Patient Stories


Hello everyone, my name is Katelyn. I am 17 years old and am currently a patient at  Children’s Hospital. As you may have guessed from the website, I have been diagnosed with developmental hip dysplasia. It all started at the beginning of my 8th grade year. In this school year I was taking choir as one of my electives. In choir we were required to stand for the entire class period, to improve posture and breathing. As I stood, singing like everyone else, I felt my hips locking up. They became stiff after about 15 minutes of standing and became almost unbearable towards the end of the class period. This continued on and slowly started getting worse until the end of the school year. But it wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I was diagnosed with hip dysplasia.
At the beginning of my freshman year I was also faced with a stomach condition called gastroparesis. Because of this my gallbladder was removed and I experienced several other medical procedures. These included things like exploratory scopes, CT scans, and two gastric emptying studies. With all of these issues going on I was also faced with the underlying issue that was my hips. As the first semester continued so did the pain. At one point I remember my hips and bones were almost grinding against each other. My mom was perplexed by the noise and questioned it, “Katelyn why is your stomach growling so loud?” She asked. I replied with the fact that it wasn’t my stomach at all, but rather my hips. It was then that we decided that this was a more serious issue than we thought. After going to two doctors and an orthopedic specialist I was finally diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Unfortunately, the orthopedic specialist did not feel that it was safe for them to operate. So, I was referred to the hip specialists at the Children’s Hospital. It was there that I met my orthopedist along with her assistants and medical team. After just one x-ray they officially diagnosed me with the condition. My left hip was moderate to severe, and my right was mild. I started physical therapy that spring and continued until my approaching surgery. On August 6th 2018, my left hip was operated on with the PAO surgery. After a 7 hour procedure I awoke to what seemed like a whole new world.
I remember when I woke up the first thing I asked was whether or not they have to make the other incision. The one that would’ve been in my thigh if need be. But luckily, they only made the one incision at the top of my hip. The next week was a blur. Nurses were in and out of my room. So were the specialists. I couldn’t eat. My hips were placed in odd positions I had never been in before. Everything seemed like a horrific mess. And before I knew it, it was time to go home. I honestly don’t remember much from that time. I think the amount of pain killers I was given made my memory fuzzy. After about a month and a half it was time to start physical therapy again. The first time I went into PT after surgery my physical therapist asked me to lift my leg up as much as I could. No matter how hard I tried I could not lift up my leg. When I got home I felt discouraged. “How is this possible?” “Will it always be like this?” I asked myself these questions ashamed of my inability to move. But this was completely normal. This was all part of the recovery process. Learning how to move and getting stronger every day. One thing I hated doing but really helped was walking. Just a little bit every day. My dad after having three back surgeries understood my struggle. He made me get up every morning and go out on the porch. We sat and had our coffee, rested for a bit, and then it was time to walk. Step by step I walked across the porch with my walker. Putting only 20% of my weight on the left side. My dad walked with me. We did this up and down a few times ranging anywhere from 2-5 times. And although I was angry at my dad for making me do this, it was one of the most helpful things in my recovery process. As time went on, I actually got excited to get on the porch. It felt good to move and to walk more and more like normal every day.
I continued physical therapy and eventually went back to school. I started at only two classes a day, and finally returned full time on the second semester of my sophomore year. Now, a year later starting my second semester of my junior year, I have come to realize I will need surgery again. We are currently in the process of getting MRI’s and scopes to find out whether I have labral tears in one or both hips. And are also preparing to do the same surgery as my left hip, the PAO, onto the right. Over the past two years from compensating and supporting my left hip, my right hip has gotten increasingly worse.
Overall, my experience with hip dysplasia has been more of a blessing than anything. I have learned so much these past few years and I am very thankful for so many things. I am thankful for my hip specialists’ and all the nurses who have taken care of me. For the learning experience about medicine and the medical field that this has brought me. And the humbling feeling of being the one in pain or who needs help. Before I had these medical issues I felt as if I was untouchable, now that I’ve gone through surgeries, medical procedures, a 9 month recovery and am now repeating that process I see the world a lot differently. My number one thing I’ve learned throughout this experience is how not to take things for granted. One day I was able to walk, the next I was limping. And after surgery I had to use a walker and crutches and wheelchair for about a month or two. It really puts you in your place and helps you be thankful for all that you do have.
I guess I will finish off with saying that for anyone who is going through hip dysplasia or any condition for that matter, I am praying for you. Please don’t worry, I know that things are scary right now, but it will get so much better. One day you will be able to walk and feel normal again. Your doctors and therapists will congratulate you and will cheer you on for the progress you have made. And I will also be cheering for you, like those who have cheered for me through this time.