After Jameson Harper dedicated four years of his life to rowing in the hopes of qualifying for the United States Men's Rowing Team and didn't, he relocated from New Jersey to Park City, Utah. Not making the team turned out to be a blessing in disguise as he took up rock climbing, skiing, trail running and other outdoor activities he missed because of training and living on the east coast.
Over time, his weekend activities became more than hobbies and he realized that the Utah lifestyle was the perfect fit for him. Jameson and his girlfriend would spend one weekend rock climbing in Moab and the next skiing in Park City.
With a history free of injuries, Jameson felt untouchable and was up for anything. He even started training for his first ever 50-mile cross country ski race. While training in Park City, he was skiing a mild downhill section of the track when he fell. "I was getting lazy with my form and leaned too far one way and remembered going down," recalled Jameson, "later I checked my GPS watch, I saw I was going 25 miles per hour and took it right to the shoulder."
He got up quickly so his teammates wouldn't see that he had fallen, but as soon as he did he felt pain in his shoulder. "I put my hand to my shoulder to feel the area that was hurting and I could immediately feel something was wrong," Jameson described touching his shoulder, "there was a big bump sticking out and I could tell that wasn't normal."
He went straight to the hospital and the x-rays confirmed he had a separated shoulder. He met with Peter Chalmers, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at University of Utah Health, to discuss treatment options. Chalmers recommended surgery as soon as possible so that Jameson's body could begin to heal naturally.
Jameson had complete trust in Chalmers and his care team because they understood Jameson's ultimate goal—not only for his shoulder to heal, but he needed to get back to his active lifestyle as soon as possible. Chalmers performed a shoulder ligament repair five days after Jameson's crash.
Jameson credits Dr. Chalmers expertise, as well as his own ignorance about injuries for his optimistic outlook after surgery. "Dr. Chalmers is an expert who deals with this all the time. I was reassured that he knew how much I wanted to get my life back. He knew I was thinking about when I could ski next."
A few months after surgery, Jameson started to feel the frustrations that accompany a slow recovery process; six weeks with a sling and then physical therapy seemed like it would never end. He kept working on his mobility, even repeating physical therapy exercises outside of appointments. It paid off when Dr. Chalmers told him the ligament was completely healed, but it suddenly dawned on Jameson—he was now fighting the mental battle of recovery.
"Physically my body was healed but mentally I had to gain back the confidence," he said. "I realized it was you vs. yourself. The process was now up to me."
With a supportive group of family and friends, obedience to his doctor's and physical therapist's instructions, and the sheer grit that it takes to recover, Jameson was rock climbing in Moab just three months after his injury. He has his life back and credits Dr. Chalmers and his care team for that.
Jameson reflected on his experience with Dr. Chalmers, "It meant a lot to trust my doctor. My care wouldn't have been the same on the east coast where being an active person is taken with a grain of salt, but out here it's my life."
Jameson skis, climbs and trail runs with a fresh sense of appreciation after being out of the game for three months. Sometimes it seems like his injury never happened, but he doesn't forget because he knows what it was like to live without it.