A mom of two and author is sharing the details of her shoulder injury to encourage parents to take care of themselves behind the wheel.

By Maressa Brown
October 25, 2019
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Lindsay Powers
Credit: Lindsay Powers

When your little one drops their sippy cup or a toy, your first instinct is to get it for them. But if you happen to be behind the wheel—and they're in their car seat behind you—when this happens, you'll do well to avoid this all too common move, warns mom and author Lindsay Powers. Powers, whose new book You Can't F*ck Up Your Kids is out in April, recently shared her PSA with PopSugar. She was inspired to raise awareness after experiencing an injury in November 2017.

"Drives with my kids can be stressful," she told the site. "They have a million demands. They are constantly asking for snacks and toys and dropping things. And I used to be quick to grab those things to keep the peace. With a 3-year-old and 5-year-old, everything escalates quickly!"

Powers was driving her Honda C-RV and reached into the backseat to grab a toy for one of her kids when she "instantly felt a pop." What she initially believed was a weird shoulder strain only got worse. "It started as a dull pain, but by the spring, I couldn't pick up a gallon of milk anymore," she said. "I knew I had to do something because it was interfering with my day-to-day life. But you know how mom life is. You put things off forever because the to-do list never ends, and we usually don't prioritize our own needs. I figured it would just go away, and it didn't."

Powers got cortisone shots, but they only offered temporary relief. She finally got an MRI that revealed she had torn her rotator cuff and her labrum. She was referred to physical therapy and spent five months doing her at-home exercises, but just a few weeks after she ended PT, "the pain came roaring back." She repeated more rounds of PT only to have to deal with the same terrible discomfort.

Lindsay Powers
Credit: Lindsay Powers

Finally, Powers' doctors suggested she undergo shoulder surgery. They couldn't guarantee she'd feel 100% better, but she would have a tough recovery which would require "six weeks in a sling without being able to pick up anything heavier than a coffee cup, followed by six months of twice-weekly physical therapy." She put it off, because she didn't know how she and her husband would manage with their two boys. But once she "had to move my watch to my other wrist because I stopped being able to swing my arm around to see the time," she knew it was time.

Last month, two years after the initial "pop" in her Honda, Powers had surgery. "I had no idea this could happen," she told PopSugar. "One physical therapist I spoke to said there's 'no way' I could have torn my rotator cuff reaching to the back of the car, but my second PT said the reach could have been the straw that broke the camel's back on an already stressed shoulder, which wouldn't surprise me given how much time I've spent lugging giant strollers and toting around my kids. The PT told me he sees at least three people a year with shoulder injuries from pushing strollers."

After having "spent thousands of dollars and untold time trying to fix my shoulder, not to mention every single game of soccer and park time I've had to sit out with my kids, Powers is on a mission. She says she will "scream at my husband every time he reaches back in the car awkwardly." She tells her sons "that I'm not picking up anything until the car stops and I can physically turn my entire body around, or—better yet—open the back door and reach in easily."

The bottom line for the mom of two: "There is nothing wrong with refusing to contort yourself to pick up your kid's Legos from the backseat of the car."

Powers tells Parents.com she was inspired to share her story because she wants "parents everywhere to take care of their health." "I think we do so much for our kids, but not always ourselves," the author says. "This was a literal physical reminder that we can't do it all!"

It's been five weeks since her surgery, but Powers says she still has "a long road to recovery." She hopes that by sharing her story, she might be able to "save some parents from suffering the same fate as me in the future." She emphasizes, "Our kids can wait until we come to a stop sign or can pull over to grab a toy from the backseat."