blog — A Family Affair — for High School Football America throughout the 2015 season.  It will chronicle Drew’s journey back from his injury and his determination to become a college football player.


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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.

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