I’m going to get in trouble for this. My younger sister, Lauren, who is my only sibling, doesn’t really like being the center of attention.
But here I am writing about her in the newspaper, with her permission, of course.
Lauren might have my parents change the locks so the next time I visit, I can’t get back in the house, which I imagine will make for a very entertaining column in the future. She’s probably been pushing the idea since the day I moved out anyway. That’s just the kind of relationship we have.
Lauren has hip dysplasia, which for those who are not familiar, is when the hip doesn’t sit properly in the socket. The biggest day-to-day problem with this is it hurts to walk long term. It wears out the cartilage in your leg and can lead to needing an early hip replacement.
She had three surgeries on her left hip for it last December and spent about five days in the hospital. Always the perfectionist, her case was bad enough that she needed a third procedure instead of the typical two.
The rehab, the doctor told us at the time, would probably take about six months. After that, they would be able to move on to her other hip, but rehab seems to be a little like construction — things are never done when they’re supposed to be. So here we sit nine months later and things have not gone at all like they were expected to.
There was talk that she might be able to have the other leg done in June, then in August, but here we are in September and her doctor had to stop her physical therapy. Her bones aren’t healing quickly enough and no one seems to know why.
Seriously, she’s seen three different doctors just about that and no one can figure out what the issue is. We like to tell her that she’s going to be a famous case study someday, and her doctor will be giving talks about her case at conferences.
But this isn’t really about her surgery; it’s about the way she’s handled everything that’s happened since. She should be starting her second year at Colorado State University, but instead, college is on hold indefinitely while she heals.
I don’t think anyone would have blamed her for sitting in the house and feeling sorry for herself, but that’s not how she’s built. Instead, she went out and got a job at a local store, which she started this week. She’s talking about getting her driver’s license as well, something that never really interested her before.
Lauren has come to visit me three times since the surgery, and I could hardly come up with enough activities to keep her busy. She’ll spend hours in the pool, most of which was used doing her physical therapy. I had to remind her to stop when her leg started to hurt because when major hip problems don’t get discovered for 17 years, the pain is just part of moving.
My parents have been incredible through it all as well; driving her to doctors appointments at what feels like five different hospitals. I know it’s been hard on them as well and I’d be foolish to leave them out of this story.
I remember when we were taken back into the post-operating room after the biggest surgery, which is called a periacetabular osteotomy and involves repositioning the hip socket to cover the femoral head.
It was after midnight and she’d been in surgery for more than 12 hours. The nurse who was attending to her warned us she might not seem like herself right away, which was certainly understandable given the circumstances.
Instead, she opened her eyes, saw me and immediately looked at my parents and said, “Why did you bring him?”
At that moment, I remember being in awe of how well she was handling herself. What I didn’t realize then was the feeling would become the norm over the coming months as things got tougher.
So, Lauren, if you’re reading this, I just want you to know how inspiring you’ve been since the surgery. I would have cracked a long time ago, but that’s not who you are. I’m lucky to know you, and even luckier to be your brother.