On April 1st, I wrote about my Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis but that was just the beginning of the story. As the arthritis settled into my joints, it became obvious that there was something really wrong with my right hip.
Xrays showed that the bone had not grown fully. The ball and socket joint was fine, but the part of the bone connecting the hip area to the thigh area did not grow properly. I had a significant leg length difference. My parents had noticed it all my life but could never find a doctor who would agree with them.
Reacting to the arthritis, my right hip naturally fused itself in one position. All of a sudden my movement was severely limited. As the arthritic symptoms disappeared from the rest of my joints, my hip remained painful, stiff and fused. I walked with a limp. I hated wearing shorts or short skirts because I could see the crooked hemline caused by my leg length difference. I was no longer allowed to participate in any sports. A doctor's note excused me from participating in any PE classes. When I started college, I had to be placed in a dorm with an elevator because my doctor didn't want me climbing stairs.
The only real solution to this problem was a total hip replacement. Unfortunately I was too young and so was the technology. At the time, hip replacements wore out quickly and each consecutive replacement lasted less time than the one before. The doctors said that I would be in a wheelchair by 40.
I can remember the day I met my surgeon and he gave me that message. He had these beautiful steel blue eyes. They were mesmerizing. I knew he was the man who could help me. Then he told me that he would not perform the surgery. I cried.
A few years later my pelvic bone was so thin and worn away that he agreed to perform the surgery. In 1999, at 22 years of age, I got my dream, a total hip replacement. I remember in pre-op, the nurses marked my right hip with a sharpie. I had a momentary panic as I wondered if the right hip was the one that needed surgery. It was, of course :)
I am now the proud owner of a titanium-cobalt hip. It has changed my life. I now live without pain. I can do things that I had not done for eleven years. I gain more movement all the time. My only restriction is that I cannot run, and that's ok with me :)