My Daughter is Broken

If you have followed me on my journey you already know that my children are gifted with medical mysteries. Lately these have come on strong. It is a constant concern.

I am talking now about one of my daughters, Madison. She is 21 now. Unbelievable. She was injured on October 2, 2012 when she was doing a double back flip off of the high bar in gymnastics and hit her head, rendering her unconscious and then planting her on the floor on her head again. We have fought many years to deal with the issues that have come from that TBI (traumatic brain injury). She has cognitive issues, such as remembering and processing reading, memorizing large amounts of data and more. She has daily headaches. Still, she got through high school, got her Liberal Arts degree at a local college to get some generals out of the way and is now in college in the pre-veterinary program. It isn’t easy for her. She struggles A LOT. Her grades aren’t the best, but that super determined daughter of mine just keeps pushing. She may not get to go to the vet school of her dreams, but she will get there somehow. She is also working in the college dairy barn, and loving it. She puts in as many hours as they allow so that she can gain large animal experience for her college resume.

She has a lot of physical issues that resulted from an over-zealous and not so understanding gymnastics coach. His desire to win was more important than the safety and health of his gymnasts. Thirteen years of gymnastics have left her with the chest cartilage being separated from her sternum, a rib that slips over top one of the others that we have decided not to have removed unless it gets worse, constant neck pain and more. She also has suffered from hip pain over the last few years. They tossed her on crutches a few years ago and that helped. At that time they decided she had bursitis. She improved for awhile but it came back to haunt her. She did two rounds of physical therapy, and spent a lot of time with a chiropractor. She is an active girl, who works out six times per week. We aren’t talking about hopping on the elliptical and going for a quick little run, either. We are talking two hours of free weights and body building work.

Her hip started popping about a year ago. We always joke that she is a 21 year old in the body of an 80 year old because of all of her aches and pains and kind of blew it off as that. She has accepted that chronic pain will be a part of her life forever. She knows that she will always struggle, but she isn’t afraid to work hard and try. At her last local doctor’s appointment I told her to demand a referral to an orthopedic specialist. She was sent to a surgeon. He found that she had torn her hip labrum (it is the material that holds your leg bone into your hip). He felt he could repair it. The recovery is long and slow, lasting a good 2-3 months, but he has fairly good success. However, when he got deeper into her scans he noticed that she has slight hip dysplasia. This means that he could fix the labrum, but it would most likely tear in a few years. Damn. He then did a CT scan and found that her femur is actually twisted in the socket and will need to be repaired as well. He has referred her down to Mayo Clinic (that’s okay, we already know the way) to an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in what is called a PAO (Periacetabular Osteotomy). Basically he would cut a chunk of her pelvis off, repair the labrum, reshape the hip, scrape off some of the bone on her femur and stick her back together with pegs and screws. Recovery time is at least four months (before she can even work) and a year before she starts to feel like her body works right again.

Why not a hip replacement? Because of her age. It is better to reconstruct the hip and fix it permanently than to slap a hip in there there that she will most definitely have to replace down the road. Does she have a choice? No. Many people have told her, and me, that she should just live with the pain. The longer she waits the worse the pain gets, because the labrum is slowly shredding inside. NOT doing this is not an option. She is on the wait list to see this specialist. Her pain level is quite high. She hasn’t been able to work out like she enjoys, which makes her depressed and moody. She can’t sleep comfortably. There is a long list of people ahead of her to see this doctor, so I call twice a week, every week to check for cancellations in the hopes of getting her in sooner. It hurts to see her hurt.

She is dealing with the emotional issues that come with this right along with the physical issues. This will most likely set her back almost a year at college. They don’t offer a lot of online options for pre-vet students and she won’t be able to attend class or even drive for several months. Her college is 70 miles from home so it isn’t like I can chauffeur her back and forth every day. We will figure it out, and hope that the college is willing to work with us. I keep telling her that it isn’t stopping her dreams, that it is just slowing them down a bit and that she will get there.

I worry about her all of the time. I worry about her twin all of the time too, but she is out there on her own in her own place and working two jobs. She has become completely self-sufficient and even if she didn’t follow her college dreams, I couldn’t be more proud of her. I am so proud of both of them. Madison is ever resilient and stubborn and difficult but those are the things that will get her through this. For now we are preparing the house (yes, the one that I am trying not to lose) for wheelchair accessibility and getting ready to face the dreaded recovery.

Wish us luck, and if you are the praying sort… pray for her strength. I will take care of her every step of the way, but she really needs strength right now.

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