A long road to home plate: Kenzie Wiseman back on the field after condition that caused her to lose feeling in legs

Kenzie Wiseman of North Platte crushes a solo home run on Jan. 15 while playing for Doane College at a softball tournament in Texas. Wiseman has made her way back from an episode where she lost the function of her legs.

Kenzie Wiseman remembers the day distinctly. Afterward, she was unsure whether she would ever walk again, let alone play softball.

The North Platte native is a star softball player at Doane College.

On Jan. 15, 2019, “I was sitting in my room, watching TV, and my legs just started like shaking,” Wiseman said. “I’m like, I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m going to get up and, like, walk. I stood up and I didn’t feel anything from my waist down and I just fell to the floor.”

Wiseman said the episode subsided and she went to softball practice, but her legs were shaking.

The coach sent her to see the trainer and the trainer called for an ambulance.

“They took me to the hospital in Crete and did a few tests and said they had no idea what was going on,” Wiseman said. “They sent me in an ambulance to Lincoln and I was in there for a couple of weeks.”

The doctors ran a plethora of tests looking for bacterial infections and more, but nothing came back positive.

They brought in a neuropsychologist and he ran a brain scan.

“They found that a part of my brain had like died,” Wiseman said. “It short-circuited is how she worded it. It was a part of my brain that had, like, overworked and the neurotransmitter that was in charge of leg functioning short-circuited.”

The doctor told her it was something like a stroke and was the result of untreated anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I had no idea I had any of those disorders,” Wiseman said. “The trauma of not having those treated just made my brain shut down.”

Wiseman had very little control of her legs but began to make her way back.

“I basically started with just moving my legs, then I started crawling,” Wiseman said. “Then I just started moving my hips and then graduated from a wheelchair to a walker and then to crutches to a cane and then a cane to walking by myself.”

Wiseman said some people told her she probably wouldn’t play softball again.

“They were telling me, you need to drop out of school,” Wiseman said. “They said, you’re going to need a few years to figure this out.”

Wiseman said that was not an option for her.

“I’m, like, stubborn and said, I need to figure this out in a month,” Wiseman said. “I looked at my dad and said I have (softball) season in a month.”

It took her about five months to get back to walking without help.

“I thought I was going to be back for last season, but I obviously wasn’t,” Wiseman said. “I kind of needed to be ignorant like that, because I felt like if I’m going to let everybody get to me with what they’re saying, I wouldn’t be where I’m at.”

She said that is what drove her to work even harder to come back.

“I actually played slow-pitch softball last summer in North Platte,” Wiseman said. “Before that, I had just been running on the treadmill.”

The current softball season has started and Wiseman is back at her position as the starting catcher for Doane.

“My game has changed a little bit just because my body has changed a lot,” Wiseman said. “I got a lot leaner.”

She said she lost over 60 pounds and with that she has gained speed.

“I’m super fast but I don’t have as much power as before,” Wiseman said. “Hitting-wise, I’m just trying to make that solid contact and run, and that’s never been me. I’ve always been a power hitter when I step into the box, looking to hit a home run every time.”

On a trip to Texas with her team for a tournament last week, Wiseman hit a few home runs including a three-run homer against a nationally ranked team.

“When I hit my in-the-park home run (last week), I was, like, crying,” Wiseman said. “When I rounded third base, there were parents in the stands with my dad and they’re like, ‘she’s amazing, did you see the smile on her face when she rounded third, and she had tears running down her cheeks.’”

She is learning to do things differently with the changes in her body as well as her mental state.

“I’ve had to change everything I’ve done for the last 22 years playing softball,” Wiseman said. “I love it, though. It’s weird, but it’s kind of cool.”

She said the symptoms have not returned for the most part, although after running for a long time, she does have some shaking.

“Honestly, that’s OK, it’s just anxiety and nerves,” Wiseman said. “It’s kind of surreal that I’m here and I’m doing 10 times better than before.”

Her parents are Kelly Wiseman of Texas and Dawn Erdman of North Platte.

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