Obtained by Freeland Patient Advocate Volunteer Vicky Marlow
I always remembered the “shoes with the bar” that I wore to bed as a kid. I had no idea why I had to wear them, what I did know is that as soon as my parents went to bed, I would untie them and take them off. I grew up remembering the shoes, but with no real health issues, I didn’t ask questions as to why I wore them. As a kid I could never sit “criss cross applesauce”, but I had agility and strength abound – so I left the shoes behind me as a distant memory, never to be brought up again.
All of that changed as a teenager. I had just graduated high school and started working a summer job at a local sports stadium. At night, when it was time to go home, my leg ached so badly that I couldn’t bend it to get in the car to go home. My mother began driving me to and from work — she would lay the passenger seat back and hold me steady as I got in the car without bending my leg, and I would ride in agony the whole way home. In the morning, after a long rest, I would feel fine again. I repeated this for a month until my parents explained to me what exactly was wrong…and why I wore those awful shoes with the bar! I had Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, diagnosed when I was 3 years old.
So, we made the appointment to see the doctor (who treated me as a kid) for a check-up to find out why the pain had come so strong and sudden. After some x-rays, multiple cysts were found on my left hip — the culprit of the pain, and stiffness. September rolled around and time for surgery. I went in the hospital a little naïve, mostly because my parents were rocks – they never let me think or worry about the surgery. Recovery was pretty quick, as with any 17 year old & I was out and about within a few weeks. The doctor cautioned me that the cyst removal was only temporary, as I had osteoarthritis and replacement was in my future. I will never forget him telling me that this was an ever changing field and I should wait as long as I could before having the surgery – and in 10 or 15 years new products and surgeries would be out there.
I waited. Seventeen years passed with minor aches that became major, and increasingly limited movement. By the time January 2007 came around, I couldn’t make it through a full day of activities with work and kids. Even sleep was difficult – I woke up many times with a leg so stiff that I couldn’t straighten it out. Then, just when I needed to see it, my mother pointed out an article on Dr. Clarke and hip resurfacing in the local newspaper. I called to make an appointment, and was in his office for a consultation. We both knew why I was there, so it was really a question of when.
I had hip resurfacing surgery in December 2007. SUCCESS!! The first two weeks were brutal and I relied heavily on a walker to get around, and family to help me do “normal” things. By Christmas I was using a cane and relying less on others to help me. I began PT the day after Christmas and recovered in leaps and bounds. I am very determined, and with a 23 year old therapist, I was pushed to my limits, and sometimes beyond – mostly at my request. My post-op checkups were good, and once limitations were lifted I was pushing even harder in PT. Last week (June 10th, 2008), I had my 6 month post-op check-up. Dr. Clarke was happy with my healing and leg movement…and so am I!!!
For 17 years, I did very little in the way of activity. I had limited movement and pain, which only got worse over the years. I did not run, exercise, or even walk for more than a trip around the block. Seventeen years is a long time to sit around in pain.
Now, I am completely pain free and have flexibility that I never thought possible…everyday I am amazed at how different my life is. I run around with my kids, I take long walks with them after work and our weekends are full of activity. My kids always called my left leg, my “bad leg”…now we all call it my good leg, sometimes my “bionic leg”!! I have my life back and I have Dr. Clarke and the BHR to thank for that!