I discovered my passion for running in elementary school shortly after I joined a running club called Girls on the Run. I remember coming home from my second practice and telling my mom that I loved to run! It was in middle school that I discovered I not only loved to run but I was actually a talented runner. At this point I was competitively in both track and cross country and I began to place higher up in our small races.
Going into high school, I really didn’t expect to do well. But, to my surprise in my very first high school race my freshman year I won first place. Caught up in the moment, I dismissed the small pain I felt in my hip. A few weeks later the pain started to become more of an issue – it was there but I didn’t want it to hold me back. The first doctor I saw explained that the there was a possibility that the cause of the pain, the popping and the clicking was hip dysplasia. Later, scans and several other doctors’ opinions confirmed it, I had hip dysplasia.
My parents were consumed with worries; no one in my family had hip dysplasia. I had none of the typical signs presented at birth. How could we have missed it? What did this mean? Was surgery the best option? How would this effect my running? How would this experience affect me and change me? Initially, I wasn’t worried as I had no clue what this meant. My lack of knowledge left me in denial for quite some time. When the idea of surgery was presented to me my initially reaction was no way. Again I dismissed it.
Little did I know, this wasn’t a choice. The problems and the pain that the dysplasia caused were only going to get much worse and running wouldn’t be an option. If I didn’t have these surgeries I would most likely need a double replacement by my late 20’s. Both of my hips were far more damaged than expected making these surgeries necessary. It began to hit me, all of the hard work I had put into running was about to be thrown away. For the longest time before the surgery I still couldn’t quite understand.
This was all going on while I was in the middle of my cross country season. I pushed the thought and worry of surgery aside and continued to run, knowing this could be both my first and last high school season and I made it to the state cross country meet, the only one in my school to do so and the first freshman from my school to qualify.
I had my first surgery 2 month later. I would soon start from square one all over again, as if back in elementary school. I remember going under anesthesia as my eyes flooded with tears and I was rolled away from my parents starting to sob how I didn’t want to go. When I woke, which only felt like a short time, my parents had been waiting over twelve hours. When the doctor opened me up, she discovered the dysplasia was a lot worse than expected.
I recall not being able to sit up initially and every time I attempted to stand I was overcome with nausea. I left the hospital after a few nights and after missing some school and spending many boring hours in my bed surrounded by weird pillows, I eventually began to heal. From wheel chair to crutches I eventually was able to walk and eventually run again.
That first run, 5 months after surgery wasn’t easy. I worked hard with physical therapy but I still broke down several times, laying in the grass not wanting to get up half way through my run, in the middle of a park. I wanted to quit, but who would I be than?
Running had always defined me and in my eyes, at the time, I had lost everything. Over the summer I worked as hard as I was allowed to and participated in an unbelievable amount of physical therapy. By the next coming cross country season, 8 months later, all that hard work, all that determination had paid off as I made state once again. In fact my regional time was several seconds better than the previous year and I placed several places higher.
I had lost myself after surgery for some time, as expected, but I’m slowly returning to my old self still today. Today, my second surgery is exactly two weeks away. I do fear losing myself once again and being left with more pain than before, although I’d say the first surgery was a success over all. I know this one will be hard. Recovery will take a lot of time, lots of patients, and a tremendous amount of hard work. But I also know I have the strength to get through it and that I CAN get back out there and run again with.