She calls them her “tattoos of survival.”
Scars on the arm, of a Colorado woman who was shot during the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.
Kacey Ruegsegger Johnson survived the horror but has lived with pain for over 20 years. But not anymore.
“The shooters came into the library, and they were yelling and laughing,” said Johnson.
Johnson was trying to hide when she was blasted with a shotgun shell from one of the Columbine High School gunmen.
“It completely shattered the top of my right arm and the x-ray looks like a cloud of dust,” Johnson said.
With donated bone, metal and screws, a surgeon at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center rebuilt her shoulder back then.
“He knew it wouldn’t give me a lot of function, but it would let me have two arms,” said Johnson.
She married and became a mother times four.
She wrote a book about her survival, but could never move on from her injury.
“The pain’s just always been there,” she said.
Dr. Kareem Sobky says Johnson got cutting edge surgery 21 years ago.
But the joint had shifted causing painful bone on bone. In March at PSL, he did what’s called a reverse shoulder replacement.
“We attach the ball to the old socket and the new socket to where the old ball existed,” said Dr. Sobky.
Three months later…
“Now I’m moving higher to the front and higher to the side. I’m reaching up and flipping on light switches, opening doors,” said Johnson.
Johnson will always carry the scars, what she calls her tattoos of survival.
But with her new shoulder, she’s hoping she’ll finally be free of the pain.