Gavin C is your average 16 year old. Loves hockey. Tolerates high school and girls!
In April of 2012 he was playing AAA hockey and had a personal trainer. Life was good. By June of 2012, the hockey season was over, personal training continued for the summer months, and he was having pain in his hip flexor area. Squats were all but impossible. “It feels like my hip bones are touching each other in the socket”. Yeah right, they can't do that. Can they?! We thought it was just tight hip flexors. An athletic roller was purchased and Gavin would roll out the flexor area. It didn't relieve all of the pain.
The next season for hockey started in August. The pain was still there but bearable. In the beginning of the season Gavin was in the top 5 for speed. By the end of the season, April 2013, he was skating with the goalies! Sometimes the pain would take his breath away, he would push past it, but for some reason he just couldn't keep his speed.
In early February of 2013 we saw an Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Shaeffer, in Kalamazoo, MI. He felt he knew what the problem was. Two X-rays later Gavin was diagnosed with FAI! What the heck is FAI? Never heard of it. Our journey had begun. Our surgeon in Kalamazoo does not work on FAI, only total hip replacement and/or minor arthroscopy. He ordered an MRI with dye contrast to see if there was damage to the labrum. There was a tear in the left labrum and fringing on both. We were referred to Dr. Ryan in Kalamazoo but were also warned that most medical insurances won't cover surgery unless physical therapy was tried and failed. You can't do physical therapy unless you have a prescription. So, two calls were made, one to Dr. Ryan and one to Rambling Road Pediatrics. We scheduled an appointment with Dr. Ryan in late February. He read both the X-rays and the MRI and felt he could help Gavin. After some private discussion, my husband and I felt that Dr. Ryan was not the surgeon for us. I began doing research on the internet and found 3 doctors. Dr. Zaltz in Detroit, MI., Dr. Domb in Chicago, and a Dr. in Colorado. All 3 sounded comparable but we liked that Dr. Domb worked on young athletes. In the mean time, Dr. LaReau from the Pediatrics office gave us a call and wanted to know what was wrong with Gavin. We told him the diagnosis and he said he'd put in a call to his son, Dr. LaReau, in Chicago. He explained that his son, Justin, is part of an association of Orthopaedic Specialists. That same day we got a call from Hinsdale Orthopaedics, Dr. Domb, to schedule an appt. Interestingly enough, we also got a call from Dr. Ryan's office stating that upon further study of Gavin's MRI, Dr. Ryan felt Gavin would be better off going to a colleague and referred us to Dr. Domb. Seems like all arrows were pointing towards Chicago!
Gavin's first appointment with Dr. Domb was mid-March of 2013, at the Ogden office. We were well cared for from the moment we walked through the door. We saw Julie, one of Dr. Domb's PAs, first. After a brief consultation with Julie we met Dr. Domb. Both he and Julie looked at the X-rays and MRI. It was explained to us that FAI, for Gavin, is considered elective surgery. If he would stop the activities that create the pain, the pain will go away. FAI itself, does not go away on it's own. It is a disorder of the femur and/or the socket. The only way to correct it is surgery. If he didn't have surgery to correct the FAI, he would likely have serious hip problems as he got older. The decision was totally up to us. Any surgery is major. Did we want to put our 16 year old under the knife just so he could play hockey, ride a bike, have proper form for working out, and be pain free when he did specific activities? Or did we let it go and let him have possible major hip surgery later in life? We opted for surgery now. Dr. Domb and Julie explained how the surgery would be performed arthroscopic so there would be minimum invasion and hopefully a shorter recovery time. Unfortunately he would have to undergo two separate surgeries, one for each hip, due to a 6 week recovery time for each hip. He would leave the hospital in a hip brace and crutches and would need to stay on these for 2 weeks. As we left for home, we felt comfortable with our decision.
Before we left the office, we were given a packet containing information on Dr. Domb and his staff. When we got home we started coming up with all kinds of questions. The support staff is very knowledgeable and responds to questions fast! Most of the questions I had were answered by either Emily or Nadine and were usually answered the same day. Their patience and knowledge is greatly appreciated! They worked with me with the insurance company, helped me understand procedures, and answered general questions like “when can Gavin go back to school".
Gavin's first surgery was scheduled for April 24 with pre-op the day before. At pre-op we met with Kinzie and Dr. Domb. Gavin filled out an on-going, research study questionnaire and then any questions we had were answered. He was fitted for his brace and crutches that same day. The morning of surgery we felt we were well prepared by Dr. Domb and his staff. Surgery was 2 hrs. with updates given periodically throughout. Dr. Domb met with us after surgery to let us know how surgery went and how Gavin was doing. The FAI was worse than the X-rays and MRI showed. The MRI didn't show a large tear in the labrum and the femur was larger than expected. If we had any 2nd thoughts on our decision to do surgery, they were expelled. Gavin needed the surgery. Because we are from out of town, Michigan, our post-op was scheduled for the day following surgery, with a follow up by our local doctor 2 weeks later. Our Dr., here in Kalamazoo, has been so impressed with Gavin's surgery that he has referred several tough cases to Dr. Domb. Gavin's first physical therapy was also scheduled for the first day after surgery and was done at Hinsdale Orthopaedics in Westmont. During surgery, pictures were taken of certain procedures. We received a copy of these pictures as well as new X-rays of the hip that had surgery.
Our after surgery experience was as successful as the surgery. We followed Dr. Domb's protocol to the T. Icing, medication, and rest seemed to be the best therapy. There was little if any pain or bruising. We purchased an exercise bike so Gavin could do physical therapy at home as well as continue to visit his physical therapist.
On June 10, 6 weeks after his first hip surgery, Gavin underwent his second surgery. The second surgery was pretty much a mirror image of the first. A tear in the labrum, major shredding of the labrum, and a huge femur. Again surgery was successful. Physical Therapy and after surgery protocol are being followed.
We are very impressed with Dr. Domb and his staff. Bedside manner is important for any doctor, PA, nurse, and other staff to have. Dr. Domb has a very caring manner and seems to be VERY knowledgeable in his field of expertise. His two assistants Julie and Kinzie, are patient and answer all questions to the point of easily understanding the answer! ALL of the office staff are thorough and make sure all aspects of office visits and surgery are understood. A smoothly run operation!
As of this time, Gavin is in his 4th week of healing. He is working hard during physical therapy and is anxiously awaiting his 3 month follow up with Dr. Domb to see if he will be released to go back to playing hockey. Pain has not been present in recovery and the results remarkable. It amazes me at what modern medicine can do and the doctors that perform it. Attention to detail goes a long way in the success of the procedure as well as the success of the healing process. We feel that Dr. Domb has made it a personal achievement to be the best that he can be for his patients. His attention to detail and his staff's attention to detail has made all the difference in helping Gavin return to normal capabilities and even get back on the ice.
- Gavin C