Swin Cash Discusses Her Recent Back Surgery
When Swin Cash announced on her website that she was having back surgery this week, she said, ďIt's been a long time coming, so trust me, I'm excited to go in and get this done and get headed in the right direction, which is to play healthy this WNBA season."
It has been a long time since we have last seen a completely healthy Swin Cash on the basketball court. She has been troubled with a bulging disc in her lower back since 2007, back when she was a member of the Detroit Shock. Over the past two years, she elected not to have surgery and decided instead to try to rehab and play through the injury.
Just last season, her first with the Seattle Storm, Cash received a cortisone shot during the Olympic break so she would be able to play for the remainder of WNBA season.
After the WNBA season was complete, Cash played in the Czech Republic until the end of January before returning to the U.S. in order to have the surgery done. The procedure was performed successfully by Dr. Joseph Maroon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on Monday, March 9. Her rehabilitation is estimated at 8-12 weeks, which would put her back on the court in time for the start of the 2009 WNBA season.
Just days after the procedure, Cash spoke with WNBA.com's Brian Martin from her hometown of McKeesport, Pa., where she is resting and enjoying the spoils of having her mother take care of her while she recovers from the surgery.
WNBA.com: How are you feeling today, just three days after having the surgery?
Cash: I feel better. Iím a little groggy still with the medication that they have me on, but my soreness has gone away. Iím getting better day by day and just taking it one day at a time.
WNBA.com: So how long are you off of your feet and just resting before you can actually begin to work out and start your rehab?
Cash: Itís pretty hard because Iíve been given specific instructions that for two weeks I cannot do anything. I canít lift up my niece or nephews, or even pick up a bag, or anything. Thatís kind of tough because I was training, getting my body prepared going into surgery, so now all of a sudden I have to stop for two weeks, so thatís kind of frustrating.
Itís just two weeks of basically nothing; we just have to let the back heal. Iíll get re-evaluated after two weeks and the doctor will look at my incision and see if Iím totally healed. Then, from there, I can just go full blast ahead and hopefully move on and start training.
Swin Cash recently relaunched her personal website - SwinCash.com - and in her debut video blog, she announced that she would be having back surgery. It was the first of many updates that Swin plans on providing for her fans. She has already posted a new video blog since her surgery to let everyone know how she is doing.
She plans on updating the site frequently with videos and photos during her rehabilitation. She also plans to interact with fans with live chats and by answering questions that fans submit via email. To follow Swin as she works her way back to the basketball court, log on to SwinCash.com
WNBA.com: You didnít pick a bad two weeks to be off of your feet with the NCAA Tournaments coming up next week. Thatís not bad timing.
Cash: (laughs) I know, I know. Unfortunately, I would have liked to have had the sooner but because a lot of things that were out of my hands, thatís why I had to wait until this point to have it. I know a lot of fans have been emailing me on my website asking me those questions, so definitely it was out of my hands and this is when I was able to get it done and I got it done as soon as I possibly could.
WNBA.com: Did it have anything to do with your contractual obligations to play in Europe?
Cash: It had nothing to do with Europe. I returned from Europe on Feb.1. It had more to do with the logistics with the team and with the doctors. It had nothing to do on my part; I was ready to go as of Feb. 1. It wasnít something that was pushed back because of my obligations in Czech because I came home as soon as I could to have the surgery.
WNBA.com: You mentioned on your site that this has ďbeen a long time coming.Ē How much of a relief is it to finally have this done?
Cash: Itís the biggest relief. You canít even really imagine it. I didnít realize for how long and for how many years now that Iíve been trying to play through injuries and show that youíre tough enough and that youíre there for your team. Whenever you do that, a lot of times you basically lose yourself, and I think thatís what happened to me for so many years. I made excuses of why not to have it done and feeling like I had to be there for my team, or I couldnít take off time, or I just needed to rehab and do it a different way instead of following my own heart.
It really just feels like a burden is lifted right now and it feels like Iíll be able to train as hard as I need to train to get back on top of my game. For the last few years it feels like Iíve been rehabbing more than I have been training. And as you know with basketball, the skill level is becoming so great in this league from all of the girls in college coming to the WNBA. Itís so competitive; you have to be able to train and work out in order to get better.
WNBA.com: How much pain and discomfort were you in during the past two seasons? If you had to put it on a scale of 1-10, what were you playing through?
Cash: I canít explain it. It was at its worst last year, right before the end of the season when a piece broke off of my disc. It felt like it paralyzed me because I couldnít really move. It was hard to sit, to move, any movement just was sending a very sharp, shocking pain down my right side. For two years now, itís been hard to fly. You know with the WNBA, we can fly and play the same night. And anyone thatís had a disc problem knows, you get on a plane, it gets inflamed, and itís hard to play. I had whatís called Sciatica down my whole right side, where the bottom of my right foot was numb and I had some weakness as far as jumping ability on the right side. When that piece broke off, it was pressing on my nerve, which then caused all of the symptoms down my leg. There were just a lot of issues; once one part of your body goes down other things just start happening. It was just time. I couldnít wait any longer. I really needed to get it taken care of and take care of me first.
WNBA.com: I know are doing nothing for the next two weeks while your body heals, but have the doctors given you any indication of when you will be able do some basketball related activities?
Cash: Right now my mission is to get re-examined after two weeks and whenever they give me the go ahead to start doing some things like getting back on the basketball court and stuff, Iíll do that.
The doctor said thereís a possibility it can go to three weeks, but they are going to be very, very cautious and conservative because they want to make sure it doesnít happen again, they want to make sure Iím totally healed. As soon as I get the okay, my training process is going to start and Iíll be headed off to start training.
Iím actually going to be training at the University of Kansas with my old strength and condition, Andrea Hudy, who trained us as UConn. She is now the head strength and conditioning coach with the menís basketball team at Kansas. My AD - Mr. Lew Perkins - heís out there as well. I was thinking about the time that I felt I was in the best shape ever and I remember it was back at UConn. So we have it set up that Iíll be going out there and training and letting her whip me back into shape so Iím excited about that as well.
WNBA.com: How nice will it be to have the old Swin back?
Cash: Itís going to be nice to see a loose ball and go diving after it head first and not be worried about, ďOh, youíre going to hurt yourselfĒ, or ďYouíre going to get injured.Ē
I think for me itís the mental part and getting over that, knowing that Iím perfectly fine and I can play with that reckless abandonment that Iím used to playing with, so thatís going to be a lot of fun.
WNBA.com: Going through what you did the past few years, did it take some of the joy away from the game? Did it become a task rather than just playing the game you love and enjoying it as much as you used to?
Cash: It did. It was frustrating because I had to deal with knowing that I couldnít train the way I wanted to train. Then you have the fans and the media, youíre going to get criticized because people donít see you the same, they donít see you playing the same as before. And thatĎs why I look back at it now and I look at it as a lesson learned, because I would tell anyone, sometimes it doesnít pay to play injured, thinking that youíre doing someone else a favor because youíre really hurting yourself. If anything, take care of your injuries and get healthy because that is the way you can help your team. I was out there at times hurting my team because I wasnít able to be the total player I knew I can be. By having this surgery, itís just a burden thatís lifted, and now I can be focused on training and playing and having some fun.
But I make no excuses for anything that has happened in the past. I made the decision to delay the surgery. It was my choice to do so and I learned from it and now Iím just looking forward to the future and looking forward to getting healthy again.