Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Definition of Thankful

feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.


I find it so appropriate to post around Thanksgiving. Thursday, November 28, was Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. The general purpose of our holiday is to be cognizant of all the things in your life that you should be thankful for, and to outwardly recognize them.

Well…I am thankful for so many things, especially this year. There are numerous things that this surgery has taught me, things I never expected to learn going into it. I learned a lot about myself, and about my family and friends. I learned about my body and its strengths and weaknesses. I mostly learned, though, that I have a lot to be thankful for.

I don’t want to cheapen my gratefulness by writing something on here that I should be saying to all of my loved ones every day…but this is a great a place as any to start…right?

Firstly, I have to say that I am thankful for a graceful God who allowed me to have a challenge that I had to learn to endure and eventually overcome. These things made me a better person. I am thankful for the guidance I received during recovery. And ultimately for what turned into a smooth and somewhat seamless full recovery. I have been very lucky and no one knows that more than I do.

Right behind the big guy, I really have to say that I am extremely thankful for my husband. That guy doesn’t get nearly enough credit for everything he has done for me over the last 5 years, never mind the last two years preparing and recovering from PAO. And while this blog directly discusses my surgeries…everyone needs to realize that this man has literally kept me sane through some of the most difficult times in my life. I really don’t know where I’d be without him. During recovery there were some extremely trying moments for both of us…and he never even batted an eye. It was, to say the least, the most humbling experience of my life. Watching him, it was so obvious to see how much he loves me. And that he would do whatever was needed of him to help me…in every aspect of my life. THAT, my friends, is what love and marriage is all about. I am a lucky girl.

I am so, so thankful for Dr. Schiller. Being referred to him was one of the best things to happen to me. I think I’ve said this about a hundred times, but that guy has changed my life for the better. I will say it a million times, if that’s what it takes to get my point across. Dr. S and PAO has made me different person. I can live a normal life…and that’s not something to ever take for granted.

I’m thankful for my mom: another person who doesn’t get enough credit, in my opinion. Besides all the obvious work put into birthing me and all that jazz; during my recovery she took time off of 3 jobs to care for me several times a week for longer than I care to admit. She was a trooper. She would get to my house before 7, help me out of bed, get me my medications, my breakfast, help me to the bathroom, clean the house when it needed it…I mean…everything! She had to step in and take care of me so that Matt could go to work and try and keep a steady pace of things while I recovered. She was amazing…never complained one bit about any of it. She was a pleasure to be around, as usual, and made recovery so much easier. 

I'm thankful for my in-laws, who, regardless of going through a trying time, drove almost an hour to my house to care for me several times a week while Matt tried to keep things steady on the work front. They were so helpful, cleaning up the house where needed and when asked…without question. Making my afternoon coffee, just the way I like it. Keeping me company and trying to make sure I didn’t go completely nuts from sitting in the chair every day for what seemed like years and years. They are the best, I couldn’t have asked for more caring and supportive in-laws.

There are so many other people to be thankful for: my friends and other family who were so supportive through all of this, bringing food and helping out around the house. It’s true, what they say, that you find out who your friends are in real times of need. It was amazing to see everyone step up and help us when we really needed it, without even asking! We had friends rotating nights and bringing us whole meals several nights a week for WEEKS so that Matt didn't have to worry about making dinner! That was an amazing help! The support from our friends and family was really, beyond amazing. Looking back on it now, I probably couldn’t see the forest through the trees at the time…so I hope that they all know how thankful I am for everything each and every one of them did for us! We have such great friends and family.

To close, I am thankful for many, many things: health and happiness, a good home and a great family, friends that make me smile and are always there for me, and many many more things. I could go on all day about how thankful I am for this life that I am living. I can’t begin to explain how fortunate I feel, and how lucky I really am. I am a happy, thankful, lucky, grateful girl…sometimes overwhelmingly so! 

I guess all that's really left to say is thank you.

-D xoxo

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Gratitude, Abound.

My one year appointment was Thursday of last week. I wanted to share the letter I wrote for my surgeon. It's a fantastic summation of my feelings as of late. 


To my most favorite Doctor,

I need you to know, my life is totally different now.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I could write this letter to you, and many times I’ve seemed to come up short; not able to relay my true level of gratefulness. I’ve found it to be impossible to fully put into words. However, I’m going to try.

Before PAO, my life was based on decisions; decision that were completely dictated by levels of pain. “Can I go to the store after work? Or will my hip hurt too much by then?” “It’s Saturday, but we can only run two errands because I can’t walk for more than a few minutes at a time.” “I should take a carriage around the grocery store, I will need it to help me get around.” “How many pain killers should I take this morning to dull the pain?”

Many days, I was too exhausted to even think about running errands. My hip had gotten best of me more often than I care to admit.

I have to be honest…I had lived with it for so long that I really didn’t even know how bad it really was. It was just life as I knew it. I didn’t know how bad it was, until I was so, so good. I am now so good.

