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Injured Muscatine football player receives support from community on his road to recovery

Injured Muscatine football player receives support from community on his road to recovery


MUSCATINE — A student’s senior year in high school can sometimes be full of surprises, both good and bad. While Conner Christiansen’s final season may not have ended the way he wanted, he was reminded that his team and the community still had his back.

Christiansen, who served as the team captain on the Muscatine High School football team, was injured on Sept. 10. According to Christiansen, the injury occurred while he was trying to recover a fumble.

“I went to try and recover by diving on the ball, and collided with the opponent,” Christiansen said. “I think I may have blacked out for a moment or two. I didn’t feel any pain at first except for some in my lower back, an injury I had been recently dealing with anyway.”

Although he didn’t know the extent of his injuries at the time, Christiansen said that he knew even in the moment that something was wrong. While he had tried to rest on the bench, his injuries refused to fade.

“My shoulder was starting to feel sore and got worse as time went on. I was still having a hard time breathing, it felt like my rib cage had exploded and someone was sitting on my stomach, I couldn’t find a comfortable seated position,” Christiansen said.

“In past seasons, Conner has had a couple minor injuries, but hasn’t been hurt enough to where he had to sit out for an extended period of time during a game,” Marci Shields-Christensen, Conner’s mother, said, “At first, (my husband, Rich, and I) didn’t think there was much to be concerned with… but when his pain continued, we started to think otherwise.”

When halftime came around, two doctors from the Bettendorf team examined Christiansen, bringing up the possibility of a spleen injury and suggesting that he go to the ER. Although the trip itself was quick, Christiansen said the 45-minute wait he had in the hospital’s waiting room was “the worst he had ever experienced.”

After some tests and a CT scan, it was determined that Christiansen needed surgery in order to drain the blood from his abdomen. He was also diagnosed with a level 5 ruptured spleen, which had to be removed along with his appendix.

While the surgery itself was a success, recovery was a whole different story. Along with having to deal with the pain from a big incision, Christiansen struggled with sleeping and eating. Though it got a bit easier each day, he said that he still considered the recovery period to be “rough”. But if there was anything that lifted his spirits, it was the support he received after the surgery – from friendly visits and gifts at the hospital to delivered home-cooked meals.

“I really appreciated all of the concern,” he said. “A lot of people sent messages and texts to see how I was doing, and I have a great group of friends who kept in touch and people in the community who sent get-well wishes.”

“We were just surprised at how quickly the news was spreading, and we were humbled and grateful for their kindness,” Marci said. She recalled how on the trip home from the hospital, her family came home to the house decorated in purple and yellow balloons and streamers. Many others would make compliment Conner’s character as they encouraged him to get well. There had even been a couple notes or cards from people that Christiansen didn’t even know.

“People just took the time to extend a kind word and let us know they were thinking of the family,” Marci continued, “The flood of support really helped us tackle the recovery.”

After almost a month, Christiansen is doing well and back on his feet. Although his senior season is over and he has decided not to play football in college, Christiansen said that this incident hasn’t changed how he feels about the sport and that he still likes it even if he doesn’t play it. He also plans on getting back into weightlifting to regain the muscle he lost during his recovery, and hopes to play other sports during his last year in high school.

“I just want to thank everyone for thinking of me during my recovery,” Christiansen said. “Experiencing an injury like this is not only a physical challenge, but a mental one as well. Having a great support system helped to get me back on my feet again.”


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