Before Perthes

Sometimes it’s best to start at the beginning.

I was a child of the 80’s. My earliest memories are filtered with a reddish sepia hue; faces smiling, hands reaching out to pick me up, and being surrounded always by toys, dolls, and musical instruments. The sweet sounds of my dad’s guitar playing and my mom’s vivacious laughter were my earliest soundtrack.

My older sister Karen and I were the only two kids in the family, but we always had friends around. My mom was a big proponent of “gallivanting,” a.k.a. driving from town to town visiting one friend after another. Those were the days when you could stop by someone’s house and say “What are you doing? We came to visit!” It was a wonderfully spontaneous existence and every day felt like a new adventure.

I took my cabbage patch doll, Tracy, with me everywhere, and as I got older, my sister and I would sing Madonna and Michael Jackson songs as we danced around the house in our pajamas.

I loved to perform from an early age, and would take any opportunity to get up on stage and sing. Whether it was my dad’s band playing on a float in a parade and me sitting on the edge singing along and waving at the crowd, or a school recital where I wore a costume and sang songs with my class; I felt at home in the spotlight.

It wasn’t until I was in first grade that we had any idea that something was wrong. By then, I was six years old, and had been having increasing pain in my left thigh and knee. My parents chalked it up to a pulled muscle initially, as I had taken my share of tumbles throughout the past year running around in our yard and playing with my friends.

I remember one day I was walking down the hall at school and an older boy pointed to me and said “You’re limping!”

“No I’m not!” I replied. (I didn’t know what limping was and my immediate reaction to anything I didn’t understand was, apparently, denial.)

“Yes you are,” he said.

It wasn’t long before my mom took me to the doctor for a cold, and mentioned that I had been limping lately. The doctor took one look at my walk, and sent us off for an X-ray. That day I was evaluated by multiple doctors, and by the end of the day we were sent to Shriner’s Hospital. It was there that, at the age of seven, I learned that I had Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease of the left hip.

From that day forward, everything changed.

(To learn more about that day and my initial diagnosis, check out my About page. Thanks for reading!)

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