Healed Through Rolfing - Lily Moore


My name is Lily Moore. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of being a basketball player. But when I was twelve years old, I cut my wrist washing dishes. After a bunch of surgeries, I had nerve damage, and could hardly use my hand, much less hold a basketball. We tried everything over the next six years, but I just couldn't get better. We were pretty much out of hope. And then somebody told us about a woman who did a technique called Rolfing® Structural Integration, a kind of massage that works really deep in your tissue. Honestly, we'd never heard of it, but we were out of options, and I didn’t want any more surgeries. After just the first session of ninety minutes, my hand and wrist felt different. I’ve completely recovered now and don’t have pain anymore. It was a long road, and pretty tough on everyone. But I never gave up. Neither did my family.

So, this is my story about the real-life miracle, that happened to me

My name is Lori. I’m Lily’s mom. I'll do my best to share my memories, which of course, I don't think any mother could ever forget. Even though it happened over seven years ago, there are times that I just can’t talk about it. When I hear a siren, it takes me back to that evening.

We were getting ready for dinner, and Lily was doing dishes when she dropped a glass. And she tried to catch it, it broke, and a piece of glass jammed into her wrist. I knew it was bad – the arteries were severed and blood was spraying up onto the walls.  At first, I couldn't stop the bleeding. I ended up putting her wrist on the table, placing my hands on it, and putting my entire body weight on it. That's when I screamed out to Steven, “Call 911!!”

This is Steven – Lily’s dad, Lori’s husband. I was in the next room playing with one of my younger boys and I heard the glass shatter. The first thing I thought, honestly, was like, “You serious, another glass?” We've got four kids and stuff was always breaking. Then I heard Lori screaming, telling me to call 911. I could hear in her voice that whatever was happening was bad. When I went into the kitchen, Lori had her hand on Lily’s wrist and she was pressing down to keep it from bleeding. She didn't really tell me what was going on or how bad it was because she didn't want to scare Lily. 

Lori: The ambulance got there really fast, which was a blessing for sure.

When the EMTs first got to us in the kitchen, I told them, “Are you ready?” They were putting their gloves on, and they didn't know what I meant. I was trying to say it without saying it because I didn’t want Lily to know how severe it was. But then I took my hand away, and they saw the blood. Originally, they said we would go to the General Hospital, but then when he saw it, he immediately said, “We're going to Children's Hospital.” And that scared me because I realized they thought it was really bad. 

I remember Steven got in his car, I was in the ambulance with Lily, and the EMTs told Steven, “Don't try and keep up with us.” And I looked over one time and we were going 110 miles an hour.

Steven: Reflecting back, the timing was just so crazy, because basketball-wise, everything for Lily was great. She was only in seventh grade, and she had gone to the University of Louisville girls’ basketball camp. And a couple of days into the camp, the U of L players and staff were joking around calling her “Shoni Schimmel” – a nickname after a player who had just graduated from U of L and is considered one of the all-time greatest female basketball players Louisville ever had. Lily even surprised me a little bit with how good she had gotten. And then it seems like the next thing you know she's in an ambulance and that thing is barreling down the highway out of sight.

So, then I was on my cell phone, I was trying to call my parents and tell them what was happening. Lori was trying to call me from the ambulance, I didn't find that out until later, and also, I didn't know how to get to the hospital. I was trying to get GPS to open on my phone for directions. And what we all didn't find out until later was at that same time, AT&T had a complete regional blackout, nobody could get service.

Lori: Right – just crazy. And when we got to the hospital, I tried to prepare myself, “Okay, there's going to be a bunch of doctors there.” Well, there were about thirty different medical people who swarmed Lily. That really got my attention, my heart was racing. Meanwhile, every time I called Steve, it went to voicemail and I was flipping out.

Steven: Finally, I found the hospital, went in, and found Lori. It was amazing how these things worked out. The surgeon/hand specialist who operated on Lily, of all things, it turned out she was a former basketball player as well! She was just a phenomenal doctor and the surgery she did was so intricate, but she was able to save so much functionality of Lily’s hand – we can't ever thank her enough.

Lori: Dr. Burke was amazing. She was so patient with us and explained that the tendons and nerves are like little pieces of string, she literally had to go into the wrist and find all these tiny strings that had been cut and then reconnect them. I have a business degree, so medical stuff is a whole other world. I had no idea how severe this injury was, but what Dr. Burke was able to do was incredible. And the first few months afterward, Lily seemed pretty good. She had pain, but we all expected that, and it really felt like, “Okay the worst is behind us.” Turns out it was just the beginning.

Steven: Sixteen or seventeen months after the accident, Lily had been doing physical therapy and everything, just to get her strength back. She even made it back to eighth grade to play in her first game in more than two years – she scored seventeen points. And then she came home one day and said she wasn't feeling good. It seemed like maybe she had a bad cold or something, she went to her room and crawled into bed. And she didn't get out of bed for five months. She had mono [infectious mononeucleosis]. But she couldn't shake it, so we took her to infectious disease specialists. Everyone was running tests, then finally they discovered she had severe celiac disease and it was exacerbating the mononucleosis.

Lori: That was another five months of her life and basketball, just missed, gone. By then we were about two years past the accident, the mono, and the celiac disease. Lily was fourteen and could do sports again, but the nerve pain in her hand was really intense. Over the next twelve months, she had a non-invasive procedure for the pain, which only made it worse. We decided to try a second surgery to get her some relief, and she didn’t react well to it. The scar tissue had built up over the years and we just couldn’t seem to get ahead of it. It just felt like so much. I think this was really the first time I was starting to lose hope. When would she ever catch a break? At this point I wasn't even thinking about basketball so much, I was thinking about the rest of her life.

