Demelza

Hello, I am 32 and I was diagnosed with hip dysplasia when I was 27 years old. I wanted to share a little about myself and my experiences with this hip condition so far which hopefully others of you out there, going through the same thing will be able to identify with…

When I was born, the nurse checked my hips as per the routine procedure and found nothing, therefore I do not know whether I had this condition from birth or whether I developed it as a result of something else when I was a young child, e.g. swaddling or whatever else. All I do know is that for a long time (until my late twenties) I had no symptoms. I had always until then enjoyed a very active life, dancing, running and keeping fit. One of my most favourite things to do after a stressful day at work or on the weekend was to run and exercise at the gym. I loved the adrenaline and endorphins you would get from doing frequent high impact running and fitness, it made me feel wonderful and so energised.

One day I decided I would really like to train for a half-marathon, so I started to push myself a little more at the gym. I always stretched and warmed-up beforehand and built myself up from a slower pace to a faster one. I felt I did everything that I should have done to prevent injury, however, on one fateful day, everything changed for, little did I know what would happen and what it would mark the start of for me.

An acute shooting pain ran suddenly down the side of my right hip, followed by a feeling of it collapsing and not being able to take my weight without pain. I quickly stopped the treadmill machine and limped painfully off of it. I hobbled home, thinking at the time that I may have pulled a muscle. Stubbornly, I kept going to the gym for a few more weeks but the pain did not subside, and I started to get worried as I found I was unable to run without severe pain.

After about a month a went to my GP, he referred me for X ray, which at first only showed that there was some fluid building up around the joint and that it had become inflamed. I took Ibuprofen as suggested, but it didn’t work that well. I read up about bursitis and thought it might be that, trying out various heat pads that were supposed to draw out the liquid, which temporarily seemed to help, but I still couldn’t walk long distances or run… Increasingly, the pain got worse, more so at work from walking and standing a lot, I couldn’t conceive of walking a few miles into town, because I knew I would be limping and in pain and agony from it.
As the months, then years went on it became worse and worse, physiotherapy, strengthening exercises and painkillers helped only temporarily. I knew, this was not a permanent solution.

I then went back to my GP who referred me to the hospital for an MRI Scan. This was a scary experience in itself for me, as I am claustrophobic. However, I knew it had to be done so I closed my eyes and pretended I was somewhere else for 20 minutes or however long it was.

I then had a meeting with the surgeon. I fully expected the surgeon to say, something like; well you probably have torn a ligament, tendon injury, bursitis or something along those lines…. I was not prepared for words I would be about to hear. “You have hip dysplasia… the only way it can be corrected properly is through major PAO Hip surgery”. My jaw dropped, I was so shocked.

So I had my pre-op, scheduled the surgery and was ready to go (if a little terrified). A few days later, I found out I was pregnant. I then had to cancel which put a delay on my surgery. After my son was born I was given a date which was too close to my wedding, so then had to cancel again, finally when my son was aged 21 months I went ahead with it.

I was terrified, who would look after my son in those first few weeks? How would we manage, emotionally, financially? Would the surgery be successful? Would I have complications etc…? I tried to prepare as much as I could before the surgery, but I believe, nothing can ever prepare you fully. Luckily my parents agreed to look after my son for a month whilst I was recovering; they live miles away in Scotland so we would Skype every day, which was lovely. It was comforting to know that our son was in good hands and thoroughly enjoying himself, though we missed him lots.

On the morning of the day of my surgery, there were tears in my eyes as we dropped off our son at the child-minder’s as I knew it would be last time I would see my son before the surgery and that the next time for a while would be briefly whilst I was in hospital, after that I would have to wait several weeks before I could give him a big hug again.

The day of the surgery was surreal. I went in with my husband, I made a few jokes I think to cover my nerves. I then hugged him, said goodbye and waited alone in the surgical admissions unit. Various checks were made beforehand as usual, samples, blood-pressure etc., I waited until one of the analgesia team came to explain to me about how I would be put to sleep and pain control methods I would like to choose from. At this point I came over all faint, it became real… I was then later spoken to by another of the team who tried to put me at ease and the surgeon. I had to sign the consent form and was then brought into a small room by one of the analgesia team.

After that, I had to sit and have the epidural put in my back, I then lay down whilst a mask was put over my face. I can’t remember even falling asleep. All I then remember is waking up. I fought to wake up, as I was under that deep, I struggled to breathe. Probably partially due to,( as I learned later), the fact I lost 2 units of blood in surgery (and needed a further two transfused later) I also had low blood pressure. My hip was very painful upon waking; the epidural mostly numbed the wrong leg. So a member of the team kept pumping more and more pain relief through the epidural site until it was to an acceptable level on the operated leg.

The first night was the worst night, I couldn’t move at all. I was completely flat on my back and had to pretty much stay that way. I couldn’t move either leg initially. My parents came down the day after. At this point I was still very much relying on my self-administered pain relief pump. However, unfortunately to my dismay my pain relief started to get out of control…
However, I felt instantly happier, when my family walked through the door later. Seeing my parents, my husband and my son for a short while, helped to lift my spirits. My mum and dad brought round lots of magazines and a big basket of fruit, it was a comfort to see them and I got to hug and kiss my beautiful little nearly two year old boy… magic!

After my parents and son had gone to make the long trip back up to Scotland, my husband was with me, I started to writhe with pain. I am not one for screaming with pain; however the level was becoming unbearable. The nurse, asked, what score would you give out of 10 for pain. I said, 9. Unknowingly, she said are you sure? I said yes. Later that night, I begged to see the pain team. The nurse said they were in theatre and one would come through when finished. When one finally arrived, the answer to my pain was plain to see. Even though, I was administering myself pain relief, through the pump, it wasn’t going into my spine. Instead, it was leaking onto the bed, it had become disconnected!!

The lady from the pain team, reconnected it, but then spoke to her boss and agreed there is a slight risk of infection in doing so, so would have to swap it for a morphine based one, which would go through the cannula in my hand. This method was less effective for bone pain, though I started to feel much better than before.

The day after, I was becoming incredibly weak and drowsy, due to low blood count. I then needed to have 2 more units of blood transfused through the cannulas in my hands. The nurse, unfortunately didn’t tighten it up enough so blood went absolutely everywhere! The doctor then had to come by and put a different cannula in my arm and do it again…

After all that drama with the blood; which I can laugh about now. I finally, I started to feel a lot better and get a bit more colour in my face. Over the days the followed, I gradually started to move my legs slightly more, walk to the chair, with a frame, and then learn to use crutches, up and down the stairs. I was able to leave the hospital after a week.

I am now nearly 1 month post-op so early days… watch this space for an update on my progress and recovery. I hope my story so far helps some of you in some way, to understand more about what to expect. It is a major surgery and it is a long road, but we are warriors and we will get there!




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  1. Hayley Niccolls says:

    Hello there. Thank you for sharing this story. I’m due to have my PAO next year, although do not have a date yet. This has helped me understand a few more bits about the stay in hospital. I hope your recovery continues to improve and look forward to reading the next chapter! Hayley

  2. JustM says:

    Thank you for sharing!! I wish you an easy recuperation and look forward to reading more of your posts.

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