When I was born in 1986, no one knew that I had Stage 4 Hip Dysplasia. I seemed like a normal baby, but as I was getting older my mom knew that something was not right. Especially since I was not really walking when I turned 2. When I would try to walk, every time I would put pressure on my left hip, I would cry and scream in pain. My mom knew that this was not normal and something needed to be done.
She first took me to an orthopedic surgeon in my hometown of Blackfoot, Idaho with little result. Then she made an appointment for me at the Shoulder and Knee Center, 25 miles away in Idaho Falls, Idaho. After evaluating my condition they referred us to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a child this was all so new. I was seeing many new doctors and I was scared.
My mom and uncle took me to Primary Children’s and made the 3 hour drive to Salt Lake City. The drive is not so bad in the summer, but in the winter it’s a different story. I love the scenery through the drive, and it’s better than driving 4 hours to Boise. When we arrived, Dr. Sherman Coleman checked me out and knew right away what was wrong. He told my mom I had Hip Dysplasia and that my femur was not in my hip socket. Plus my hip socket was only 50% developed. This was why I was not walking normally and in so much pain. I needed to have surgery soon to fix it. Dr. Coleman always let us know his concerns about surgery and future treatments. He always took our concerns seriously and answered our questions.
Surgery was scheduled for November 9, 1988. My mom was so scared because this was the biggest thing to happen to me. This surgery was the most difficult and would help us know how I would handle future surgeries. After my mom said goodbye to me and I was in the operating room, things started off rocky. I was allergic to the anesthesia they used and had a terrible reaction. This freaked my mom out so much. She didn’t want the surgery to continue. She just wanted to take me back home to Idaho but this needed to be done. After that near death experience, thing went better. They got my hip back in the socket and sewed me up. In recovery, another thing they found out was that I had a really hard time coming out of the anesthesia. The whole staff knew what to do to help me recover in the best possible way. They always kept my mom informed of what they were doing and explained anything my mom asked.
After recovery they went over everything with my mom. The pain pills and dosages, how to handle me, how to put on the brace, check the incision, change bandages and when to start physical therapy. We were in for a long recovery, but my mom did everything right and helped me so much. I know she didn’t want to mess up and cause some type of harm to me that would affect me in the future. Some time after me leaving Primary Children’s and getting home my femur slipped out of my hip socket. We did not find this out until my 6-month check up. We then scheduled a second surgery to fix everything again.
On February 15, 1989 I had my second surgery. Dr. Coleman put my femur back in my socket and put a plate and screws in. It all went great since now they knew not to use the same anesthesia again. My mom went through the same after care procedures. This time at my 6-month check up my femur stayed in place and the incision healed up great. We scheduled a 3rd surgery to take the plate and screws out on October 24, 1990. This was at University Hospital because Dr. Coleman had transferred there. That surgery went well too.
As time went on, everything was great. I was walking normally with no pain. I was seeing Dr. Coleman every other year without any problems. However, on April 24, 1997, I was thrown a curve ball. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I was so scared and I thought I was going to die. I realized it was manageable, if I took care of myself.
Two years after my diagnosis, I started having horrible hip pain. We went to schedule my next appointment and we found out that Dr. Coleman had retired the year before. I was sent to Dr. Kristin Carole back at Primary Children’s. I was nervous to meet her, but once I did, I loved her. She answered all of my questions and concerns. I let her know that I was scared because this was the first surgery I would remember, being under anesthesia, and I wasn’t sure how my diabetes would affect it. She contacted my diabetes doctor John Liljenquist and they figured out what insulin dosages I would need, and where my blood sugar should be. We went back home to Blackfoot and a couple weeks before my surgery I had to give blood for it. I gave 2 pints, 1 pint a week. I finished 8th grade and prepared myself as much as I could for surgery. All my friends went on an 8th grade trip to California, but I had already committed to having surgery.
June 9, 2000 was my surgery day. My mom and I drove down the day before the surgery. We dropped our stuff at the hotel and went to Primary Children’s to check in. My mom did paperwork while I got blood draws. This was one of the easiest times getting blood taken, and I got an ID bracelet on my ankle. We went back to the hotel and I tried to sleep. It was so hard and I was nervous, scared, and excited. That morning we got dressed, gathered our stuff, and left.
I got checked in to the hospital and was put in a room. A nurse came in and took my vitals and my blood. Everything was good and my blood sugar was 120, which was 20 over, but in range so we were good go. Dr. Carole came in and went over what she was going to do in the surgery. They were going to push my femur further into my hip socket, which was going to make my leg ½ inch shorter. They would remove the scar tissue that was wrapping around my nerve and causing pain. They would also take bone from my femur and put in on my socket, and put a plate and screws in it. All of this was overwhelming and making me really nervous. We left the room to head to the operating room.
Walking down to the operating room was strange. All these kids and people were looking at me. I knew that they knew I was going in to surgery. When we got to the first set of door. I did not want to let my mom go and I was trying so hard not to cry. I finally said goodbye and turned the corner. There was another little girl having surgery the same time as me. The nurse carrying her was blowing bubbles for her to make her calm. The nurse with me said she was going in for heart surgery. I felt so bad for her and it was one of those times I wish I could take her condition away. We went in to my operating room and I saw all the equipment and staff there and couldn’t believe they were all there to help me. I got on the table and they put the anesthesia mask on me and had me count backwards from 10. I think I got to 5 and the staff operated on me for the next 4 hours.
I woke up briefly to my mom calling my name. The only thing I said was, “Is it over?” My mom said, “Yes! You’re in the recovery room now. Everything went ok.” I then passed out again. I woke up briefly again to my grandparents, mom, aunt and uncle. I felt better, loved, and comfortable knowing they were all there. The next day I was fully awake. My sugars were high after the surgery and I had a hard time keeping them down since I couldn’t be active. I was in a lot of pain but was able to manage because I have a high tolerance for pain. I hated the leg compressors!! They dried out my skin and made it itchy. Physical therapy was difficult. It was so painful because my muscles were so tight and stiff, but after 2 ½ years of it, it helped.
The staff at Primary Children’s was amazing. They always checked on me, made sure I was doing okay, checked my pain levels, helped me walk around, monitored my blood sugars and made sure I was given things I liked to eat. After 5 days, I was allowed to go home 2 days early. I was excited but didn’t want to leave. I had to do painful physical therapy, take care of my incision, and do everything I was told. At my 2-month check up, everything was great, my incision had healed up, and I was fitted for my lift.
Today, I am married with 2 dogs. I am a teacher at Idaho State University at the Early Learning Center. I thought about being a pediatric nurse or doctor because of everyone at Primary Children’s, but I could not handle seeing children in pain. So I went with an alternative career, that still works with children. I am so grateful for everyone who helped me physically succeed. If it wasn’t for their help, my life would be very different.
We have always recommended Primary Children’s to people who may need their services and will continue to do so. My family has always been there for me and has helped me through the tough times of my Hip Dysplasia and Diabetes. My mom is a huge factor of my success because she went through all of this by herself and always pushed me to do better.
Primary Children’s was the best place for us, because I got the care I needed, when it wasn’t available in Idaho. We have always been treated great and I love everything they do. They will always hold an amazingly special place in my heart.
Story Lines is a feature on Play Ground telling personal stories and experiences about the hospital – written by the individual. If you would like to share your experience on the blog, please contact us.