Surgery and Second Opinions

Jodi Shenal's avatar

by Jodi Shenal
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When your child needs an operation, the anxiety and fear can be crushing. 

Even when it’s a minor operation, your mind races with worry because SURGERY is a scary word. 

Anytime anesthesia is involved, especially if your child has special needs, panic can quickly set in.  When my daughter needed major hip surgery, these emotions were overwhelming.

My daughter was born with a rare genetic disorder, and one of the common features of it is congenital hip dysplasia.  

We began seeing an Orthopedic Specialist when she was three years old. We were told that her hips popped in and out of their sockets and in the future, this could cause early onset Arthritis. 

Picturing my baby as an adolescent in constant pain, this was very frightening. We met with our specialist many times, looked over several x-rays, and tried various methods to “fix” her hips in a non-invasive way. 

Nothing worked. Each time, the x-rays looked the same. No improvement. 

Our specialist waivered back and forth at each visit…once he told us that since she’ll “never run a marathon”, surgery wasn’t 100% necessary. 

At another visit, he told us that even with crawling, the demand placed on her hips was high. The surgery he recommended would entail cutting into both of her femurs. It was risky and there was a chance of severe blood loss.  The mere thought of this made me want to pass out, but knowing we wanted her to live free from pain, we seriously began considering the procedure.

In order to reassure ourselves that we were making the right decision, after two years with this specialist, we sought out a second opinion. 

On the anxiously anticipated day of our consultation with the new Orthopedic Surgeon, we quickly realized that fate had stepped in. 

This doctor worked in a beautiful Orthopedic Children’s Hospital, and the environment was completely warm and inviting. Within minutes of meeting him and hearing his impressive credentials, we started to feel some relief. 

He confirmed from her x-rays that surgery was necessary, if we wanted to enhance her quality of life. 

When I told him that we didn’t know if she would ever walk, he responded in the most incredible way. “I’ve seen plenty of miracles happen.”

Then, talking over the procedure, he explained that she needed Dega and VDRO surgeries done. This meant that the femurs would both have to be cut and the femoral head (ball) of each would need to be repositioned. 

Also, her acetabulum (socket) on both sides would need to be reshaped. That was a great deal of information to swallow. 

Our new specialist was a pro at these procedures and made us feel as comfortable as possible in the given situation. He explained it all in a way we hadn’t quite understood before. He also told us something else that ultimately sealed the deal for us. “My team and I will pray over her before we begin her surgery.” That meant a lot to two scared parents. 

We held our breath, and scheduled the surgery.

After a few months of dreading the upcoming surgery date, we took our five year old in and handed her over to this man. 

We were filled with tears and it was gut-wrenching to let her go.  But we had the feeling that she was in the best of hands. 

He was gentle and caring and he put us at ease with his positive attitude and kind demeanor. 

He emerged over three hours later and greeted us with a hug and wonderful news.  Our daughter had done extremely well and there was minimal blood loss. Weights were lifted and we knew the road to recovery ahead would be tough, but she had made it through. 

We had absolutely chosen the right surgeon.

Fast-forward 11 months….she recovered amazingly well and we are without a doubt glad we had the procedure done. 

She’s since been back there for another surgery to remove the hardware placed in her hips, and we were again met with his gentle and expert care. 

Second opinions can be a wonderful thing…I’m glad we trusted our gut and looked elsewhere, finding this fantastic surgeon.  

We now have some fabulous x-rays, showing off perfect hips and a happy, thriving daughter to show for it.

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