By Alyce Collins
THIS MOTHER-OF-TWO has struggled with her dislocating hip since she was a child but was mortified when it happened DURING A DATE, as it became so bad that it would dislocate HOURLY, resulting in a hip replacement at just TWENTY-NINE years old.
Secretary Emma Donaghue (29) from Leeds, UK, was born with congenital dislocation of the hip (CDH), but it wasn’t picked up until she was three years old when her mother noticed the way she would crawl unusually.
At three years old, Emma had a plate fitted into her left hip, however as her condition hadn’t been picked up at a younger age, it was less effective than hoped. As a child, doctors warned Emma that she would likely need a hip replacement in her twenties.
Throughout her teens, Emma tried to put the condition behind her and live as normally as she could. However, a check-up at the age of 19 was less positive as doctors told Emma that her hip didn’t look in good condition and her weight was taking its toll.
By 19, Emma weighed 16st 9lb and wore size 20 clothing. Medical staff suggested that if she wanted to save herself a few years before having her hip replaced, she needed to lose five stone, particularly as doctors were reluctant to operate at such a young age.
Through diets and an improved regime, Emma shed over five stone, now weighing 11st 2lbs and a happy size 12.
Despite saving herself an early surgery, Emma’s hip began deteriorating rapidly in 2017, and by 2018 her hip would dislocate every time she bent over or sat down. Emma couldn’t hold out any longer and was scheduled for a hip replacement in January 2019 at the age of 29.
In the weeks before her daunting operation, Emma and her partner, Jordan, went out for a meal in Leeds before she would be house-bound for a while. During the meal, Emma’s hip dislocated, and she had to hobble to the toilets so she could push her hip back into place against the sinks, as she didn’t want people staring at her any longer.
“I was born with a defect in my hip which wasn’t picked up at birth,” said Emma.
“It wasn’t detected in the Ortolani test, which is the hip click test they carry out on newborns. My hip was already dislocated at that point, so it was missed.
“My mum noticed that I would crawl differently when I began to move around, so we kept going back for health advice, but she was just told that all babies crawl and walk differently.
“It was eventually picked up when I was three and I had to have a plate fitted. I was told as a child that I would need a hip replacement in my late twenties, but in my teens I gained a significant amount of weight which didn’t help.
“It was just due to my metabolism and being a teen, but at 19 they told me that my hip didn’t look in great shape and I should lose five stone or more. At that point, I was young and wasn’t in a lot of pain, so I just pushed it aside.
“I went on to have my first child at 21 and then I decided I wanted to lose the weight. It wasn’t so much for my hip that I wanted to get in shape, but more for the sake of my daughter Lily.
“I tried all the normal diets you hear of, such as Weight Watchers, Slimming World and eating a low-calorie diet. It took a while, but the weight started to fall off eventually.”
Emma welcomed her first daughter Lily (7) in 2011, and then her youngest, Isla (3) in 2015. By the time of her second pregnancy, Emma began struggling with her hip more and noticed more significant strains of pregnancy.
By the start of 2017, Emma was using pain medication to subdue the pain she felt from her hip, but by 2017 her hip would dislocate voluntarily at the slightest of movements.
“My hip started deteriorating to the point of using pain medication on prescription in early 2017,” said Emma.
“It wasn’t until July 2018 that my condition worsened, and I tried the steroid injections they use in the joint, but this lasted no more than two weeks. I went back to my GP for a referral to my hip consultant and I was crying in pain.
“The restaurant incident happened just over a week before my surgery was due to take place. I wanted to go out and feel pretty before I was house-bound and on crutches.
“I wanted to feel my age, so we went for Thai food in Leeds and when I got up to stand after the meal, my hip had dislocated.
“I did have a technique which I found helped to get it back in, but this was starting to take longer the more time went on because I desperately needed the operation.
“My partner stood behind me while I hobbled off to the toilet because I was so embarrassed that people started to look up at me. At home it would normally be a kitchen side or mantel piece that I’d use to push it back in place.
“I spent the rest of the night sitting down in a bar to try and enjoy myself. I didn’t want it to ruin our last night out together for a while.
“I would say it dislocated every time I would bend or sit down. It happened more often from October 2018 right up until my operation in January 2019.
“I was anxious about the procedure because I’m a mother and I didn’t want to have to take several weeks off work. It made me worry about how I would manage.
“Even in the days after my procedure I regretted having it because of how much pain I was in, but now I’m six weeks post-op and it’s the best thing I ever did.
“My daughters have been incredibly patient and helpful, and we even went for a walk in the park recently, so they feel like they’re getting their mummy back.
“My message to anyone struggling who is in pain or anxious, don’t be. You should definitely go for it.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and I don’t know how I went on struggling for months in agony and not being able to walk right.
“I felt like an old lady, but now I feel like the 29-year-old woman that I am. I feel very blessed to live in a time where there are procedures that can make your quality of life so much better and give you the second chance that you should get as a young woman.”
To see more of Emma’s recovery, visit @emmajonesjourney.