This is my story about hip dysphasia and the sport I loved, and how I hung up my towel long before it was time to give it up. My name is Taylor and I’m 19 years old. I am currently a sophomore in college. I go to a small private school in Michigan, where I originally came to play volleyball. I have always played sports and there was never a time in my life that I was not active. I was always healthy and fit. I played mainly soccer and volleyball but ended up leaving my soccer career behind to focus on volleyball during my sophomore year in high school. I graduated high school and was officially signed to play volleyball at the collegiate level. Volleyball was a big source of happiness in my life and the fact that it was only just beginning, made me the happiest person in the world. I was on top of the world and felt like nothing could stop me.
It was 2017 and it was my first semester in college. Not only was it my first year in college but I was also playing volleyball. The season went great and even though I didn’t play much, the fact that I was on the team and contributing to the success of my team was enough. Christmas break came sooner than expected. The team still had work outs that we were encouraged to do by ourselves. Naturally, I liked to workout and this was no problem for me. I couldn’t afford a gym membership so I would use what I had at home, which was never a problem before. One morning, about a week into break, I woke up and sat up. As soon as I sat up there was a catching or popping feeling in my right hip. It was so painful that I sat in bed for the longest time pressing on my hip while tears welled up in my eyes. After the pain passed, I assumed that I just moved in a wrong direction. I didn’t think anything of it.
As the day moved on, the pain radiating in my leg got worse. I talked to my dad and we assumed that I pulled my groin from working out. I iced it and rested for the rest of the day. As the days passed getting up from a sitting position was met with the same painful pop as did opening or closing my legs. Again, I never thought anything was wrong besides a pulled muscle and so did everyone around me. As the weeks passed, it didn’t get better. It stopped me from working out completely. Finally, I had enough and needed to see a doctor.
I saw an orthopedist a couple days before I had to leave for school. They took an X-ray and I was told I had completely normal and healthy hips and to just stick to low-impact exercises and to come back in 2 weeks to check on the progress. There was a bit of a problem with the low-impact excercises because second semester consisted of high-impact conditioning two days a week with a lifting regime on top. I was given a note for my coach. I emailed my coach and told her about what was going on which she responded with wanting to talk to me in person. I didn’t see much wrong with this. I was very wrong. My coach told me that it was “sketchy” that I couldn’t participate because I was having a pain. Obviously, I took this as her thinking it was a way to get out of 6 AM conditioning. She didn’t even want to see my doctors note. I didn’t know which was more painful, the horrible pain my hip was causing me or having a coach that I looked up to imply that I was lying.
Two weeks passed and still no answer to my pain, I was put on crutches for 6-8 weeks. This was of no help. Weeks later, I was told to get an MRI. Waited to get the MRI, waited for the doctor to look at my MRI. The MRI showed nothing. I was told I could get a steroid shot or try to rest more. I tried to rest more. The next doctors appointment, the same doctor who told me that I had healthy hips decided to look at my X-rays again. He came to a conclusion and said that I might have hip dysplasia and the only option was surgery. He pointed me towards a hip specialist. This specialist had a long wait time and I wouldn’t be able to be seen until the end of May. I didn’t want to wait that long with the pain I was going through during every hour of every day. My mother found a specialist that could get me into a consultation earlier. The consultation consisted of more x-rays, physical examinations, and talks of other options for the sole reason of not wanting to get surgery because I didn’t want to miss a year of collegiate volleyball. Finally, despite the lectures about how hard surgery and recovery are from my parents, I decided to have the preservation surgery on my right hip, 3 days after I got home from school.
May 3rd 2018, is the most major day in my life so far. I got to the hospital at 5:30 AM with my parents. I was the most scared I have ever been, but I was also excited for the future, to be recovered and finally be free of pain. I was in the hospital for 4 days and 3 nights. I was in so much pain and every little movement scared me. I couldn’t do anything by myself and even when I left the hospital I needed help with everything: from showering to putting on my socks.

I was on crutches, which I chose to use instead of a walker, for over 8 weeks. Even after, I didn’t walk the same. I had a limp and couldn’t stand or sit for long periods of time. I did in house physical therapy until I was off the crutches. Then I had even more physical therapy for 4 months until I decided that I didn’t need it anymore.
It is currently February of 2019. As I reflect, I can confidently say that the surgery helped but I am no where near to the level of fitness I was before. Not only do I still have trouble with walking and sitting for long periods of time but my left hip is starting to feel the consequences from 15 month of favoring it. 2018 will forever be the year of my hip dysplasia. It defines that year and not a minute, hour or even a day went by that I didn’t have pain in any sort: pre-surgery to recovery. I was mentally and physically altered because of my dysplasia. I went from the happiest person in the world to crying every day from something my pain had caused. I entered a realm of depression that I couldn’t get myself out of. I was quickly wasting my 18th year by feeling sorry for myself. Not playing volleyball hurt me more than anything and on top of that I got self-conscious about talking about my hip. I felt like everyone around me was getting annoyed with my pain. I felt like they didn’t understand, and to a degree I was right. They didn’t understand what it was like and I had to go at this alone and at my own pace. I isolated myself, not wanting to go out with my friends in fear of being a bother and spent time away from my family in fear of them getting annoyed at how slow I was recovering (my family has always taught me to push through the pain). This pain was too severe to push through. At a time during my recovery I needed to reward myself for the little accomplishments, like lifting my foot up to even being cleared to drive. I made the best of every day once I realized that I’d be happier if I was happy for myself for making it through this rough patch. Regarding volleyball, Even though my doctors have told me that I am perfectly able to play volleyball again, I decided that it was time to leave it behind and focus on preserving my left hip to save myself from reliving the agony. I was sad for a while but eventually came to terms with my new life.
A quote that got me through and still helps me is: “Sometimes we must undergo hardships, breakups, and narcissistic wounds, which shatter the flattering image that we had of ourselves, in order to discover two truths: that we are not who we thought we were; and that the loss of a cherished pleasure is not necessarily the loss of true happiness and well-being.
I am Taylor and I do not let hip dysplasia define my life anymore.

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  1. Michelle says:

    I understand and can relate somewhat. I had ankle and knee pain that I always thought was a part of growing up. In goal I was finally diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia. At 18, 2 weeks after graduating I had my first operation. That was the worst pain of my life, I’ve never been the same. I then did it again 8 months later. 18 years later I had both hips replaced. I still don’t walk correctly and gave a number of issues. At this point, you have to be thankful for what you have been able to do! You’ve done so much more that I ever could have, imagine I’m kinda jealous! Ha! We all have a path to lead, you never know what will happen along the way. Seems like some of us get a lot rougher of a road. You’re not alone in all this. I wish I would have known that.

  2. Melodee Nugent says:

    Taylor – so sorry it took so long for you to find the answers for your pain. But you have a great attitude. I definitely focused on weekly improvements and milestones after my two hip surgeries (May 2017 and November 2018). I feel bad for the athletes that have hip dysplasia when it interferes with their love for their sport. See my story from January 2019 and my love of swimming. Maybe you can think about hopping in the pool. It is never too late for anyone to get in the pool. You can PM me if you want to talk :)

  3. Deborah Spellicy says:

    Taylor, I’m so sorry that you had to go through this experience. I also feel badly that you were not able to play the sport you loved! I am thankful for the wisdom of your surgeon, nurses and therapist who will get you back to your awesome self. Remembering you fondly from LSHS! Deborah Spellicy

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