The fall season, with the pleasant temperatures and beautiful colors, has always been a godsend for Haverhill’s Julie Solimine, just as it is for most distance runners.
With the cross country season signaling the start of another competitive season, and often the most enjoyable, Solimine is once again running with enthusiasm and purpose, just like she did for four years as a standout for the Hillies.
But last year, it was more like an autumn of hell for the Providence College junior.
First, in late July, Solimine suffered a stress fracture of her femur, which pretty much wiped out the cross country season. That was depressing enough but things got worse — far worse — in November.
Just when it seemed like her leg was healing, she started experiencing extreme pain, so bad that for several days she could barely make it to class without crutches. Then she started feeling weak throughout her body, got all sorts of swelling and began getting physically sick.
Finally, it got so bad that a Providence College trainer took her to a local hospital, where she got a thorough examination.
What the doctors eventually found was that Solimine had a genetic clotting disorder that had caused a blood clot that spread from her knee all the way into her lung. This was serious.
Sent back to Boston, Solimine needed three surgeries at Beth Israel Hospital to clear up the clot. Stints were inserted into her leg to keep the veins open.
During one of the procedures, a surgeon told her that, potentially, with the splints in her leg, she might never compete again.
“I didn’t want to hear that but at the time I just wanted to feel better,” said Solimine.
After a slow recovery period, in which just climbing stairs was a major chore, Solimine got good news two months later when she went for a follow-up visit with her doctor.