Apr 07, 2020 / Hip Disorders

Share Your Story: Caroline's Goal

Meet Caroline, a patient seen by our experts in the Center for Excellence in Hip. Learn more about her journey below.

Blog written by Caroline's mom, Kim of Prosper, TX. 

Caroline is a “go for the gusto” kid. By the time she was 7, she was on two soccer teams and a competing gymnast. I remember days of racing from one event to the next, changing clothes in the car so she could be on time. She was a ball of fire and loved everything about being active.
In May of 2008, she was trying out for a new soccer team and I noticed that she was galloping instead of running. The coach spoke with me afterward and asked if she was ok. I told him that she had just been kicking soccer balls over the house and perhaps she had pulled a muscle. Caroline also started to tell me that her leg was hurting a little when she ran. The next day at gymnastics her coach suggested we make an appointment with an orthopedist. After an X-ray and consultation, they decided it must just be an injury to her quad and sent her to physical therapy. She did all kinds of therapy for weeks, but it didn’t seem to be getting better.
At that time, she was a competitive gymnast and even though she could not do all of the workouts, she continued her classes to work on her upper body. One day her coach called me over and asked if I would mind taking her back to the orthopedist. After watching her walk for a bit, her coach wondered if the injury might be in her hip. So, back to the doctor.  
After about 2 minutes of the doctor reviewing the X-ray, he came back in and told us that Caroline had Perthes. My first thought was, “What is Perthes and how long is it going take to get her back in action?” Caroline is not going to like this at all! I didn’t even get out of the parking lot before I had Googled it (something I was advised against doing). I couldn’t believe it. This was bad, and the orthopedist said he couldn’t treat it. She would need to go to Scottish Rite for Children. My head was reeling, and poor Caroline didn’t understand what was going on.
We began the process of becoming a patient at Scottish Rite and tried to stay positive for Caroline. I truly believe that God placed us there at the perfect time. Dr. Kim had just started working at Scottish Rite and Caroline was going to be one of his first patients. The day we met him, he had come into clinic specifically to see her – he was leaving for a conference in Europe that afternoon. To be seen by one of the leading research doctors in the country is a blessing that still leaves me in awe. She went for an MRI and then had her consultation with Dr Kim. Right away he was so friendly and welcoming. He talked with us for a long time explaining how there were many treatments for Perthes and he wanted to make sure that Caroline could someday return to the active life she loved. 
Now for the bad news, no activity at all - she couldn’t even walk. She could either use a wheelchair or use crutches, but luckily no surgery. We wanted to know how long this would last. When we heard at least a year, I don’t think either of us could completely understand what was going on. It all seemed so crazy, like it wasn’t real. Dr. Kim was patient and reassuring. He stayed and answered our questions and then we were directed upstairs where they gave us a wheelchair, showed her how to use it and gave her some crutches. That was a hard day.

We went back to Scottish Rite every three months for check-ups. The first two visits were pretty much the same - her body was still reabsorbing the bone and it had not started growing back. By the third visit, we saw a huge improvement and were so encouraged! On visit number four, I was sure she had made a miraculous recovery and that she would soon be released. Boy, was I wrong! It had improved, but only by a tiny bit. 
We were headed in the right direction, but this was going to take some time. All in all, her treatment lasted two years. I’m not going to lie, it was so hard. Caroline was heartbroken, but we quickly refocused. She learned how to cook, had play dates with friends (something her busy schedule didn’t allow for before) and learned more bible verses in Awana’s at church than anyone else in her age group. That competitiveness just found a new way to manifest itself. 
She found a few doctor approved activities and was eventually allowed to swim a couple of times a week and ride her bike. We did the best we could to keep her encouraged and Dr. Kim was always so kind. I know he hated telling her “no” on all those visits, but he did it in a way that she could understand.
When Caroline was 9 years old, almost exactly two years from her diagnosis, we got the good news. The bone had grown back enough that Dr. Kim felt comfortable releasing Caroline back to full activity. She was thrilled and could not wait to start playing soccer and doing gymnastics again. What we didn’t realize is that all those kids she had been playing with and competing against had been practicing, playing and competing for the past two years. But she figured it out - she worked hard, she practiced hard and she didn’t give up. She was placed on a team of the sweetest kids and had a coach who really invested in her. Ultimately, she decided she wanted to focus only on soccer and decided to let gymnastics go. She loved it and she was so happy to be back.
After a few years, she moved to a more competitive team and really excelled. She became the leading goal scorer and captain, once again with an amazing coach who really encouraged and believed in her. When he decided to step away from coaching and focus on his family, she tried out for and made an even more competitive team. By this time, Caroline was entering high school and even had her sights set on playing soccer in college. She continued to do the work and get better. The college process takes time and resilience, and this kid was determined. We continued to see Dr. Kim annually because Caroline participated in a Perthes research study. Dr. Kim always took the time to talk to Caroline about soccer. 
Her last visit was this past October and Caroline was able to share her good news with him – she had committed to play Division 1 college soccer at Houston Baptist University. It’s been 12 years now since that original diagnosis and looking back on it, it was a challenging time, but we could not have received better care or had a more compassionate doctor.

We are incredibly grateful for Caroline’s healing, for Dr. Kim and for Scottish Rite for Children. 

In gratitude for the wonderful care she received, Caroline even organized several stuffed animal drives through her school. She said she always wanted kids to feel as comfortable and cared for, as she did when she was a patient. Thank you, Scottish Rite, for helping this kid achieve a dream. Caroline’s experience was the best we could have hoped for and she hopes her story will give encouragement to others who are going through similar challenges.



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