A news report last week might give a clue about the effect on me of my congenital hip problem – if you’d like to read this before I go on, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
If you’ve been one of my online friends for a few years, you’ll know that I had a hip replacement when I was 56 because I had severe arthritis in my right hip. The reason I had arthritis was that the sockets of my hip joints were unusually shallow. This was something I was born with, was not severe enough to give me ‘clicky hips’ as a baby, would not have shown up except in an x-ray and wouldn’t cause problems until middle age, but appreciably younger than age-related arthritis would affect me. Furthermore, it is hereditary, but only through the female line.
My mother did not have the condition because, although she had arthritis, she didn’t have a replacement joint until she was seventy, which is a normal age, especially as she had had several bad falls on that side. Nor does my sister, who is about to have a new hip but she’s in her mid-sixties. So I warned my children to stay slim and active but not overdo the weight-bearing exercise and shrugged it off as bad luck.
However, when I was a baby, my parents (who owned and ran a largish hotel in Weymouth) employed a young man – I can’t remember in what capacity, but he came from a big family and dearly loved babies and small children, and he used to carry me around with him while he worked. My mother told me how he took a large shawl, swaddled me snugly, then wrapped it round himself too so that he had his hands free. I was very content, apparently, though it sounds jolly hot to me now. But maybe it wasn’t good for my young bones.
I hope that’s it, because it reassures me that my own children are much less likely to develop the same thing. I carried them around as babies, but just slung on my hip, they had to learn to cling on like monkeys. I realise now it was the ideal position for healthy hip development. I made life hard for myself really, lugging a baby around much of the day, but they liked the closeness and so did I.
I’m not due to see my surgeon for another 15 months or so, for a five-year check-up. I must remember to mention it. He’s acutely interested in research, as you might expect from a quite young consultant, and told me about the problems with metal-on-metal joints before there was any publicity about them at all. In fact, he said that all surgeons at Norwich refused to use them and that he’d had to do many revisions of those that had been done elsewhere.