Nov. 1, 2014 was a gorgeous day in Monterey County and Wendy Grover and her husband decided to take a bike ride around their neighborhood. Wendy is a physically active person; her career as a professional tennis coach and teacher keeps her constantly in motion, and she rides her bike to cross-train when she’s not on the court.
Their bike ride started off great, but in an instant, everything changed – Wendy was hit from behind by a drunk driver, who then fled the scene.
After recovering from the initial shock of the accident, Wendy felt pain in her right arm, but thankfully aside from being badly bruised, nothing seemed broken.
“I thought I was fine,” recalls Grover, “But the next day I couldn’t hit a forehand.”
Her doctor told her to rest her arm and stay off the tennis court for a few weeks, but the pain didn’t go away. Then an MRI showed why – the accident had torn the tissue in multiple areas of her right shoulder and bicep. Wendy’s orthopedic surgeon said she’d need several surgeries to repair the damage, and then delivered the most devastating news: Wendy would not be able to play tennis with her dominant right arm for a full year, upending her lifestyle and putting her livelihood at risk.
“I felt like the driver that hit me had taken a whole year of my life – a year of my joy and doing what I love,” Wendy said. But with a positive attitude she prepared herself for the long road to recovery. “I’ve been playing tennis since I was 12 years old,“ she said. “There was no way I was going to let somebody take that away from me.“
But after the first successful surgeries were completed, Grover was thrown another curveball – her health insurer announced they would no longer offer health plans in her area. This meant she needed a new health plan, and she worried about whether she would have to find a new surgeon.
“I didn’t trust anyone else to do the surgery,” recalls Grover, adding, “Without Blue Shield I don’t know what I would’ve done.”
Grover became a Blue Shield of California member, and asked whether she could continue seeing her surgeon for the rest of her planned surgeries. At that time, the surgeon was not in Blue Shield’s network for individual and family plans, but Grover was encouraged when a Blue Shield customer service representative told her about the health plan’s continuity of care program.
“Blue Shield of California recognizes the importance of maintaining a strong doctor-patient relationship when people change health plans,” explains Blue Shield’s medical policy director, Dr. Robert Plass. “The continuity of care program allows our members to complete their care with their current healthcare provider in some situations.”
Due to the circumstances of her former insurer leaving the market during her course of treatment, Grover was eligible for the program. To her great relief, she was able to continue using her existing surgeon for the remaining procedures.
The surgeries were a success, and between procedures Grover dedicated herself to recovery by working hard at physical therapy and focusing on the things she could do to stay strong and active even if she couldn’t play tennis with her dominant arm.
“It can be depressing,” said Grover. “It’s really tough, but you have to keep going.”
She began playing tennis left-handed, and even started competing. “It was frustrating, because your brain knows what to do but your left hand doesn’t have the same skill,” Grover recalls, “But it was great for teaching.” By being adaptive and staying focused on her goals, Wendy was able to continue in her career as a professional tennis coach and teacher.
“Your doctors and physical therapists can help and guide you, but you have to be dedicated to your recovery if you want to get your life back,“ Grover said.
She took her own advice, dedicating herself to recovering from the accident, and finally in December 2015, her physical therapist said she could start swinging her racket with her dominant right hand again. Grover still remembers that day, “Then I hit that first forehand with my right hand, and I just sat and cried because it felt so good. It was heaven,” she said.
Throughout this journey, Grover’s family helped her maintain her positive attitude, which was essential to her recovery. Grover said her husband was her caregiver throughout her recovery, and they still ride bikes together today. When asked if the accident made her hesitant to get back on the bike, Grover said, “I’m not going to let it hold me back – you have to live your life.”
With determination and support from her family, her healthcare providers and Blue Shield, Grover is returning to the profession she loves and the activities she values most.
“Blue Shield came through for me.”