Hi! My name is Irla, I’m 19 and I’m from Italy. I was born in Albania, where I was diagnosed with congenital bilateral hip dysplasia at 2 years old. After that, my parents decided to move to Italy so that I could have surgery in a more advanced hospital.
I was 4 when I had my first surgery on my right hip, 5 when they first operated my left hip; they broke it into pieces and secured it with a femoral locking plate – which I still have. I only remember the uncomfortable cast and the excruciating riabilitation, nothing else.
When I was 7 years old my family and I decided to move to Northern Italy so that I could be visited by an amazing orthopaedist. I had my third surgery in 2011. After many X-rays, CT scans and MRIs I was told my left femour had been rotated wrong by my previous doctors. During that summer I was hospitalized. I remember vividely the pain after the surgery, the itching, which would never let me sleep. I remember that ugly, heavy cast and being restricted to bed for fifty endless days, completely dependent on my parents. I remember taking the cast off and almost fainting while the nurses helped me to get up. After that, I did riabilitation for what felt like ages and it took me 4 months to walk without cruches.
My journey has not come to an end. I cannot run, walk fast or walk for long distances. I have very little mobility in my right hip and because of this I’m going to have a femoral head replacement in the next few years – and I cannot wait!
I deal with pain on a daily basis but it is nothing compared to emotional pain. At 14 years old I began hating myself, my scars, my hip dysplasia. Depression hit me hard. I had suicide instincts almost every day for months. To me, hip dysplasia means being stared at, bullied and humiliated every time I step foot outside my house. I used to cry every single time a person stared at me. Oh, the stares; they never stopped.
During the last few months I stopped hiding my hip dysplasia. I stopped caring about the stares, I stopped feeling anxious and trapped while passing by a group of people. I want to be an example to every person who knows me, and for those who do not. I cannot imagine a life without my birth condition; I would be a complete different person.
To me, the hip dysplasia is who I am. I consider myself as unique, and unique is beautiful. I cherish my scars – I embrace them. I am not just a woman, I am a bionic woman. I know my worth.