Patient Stories

Life with a dislocated hip

Hello. My name is Melissa. I was born in 1968 so I guess that makes me a long hauler. When I started walking I was flat-footed on the right but on my toes on the left. Our family doctor sent us to the best orthopedist around. Having a doc you trust, for me, is the most important thing about living with this.

I was born without a left hip socket. That ball that’s supposed to be round and live comfortably in it’s socket home was flat. No socket, no ball. Everything just floating around in there with only muscles and ligaments holding it together. My first surgery, I was 2. Woke up to the first of MANY casts that started at my ribs, covered my left leg completely, the right to my knee. A bar between my knees and guess what? I’m a frog for the next 6 weeks. Thankfully my grandma was a seamstress and she made me awesome tie-on undies. Maggie-April, that pic of you in the blue cast? I’m with ya girl, except mine were plain boring white. And plaster. Uugghh Hot, itchy, sweaty. Everybody clear the room when they cut that thing off!! I taught myself how to go up and down stairs, on and off of everything. When I was 5 I was on my swing set. Slipped off and that half cast on my right leg snapped the bone below my kneecap. Hello full cast.

I’ve read my records. Cast would come off and the leg went right back where it wasn’t supposed to be. I had 2 or 3 surgeries a year till I was about 10. I always went in the hospital days before surgery to be put in traction. That’s a screw that went thru my leg right below my knee. It was attached to weights hanging off the bed. This was supposed to stretch my muscles and pull everything where it needed to be so that in surgery he could put pins in to hold it all in place. My muscles must be super elastic cuz the cast would come off and the leg went right back up. 

My leg length discrepancy was 3 inches. Saddle Oxfords became my only shoes because the heel could be built up. I’ve always preferred to be barefoot so walking on my toes all those years gave my left foot an extremely high arch and a round heel with no callous cuz it never touched the ground. 

One day I was walking toward a store and saw myself in the glass reflection. Until then I had no idea how bad my limp was. When I stepped with my left leg I leaned so far I was almost parallel to the ground. Thankfully I was, and still am, under 5ft tall. 

I hated summer because of shorts and bathing suits. Not sure when they started using staples but all of my incisions were closed with stitches. They don’t make pretty scars.

My first hip replacement was at 13. He had to cut out a lot of muscle that had knotted and grown into my hip cavity. Lot’s of screaming after that one. A month after highschool graduation he removed 2 1/2 inches of bone from my right thigh to correct the length difference. My second hip replacement I was 29. In 2012 I had to have the ball and liner replaced. Doc told me I have no femur bone left. It’s all what I call the “railroad spike”, which is part of the implant. I have very little pelvic bone(pubic bone?) on that side. We’re hoping this all lasts the rest of my life. 

I started preterm labor with my son at 21 weeks. 15 weeks of bed rest later I had what is called prodromal labor for 5 days before finally a c-section. I don’t know how much of that was because of my hip and pelvis but I do know that my pelvis wouldn’t open wide enough for his tiny little head to get thru.

I have chronic pain in my back, hip and leg. I take 3 different pain meds to function. These meds caused a sleep disorder called Idiopathic Hypersomnia. Basically without a wake up pill every morning I would be Sleeping Beauty. 

I will always have a limp but I am immensely grateful that I can walk. I will always have pain but I will keep going till I can’t. People still stare at me like a limp also means my eyes are broken so I stare back and smile. I covered those scars with beautiful tattoos and now show off what I used to hide. 

It ain’t always been fun, it ain’t never been fair. But it’s my life and I own it proudly.

Melissa Morrow