Whether you live in London, New York or Paris, you never expect to be told your baby has a chronic condition, but that is what happened to us when our son was four months old. Following a scan we were told Lucas had Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH) and whilst there was a family history, we were left in a state of shock and disbelief.
DDH is a common condition that occurs when the ball and socket of the hip joint do not fit snugly together. According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute approximately 1 out of every 20 full-term babies has some hip instability and between one and three in every 1,000 infants will require treatment for DDH.
Whilst not life threatening, DDH certainly is life changing. In a matter of days we had gone from baby massage and soft play to more scans and operation dates. I looked for helpful books and websites but all I found were horror stories and awful images that overwhelmed me and made me hold both my sons a little closer.
Lucas is now six years old and currently in a wheelchair recovering from his fourth, but not last, operation. His bravery, smile and spirit inspired me to write Cast Life, my first book, which was published this October and will hopefully offer the information lifeline I so desperately looked for.
It isn’t loaded with medical jargon, but the facts, details and treatments are explained in a clear, easy to understand way and expert comment has been included. It looks at what to expect in hospital, the questions to ask surgeons and even how to change the diaper of a child in a spica cast and how to wash their hair.
It also explores family life and the emotions that are inevitably experienced but often never mentioned or discussed.
I believe that by giving the reader the knowledge and facts they need to get to grips with DDH, I can help empower them and give them back some control. The words are written from the heart of a mother reaching out to other parents and let them know that whilst DDH can be tough, it will be OK and they can do this.
As well as drawing on my experiences, the book also includes many anecdotes and stories from other parents, like Kris, from New Jersey, “I’m a mom of a four-year-old girl who has hip dysplasia and it’s taken nearly four years to correct it – even with early detection and treatment. DDH must be caught and treated early on, and by a doctor with experience in paediatric hips. Because she had the right surgeon and the proper care, my daughter can now run and play with her friends at preschool, and at four years old, is a good enough swimmer to have been invited to join the local swim team. I hope that Natalie’s book can offer other people a little solace and help at a time that can be hard on all the family, not just the patient.”
I want to help parents navigate the murky waters of DDH but also raise awareness amongst medical professionals so it is on their radar and can be diagnosed as early as possible. The sooner DDH is caught, and treated, the more likely it is a lifetime of pain, hip replacements and disability can be prevented.
“DDH is one of the most common congenital abnormalities and it is remarkable that there is so little information out there. This book is essential reading for parents, and indeed healthcare workers, who are involved in the care of children who have the condition and I would love to see it in clinics around the world,” commented Professor N. M. P. Clarke ChM, DM, FRCS, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, who wrote the foreword for Cast Life.
A DDH diagnosis throws up a plethora of new terminology, a schedule of hospital appointments and often months of treatments so I also set up Spica Warrior. This small, but perfectly formed charity aims to empower parents with the information they need to understand DDH and make the right decisions for their children.
Natalie Trice is an English author, blogger and freelancer writer. As a mummy, wife, cat and dog owner she doesn’t get much free time but when she does she’ll be found drinking coffee, reading glossy magazines and dreaming of living by the sea. Lover of heals, wearer of trainers, she has many dresses but mainly wears gym gear.