My story is long. It has a lot of little details. A lot of twists and turns. And can most certainly be looked at as a rollercoaster. My story began eight years ago. I was ten years old. It was the summer going into my fifth grade year. I was in dance camp, golf camp, and conditioning workouts. One evening, I was going to take my dog outside, but couldn’t make it out of my chair. I stood up from my seat and was suddenly overcome with sharp, shooting pain down the side of my left leg. That night ended in the Urgent Care with a piece of paper explaining how to take care of a sprained hip.
The beginning of the school year came around but didn’t bring any hip improvement with it. The first semester of my fifth grade year included several misdiagnosis with bursitis, snapping hip syndrome, muscle weakness, etc., two rounds of physical therapy, X-Rays, countless doctor’s appointments, months and months on crutches and unable to walk, and finally, an MRI. Around Christmas of that year, I received a proper diagnosis; a torn hip muscle, a missing hip stabilizer muscle, and evidence of a fracture. Back to PT I went.
I began to heal and do very well. I started back up with dance and activity, but that did not last too long. The hip pain came back and I had to make the decision to quit dancing, which was absolutely heartbreaking for my eleven year old self. Quitting dance seemed to do the trick. We thought that maybe because of my long legs and loose joints, that perhaps dancing just wasn’t the sport for me.
Somehow going into my seventh grade year I got the idea that I would try lacrosse. I absolutely fell in love with lacrosse and my hip handled it so well the first season! Spring season arrived, and after just a few weeks of practicing, something was off. Lots of popping, clicking, pain, and limping when I walked and ran. I powered through the rest of the season, but quickly found myself back at the doctor over the summer. Another bursitis diagnosis! Queue physical therapy round four. My therapist began to suspect that I might have had something other than bursitis. An MRI was ordered and a labral tear was found, but the surgeon was not comfortable operating. We tried three or four rounds of steroid injections for the pain. No success. At this point, I was feeling very discouraged and lost – confused, and like things were just not going to get better. At just 14 years old, I had been through a lot and truly just wanted to feel better so I could be a kid again.
Finally, in December of my eighth grade year, we met my current surgeon, Dr. Schrader, at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. After taking fresh X-Rays and a new MRI, I was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia, bilateral Femoral Acetabular Impingement (FAI for short), and a torn labrum in my left hip. I have never felt so relieved in my entire life than in that moment when I finally had a diagnosis after three years of pain and struggle. I began the process with Dr. Schrader of correcting my structural issues. Without the boring in between details, I’ll sum it all up for y’all.
Surgery #1… February 2017… hip arthroscopy to correct my FAI, which involved reshaping my femur, and repair my labrum. Surgery #2… February 2018… PAO (Periacetabular Osteotomy) surgery to totally reconstruct my left hip. Surgery #3… December 2018… hardware removal. I thought I was done after three. Oops. Surgery #4… February 2020… hip arthroscopy to re-repair left labrum and remove excess scar tissue. Now I thought I was REALLY done. (And COVID happened here too. That was fun.)
I finally healed from the fourth surgery and was feeling great! My left hip was feeling the best it ever has, and still to this day is amazing. But the lack of pain allowed me to be extremely active, which I loved, but also triggered my structural issues on the right side to become an issue. Surgery #5… September 2020… hip arthroscopy on my right hip to repair a completely torn labrum and correct FAI. Surgery #6… October 2020… right side PAO for hip dysplasia. Surgery #7… July 2021… hardware removal.
And here I am. I now, after seven surgeries, have perfectly structured hips. I am still working to improve my strength and mobility, but get better every day. I have all the hope in the world that one day very soon I will be feeling amazing and doing anything I want to do. My hip dysplasia journey has been long, and difficult, and is not yet over. However, I have learned so much and become a much stronger person because of it. I am so thankful for the people I have gotten to know who share a common struggle. I am so thankful for the MANY people I have never met, but whose stories have inspired me and given me insight and unique perspectives on hip dysplasia, treatment, recovery, and life post-hip journey.