Carrying the Olympic Torch – it was THE most amazing experience!

Carrying the Olympic Torch – it was THE most amazing experience!

In January 2009, at the age of 46, Annick Hollis was diagnosed with severe bi-lateral hip dysplasia.

“The funny thing is that in my baby book the clues are there,” says Annick. “My mum has said that at two “I walked like I had had one over the eight” i.e. drunk! She also says heading to age 3 that I still walked on “tippy toes,” and that I had an x-ray done just before I turned 3 – silly woman didn’t say what for! But I can guess.”

Annick has always been physically active. “I was passionate about ballet, gymnastics and sports.” She started as a short distance runner and then at 15 ran a Cross Country which ignited an interest in long distance running. This physical fitness would hold her in good stead for what was to come. By 2008, she had completed 7 marathons in 6 years with a personal best time of 4:24:19 in the 2008 London Marathon. Then the hip pain started.

Most people look at me and ask “Isn’t that something that dogs get?”. What this actually meant was I had been walking on hips that should have been dislocating, but my ballet, gymnastics and general fitness, had literally held me together. I walked the 2010 London Marathon six months post-op from surgery (which I also acquired a stress fracture to the pelvis). 4 weeks later I slipped and fractured my pelvis. I am learning to run again and my goal is to run another London Marathon and I will. I want to inspire others (not just Hip Dysplastics) that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IF YOU HAVE A DREAM. Since being diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia (aged 46) I don’t take walking for granted anymore – each step is exciting. I am driven by goals and proving to others that the impossible is achievable however hard it is to do it.

I was asked, and have been asked before and since carrying the Torch, about my Hip Dysplasia – people are generally quite stunned when I tell them all I had got up to before being diagnosed.

Annick had what she thought was a pulled hip flexor and after 8 weeks of rehab and strengthening exercises, the pain still hadn’t gone away. She was having bursitis pain on the outside of her hip, as well as pain at night from the groin to the outside of her ankle. She was referred to a hip specialist who diagnosed fluid on the psoas tendon following an MRI. He recommended that she have a cortisone injection, which was done in August. Six weeks after the injection, Annick was back to gentle running. Unfortunately, the pain didn’t subside for a long and a couple of weeks later she was in for a second injection. This was followed by another MRI for, as she puts it, “a huge ‘twange’ in my hip three days after the injection which was excruciating.” Another injection followed at the beginning of December and within two days she could feel the pain again. This time the surgeon recommended a psoas tendon release. Annick asked about keyhole surgery and he referred her to another consultant who she saw on 31st January, 2009. He diagnosed the hip dysplasia following one simple x-ray! “I wasn’t looking at a simple tendon release; I was looking at the mother of all hip surgeries!”

The first surgery was performed in May 2009, with the second surgery occurring in October of the same year. Though surgeons normally prefer to wait a year between surgeries, Annick didn’t want to delay the inevitable. After months on crutches and hours of physical therapy, Annick and her husband walked the London Marathon on April 25, 2010, completing it in 7 hours and 5 minutes. In doing so, she raised 2,500 pounds for STEPS Charity, which supports lower limb disabilities in the UK. Their motto is “We don’t take walking for granted”.

“It has been almost 4 years since I had to stop running. I never thought it would take me this long to get back, and I never, ever thought that it would lead to something quite so amazing and special.”

Dr. Sophie West, an Orthopaedic Surgeon, nominated Annick to carry the Olympic Torch for her passion for sport and her determination to get back to running. Last December she was selected. “I don’t think I have stopped smiling since getting that e-mail. It is something that I never dreamt would happen in a million years and to say that I am deeply honoured is an understatement.” On July 14, 2012, a smiling Annick Hollins carried the Olympic Torch. “This was for all of us Hip Women (and, of course, any men, too!). I thought about what a journey I had been on, and am still on, and just how amazing and actually, in a funny way, how lucky I was to have Hip Dysplasia – I would never have experienced any of this without it.”