From All Angles – Laurie

While visiting a friend’s house in college, my hip did its familiar locking up and I couldn’t put weight on that leg until I forced it into a painful pop. Her dad said, “You really should get that looked at,” to which I shrugged and responded it had been like that for years. Regardless, I finally visited an orthopedic doctor a couple years later, who X-rayed my hips, told me I didn’t need a replacement and sent me on my way.

Fast forward 10 years and I found myself in another orthopedist’s office in Columbus, Ohio, after not being able to shake sharp pain after a horseback riding fall. Imaging revealed I had fractured my hip, which was healing well, but also showed mixed FAI and labral tears in both hips. There was my answer for my lifelong hip problems, I thought.

I had my left hip scope in October 2015, a mere six weeks after my wedding. (“I’m really putting the sickness of the ‘in sickness and in health’ part of our vows to the test!” I told the nurses repeatedly.) The doctor repeated the same procedures on my right hip in May 2016.

With things still not right in my right hip, I sought out a new hip preservation specialist in Pittsburgh, having just moved to the area from southeast Ohio. He performed a revision scope and fixed quite a bit of damage in April 2017. 

In April 2018 I had a baby boy nearly seven weeks early via emergency caesarean section, thanks to rapid-onset preeclampsia that escalated nearly overnight to life-threatening HELLP syndrome and eclamptic seizures. We’re both healthy today, but through those long months of healing the nagging discomfort, instability and pain was once again building in both hips. My surgeon didn’t see anything wrong with either hip and suggested a PRP injection, which I declined. Instead, I set up an appointment with the Cleveland Clinic, figuring if they couldn’t figure out what was wrong, no one could.

At my first appointment, Dr. Atul Kamath performed some basic range of motion tests and asked what hurt. He immediately suspected I had some sort of version issues and ordered MRIs and a CT scan, which revealed femoral retroversion in both legs.

He performed a right femoral osteotomy in November 2019; I have a plate and six screws in my femur, which will remain in unless they become problematic. Lingering pain prompted him to do a scope on the same hip in May 2020, delayed first because of insurance approvals then because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

I was on crutches for eight months and am working with a skilled physical therapist to normalize my gait and strengthen the right side. Every bone, ligament, tendon, muscle and piece of cartilage on the right side has been surgically altered in the past year, but is now in a position to preserve my natural joint and allow me to move in ways I didn’t even know hips were supposed to move.

My left femoral osteotomy is scheduled for October with a follow up scope on the left side slated for December.

When all is said and done, it’ll have taken nearly two decades to get a diagnosis and fix and I’ll have had seven hip surgeries. It’s been an incredibly long and challenging road, but with the retroversion diagnosed and fixed on the one leg, I’m so hopeful for the future, my mobility, my ability to resume my active lifestyle and to keep up with my son for years to come.