Young, Hip, and Horsey
A story of determination, the love for a horse and Perthes.
Hello! I am Poppy, a twenty seven year old mother of super pony Pea. This is the story of our lives together following our dressage dreams after a total hip replacement in June 2018.
My Legg Calve Perthes journey began 20 years ago when my 6 year old self started to complain to my mum about pain in my leg after ballet, swimming and PE. Initial visits to the GP provided no diagnosis, in fact they thought it was an issue with my knee. When we moved to Devon our new GP had experience of Perthes and finally an explanation was given for my pain.
The specialists at Plymouth hospital concluded that I would need a femoral osteotomy in order to put me in the best position moving forwards which I had at the age of 8. Prior to my surgery they said that if they didn’t have the right sized metal piece to pin my hip together I would have to have hip spica plaster too. I was one of the lucky ones! I didn’t have plaster but I did have half a term off school and a steady recovery from wheelchair to crutches and onwards.
The biggest thing about my Perthes as a child was not the stints in hospital (first for my osteotomy and again to remove the metal) although I have some fairly unpleasant memories of that time but the restrictions placed upon me. No running, no riding, no ballet, no PE. Some kids would do anything to miss PE but I was certainly not one of those!
Swimming was my one allowed sport and along with my siblings, I joined the local swimming club and continued to swim a few times a week, even representing my university at waterpolo. Perthes didn’t completely hold me down, I walked up Dartmoor hills (initially whilst I was still on crutches and later using a walking stick) and even did my Bronze D of E. I learned to ride a bike and went on many caravan holidays where we cycled through the New Forest. Sometimes I pushed the boundaries of what I was meant to do. I remember doing a biathlon and crying my way around the run because I was (1) so pleased with myself for doing it and (2) in so much pain.
Sometimes I pushed the boundaries of what I was meant to do.”
The pain never went away but I learnt to live with it, achieving a careful balance between pushing myself and suffering for it! When I was 21 and in my first full time proper job I started the ultimate test for my hip – horse riding. I had always been fairly obsessed with horses but if you think of all
the things unsuitable for someone with a hip problem, riding has got to be near the top of the list. Nevertheless, I started riding. It hurt, but I was hooked. I was willing to accept the pain in order to get the other benefits I felt from riding and swiftly went from a weekly rider to a pony owner! Editors Note: Hippotherapy is in fact recommended to maintain a good range of motion!
When Plymouth hospital signed me off at the age of 16 they said at some point I would need an early hip replacement and when the pain got worse it was time to get back into the system. I didn’t think that point would come in my early 20s but it did. I went from my GP to physio, back to my GP, to my local hospital, to more physio and finally to a young active hip specialist in Bristol. He was happy to do a replacement when I felt the time was right and after much personal turmoil, an ineffective cortisone injection and ultimately having to leave my job, the time was right.
In June 2018, at the grand old age of 26, I had a total hip replacement on my left hip. I am now 3 months along the road to recovery, gradually getting back to a new kind of normal life and slowly getting back on my pony. I can already say that it was absolutely the right decision to make and I am excited to see where this new hip takes me!
If you would like to hear more about my Legg Calve Perthes experience and the details of my hip replacement and subsequent recovery you can find me: