As Lisa climbed onto her leather saddle and tightened her legs around the sides of her beloved horse, she thought back on a day, eight weeks prior, when she believed she would never ride a horse again. Lisa had been a devoted equestrian her entire life, as well as a horse trainer for more than 20 years, and the thought of giving up her passion broke her heart. This is her story:
I was sure that one day I would have to face the harsh reality of giving up my active lifestyle and passion as a horse trainer, caving into the use of a walker or wheelchair.
I was born with severe hip dysplasia, most commonly known as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DHH). My hips had a 90 degree rotation. Even as a growing teen, I was warned by numerous orthopedic specialists that I would likely need hip replacement surgery by the time I was 35 years old. Although I lived my life fearlessly and turned my hobby of horseback riding into a career and passion, I lived with constant pain and discomfort, with the awkwardness in my hips on a daily basis.
One day, my life took a turn. I had just returned from a riding trip in Portugal and was in tremendous pain. I could barely walk and after several days, the feeling of relief was nowhere in sight. Though I had lived my entire life with discomfort and pain, at 58 years old with no strength and no ability to use my right leg, I was discouraged. I tried to ignore the pain and get on my horse, but immediately fell to the ground. I was devastated. This new reality engulfed me like a dark cloud.
What will I do if I can't ride again? How can I replace a passion I've built my life around? How will I redefine myself? I am a horseback rider! I can't let this happen to me.
I wasn't going to let hip pain define me any longer. I knew I needed to act fast, so I contacted the Joint Center at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center. The first thing that stuck out to me about the Joint Center was the experienced staff and the abundance of information about hip pain treatments they had available to me. They held a workshop that explained in-depth the details of joint replacement surgery. This abundance of information provided comfort and understanding about the journey I was soon to embark on.
When I met Dr. Rabah Qadir, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center, I was sold! He was very confident and knowledgeable as he explained the joint replacement procedure. What really feel comfortable in my decision was his understanding of my passion of teaching and riding and my fear of never being able to ride again. He discussed certain precautions associated with joint replacement surgery and then looked me in the eye and said, "You will ride again."
When I woke from surgery, a nurse from the Joint Center greeted me, checked my vitals, and said it was time to get up and walk. I was taken aback by the confidence in her voice and realized it wasn't an order. It was assurance that walking was going to be easily doable! And it was. I was able to get up and walk. I couldn't believe it. It felt right and my body was straight and aligned. In just 24 hours and two physical therapy sessions later, I was able to leave and begin my outpatient journey.
Eight weeks later, my right leg gently skimmed over my horse's back and I sat down on the saddle. Sitting there, I began to tear up, but I had the same confidence the nurse had after my surgery. Of course I can do this! Why not? I pressed both of my legs into my horse's side. Let's get to work and ride.