Where to begin? I guess with the best news…. Everything is going to be OK!
When we saw the surgeon this morning, we went in expecting the worse. I could
not imagine that he would be able to convince us that everything was normal….
“He’s going to have to show me…” said my husband. And he did. We were
skeptical, because he could see what we have been seeing. When Caitlin lies on
her back, her right leg is literally an inch longer, her knee an inch lower.
But the doctor explained that immediately after surgery, Caitlin had been
administered a lot of pain medications (which relax muscles) and
anti-inflammatories which kept the inflammation of the surgical site down.
After several days, the effects of those medications diminished. Combined with
her being mostly lying down with knees bent (the most comfortable position) –
this has caused the muscles in her right thigh, pelvic region and lower back to
contract. Essentially, they are pulling her leg down and to the side – giving
an “apparent” differential.
During the replacement of Caitlin’s left hip, the doctor actually had to make
an incision in the muscle on the front of her hip – to release the leg so it
could straighten. It was necessary because she had been walking with a bent,
shorter leg for almost a year. This time however, that incision was not
necessary, because her right leg was already straight. But ironically, the
contracting muscles have now made it almost impossible for her to lay flat and
put hers leg down flat, without arching her back way up. It’s that tight.
To make sure, the doctor took x-rays and then showed us the measurements on the
x-rays. Point to point on her legs, the differential measures very small – less
than .4cm. But the x-ray shows clearly that he hips are pulled way off kilter
by her muscles….. This thankfully will be corrected by lots of stretching and
physical therapy. So, we were seeing something totally different from the last
time… but thankfully, this is typical after hip replacement. I guess what we
didn’t know was how a-typical she was with her miraculously speedy recovery
To my daughter’s delight, the doctor ordered that she should probably stay out of school another week. She was due to go back Monday – but she’ll need some extra time to get
things stretched out and straight again before she’ll be cleared for the
activity of getting around middle school. Just in time for Thanksgiving, that
brought a huge smile to her face. I think at first he was a little upset that
we questioned this… but he could see what was going on and understood. He could
also see the fear on Caitlin’s face and knows what nightmares we had conjured
up with our unanswered fears. He really did push away the clouds and bring back
We saw her physical therapist this afternoon for the first post-op visit – and
she pointed out all of the muscles that are bound like rubber bands ready to
snap. She gave us some exercises to do, and some massage techniques, and we’ll
have two more appointments next week.
I know with the relief that things are OK, and are progressing normally –
Caitlin will get busy with recovery. I know she was holding back, because
things felt wrong to her. I know we weren’t pushing her because we weren’t
entirely sold either. The idea that we might have irreparably harmed our 12
year old daughter was too terrible to contemplate. Never has the weight of the
decisions we have made as JIA parents been so enormous.
Such a weight has been lifted!!!!! I am so very, very grateful. I have a
houseful of relatives that have been waiting for this green light to get busy
with good times… and now we have every reason to celebrate!
I wish everybody Thanksgiving blessings…..