From All Angles – Sue

For as long as I can remember, I would look at myself in a mirror and only see my twisty legs. If I stand with my feet together, my legs don’t touch, at all! (See the pic?!) In college, my twisty legs became a big joke…”in the year 2000, Sue’s legs will meet!” All in good fun, of course. I grew up an athlete, running, playing soccer, cheering, and dancing. My hip pain didn’t really start until I was 36, while training for the 2012 Chicago half marathon. It became so bad that every step I took felt like I was being stabbed with a knife! I started out seeking assistance from a physical therapist, because it can’t be something serious, could it? She told me she could feel something wrong in my joint and sent me off to a hip preservation surgeon. I went through the typical imaging, x-rays and MRIs, and a physical exam. He told me I had a mixed hip impingement and a torn labrum. I trusted him. After all, he had performed arthroscopic surgery on a wide receiver with the Chicago Bears football team. Ultimately, he performed 4 arthroscopic surgeries on me, 2 on each hip, all within a year’s time. After all that, when I sat in his exam room in tears describing how the pain had only become worse, he told me there was nothing wrong with my joints and walked out on me. I walked out of there devastated, believing my running days were over…that my walking days were over.

Out of desperation, I googled twisty legs. I eventually came across a picture of legs that looked like mine! That person had excessive femoral version. At last, a diagnosis, that I made on my own! I researched more and found Dr. Stover. At my first appointment, he pulled up my very first MRI, the one that had been ordered and reviewed by that scope surgeon, and he pointed out my excessive femoral retroversion. It was all right there in plain sight, yet that scope surgeon told me there was nothing wrong with my joints. What validation! I had my derotational femoral osteotomy on my left hip in 2014. It was a rough recovery, complicated by my hardware, and an entire 11 months before I could walk without crutches. I moved onto the right side in 2015, an open dislocation for that hip, and another series of complications that led me to spending another 14 months on crutches. Yet another hardware removal surgery in 2016 and then a repair of my gluteus medius muscle in 2018, 9 surgeries in all.

In the summer of 2019, I finally ran again! Nowhere near what I used to run, but I will never take it for granted again. And I will keep working on it until my body tells me to quit. I continue to struggle with pain, due to 8 years of dysfunction, but not in my hip joints. And even with all I’ve been through, I still have great joint space. I am hoping that I am done with hip surgeries forever, but I’m sure I will need replacements at some point, when I’m older. I will never have a pain free life, but I can now have an active life, and I will never take that for granted!