(KMGH/CNN/Meredith) – A Columbine shooting survivor has finally gotten a new shoulder after 21 years of pain.
Kacey Ruegsegger Johnson was shot but survived the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.
Johnson was hiding in the high school library when the shooters came in. She was shot, and the bullet shattered the top of her right arm.
“The x-ray looked like a cloud of dust,” Johnson said.
With donated bone, metal and screws, a surgeon rebuilt her shoulder back in 1999. Johnson said the surgery did not give her a lot of function, but it would at least allow her to keep her arm. It was cutting-edge surgery at the time, but the joint had shifted and cased painful bone-on-bone interaction.
However, Johnson has remained in pain for more than 20 years – until now.
“The pain has just always been there,” Johnson said.
This March, Johnson had a reverse shoulder replacement.
“We attach the ball to the old socket and [attach] the new socket to where the old ball existed,” Dr. Kareem Sobky, Johnson’s surgeon, said.
Three months later, Johnson finally has function in her arm.
“Now, I’m moving [my arm] higher to the front and higher to the side, I’m reaching up and flipping on light switches, opening doors,” Johnson said.
Since the shooting, Johnson got married and became a mother to four children. She also wrote a book about her survival. She said she will always carry the scars from the shooting, but with her new shoulder, she is hoping she will finally be free of pain.