My story with Hip Dysplasia began in July of 2014. My hip suddenly hurt, and it hurt really bad. The pain was constant … it hurt when I stood, it hurt when I sat, it hurt when I walked, it hurt when I ran … and it was not going away. My hip was constantly clicking and felt as if it was catching on something – especially when I sat for a long period of time.
For as long as I can remember, I ran almost every day. When I wasn’t running, I was kickboxing, playing soccer, spinning or checking out the latest workout fad. I had been playing co-ed soccer and at first attributed the pain to a hard collision with a male goalie – which later I discovered was not the case. To say the least, my 28-year-old body was accustomed to bruises, aches and pains. But this, this was different. My pain progressed over the next few weeks. There were some days where the pain was chronic and all-consuming – other days I felt okay – not great, but okay. There were a few days where the pain was debilitating making it almost unbearable to sit, stand or sleep comfortably. And, running was completely out of the picture. This, for me was one of the hardest things to accept. I knew it was time to see a doctor.
The journey to getting properly diagnosed was long and stressful. From the first doctor saying he had no clue what was wrong with me, to MRI’s and X-Rays, failed cortisone shots, physical therapy treatments and a drawer full of mind-clogging paint meds … it had been a long year. It was confirmed after an invasive MRI that I had a tear in my labrum on my right side. My next doctor then recommended me to an Orthopedic in St. Louis to schedule the repair surgery. When I arrived and once again did more X-rays I was told I indeed have a labral tear, but I had a much bigger overarching issue – a rare condition called Hip Dysplasia – to my surprise not caused by soccer, but by genetics. HD is a congenital problem, but the symptoms don’t always show up in infancy or childhood. Even though there is a tear in my labrum, fixing the tear would not fix the root of the problem. My lack of coverage over my femur was the problem. Over time, my joint would become arthritic much faster than a normal sized socket. Hip dysplasia includes a group of disorders that have deformities of the joint. Most commonly, hip dysplasia is characterized by a “shallow” socket that does not adequately cover the femoral head.
So yes, to answer your question, like many dogs and many babies … I have hip dysplasia. The doctor then told me I was an excellent candidate for Periacetabular Osteotomy (PAO) surgery (My first reaction was, what the **** is that?) So to give some background, PAO surgery is a hip preservation surgery. This surgery involves cutting the pelvis around the hip joint and shifting it into a better position to support the stresses of walking. After the hip is re-positioned, it is held in place with screws until the bone heals. The nurse also mentioned it has the most difficult recover of any orthopedic surgery … awesome.
Even though the surgery sounded extremely invasive, has a very long recovery and sounds, well terrifying – I went ahead with it on July 9, 2015. I strongly believe the positives have outweighed the negatives. I had a 4-day hospital stay and three months off work to recover. The long road to recovery consisted of 4 weeks of sitting in a recliner watching Netflix, learning to walk again with a walker to crutches to a cane, and finally completing 6+ months of physical therapy. I was off crutches by my 30th birthday in October, and that was my big goal – I didn’t want to be a 30-year-old with a walker, I felt old enough as is.
Recovery was not easy, not only physically … but maybe even more so mentally. I was very lucky to be surrounded by family and friends that visited, cooked, sent gifts and were willing to be chauffeurs for me for a few months. It meant the world to me they were there for me – even though I know I was not the most pleasant person to be around.
All and all, the year of big struggles and small successes, was more than worth it in the end. One year later, I have gotten back to an active lifestyle and am no longer constantly bothered by pain in my hip. I no longer dread a long car ride, store my favorite pair of heels in the back of the closet and experience pain from walking around the mall for too long and/or sitting at my desk at work for too long. Even though I am not able to run the mileage I had grown accustomed to, going through the difficult experience has made me really appreciate the things I am able to do now pain-free, turns out low-impact activities like biking, yoga and walking aren’t so bad after all.
Going from being extremely active and healthy to being in constant pain, to undergoing three hip surgeries in the past two years has been quite the whirlwind. My scar – something that at first I was mortified of – I now see as constant sign of how I strong I am. I went through one of the worst experiences of my life, and persevered and overcame that challenge. I came out of it a stronger, more appreciative person, that sweats the small stuff a little less than I used to. I am glad I have that big, ugly scare to remind of that