As I progress in my recovery, it is becoming clearer and clearer how much this surgery has genuinely changed my life. It was life changing. Those words are often used in dramatic fashion, but in this instance they are completely, 100% true.

My milestones have been plentiful, and happen rather often. I don’t want to bore you with what seems like millions of amazing moments since PAO, but I do feel like I need to share some of these things with you. You need to understand just how meaningful your work is, and how much life you have given back to me.

My youngest brother got married in June. I was ecstatic 2 years ago when I was chosen as a bridesmaid…and I knew I’d be pretty far along in recovery by then. His wedding became one of my personal major milestones for recovery. I knew that not only did I want to walk down the aisle with no assistance devices; I wanted to walk down the aisle pain free, as well. On June 15, I completed my task as bridesmaid. Better yet, I reached my personal goal and I walked down the aisle at my brother’s wedding. Instead of limping down the aisle and worrying about my hip buckling in pain, I watched my brother’s face glow as he prepared to see his bride. That was a really fantastic moment for me both personally, and as an emotional moment for my family.

In August, Matt and I traveled to California. We spent 8 days seeing the sites and taking in as much of San Francisco and Los Angeles as we could. Leading up to vacation, I had worked hard at physical therapy to get to a point where I could walk correctly, pain free, and without fatigue for the entire trip. I am happy to tell you that not only did I not have any pain at all in the hip throughout the entire trip, but there were 2 different days that I logged over 10,000 steps. One of these days, I walked 18,000 steps. 18,000 steps! An entire day of walking the hills of San Francisco, and I didn’t need to stop once to rest because my hip hurt too much. And while that is an amazing feat in and of itself, what is even more amazing is that I didn’t even think of my hip that day. Dr. Schiller, I walked 18,000 steps without even thinking about my hip. At the end of the day, I glanced down at my pedometer and nearly cried with joy. That may seem silly, but that is something I’ve not ever experienced.

These events, with the tens of thousands of steps, are now frequent from week to week. I am doing things every day that I never ever would have even thought of doing.  I am doing 12-14 hour workdays in the woods, and I’m not even batting an eye. I can walk, hike, climb, step…I can do everything that I should have always been able to do. 

I had a moment today, a simple moment that won’t seem like much to most people. I got up from my chair at work; I walked across the office, and went down an entire flight of stairs. This seems so absurd, I’m sure. But, what I’m not saying is that I did all of this correctly. I didn’t have to carefully stand up, and I didn’t have bend down gingerly to grab my workbag. When I walked across the office, I walked upright, with perfect posture. I took full, long, graceful steps. I extended my legs and when I took the step up and over my hip joint, I didn’t flinch at the thought of hip buckling. When I traveled down the stairs, I did so confidently. I didn’t walk down facing sideways and carefully bring my leg down each step. I descended the steps just like my other co-workers did.

It was a simple moment, and it wasn’t the first time this had happened. It was just one of the times that I actually realized how fortunate I am to be able to do these things correctly now.

Like I said, I couldn’t comprehend how bad I really was, until I realized where I am today.

To close, this recovery has taught me many, many things. It’s taught me patience, and more patience (and then more patience). It’s taught me how to ask for help when I need it, and to accept it when it’s offered. It’s taught me that it’s okay to rely on others; if you surround yourself with the right people, they’ll always come through. It’s taught me the meaning of hard work, and that physical therapy is not just physical…it’s mental therapy, too.
This recovery has taught me many, many things. However, of all the things I’ve learned, the most important thing I’ve learned is gratitude, abound. I wake every day and the first thing I think of is how grateful I am for my new hip. Every time I get up from my chair, or I stroll across the parking lot at work, or I even just get up to go to the kitchen in my house, I am grateful. I am grateful for comfortable sitting positions, and to sleep soundly through the night. I am thankful for long days out and about with my best friend and husband, Matt. I am thankful for never having to turn down a day of shopping with my mom because my hip will never be able to keep up. I am grateful for a normal life, doing normal things. I am so filled with gratitude that I am bursting at the seams.

Above every other thing, I am most thankful for you. I am thankful that I found University Orthopedics, and that I somehow made my way into your care. I am thankful for your talents, for your support, and for your encouragement. What you’ve given me is worth more than any amount of money in the world. Thank you for every single appointment, for the diagnosis, and for the recommendation of PAO. Thank you for completing the surgery in such a skillful way, so that I can be where I am today. I’ve been blessed to have such a seamless recovery from such a daunting procedure…that is all, no doubt, because of you. So, thank you. I am forever grateful for this new life that I am living. I will be sure to never, ever take a moment of it for granted.

Eternally grateful,
Danielle Gallant
RPAO – 10/26/12
Right Arthroscope – 3/18/13

P.S. – I have been keeping track of my entire PAO experience on a blog that I thought you might like to see. I’ve documented all my trials and tribulations, and my triumphs and my milestones. All my thoughts since first deciding on the PAO are written down there. The web address for the blog is below:


I'm not sure there's much else to say. At the end of the appointment I was told to schedule an appointment for 1 year from now. Amazing. I will go a whole year without an appointment or trip to the hospital. My first real year without hip worries. I can't wait to see where it takes me.

