Courtney

When I was a teen, through my twenties, and early thirties I was a runner. Always experiencing pain after a run in my right shoulder, I went to a sports Dr. (in high school) to find out my shoulder pain was caused by the difference in lengths of my legs. Now I know that to be a characteristic of hip dysplasia.

Fast forward 15 years and I was 4 years into increasingly intense pain in my right “leg”.
I kept up my intense yoga schedule but had forgone running 2 years prior due to pain. Walking from my car to work was unbearable. I had to psych myself up to get the mental and physical courage to even walk to the bathroom. I hated the stares at my increasingly pronounced limp, the strangers coming up to me asking what was wrong … I just didn’t know !!!
Right when I couldn’t take it anymore, at age 33, I found out I was pregnant! For the first time! What a crazy turn of events. Given this new responsibility, I scheduled a long overdue MRI. It was that day that I was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia. I would start with replacing the right hip, then the left, then in 15 years do it all again. It felt like a ton of bricks slammed me in the chest – how could this be real?
Pregnancy was excruciating, but there was an end in sight. Three months after my scheduled C-section I was going to have a total right hip replacement. I had ultrasound-guided cortisone shots injected into my pelvis every 3 months that kept me walking without a cane, crutches, or a wheelchair – that, and pride.

My daughter’s arrival into this world went wonderfully and my beautiful healthy baby was finally here. Now came the reality – I have to figure out a new body part, re-learn to walk, oh yeah and keep a tiny human alive – with my body!

Becoming a mother changed my hip dysplasia journey profoundly – I don’t know how I would’ve handled this without my baby, or if I would’ve even thought having a child was the right decision for my body. Although reading this story you may think that it was irresponsible to not seek proper treatment sooner, I believe there was something bigger at play and the diagnosis came exactly when it was meant to.

Before all this – running, swimming, surfing (sort of), hiking, yoga, teaching paddleboard yoga, and any physical activity were my identity – and now they were gone. Who was I without it? What made me happy? Would I ever be active again? Am I disabled? Is that my new identity…disabled? The thought plagued and embarrassed me.

That was one and a half years ago.

Today I just returned from surfing 5-foot waves on sunset cliffs in ocean beach – something that I watched from the sidelines for ten years. Eight months after surgery, I joined 8-week program called Ground Swell Community project that gave me back the skill and confidence I was seeking in the water (if you’re interested at all in surf therapy please check them out, they are amazing).
For my 35th birthday this July I went on an off-roading surf trip to Mexico where I had the courage and skill to surf off the grid spots. Nothing can describe how that felt, or feels every time my board touches the water. I saw myself in my mind teaching my daughter how to surf. I didn’t know how I was going to get there but things fell into place as they do.
When I tell you that my new hip gave me my life back – believe it. I am beyond grateful every day that I can do all these amazing things – but also that I can pick up my daughter without pain, walk her down to the farmers market, play hide and seek … all the things!

A lot of the time I have trouble wrapping my head around the surgeries and “things” that may come up in the future, especially as my now 35-year-old body begins to age.
If anyone reading this ever doubts their physical ability after this life-changing diagnosis – please don’t. You are capable of so much. So, so much.

If you’d like to keep in touch or share YOUR story please contact me on Instagram: Cali_surfin_mama




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  1. Judy Thayer says:

    This is so encouraging. My 19 year old daughter was diagnosed two years ago with hip dysplasia and we were told there was nothing they could do for but manage the pain with core strengthening and PT. She is a dancer continues to push through her pain – as I have put it…she loves to dance more than she hates the pain. Now in college and a dance minor, dance coach and member of her college dance team, the pain seems to be worsening. Doctors in our area have always told us that surgery could make things worse; that she is too young, etc. BUT…in my mind, she is too young, too active and too talented to be this debilitated by pain. Your story is telling me that we need to push further and see what other options exist for her. Thank you for sharing and giving us hope.

  2. Courtney says:

    Hi Judy,
    Wow, thank you so much for sharing. If it were my daughter, knowing what I know now I’d schedule the surgery. The pain is unimaginable and can change her developing personality and outlook on herself and life. The surgery when done correctly along with physical therapy is incredible and she should expect the best outcome, and to get fight to get back to doing what she loves – and never stop. Dr.’s discourage doing it young because there is a small chance of complications with any surgery – and the younger she is, the more she’ll have (that’s how it was explained to me). Wishing you and your daughter mental and physical strength through this journey. She’s got this.

  3. COURTNEY.DESIGN2424@GMAIL.COM says:

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing. If it were my daughter, knowing what I know now I’d schedule the surgery. The pain is unimaginable and can change her developing personality and outlook on herself and life. The surgery when done correctly along with physical therapy is incredible and she should expect the best outcome, and to get fight to get back to doing what she loves – and never stop. Dr.’s discourage doing it young because there is a small chance of complications with any surgery – and the younger she is, the more she’ll have (that’s how it was explained to me). Wishing you and your daughter mental and physical strength through this journey. She’s got this.

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