Hello Girl Fit community!
My name is Nicole and I really like dancing! If you were to ask anyone who knows me to tell you one thing about me they would tell you that I just really like dancing. I started dancing at the age of 2 and haven’t stopped since. (I am almost 26 now!) I danced competitively in high school, I danced in college, and now I have my own dance company that I run with a close dancing friend. To put it shortly, dance is my life. So the moment I was in too much pain to keep dancing, my life was turned upside down. I lost a part of my identity. But this is a happy story, I promise! So bear with me here. I want to explain to you all why you should never ever give up.
It was May 2016 when my hip pain started. I woke up one morning after an intense workout and I couldn’t lift my left leg. I didn’t have health insurance in the Boston area because I was only 23 and still on my Dad’s health plan and he only had coverage in Buffalo. So after a few weeks of pain, I decided I to fly to Buffalo and get my hip checked out. I had a consult with a hip doctor there and a MRI before coming back to Boston. After a few weeks, the doctor from Buffalo called to tell me that the MRI was normal but I had some strange blood work, so he couldn’t do anything for me until I saw a rheumatologist… Now I couldn’t afford to keep flying back and forth to Buffalo so I had to find a new job in Boston. I needed my own health insurance. It took a few months but I finally got a new job and once the health insurance kicked in I started seeing doctors in the Boston area. I saw 10 different specialists (in both rheumatology and orthopedics) before finally being referred to a physical therapist who actually believed me and the amount of pain I was in. The problem was that I was a dancer, and “normal” people do not put their bodies through the extreme ranges of motion that dancers do. So every doctor I saw was convinced that nothing was wrong because I could touch my toes. After going to physical therapy for a few months, (Girl Fit didn’t even exist at this point in time yet!) my physical therapist suggested I visit the Dance Medicine section at Boston Children’s Hospital. It was there that I met Dr. Stracciolini. She knew what dancers do and she believed me. She could see how much I had gone through and she knew that dancers never fully expresses how much pain they are in. She ordered a new MRI to be done.
The new MRI showed a ganglion cyst and possible labral tear. But the worst part was, the radiologist compared the new MRI to the CD of the old one from Buffalo, and the findings were “consistent”… meaning that the radiologist in Buffalo mis-read the MRI!! I wasn’t crazy. There was something wrong with my hip.
It was around this time that my new health insurance decided that I should be better and that they weren’t going to cover any more PT visits. So, Dr. Stracciolini suggested this new little PT practice that opened up in Newton that had reasonable self-pay options. And that was when I came to Girl Fit and met Kate :). I was going through various rounds of diagnostic cortisone injections and Kate and the Girl Fit crew helped me continue to get stronger. Things were finally looking up, but unfortunately the pain was not getting any better.
So it was around June 2017 that Dr. Stracciolini ordered a new set of x-rays and a new MRI with contrast. They found that I had hip dysplasia and a labral detachment tear. These diagnoses were what my insurance needed in order to cover more physical therapy visits. Then, Dr. Stracciolini referred me to Dr. Yen (the hip scope surgeon at Boston Children’s) and I continued doing PT with Kate.
I called Dr. Yen’s coordinator and the first appointment that he had available wasn’t until the end of August!!! I was bummed. That summer my dance company was putting on our first ever full length production and I wanted nothing more than to dance in it. And I was starting graduate school in the fall… I was really hoping that all my hip troubles would be gone by the time school started, but if I couldn’t even get a consult with the surgeon until the end of August, I wasn’t going to be able to have surgery until school’s winter break… my troubles were not over. But little did I know they were going to get much much worse before they got better. (still a happy story, I promise!)
On August 1st, 2017 I was rushed to the ER from work for what we found out to be a kidney stone. It turned out that I was going to need surgery to get the stone removed. I was not expecting that one… So we waited a week to see if the stone would pass on its own (it didn’t) and I went into surgery. When I came out, the doctor did not have the good news that I was hoping for. They weren’t able to get the stone because my ureter was too small for their surgical equipment. They had to put a stent in to stretch out my ureter and they were going to have to leave it in for two weeks before going back for ANOTHER surgery!! My consult with Dr. Yen AND my dance company’s show were that week! I was going to be in surgery two days before putting on my first ever professional production. I was terrified.
The day before the second kidney surgery, I met with Dr. Yen. When he walked in the room, I knew something was not right. He looked at me and said “I can’t do the scope on you, you’re going to need a PAO.” I immediately started crying. A PAO was not a small surgery. The scope surgery would have been a 6 week recovery with some PT and I knew I would have bounced back in no time. But the PAO (Periacetabular Osteotomy) had a much much longer recovery time… But I wanted nothing more than to dance again, so I agreed to meet with the next surgeon.