Tell us about your family…
I’m Helen and I live with my husband Marc, son Harrison and daughter Ruby, in Hampshire.
Harrison is your star – tell us his story…
Harrison always had a slight waddle when he walked but not really different to most toddlers. A few months after he turned 2 I noticed him standing in just a nappy and although he had both feet flat on the floor, one of his knees was bent. To me it looked like he had one leg a bit longer than the other. Some days it seemed obvious and others I thought I was imagining it.
I took him to the GP who agreed there was a bit of a discrepancy so referred him to orthopaedics at Southampton General Hospital. Almost 3 months later we went for the appointment where we were sent for an investigatory X-ray. I was pregnant so I had to wait behind the screen and could instantly tell from the image that something was wrong with one hip.
He was diagnosed and due to his age we were told the only option was surgery. It was a complete bolt out of the blue. He had passed his 6 week and 1 year hip checks, walked at 13 months and had no uneven creases, no family history and wasn’t breech.
He had an open reduction and femoral osteotomy that summer aged 2 years, 8 months and a dega osteotomy 6 weeks later. I was in the late stages of pregnancy and was carrying round a near 3 year old in cast! At cast off everything seemed ok but at the 3 month check we were crushed when the X-ray showed the hip had worked its way out again. We had a repeat femoral osteotomy 12 months after the first, aged 3.5 years, 13 weeks in cast with a cast change halfway and then night braces for 6 weeks.
Harrison dealt with all the surgeries and casts like an absolute champ. He’s had to learn to walk again twice but nothing has got him down. He has honestly been our hero throughout his journey so far.
What’s the current situation with Harrison? What does the future look like?
Harrison is now almost 6 and the last few check ups have been ok. The hip is still no where near perfect but it’s in a good position and is now developing unlike before. They are considering whether to carry out further surgery to the socket. The future remains a bit uncertain but for now he’s happy, healthy and importantly- pain free.
He has a 2cm discrepancy, which was worsened by the deep varus femoral osteotomies but he wears a shoe insert and most people don’t realise there is anything wrong.
They will consider surgery to his growth plate to even this out when he gets closer to 12 if it doesn’t even out on its own.
What do you wish you’d known before?
I wish I’d known how difficult life after cast would initially be. I’d been so focused on cast off day and I had visions of him walking out of the hospital with a big grin on his face. In reality he was stiff, weak, in pain and terrified. It really wasn’t a day to celebrate for us.
Can you offer any advice to others in a similar situation?
That no matter how impossible it seems you will do it! I had no idea how I would manage being heavily pregnant but I just took each day at a time and figured it out. I used to sit him on my lap to get us down the stairs. I took all the help offered from friends and family. Importantly for Harrison I tried to carry on as normal. I didn’t hide him away at home. We went to toddler groups, theme parks, zoos, farms.. everything!
Is there anyone you’d like to mention or thank?
Our friends and families were all amazing but my sister Clare went above and beyond. She came down regularly despite being over an hour away and having two children of her own. She helped me get out and about, she watched our baby so we wouldn’t have to take her to hospital all day for cast changes and she signed Harrison up to an online craft club so he got sent things to do every couple of weeks.