Thursday, August 29, 2013

Guest Post: Betsy Miller

Ask and you shall receive...
I wanted to have another 'hip' friend do a guest post on my blog.
I am SO very honored that Betsy Miller offered to help me out.

Hi, I’m Betsy Miller, the author of The Parents’ Guide to Hip Dysplasia. Today I’m going to talk a bit about my early childhood treatment for hip dysplasia. Back in 1962 when I was a baby, my mother noticed that something seemed wrong with my hips. I have two older brothers, so I think that’s one of the reasons my mom picked up the problem. Not to mention, she was a very smart person.
When a baby’s hips are both dislocated, it can be hard to spot hip dysplasia because both hips look the same. During a typical infant hip exam, doctors check for asymmetry (if only one hip is affected), and for a hip click—the sound of femoral head (the ball at the top of the thigh bone) going in and out of the socket when they move the baby’s legs a certain way. If the ball never goes into the socket, then there isn’t a hip click.
Sometimes these cases aren’t caught until a child is of walking age. The child isn’t in pain from the dislocations, but the hips tend to look wider than usual, sometimes the feet appear to turn out or in, and there’s a characteristic walk called a “waddling gait” once the child starts walking
Since we don’t have any family history of hip dysplasia, I’m not surprised that mine wasn’t caught when I was a newborn, but I’m forever grateful that I was diagnosed and treated. My parents took me in to be seen by a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. In fact, they took me to a number of doctors for second opinions because they were hoping to avoid an open reduction (surgery that involves cutting open the hip joint). They chose the only doctor who was willing to try for a closed reduction. With a closed reduction, the child is put to sleep with anesthesia, and the doctor maneuvers the hip into place.
So off I went to the hospital for traction to loosen my muscles for the closed reduction. I was a baby, so I don’t remember this, but my parents told me that my mother visited me every day and breastfed me. The nurses disapproved, because at that time, the prevailing wisdom was that bottle-feeding was much healthier, but my doctor said it was fine for my mom to keep breastfeeding. I’ve also been told that when I got bored I would fling my pacifier across the room and yell until a nurse came in to give it back to me. Hmm, maybe I wasn’t their favorite patient.
To get on with my story, after the traction, I had a bilateral closed reduction. Then I wore a Petrie cast with a bar between the legs. After the cast came off, I wore a soft, cotton brace that my mother had sewed for me. I don’t remember wearing the cast or brace, but I do remember being put to bed in a frog legs position. My mother showed me the brace once when I was an adult.
I grew up running around and playing like any other kid. The only restriction I remember is when I asked for ballet lessons when I was about five. The doctor was concerned that might loosen my hips too much, though he said dance in general was fine. So I tried tap dance with one of my brothers, but then I got bored and went on to the next thing—probably jump rope , hop scotch, or roller skating.
Now that I’m 51, I’ve had to slow down a bit. I get hip pain if I stand or walk on concrete for a long period of time. At some point I will probably need total hip replacements, but that’s years away. There’s
no doubt in my mind that without treatment I would have had significant problems from my teen years onward.
Every hip dysplasia story is different. Your child will have his or her own path. Just remember when you’re traveling that path together, that in the end, you’ll get through it and your child will have a better life. That will be the gift you have given your child.

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