By Linda, Wisconsin, USA
Hey folks my name is Linda I live in the US. Some know me as lbleckster on instagram.
In early 2012 at the age of 46 I was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia, because I could no longer walk or sleep. A friend, who is also an orthopaedic physician, urged me to see a hip specialist he had used for his own replacements. After years of back pain, mysterious swelling in my feet, knee pain, chronic headaches, abdominal discomfort during menstruation, chronic constipation, two miscarriages, two painful pregnancies, fatigue, coupled with incredible spurts of energy, and back spasms, I was told it was my hips that were causing all these maladies. Phew, finally an answer. It wasn’t in my head, it was in my hips.
It never stopped me from my active life I just lived with it from an early age. I adapted and compensated. My pain threshold was very high. It was always explained away as over activity or hyperactivity, growing pains, and/or muscle weakness. I took Advil and Aleve to control the pain as an adult. As a kid, popsicles and rest sufficed. I often found myself in a chronic state of tiredness so I usually slept through my afternoon classes. Thank goodness, the nuns must have prayed for me because I was never labelled as a ADHD or ADD student. I was the 7th of 9 children and you don’t get special treatment at that number you just learn to keep up.
As an adult, occasionally I would see my sister who was a pelvic physical therapist and she would adjust my pelvis and hip and I could get back on track. I utilized massage as well. I’d go back to strengthening the muscles she told me to focus on regaining stability and resume all the things I loved to do. I would abandon sports that hurt and pick up new ones that I enjoyed. I adapted. I listened to my body.
At the time of proper diagnosis, my right hip was quite damaged and the left was marked mild. I had a medical anomaly and my labrum was three times normal thickness, but now it was worn down. Most likely all my cycling had created synovial fluid and developed extra protection for missing bone. It was less than 50% coverage. The surgeon asked, ”How long have you been in pain? You should not have been walking past 27.” Using my usual response of humour and wit to a serious subject, I replied with a chuckle, ”Well I am and I have been in pain forever”. “No really “, he replied and I replied “really”. So that was the start of a now 6-year relationship with an excellent surgeon.
I was given surgical options. I would receive a steroid injection to ease the pain and a MRA (Magnetic Resonance Angiogram) to confirm the pathology. He gave me the summer to think about if I wanted a total hip replacement or, get a scope and repair the labrum with two tears, cysts, arthritis, a glute medium tendon repair, and subluxation. He wrote a prescription for hydrocodone and cautioned me to the addictive effects and I never used one pill. I walked out of that appointment thinking, “wow that’s a bit more than I expected I thought I just pulled a muscle.” I got in my car called my husband it hit me and began to cry. I never cry.
I toughed that summer out swimming and preparing for a fall surgery. I used Aleve. I continued playing competitive golf despite the pain. I played my best golf as my swing had really shortened and as they say in golf I ‘dialled in’. I learned to ignore it and persevere, but heck that is what I did my whole life. I also continued my career as a children’s book illustrator, because I still had the mental capacity to think and physically draw.
I opted for the total hip replacement and tendon repair, because he said the “clean up” would most likely make the pain worse, destabilize the hip further and I would be back most likely in one and half years later for a hip replacement. I was naïve and oblivious to what all this meant. I would have both my hips replaced over the next 5 years. I also had a Foraminotomy (spinal decompression), to correct stenosis (spinal nerve-channel narrowing) issues in lower lumbar. I was truly humbled. I thought I’d be going back to all the things I enjoyed, but now I am labelled chronic pain patient. Yuck!
This was not really the end of the story, but just the beginning of a whole new life. I still have my spinal battles. I am meeting people from all over the world via forums and Facebook with the same diagnosis.
Yes, things do change in life. That’s what life is, change from the day you are born. This condition has been my greatest physical challenge. Ironically, it has taken a lot from me, but it has also given me so much more in return. If you allow yourself to be open to new avenues, a new fulfilling life can be discovered.
“Challenges are what make life interesting.
Overcoming them is what makes them meaningful.”
-Joshua J. Marine
If you’d like to share your DDH experiences, email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org