Village Helps Greyhound Back on his Feet

Newport, AR -- From the moment Tyler Channing (Chan) Johnson, started playing football in fourth grade, he pushed himself to excel at the sport. He comes from a family of men who adorned the orange and black on the football field, and his goal was to continue that legacy. His hard work through the years paid off, and the sophomore earned a starting linebacker spot on the Newport Greyhound Senior High team this year. “Linebackers are considered leaders of defense,” said Chan’s mother, Michelle Johnson. “We were excited when he earned a starting spot his sophomore year.” Unfortunately, the thrill of being a Greyhound starter is not what Chan would remember most about the night of August 31. During the first game of the season against Pottsville, a town more than two hours away, Chan was injured. On a third down play during the first quarter, Chan had his opponent in his sights and went for the tackle. As he did, another player drove into his left leg. “I didn’t realize anything had happened at first,” said Chan, who thought the strange position of his foot was just his shoe coming off. The look on everyone’s faces told him otherwise. “My first reaction was to try to put my foot back in place. I guess, because I didn’t feel any pain, I thought I could just do that and it would be fine.” Seeing Chan’s reaction, Chan’s senior teammate, JT Haynes, rushed to him and held him down in order to prevent him from touching his severely dislocated foot. EMTs attending the game from Newport rushed on the field with coaches and other Greyhound staff. Michelle was riding to the game with family and was about 10 minutes away when her cousin, Trey, received a call. It was Michael Long, a family friend and Chan’s peewee football coach, explaining what happened to Chan on the field. After the conversation, the family’s destination changed from Pottsville High School to a nearby hospital where they would meet the ambulance. Meanwhile, back at the field, Chan was assisted by a number of medical professionals and loaded into an ambulance. Although his mother hadn’t arrived, Chan was far from alone. “My village was with him,” said Michelle. Michael and Janet Henderson, close friends of the family, stayed by Chan’s side until the ambulance left the stadium. When Chan arrived at the hospital, Michelle, Cayden (Tyler’s brother), Trey, and Trey’s wife, Charity were waiting on him. His cleats and pants had to be cut off to assess the damage. Chan felt no pain, just a sensation he can only best describe as “burning cold.” X-RAYs revealed a broken fibula, and a severely dislocated ankle. Several hours later, they were discharged and advised to find an Orthopaedic provider close to home on Monday. On Saturday, September 1, desperate after a long and sleepless Friday night, Michelle made the decision to call Alison Tubbs, LPN at the Newport Diagnostic Clinic (NDC), a clinic affiliated with White River Health System (WRHS). “I knew how bad his foot looked on the X-Ray and how uncomfortable he was. I was concerned that he couldn’t wait until Monday to see a physician. I didn’t know what to do,” said Michelle. Alison had given Michelle her telephone number when she and NDC provider Nicole Lawson, MD cared for Michelle’s grandfather years earlier. “My grandfather called Dr. Lawson ‘daughter,’” said Michelle. “They truly cared for him, even on his last day.” She had not needed the number since, but was thankful she had it. “It was like a phone tree. Alison asked for pictures. Trey and Charity were with me and they were able to send pictures while I gave reports over the phone. Alison called Dr. Lawson immediately, and Dr. Lawson called me. She was in tears because she has been my children’s doctor for years, so my kids are like family to her,” said Michelle. “I’ll never forget it. She asked me which Orthopaedic physician I wanted for Chan. I told her Dr. Carpenter from Batesville because he had taken great care of my uncle. She got off the phone with me, I got up to get Chan a drink, and before I walked out of the kitchen, I received a call from a number I didn’t recognize. It was Dr. Carpenter.” Dr. Dylan Carpenter, Orthopaedic Surgeon at the WRMC Orthopaedic Clinic and Sports Medicine Clinic, happened to be on call that weekend at White River Medical Center (WRMC). “I was in shock when he responded so quickly. I had to take a moment to process it. He asked for more pictures. We sent him all we had, and he called me back 20 minutes later and said that I needed to bring Chan to WRMC first thing the next morning. When I hung up on that phone call, I began to cry from relief.” The next morning, an entourage of family and friends sat in the waiting area of WRMC while Chan was in surgery with Dr. Carpenter. The procedure, expected to take about 30-40 minutes, was originally to consist of a seven inch plate, seven screws, tightropes to secure the tendons, and ligament repair. Once Dr. Carpenter saw the damage from the inside, it was determined more was actually needed, and the surgery lasted nearly an hour and a half. “WRMC was wonderful. When we walked through the door, a woman showed us where to go by walking with us, and even came and checked on Chan later that day. The surgery staff was extremely professional. People checked on him all day. Even Alison drove to Batesville and visited him.” The visiting didn’t stop once they got home. Several members of the Greyhound team filled the Johnsons’ home when Tyler was feeling down about his injury. “I had a house full of football boys. They were on the couch, in the floor, wherever they could sit. They kept him company and made him smile, and that’s when I knew he was going to be okay,” said Michelle. She added that Dr. Lawson and Alison also made trips to see Chan at home after his surgery. “They would come over on their lunch break and check on him. When he developed a fracture blister, they told us what to do. When he developed nightmares from the trauma, they got him the help he needed to get through that.” He also had a number of family members and friends visiting him as well, and pitching in however they could. Michelle said her Aunt Cheryl Cross has been an anchor for her throughout this entire process. She adds that she doesn’t know how she would have made it through without her mom, Linda Reed, and extended family member, Barbara Lee, who helped her manage Chan’s therapy appointments and doctor visits. With a strong will and support from his medical team, recovery team, football coaches and team, community, and little brother, Cayden, Chan was able to put weight on his foot in just two months. “There’s only so much I can do to help Chan physically because of his size. Cayden really stepped up to help his older brother. Chan would not have been able to heal as fast as he has without Cayden’s help,” said Michelle. “He did everything I couldn’t,” said Chan about little brother, Cayden. While Chan continues on the long road to recovery, he finds comfort in knowing he has so many people in his corner. “Dr. Carpenter is one of the best doctors I’ve ever met. Dr. Lawson and Alison are like mommas to me, and are always checking on me. Josh McIntosh, Dr. Carpenter’s APRN, always lifts me up when I’m down. There are people at WRMC I wish I could go back and see.” He also gives a large amount of credit to his family, his Greyhound coaches and teammates, and members of the community who have been by his side every step of the way. He specifically mentions teammate and classmate since pre-K, Weston Henderson. “Weston has shown me how good of a friend he is in both good and not-so-good times,” said Chan. “Everyone played a role in this dire situation,” said Michelle. “So many people have gone above and beyond to help and support Chan. It’s not only about family and extended family. It’s truly about the village. They really stepped up in this process and I couldn’t be more grateful.” Annie Solis Operations/Marketing Manager WRMC Medical Complex Newport