My journey with hip dysplasia
At 36 years old my hips started to feel like they were popping out of place. I would stand on something (usually a gas pump island and let my leg hang and swing it like a pendulum- this would usually relieve the pressure.) After about a year of this, it stopped working. I spoke with a friend that suggested a chiropractic technique where I would have my husband push and pull my knees together, and then lift my legs to get my hips to go back in. A couple times a week we’d do this and we’d get the resounding CLUNK and an almost instant relief. After researching dislocated hips, I found the hips don’t dislocate, and if they do it is unbearable pain that makes it so you are unable to walk. I thought I was going crazy. How am I getting a very audible clunk and relief if they’re not out? After about 2 years, my hips stopped feeling like they’d go back in. We weren’t getting the CLUNK or the relief. It just hurt all the time.
I finally got tired of the pain and decided to talk to my family around Christmas time – wondering if any of them had the same pain. I said it was a sharp pain in my groin and that it felt like they dislocated. My grandma said that her hip pain was in the same location and she had had a hip replacement in the mid 90’s. I told them I was afraid to go in because I was so sure they’d tell me I needed a hip replacement. My mom told me “They will never tell you you need a hip replacement, you’re too young!” Of course! I’m too young. I decided it was time to see a doctor about it. By this time, I was in extreme pain and having a hard time walking without a very noticeable limp. I went to my Primary doctor and she said she wasn’t sure, so she wanted me to see and orthopedic doctor. She was extremely helpful and kind.
January 2020, one month before my 4oth birthday, I was in the Ortho office. With me sitting on the table, the doctor said you’ve got hip dysplasia in both hips. Most likely undiagnosed since birth. (First born child, daughter, and born breech.) You need to lose about 100 pounds before I will operate. You’ll eventually need both hips replaced. Take a strong prescribed anti-inflammatory 2xs a day. I’ll have you get and MRI and I’ll make a follow up appointment with you. And then COVID hit. We did a tele-visit which consisted of him confirming I had hip dysplasia and I need to lose weight. He then suggested I schedule another tele-visit. I was tired of being told the same thing repeatedly and nothing being done.
I visited with my primary doctor again and I started a weight loss plan. I lost 30 pounds. But I could still barely walk, and both hips were really hurting. I was prescribed vicodin, which I hated to take, and would only take when I absolutely needed it. And believe me, there were days when I couldn’t walk without taking it. I decided it was time to take my health into my own hands. I asked for a referral to a Dr. in Bellevue, Washington. I made my appointment in June and gathered all of my records. I reviewed my MRI findings and realized that the original doctor didn’t tell me that I also had arthritis, labral tears, massive bone spurs, and cysts in both hips!
The doctor in Bellevue came highly recommended from a friend…she informed me he would indeed tell me to lose weight. I knew this was always going to be a topic of conversation – every doctor appointment I’d ever attended, it was mentioned. But I was proud that I had already lost 30 pounds in a short amount of time. That didn’t last long. The whole appointment the doctor talked about my weight. He asked for new Xrays as my previous Xrays were now 6 months old. He didn’t even look at the MRI or the report of the MRI. After looking at the new Xrays, he said normally he “doesn’t like to do replacements on people my age or my size”, but he had no choice. My left hip had deteriorated to being completely bone on bone and a replacement was needed. He asked if I wanted to wait until I had a chance to lose more weight before I did the surgery. I scheduled the surgery for November. He found that I was taking vicodin and scolded me saying that they prescribe that after surgery and if I’m taking it now, I won’t have anything for after surgery that will work and I need to immediately stop taking it. And I would also need to stop all anti-inflammatories 2 weeks prior to surgery. HOW WAS I GOING TO BE ABLE TO WALK?! (Let me tell you – It was VERY difficult!)
I lost another 20 pounds in the following months. The weekend before my surgery I wanted to ride my horse one last time because who knew when I’d be able to do it again. (I had only ridden once in May and hurt terribly afterwards.) My husband asked me not to because he didn’t want anything to happen to my hip so that it couldn’t be repaired. I saddled my horse anyway, and walked her across my pasture. I worked her for 15 minutes, which consisted of me taking small steps in a circle. I started to walk back across the pasture and was in tears. I hurt so badly that I couldn’t even think of riding. My husband unsaddled my horse and I sat in the car crying. Tears of pain, anger, frustration, sadness….it all came out. I had no life. I couldn’t walk! I couldn’t play with my 10 year old daughter. I couldn’t stand for more than 5 minutes. I knew I needed this to be done.
Many people had asked if I was sure that I wanted this surgeon to operate on me, given his bedside manner. I really questioned it. Would he treat me like a cow at slaughter on the operating table? Not caring about anything that he did because I’m gross? But then I thought about it…his ego wouldn’t let him do a bad job. He’d have a whole room full of nurses and anesthesiologists watching him. His reputation would be in this. I had also read a statement on line that hit me like a ton of bricks….it said “Would you rather have a person with terrible bedside manners, who is the very best at what they do, and do it so often they could almost be blind folded while doing it – or someone that has the best bedside manners ever, but they need someone there to direct their every move, and have only done this surgery a hand full of times?” I knew I was making the right decision.
Monday, November 2nd…I get checked in. I’m super nervous. I have no pain tolerance and a high tolerance to medication. Not a good combination. I get into the OR and I start crying and sobbing. I’m reassured that everything will be ok. I’m told now I’ll get very sleepy. I remember thinking “But I’m not getting sleepy! Don’t start yet!!” The next thing I know, I’m waking up. At first there wasn’t much pain at all. But the more awake I became, the more it hurt. I ended up staying in the hospital over night to control the pain. That day I swore I’d never get my right hip replaced. By that Friday, I am off of all pain medication! At 2 weeks post op, I said I’ll wait as long as I possibly can until I get my right hip replaced. At my 6 week follow up, I asked to schedule my right hip replacement! And 5 days before my 41st birthday, I will have my right hip replaced! Happy birthday to me!
I’m so glad that I’ve done this and I can’t wait to be on horseback this summer. My number one suggestion is to not wait as long as I did. And don’t be afraid to take your own health into your hands!