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When Doing All of the Right Things Doesn't Work

The orthopedic surgeons have been sounding the alarm for years now: Collin is going to need hip surgery one day. His hip sockets are too shallow. His femur doesn't seat well. If we don't do surgery, his leg bone will lock in the wrong place and he'll be in terrible pain and unable to bear weight.

I don't do well with scare tactics. They feel like a challenge to me. So we set about researching and consulting and developing a multifaceted plan that would maximize Collin's hip health. We got a stander so he could bear weight on his legs everyday, putting pressure on the sockets to deepen them. We got an adapted tricycle so the motion of his legs would increase synovial fluid and improve overall joint health. We did special stretches and exercises and massages.

So, when I saw that x-ray last week, I felt confused before my heart dropped. There were no hip sockets. They had filled in. One femur head was floating off to the right somewhere it shouldn't have been and the other was barely catching the lip of the bone that is supposed to snugly cradle it. Surgery has to happen soon, said the doctor. Before it gets any worse, he said.

But there had to have been a mistake - that must be some other kid's x-ray. Because we had done all of the right things. Collin's x-ray would look better, not worse than before.

But the truth was undeniable and now we're in the midst of second and third and fourth opinions, each one confirming that major surgery is coming.

It's not your fault, everyone says. You're dealing with a neuromuscular condition - these things just happen. They're right, but it doesn't comfort me. It's a reminder no one welcomes: that your best efforts don't guarantee success. That competence and diligence aren't enough to protect a kid who has already faced so much from having to endure more.