Note: I realized after writing this post that it’s extremely long. The fact that it is so long, however, makes me very happy. I must say that I have never enjoyed writing a post as much as I did this one.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I love a day full of wonderful food, family, and football. Most of all, it provides an opportunity to reflect on all we have. This Thanksgiving, I have so many reasons to be grateful. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people that have helped to make MUSC Sports Medicine and me successful. Please note, this list is written in a sort of stream-of-consciousness manner and NOT in order of importance.

Michael Barr: The MUSC Sports Medicine program started over five years ago as a brainstorm between the two of us, and Mike serves as the sports medicine coordinator. In this role, he serves to organize the day-to-day activities of the athletic trainers. As director of the program, I deal with the big picture tasks, such as recruiting teams and leagues with whom we can partner, working with marketing and administration, etc. Mike handles the logistical work, such as dealing with trainers’ and teams’ schedules and just making it all work. It’s perfect because each is good at what the other isn’t. I’ll just say that MUSC Sports Medicine would not be where it is without him, and I personally could not do it without him.

Athletic Trainers: Athletic trainers are the face of any sports medicine program. They are the ones evaluating injured players on the sidelines or in the training rooms and determining the best course of initial treatment. They are the first members of the sports medicine team seen by the athlete and his or her family, so they create the first impression of the program. It gives me great pride that I not only work with the most skilled trainers around, but I continually hear how great they are with athletes and their families.

Physical Therapists: A great surgery can be ruined by mediocre rehab, and a mediocre surgery can turn out well with great rehab. Fortunately, the sports physical therapists in our program are fantastic. Patients love them, and they are tremendous getting athletes back to their sports. They always communicate with me to let me know how patients are doing so that we can make changes quickly, and I think that helps us optimize patient outcomes. Plus, like so many people on this list, they are good friends.

Rutledge Tower OR team: I don’t know where to start with this group. Quite simply, there is no better operating room team anywhere I’ve ever been. Melissa, Heather, and Diana are amazing as circulating and scrub nurses. Drs. Epperson, Hullett, and Gunselman are terrific regional anesthesiologists. Chris Keto is flat-out the best CRNA anywhere. And on top of that, we are all great friends. Yes, we listen to rap music and tell jokes and stories in the OR, but we work really hard and take great care of patients. Our patient satisfaction scores there are always among the highest anywhere. Rutledge Tower might not have all of the bells and whistles of our competitors’ facilities, but there is no better place to have arthroscopic surgery, period.

Brittany/Allison/Elizabeth: I wrote about Allison and her departure recently, so I won’t dwell on it here other than to say that the entire MUSC Sports Medicine team misses her tremendously. Brittany has come in and been fantastic. I have so much on my plate, and she keeps everything running smoothly in clinic and keeps my patients happy without ever complaining. And my administrative assistant, Elizabeth, does a fantastic job despite the fact that with three off-campus clinics and meetings all over town, she rarely sees me. I would be lost without them.

Caroline Wozniacki injures her ankle at the Family Circle Cup
Caroline Wozniacki injures her ankle at the Family Circle Cup
The Family Circle Tennis Center and the Charleston Battery: Yes, I am grateful for all of the high schools, recreational and club teams and leagues we work with. But I do want to specifically mention the great relationships we have with the Family Circle Tennis Center and Charleston Battery. I have loved every minute serving as Chief Tournament Physician of the Family Circle Cup despite the fact that it really is much harder than people realize. Bob Moran, Eleanor Adams, Amy Payne and everyone at the FCTC are top-notch, and they have been wonderful to MUSC and me. Andrew Bell and Mike Anheuser have provided a great working relationship for Mike and me with the Charleston Battery. We look forward to working with both groups for many years to come.

Jonathan Edwards, Keith Borg, Chris Merrell, Del Schutte, Peter Carek, Jana Upshaw, Deanna Vroman, Tommy Pope, and Bill Conway: These are among the many physicians at MUSC who have been an asset to the MUSC Sports Medicine program. Jonathan’s Sports Neurosciences program has been an invaluable resource for our athletes and the concussions, stingers, and other injuries they suffer. Keith and Jana and the adult and pediatric emergency rooms have also gone way beyond what we could ever expect in terms of getting critically injured athletes treated as fast as possible. Deanna and Jana have been terrific providing the medical care to players at the Family Circle Cup. Bill and Tommy are a tremendous resource with our musculoskeletal radiology. And Chris, Del, and Peter have graciously covered games when I was unable.

Musculoskeletal Service Line/Department of Orthopaedic Surgery: Sports medicine is unusual in the sense that it involves physicians and medical providers from many different departments and organizations. In that sense, it doesn’t cleanly fall under the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery or the Musculoskeletal Service Line. That is both a blessing and a curse, especially when we need support and funding. Fortunately, Marcy Bolster, Nancy Tassin, Bart Sachs, and Langdon Hartsock have seen the value of sports medicine to the institution as a whole and made it a “big bet” in the strategic plan. Look for big things to come, and for their help and support, I am grateful.

MUSC Public Relations: I cannot say enough about how much the support of Heather Woolwine and Tony Ciuffo in Public Relations has meant to me. They have been unwaveringly supportive of my blog and have promoted it to media outlets across the country. They have been a great source of advice for my media endeavors, and without them, I could not have gotten the Post and Courier column and other opportunities you will see soon. Honestly, I don’t deserve all of the help they have been to me.

Jenn Simpson: As a few of you know, I am working with Jenn on marketing ideas. She worked with the MUSC Sports Medicine program when she worked in marketing at MUSC. As a freelance marketing specialist, she has been working with me on many opportunities to grow my practice, name recognition, and media exposure. The bottom line is that she is unbelievable. I cannot take credit for the blog as much as she can. I have heard from people across the country impressed with its appearance, organization, and information, and Jenn, Brian Dadin, and Nicola Walker are the reasons for its success. I had never ventured into social media before, but Jenn has me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, with Flickr and YouTube coming. And that’s just the start of what we will be doing.

My family: My father is a radiologist, but before that he was a pediatrician. He taught me to ALWAYS listen to the patient. Believe me, sometimes that can be harder than you might think. My mother is a former OR nurse and is now Senior Vice President of Operations for Ambulatory Surgical Centers of America. She taught me to ALWAYS treat your coworkers with respect and kindness, especially nurses. She was so proud when she heard nothing but good things about me when she had surgery at Rutledge Tower. While I am good both with listening and communicating with patients and treating coworkers well, I am always working to improve, and I have them to thank. And I want to thank my brother, Scott. When I started my blog, there were a couple of important people within MUSC who were secretly critical of it. He listened to me vent endlessly and was nothing but supportive.

To all of you, I want to extend heart-felt thanks. You have no idea how much your support and encouragement mean to me. You are the reasons I love what I do and never want to do anything else.