The Luck Of The Irish
No, it is not March 17th! Kasey celebrates all 365 days of a year. She has the wind at her back and the sun on her face, in fact!
Kasey's hip journey started when, as a 30 year old, she received the news that she had bilateral hip dysplasia/acetabular retroversion. For 20 years, she competed as a gymnast. Her experience up to that point with hip pain was limited to frequent hip flexor and hamstring pain that tended to be persistent. After competing collegiately in gymnastics for 4 years, she "retired from gymnastics and immersed [herself] in the world of dance. [She] found a passion for Irish dancing in [her] mid-20s, and began to compete and really take it seriously. Kasey shares that she "began cross training to get stronger [and] started having these on and off flare-ups deep into [her] hip joints and started to feel pinching in the front of [her] hips every time [she] went from sitting to standing (like in a car)." Her hamstrings also began screaming at her weekly during her dance classes. At one point the flare in her left hip decided it was going to stay. She then began experiencing that horrible joint grinding, burning in her joint during all of her daily activities. The pain had decided it was going to accompany her during other times in addition to the dance classes.
Casey is very fortunate. Or should I say lucky? She saw her local sports orthopedist who diagnosed her with hip dysplasia and a labral tear at her first appointment. This early diagnosis led to a prompt referral to a hip preservation specialist. She had a right PAO in November 2020. She is feeling amazing and is back to competitive Irish Dancing!
Kasey's big "ah ha" moment was when she realized how much she needs and uses her hip in her lifestyle of Irish dancing. She is also an athletic trainer which means lots of running, squatting, lifting. Her sport requires that that her hips listen to her now as she needs extreme ranges of hip motion and strength to be successful. She feels that in order to continue with her passion of Irish Dancing, and in order to support her lifestyle, her rehab required even more than an average diligence so she could get back to her high baseline.
That hard work, dedication and diligence allowed her to start competing again in Irish Dance 9 months post-op and placed in the top half in her very first competition back! Kasey said, "I felt like the hard work that I put in really paid off and I took a moment to appreciate that. I'm also proud to say that I am about 90% back to full range of motion and strength in my surgical hip (minus some rectus femoris dysfunction that I am still actively improving on), which again took a lot of work and collaboration with my physical therapist to get there!"
Kasey also understands the psychology of recovery. She states, "the mental aspect of this recovery (and any recovery) is huge. I would not have made even half of the progress that I made if I didn't put in the time for rehabilitation after my LPAO. My surgeon did a fantastic job and while I was fortunate to not have post-surgical complications, the surgery alone would not have fixed the problem. While my physical therapist gave me the tools to get stronger and supported this process with hands-on treatment, it was up to me to maximize my recovery. And that all came from the psychology from within - my determination, willpower, and persistence."
She found that her internal strength helped her to be able to build up her body, but also the online hip dysplasia community was crucial for her in every part of her hip journey. Talking to other people about their experiences helped her make her own better decisions with my hip and reminded me constantly that she was not alone. Kasey shares, "It helped me decide to actually go through with a PAO, to choose my surgeon, calm my anxieties before and after surgery, help me feel encouraged/grateful/reassured, and allowed me to help others in a similar situation after I had gone through it." She really believes that the global support of the hip community gave her insights and tricks and tools to be successful.
I asked Kasey what was one thing that she thought could undo the work (from a psychological standpoint) that a surgeon had done. Kasey states, "post-surgical rehabilitation is just as much mental as it is physical. Having a good surgeon and physical therapist is imperative, but not putting the work in each week I feel could undo the surgeon's work. The surgeon fixes the angles, but it cannot be supported unless the individual regains strength, range of motion, and control of the hip afterwards. It's a team effort, but the individual has to be an active player in this."
Kasey also repeated to herself, "It will get better." She feels that is is "as simple as that. On the days [she] couldn't believe that mantra [herself], [she] had someone else in [her] corner say it to [her] instead. Seeing others in the online community post success stories and work through their issues helped [her] believe it - even [as she] read those posts with my own frustrated tears streaming down my face. [She] knew better days were ahead, even if [she] didn't make a full recovery, [she] told herself [she]would find something else to make [her] happy and would subsequently still be "better" than where [she] was on that hard day that [she] was having.
She also believes just like this Hopeful Hippie that positivity rules in recovery. "Positivity impacts the brain in powerful ways. Holding onto anything positive in this recovery is going to result in a better outcome. Also staying focused, having a goal. [Kasey's] goal was to be able to compete in Irish dance again and for many more years down the road. [She] kept that goal stored somewhere in [her] brain at all times. Maybe [she] didn't focus on it every day, but when [she] started to get down on [herself], [she] reminded [herself] what was important to [her]. This is where persistence comes into play, not giving up on what may be possible."
Another strategy she used was the use of visualization. She would paint a picture of her success. She would enumerate her goals in her mind. It allowed her to set her expectations for success. It allowed her to see the journey and to understand that there could be detours and bumpy roads, but it also allowed for the "warm sun to shine on her face" so she could smile with satisfaction, confidence and pride.