When I was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, I couldn’t truly process it at first. It didn’t make sense to me how I could possibly have this and never have known or been diagnosed with it, although I always knew my hip and leg anatomy were different. I feel in shock about it, almost as if when I go in for my pre-op appointment, they will tell me that things have gotten better on its own and I won’t need surgery. I know that is impossible but it would be nice if I could run again without my pelvis being broken and screws put in to hold it all together.
When I was a kid, I was diagnosed with tibial torsion after my mom took me to the doctor because I would fall a lot. I could never move like the other dancers or do splits in gymnastics, but I could run. Once I realized that I could run, and be pretty fast, I haven’t really stopped until recently. I felt like I was a totally healthy kid when I was younger until I turned 12 and started having fainting spells and couldn’t eat without feeling sick. I spent a year in and out of the hospital before I was diagnosed with a form of Dysautonomia called POTS. When I would try to run, I would start to black out. I tried PT, medication, IV infusions, and literally anything the doctors would suggest to me. I am now almost 19 and finally have it at a manageable level. I found that the more active I could stay the less I would pass out and eventually not pass out at all.
During that time, I found dog agility. I have always loved animals and running, so the two put together was like a dream come true. When I was 15, I started agility and when I was 16, I started competing and training intensely. I was training 5 days a week and trialing nearly every weekend. I noticed I started having some popping and aching in my hips but I didn’t think much of it and ran through it. I mentioned it to my doctor and I was told it was just snapping hip syndrome.
A few months later I was training my dog and he bailed off of an obstacle and hit my left leg while I was in full extension. I ended up with a bad ankle sprain and was told to do some PT. After that I started having some issues with patellofemoral pain syndrome. This was at the same time I was going to go to poodle nationals with my rescue miniature poodle. We had worked so hard as a team to get to that point and my doctor cleared me to go, so we went. I ended up winning agility high in trial junior handler and even though I was in a lot of pain, it was such an incredible event to be able to attend. I worked hard in PT and continued to condition myself to a point where I no longer had issues with my knees or ankle. It wasn’t until I was at a national event later that year that I realized how bad my hip pain had progressed. I remember being in a hotel room literally trying everything to get my hip from feeling so “stuck”.
It wasn’t until this past July that I decided it was time for a break from agility to get better answers on my hip issues. I realized that the pain had started taking all of the fun and enjoyment out of agility. Since then I have been to three orthopedic surgeons. I have had countless X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, and 3 steroid injections over the past two years. I was originally diagnosed with femoral anteversion (my degrees are 42 and 43). I decided to get another opinion and they diagnosed me with snapping hip and gave me an injection for it. I went back to my original doctor after getting no relief from the injection. He re-diagnosed me with miserable malalignment syndrome. I was about to schedule a femoral osteotomy (FO) when I realized that having that surgery just didn’t feel right. The anteversion on the right is a degree worse and there was no pain in that hip at the time. That is when I decided to get a third opinion. The new doctor agreed to the diagnosis of miserable malalignment. I had an injection in my IT band and my pain increased. He then ordered an MRI and that is where he found my labral tear and findings of a possible impingement. I was told I needed another injection but since the last one caused so much pain, I put it off for a few weeks.
I took a trip to hike in the mountains as I had been wanting to go for such long time. This was a huge turning point in the worsening of my hip pain. Not only had the snapping gotten worse but I couldn’t bear to sit in a car for more than an hour. When we would stop to hike, I couldn’t make it far without starting to hurt. On top of that I found that going down steps was easy and going up them became a struggle. After my trip I decided to try the third hip injection but this time into my socket. After my injection I could move my hip and it wasn’t “stuck” or snapping. That injection gave me two weeks of relief. In those two weeks I ran (for 30 minutes straight) with little pain. I couldn’t believe how much better I was feeling. I even tried bouldering but when I pushed off the rock, I felt a sharp pain in my hip and it reminded me that even though the injection was helping I still had something very wrong with my hip. After the two weeks had went by my pain had slowly come back and was just as bad as before.
On March 5, 2020, I was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. On that same day I was told I would need a Periacetabular Osteotomy (PAO). I told my doctor that I was just thankful that I didn’t in fact need the femoral osteotomy that had been previously recommended. He then told me that this surgery is an even lengthier surgery and a much more difficult recovery. I am anxious about the surgery, but I am ready to live without the pain and the limitations that I have now. I’ve had to work hard to be able to run before and I plan to do it again. I will get through this and one day be able to try out for the world agility team like I have dreamed of since I was 16. In life, things might not go exactly as planned, but like every journey, some just might take longer than others.