Hip dysplasia is when you are born with your femur dislocated from your hip socket, although most people know it as a hereditary disease most frequently associated with dogs. It usually manifests from birth, is most common in firstborn girls and is caused in part by breech birth.
Although if you ask my dad, he’ll swear the doctor was responsible.
I was born with left hip dysplasia, which meant lots of X-rays as a baby to determine if the doctor could “fix” what was wrong with me. The solution involved a brace (similar to the one in the picture above), a spica cast and took almost nine months of my early physical development.
I don’t remember much about my time in the cast, but it must have been difficult for all those involved. It’s bad enough having a cast on both legs when you can walk and take care of yourself. Can you even imagine what it must have been like to take care of a baby in cast like this?
Fortunately for my parents, the doctor setting the cast was thinking of the hard times they were going to encounter when he fashioned a handle for the back of my cast. My parents had a convenient way of picking me up and carrying me around. I was like a baby suitcase. Worn down my entire left leg and half of my right, the cast forced me to drag myself around on my arms because normal crawling was not possible.
The first time I put much thought into any of my early developmental experiences was in my last quarter of massage school. I had a teacher who did a lot of somatic patterning and thought it most interesting when she heard of my situation as an infant. For an assignment in her class, we were given a list of questions to ask our mothers about our birth story.
It was interesting to hear my parents talk about my time wearing the cast. They said that everything was ten times harder than with any other baby but that they always knew where I was with that thing on. Family members thought it was adorable to see me drag myself and the cast around. And then, when the doctor took the cast off, I started walking right away. I never crawled like a “normal” child.
(Interesting side note: I never took the bottle either, but that’s a completely different story.)
Like lots of older dogs, I seem to have a harder time with my hip as I age. There is lots of stretching, arnica, massage therapy and rolling around on tennis balls. What’s amazing is that I’ve always been able to do whatever I wanted to physically, from running a marathon to hiking over a thousand miles, without giving the slightest thought to my birth condition.
It simply never occurred to me that something that I went through more than 30 years ago would have such a far-reaching impact on my body. But, as I’m realizing, that’s what life is all about.