Steven: Between the non-invasive procedure and the second surgery, Lily missed her entire freshman and sophomore years of high school. I agree with Lori, it just seemed like we were running out of options. The worst part was how much pain Lily was in all the time. Emotionally it was bad for her, but also, her quality of life was just a lot less.

Lily: After my sophomore year of high school things just went from bad to worse. I could barely use my right hand, even for normal stuff. I’d been through so much physical therapy and surgeries, and we kept meeting with different doctors. Basically, they said the only option they saw was another surgery. There was also a chance I would have to live with the pain. I started to really think I’d never play basketball again. I don’t know what I would’ve done without my parents – they didn’t give up.

So, then they started researching as much as they could about alternative therapies to alleviate the pain, everything from acupuncture, red light therapy, and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy. My dad remembered the doctors saying scar tissue was causing the pain, so he started reaching out to massage therapists in the Louisville metro area. He found the best therapist he could online and typed a very lengthy and desperate email asking her for help. Her name was Amy and she responded, asking him what therapies we’d tried so far. He told her we’d done massage, dry needling, Graston Technique®, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), and a bunch of others. Amy said she couldn’t do more than that, but she recommended we see a Rolfing SI colleague of hers. 

Steven: We had already tried everything Amy knew to suggest, all but one idea – Rolfing SI. I’d never even heard of it before. But she had a colleague who did it, Rolfer® Catherine Slattery, so I checked her website. One thing that really got my attention was a testimonial on her website from some professional dancers who’d traveled to see Catherine. They all said she’d helped them so much, so I was curious. I read a bunch of stuff on Rolfing SI, and it basically said it’s a very intense form of deep tissue massage designed to release and remold scar tissue so that it’s more pliable and behaves like regular tissue. So that sounded good. And she was in Louisville, which we could get to. And we were pretty much out of ideas.

Lori: We've always been very strong in our faith, but I have to say that sometimes I had just run out of hope. I suppose it's just human nature to feel like everything had been done and nothing had worked. Maybe that's why I didn't think this Rolfing thing sounded so crazy – we’d already tried tons of crazy stuff, so I thought, what have we got to lose? Plus, it was only a new kind of massage. It wasn’t another surgery. She had been massaged before and it didn’t help. We had decided no more surgery because they just stopped helping.

Steven: I was skeptical at first, but I always held a little bit of hope. And now we’re just so thankful that we got to meet and work with Catherine. I don't know where we would be without her. I just hadn't ever heard of anything like Rolfing SI before and I kind of thought it was woo-woo, you know. And it was in this small office, there were four of us in there, and ninety minutes was a long time to sit there. I say this all now, and I get a good laugh out of it because if it wasn't for Catherine, I don't know where we would be. At the time, I was sitting there in that little office feeling skeptical.  

Lori: Right away I could see that it was a very different kind of massage. It was more focused. I couldn’t imagine how someone could spend ninety minutes on an area so small. But that’s exactly how it went, I’m sure that’s a big part of why it worked and healed Lily’s wrist. I could really see the difference between Rolfing SI and physical therapy. Not only was there a huge difference in the amount of time spent working on that one area, but the intensity and method were totally different. Sometimes Catherine would put her elbow on Lily’s wrist and press her body weight against her wrist and move it around. As her mother, it was difficult for me to watch at times, I could see how uncomfortable it was for Lily. But the reward was so great, it was definitely worth it. After four years of surgeries, nerve pain medication, platelet-rich injections, dry needling, and essential oils, not only were we all kind of shocked it worked – it worked fast.

Steven: I can’t remember exactly, but I think it was a couple of days later that Lily said she wanted to try and dribble a basketball. She did, and she started shooting it too. This was the first time in four years that Lily could dribble and shoot without any pain. That was after one, ninety-minute Rolfing session.

Lori: Softball, too. She joined the team shortly after that first session. Hitting a hard ball with a metal bat, with the impact and vibrations that it caused, was impossible for Lily before Rolfing SI. But after just one session, she was able to do so again very successfully and with no pain. We kept going back to Catherine once a week, just out of an abundance of caution. But Catherine reassured us that the scar tissue that had been causing the nerve pain was now pliable and that it would be unlikely to go back to being tight and inflexible as it was before. She was absolutely right. Lily’s pain was gone forever, and the range of motion Rolfing sessions have restored to her is here to stay.

Lily: Through all of this and, finally, getting healed, I hope my story will inspire others to try Rolfing SI who find themselves in a similar, seemingly hopeless situation. I plan to use my studies in business administration and physical therapy to help people dealing with an injury or who are in pain, to help them get better and get back to doing the things that they love. Outside of helping people overcome physical injury, I also want to use my story to motivate a broader audience to never give up, to believe help is possible, and to keep getting up when they get knocked down. I want to help people understand that lying down and playing the victim is not the path to their dreams. I feel like God had a plan for me when I sustained that life-altering accident seven years ago and that plan is starting to come into focus. I am truly blessed to have experienced these hardships in my life as they have made me the person I am today.

On August 13, 2022, Steve and Lori moved Lily into her dorm at Cedarville University, in Ohio, where she’ll play basketball for the Yellow Jackets on an athletic scholarship. She remains pain-free, grateful to her faith, family, and friends, and is as determined, as ever.