Thanks all,
Talk soon,
D xox

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Hip Journey Through Photographs

A hip journey in photographs.
Here I am with my brothers Christian and Andrew. This is a good shot of my body cast. It went from my toes to my chest.

Here's me and my brother Jody. I'm young here, as you can tell. Another picture of my body cast. It went from my toes to my chest.

My daddy and I. You can see my body cast in this picture. It went from my toes up to my chest.

X-Ray 12-30-10. Extreme lack of coverage on right side. Center Edge angle is -11.
X-Ray 12-30-10. On X-ray Table, lateral shot.
Findings: Severe right hip dysplasia with uncovering anteriorly and laterally. Loss of joint space superiorly with lateral subluxation of the femoral head.

X-Ray 12-30-10. Standing X-Ray weight bearing.
X-Ray 12-30-10. Frogger position.
Findings: There is severe right hip dysplasia with lateral upsloping of the acetabulum end significant subchondral sclerosis along superolateral margin. There is narrowing of the joint space, early osteophyte formation, and mild later subluxation. Overall Impression: severe right hip dysplasia with early osteoarthritis and lateral subluxation.
3D CT 1-14-12. Top of joint looking down into it.
3D CT 1-14-12. Front of joint looking in.
Overall findings of study: Congenital  severe hip dysplasia. Subchondral sclerosis and cyst formation along superior acetabulum. Mild flattening and irregularity of the right femoral head.

Steriod Injection with contrast for imaging 1-23-12. Notice the needle coming in on the left-hand side. Yikes!

CT with contrast 1-23-12. Labrum images. There were many of these. I'm not a doctor and have no idea what this means! Just thought it was interesting.
Findings: Marked uncovering of superior and anterior femoral head. Posterior labrum normal. Superior labrum is moderately enlarged. Focal detachment of the superior labral base from 11:30 position anteriorly, with maceration of the anterior labrum to approximately 5:00. There is full thickness chondromalacia of the anterior-superior acetabular cartilage with cyst formation. Paralabral ganglion at 12:30 up to 12mm. At least partial tearing in ligamentum teres. 
Arthrographic photo (I think?) directly before surgery 10-26-12. 8:30 AM, right before starting!

X-Ray 10-26-12. 2:50 PM Directly after surgery in the recovery room. 

10-30-12. Enjoying Dunkin' post-RPAO on hospital discharge day. 
10-30-12. Up and ready to go on discharge day!
LOOT of prescriptions when I first came home.
Pillow fort we made so I could try and sleep at night.
X-Ray 11-8-12. Post-op appointment X-Ray.
Findings: 4 screws securing bony fragments. Two screws extend from acetabular roof towards sacroiliac joint and the third long screw appears to extend from anterior iliac crest towards the ischial spine. 
X-Ray 11-8-12. Post-op appointment.

11-20-13. My first real outing, taking my new wheels for a spin!
Thanksgiving 2012, recovering with a glass of wine.
PAO hospital bill

X-Ray 12-6-12 - RPAO-ed hip.
Findings: No hardware failure. Osteotomy defects are healing. 

12-9-12. Oh, the blasted scooter. And yes, we LOVE Target. 
12-12-12. Walking for the first time post-RPAO!
X-Ray 1-17-13.
Findings: Stable fixation screws with no complication. No definite osseous bridging of the right superior pubic rami defect. 

X-Ray 2-28-13.
Findings: Increased bone callus formation to suggest further healing.
3-18-13 Back under the knife! Arthroscopic surgery to fix torn labrum and microfracture to create cartilage.

3-2013. Incisions from Arthroscope.
Hospital bill from Arthroscopic procedure.

Scars from both procedures.

CPM-ing it!
My personal parking spot for recovery. Gotta love the handicap plate.
Relay for Life of Cumberland. Organized this event and had to spend nearly the whole 2 days on my feet coordinating with people and vendors. 5-31-2013

Walking down the aisle as a bridesmaid at my brother's wedding. 6-15-2013

A ~20,000 step day in San Francisco. 8-20-2013

X-Ray 10-31-13. Frogger.
Findings: Stable alignment of previously identified periacetabular osteotomy with intact hardware and no evidence of complication. Improved coverage of the femoral heads bilaterally. No evidence of osseous bridging of the superior pubic rami.

X-Ray 10-31-13. Front of hips.

X-Ray 10-31-13. False profile. 
10-31-13. Dr. Schiller and I at my 1 year appointment! What a difference a year makes!

It's amazing to see the time lapse, for me. I can relive each of these moments as they happened and remember where I was in my journey.

Hope you enjoyed. I'll post later on my 1-Year appointment with Dr. S today.