"I'll hae nae hauf-way hoose but aye be whaur extremes meet..." Hugh McDiarmid

Saturday, 2 March 2013

me and STEPS

OK. I know it's not friday. not in oman anyway....

so with my parents being here for almost two weeks - they go on monday morning - I've had an opportunity to ask questions about my childhood hip condition. I've always wondered about the details. it is something which seems completely unreal to me, even though I lived through it and have the scar to prove it, because I don't remember anything about it. apart from the scar I'm left only with a near pathological fear of the medical profession.

there is only one photo taken in the whole time I was being 'fixed' and I'm totally bundled up in trousers and a bright red jacket, being held by my big brother who must have been around 11 at the time. he's doing a good job of making it look like I weigh a ton and I must have, with plaster from ankle to hip on my left leg which then joined onto a body cast going up to my chest! it's not clear from the photo that I'm even in plaster, but my parents are sure I am. the only clue (apart from david struggling with the weight) is that my left leg is hanging a bit strangely.

anyway, hopefully this post is going to explain a bit more why I chose STEPS as one of my charities for the race. aside from a brief mention of being a bit wonky in the 'about me' section of the blog I've never really gone in to detail - mainly because I haven't had the answers til now :)

my mum will tell anyone who'll listen that she carried me through the hottest summer on record (1976 for those who can't be bothered googling) and then did my sister's 6th birthday party only 3 weeks before I appeared. apparently I just opened my eyes, looked around and went to sleep when I was born - prompting the midwife to claim I'd been here before and was just checking to make sure it suited me!

everything was fine until I went to my 9-month check where the doctor simply told my mum that there was something wrong with me. when she stood me up and held my hands, I refused to put weight on my left leg. mum couldn't believe it, to her I was just perfect, and hugely upset she picked me up and drove home. shortly after she got us home, the phone rang. it was the doctors practice asking if she was ok and asking her to bring me in to the surgery. the doctor we saw checked me over, reassured mum it was not terribly serious and told her that we'd never see the first doctor again. I had an appointment at the hospital for a day or so afterwards, and a few days after that I was in hospital.

it turned out I had congenital dislocation of the hip (CDH) which for me meant that my left hip socket had never grown. this had been caused by my femur being turned so the socket never got to grow around the ball. the surgeon who looked after me decided surgery was the best option. 9 months was quite old to be diagnosed with CDH. there was some time in traction to dislocate my right hip and pull both my legs down. the first operation followed, where my left femur was returned to the correct position and held there with a plate and 4 screws. my first plaster followed, which held my left leg out behind me - mum says I looked like I was getting ready to kick a ball - and the top of that plaster joined onto a body cast to absolutely hold me in that position.

mum claims during the time all this was being done I was a total angel in the hospital, just really nosey. whenever someone came into the children's ward I would haul myself up from my traction to see what was going on :) when I got home I had to be strapped onto a frame while in my cot to support the weight of the plaster and to stop me moving. me and leigh were sharing a room and by this time she was 7 and I was 1. she tells a different story about how I cried and whinged loads in my cot...

I was in the plaster for ages. one time I had an appointment and my surgeon was away on holiday. the relief guy decided to put me into a frog's leg plaster instead, so I had that until my surgeon came back. then the frog's leg came off and the normal 'kicking a ball' plaster was reinstated.

mum always says she knew it was time for the plaster to come off when she found me on the stairs... I was apparently quite mobile even in all that plaster - most of the furniture in the house had a white mark at a certain height off the floor so you could tell I'd been there! so eventually it came off but I still had the plate and screws. by this time I must have been around 18 months old.

dad reckons I was walking reasonably quickly after being freed from the massive stookie, although leigh says I was still really grumbly and whingey. mum reckons I was probably in some pain and just felt weird not having the plaster and being mobile. she worried about the plate and screws being left in there, so I went back into the hospital around my 2nd birthday to get them out.

during this whole time, nobody had any idea what the future held for me. would I even walk properly? I don't think they ever thought I'd be doing triathlon, or have a physical job. they certainly didn't think I'd be about to sail around the world! in the late 70s when we were going through all this, STEPS didn't exist. read about it here

these conditions may not be life-threatening, they're certainly not glamorous, but they affect a huge number of people. knowing that you can pick up the phone, or post on the forum and get support really helps. I wish my parents had had that option, I think it would have made it more bearable. we got through it and I am now a fully-functioning adult (no jokes please...) with only very minor repercussions.

like I say in the brief 'about me' section, CDH has never stopped me doing anything. it's just something that happened to us. we've come through it and if I can raise money for this marvellous wee charity by racing around the world for a year then even better. please donate by clicking on the virgin money logo on the top right of my blog. bear in mind that the money you donate does NOT go to my berth fee, and is split equally four ways between all four charities.

thanks very much :)

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