As Lisa settled into the leather saddle and tightened her legs around the sides of a 1,200-pound sport horse, she reflected back on a day, eight weeks ago, when she thought she would never ride her beloved horse — or any horse ever again. Lisa had been an avid equestrian all her life, as well as a horse trainer for more than 20 years, so the thought of giving up this passion was crushing to her. This is her story in her own words.
Problems from Birth
I knew that one day I would have to face my new reality and give up my active lifestyle as a horse trainer, succumbing to a walker or even worse a wheelchair.
I was born with severe hip dysplasia, more commonly referred to as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). My hips had a severe 90 degree rotation. Even as a growing adolescent, I was warned by numerous orthopedic doctors that I would need a hip replacement by time I turned 35 years old. Although I lived my life boldly and turned my hobby of horse riding into a career, I lived with constant discomfort and felt the awkwardness in my hips on a daily basis.
One day everything came tumbling down! I had just returned from a horseback riding trip in Portugal and I was in excruciating pain. I could barely walk and after a few days I wasn’t getting better. I’d made it this far living with hip discomfort, however, now at age 58, I no longer had any strength and suddenly couldn’t use my right leg. I tried to defy the pain and get on my horse again, but I fell down to the ground. I was devastated. This reality engulfed me like a black cloud.
What will I do if I can’t ride? How do I replace a passion I’ve had my entire life – a passion that kept me going when everyone else told me to stop? How will I redefine myself? I am a rider! I was overwhelmed and I couldn’t let this happen to me.
Searching for a Solution
I knew I needed to act fast and decided to contact the Joint Center at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center . The first thing that struck me about the Joint Center was the very experienced staff and the abundance of information they provided. They held a workshop that explained every detail of joint replacement. They also gave me a folder that documented all the information I received during the workshop. This wealth of information provided comfort and understanding about the journey I was about to embark on.
When I met Dr. Rabah Qadir, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Memorial Hermann The Woodlands, I was sold! He was very knowledgeable and confident as he explained the surgical procedure, but what really affected me was his understanding of my passion and my extreme fear of never being able to ride horses again. He discussed the precautions I needed to be aware of when having joint replacement surgery, and then he looked me in the eye and said, “You will ride again.”
When I woke up from surgery, a nurse from the Joint Center came into my room and greeted me, checked my vitals, and said it was time to get up and walk. I was struck by the confidence in her voice and I realized it wasn’t an order — it was assurance that walking was going to be easily accomplished. And it was. I got up and walked! I couldn’t believe it. I felt good and my body felt aligned and straight. Then, in just 24 hours and two physical therapy sessions later, I was on my way home to begin my outpatient journey. I vividly remember standing by my bed and swinging my right leg with such ease. I have never felt that in my entire life!
Getting back on the horse – literally!
Eight weeks later, with that same easy swing, my right leg gently skimmed over my horse’s back and I sat down in the saddle. Sitting there, I actually began to tear up, but I had the same confidence that the nurse had for me the day of my surgery…of course I can do this, why not? I pressed both my legs into my horse’s side, let’s get to work – and ride.
The Joint Center at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center offers a multi-disciplinary team approach to help patients reach their joint health goals. From pre-surgical education and surgery, to recovery and at-home support, the Joint Center team supports patients every step of the way. For more information or to make an appointment today, click here.