Tina: Well life was going as expected. We had done well and the date came to have the plaster changed. Back into hospital we went and by now we new the procedure quite well. The lovely nurses were pleased to see us and in the short time of the first plaster Laura-Jane had grown some more and changed. The 25th April 1996 the plaster was changed and we had to stay in whilst it dried out. We left the hospital with the excitement that this would be he last one !!! I had everything set in my mind how life would be great at last and then we could press on with everything we wanted to do.
New clothes, no heavy lifting, no Velcro pants, a proper pair of shoes, what an absolute treat that would be. Laura-Jane hadn’t quite turned two and her birthday in the coming October would be a massive celebration. I knew she had to learn to sit, crawl and walk all over again but somehow I also knew this new plaster would soon be off and life would get be good again, not that it wasn’t good and she was safe and well but life with a Spica plaster has its challenges.
The weeks flew by as expected and the day had arrived to go back and have the plaster removed. I always felt nervous on plaster removal day as we went into the plaster room and Meg would remove the plaster with a little handheld circular saw, it sounds awful but it really wasn’t, the worst part was the noise which was quite loud and Laura-Jane didn’t like it. She would try and wriggle and as a parent you really don’t want to see your child upset by anything but it had to be done and there was always a treat close by.
Laura-Jane always had an x-ray to see what had taken place with the ball and socket. After the x-ray we waited anxiously for the consultant to discuss the results. The operation to correct the hip joint had FAILED again. As I write this it all comes back to me like it was yesterday. I didn’t cope with this news very well at all and the disappointment was horrific. We had gone through all of this again and failed. My heart sank and looking at Laura-Jane I felt that I had failed her. I had been telling her for all those months that everything was going to be fine, no more plaster, no more pain, no more anything and how could I have been so wrong. I knew she didn’t understand what was going on and I wasn’t sure I could carry on with it all. I spoke to her surgeon in depth and I can remember us all sitting in that room feeling devastated and it wasn’t easy for our consultant to know it hadn’t worked, we were all upset but Laura-Jane was happy to be plaster free.
Looking back through all the paperwork from the hospital I see notes saying ” advise Laura-Jane does not sit back on her heels” and “encourage to sit for longer periods”. The consultant decided that he would leave Laura-Jane now until just before she was due to start school which would be in 1999. So I was left with a massive gap before the next operation. Laura-Jane had one leg shorter that the other and it noticed when she walked as she was on tip toes on the left leg. I decided to make the most of this time and give Laura-Jane a very normal life.
Laura-Jane had to learn to walk again and with hydrotherapy and physio she managed very well. I asked her consultant if she could go to a ballet class. To my surprise he said “yes of course it will not do her any harm and if anything it will be good physio for her and keep her moving”. So off I went to find a Local ballet school.
Ballet probably doesn’t seem like a rational choice for a child who had been through so much already in such a short life but I as a child had a very small taster of a ballet class and loved it. My opportunities in life were so different back in the 70’s and I had already decided in my mind that Laura-Jane would have a chance to try different things. It just so happened that over the years she also did swimming and ice skating later on.
With this mind set I found a small ballet school that was owned by a lovely lady called Miss Lisa. She was wonderful with Laura-Jane and even in the early weeks Laura-Jane fitted in despite her being on tip toes on her left leg. She had a pair of white satin ballet shoes that she has used the previous summer to be bridesmaid for one of her nurses who looked after her in the hospital and a very small pink leotard. She looked beautiful and loved going every week. The early classes were all about good toes and naughty toes, anyone who has done ballet knows all about this :). The weeks went by and Laura-Jane was very happy going to Ballet and I loved taking her. She made friends with two little girls called Emma and Harriet. Little did I know that this first Ballet class would lead to much bigger things. We were not about to let a dislocated hip get in the way of anything. Just because you are a little different physically to others doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your own goals in life, anything is possible. The ballet class also gave Laura-Jane confidence among other children. Laura-Jane started dancing in September 1997 and had her third birthday in the October 1997. She would come home from ballet and do her exercises and show me everything she had done, even so young she was already hooked on dancing. She would also dance in front of the TV to Barney the dinosaur and six little ducks with her umbrella in her hand, she really was a beautiful little girl who loved life and boy she had a rough start.
From Sept 1997 until Jan 1999 Laura-Jane went to her ballet class every week with more enthusiasm than the previous week. She loved her weekly class and the thing in the back of my mind was how would I tell her she had to have yet another operation. She could sit up straight and walk, the thought of putting her back into a Spica plaster absolutely crushed my heart. She was still so tiny and was doing so well but the limp was always going to be there if she didn’t have more surgery. I went over every scenario of operation success and failure and what the outcome would be and the future Laura-Jane would have as a result of the decision I had to make. I think back now and I have no idea how I did it but let me tell you in Sept 1996 I met a man who became my second husband in 2001, with his support and the support of my family we got through it and in Jan 1999 Laura-Jane went back into hospital and into gallows traction ready for the next operation……..