"Arden is one tough little kid!"

That’s what the pediatric orthopedic surgeon said when he diagnosed our four-year-old granddaughter, Arden Olivia James-Rodriguez, with severe hip dysplasia. He couldn’t get over how far she’s gotten in life with such a serious problem.
 
Her femur is completely out of the hip socket. Yet only recently did she complain that her leg was hurting.
 
Remarkably, this problem never held her back. She’s been doing all of the active, high-energy things little girls do and more: running, jumping, swimming, ballet and tap, and tricycle races with Avery, her little three-year-old sister. Just a couple of months ago, Arden proved her strength by climbing a rock wall at a children’s activity center.

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It cannot be denied. Arden truly is “one tough little kid.” But she is little and, with this serious medical problem, seems smaller than ever right now, especially to those of us who love her so dearly and are in this battle with her.
 
The battle ahead for Arden isn’t child’s play.
 
Heading for Seattle
 
She and her family live in the beautiful state of Alaska. Considering the severity of her condition, the surgeon in Anchorage referred her to Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH). Arden’s consultation with her surgeon, Dr. Todd Blumberg, at SCH took place on Friday, March 22. Her mommy (our daughter, Allison) was at her side, along with Avery and “Papa” (my husband Frank).

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Arden was a total champ throughout her first meeting with the surgeon. She cooperated with all the poking and prodding and requests to walk up and down in the room so Dr. Blumberg could assess the problem. But she finally reached her limit when he asked her to walk up and down the hallway one more time. She said, “I don’t want to,” and meant it. So he bribed her with animal crackers and juice. 
 
The news from that consultation was sobering and underscored the seriousness of her condition.
 
Wednesday, April 17  is her pre-op. The surgery to reconstruct and restore the normal functioning of her hip and leg follows on Thursday, April 18.

A friend of ours who works in the Orthopedic Unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) gave us this encouraging word: “Todd Blumberg came from CHOP and is well known for his surgical expertise. Saw many of his post op kids on my unit who did remarkably well. Arden will be in good hands!”
 
The family circle supporting Arden will be even larger this time. Trust me, I’m packing my bags.
 
But this is only the beginning of Arden’s battle.
 
The Long Road to Recovery
 
Like other children with hip dysplasia, when she emerges from surgery, she’ll be wearing a Spica (or body) cast—with a metal rod connecting her legs. She’s expected to remain in the hospital for five to seven days.

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Six weeks later, she’ll return to SCH for the removal of the Spica cast (under anesthesia) which will be replaced by another new “slightly” less restrictive body cast. The second cast will be above both knees and will remain for another five weeks.
 
If you’re doing the math, that’s over two months in a body cast! After that comes physical therapy to regain her strength and learn to walk again.

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Allison will be Arden’s primary caregiver during recovery. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
 
Still, two-plus months in a body cast inevitably mean a significant drop in income for this little family, as Allison can’t work and care for Arden at the same time.
 
Alaska is a continent away from grandparents who live on the east coast. That won’t stop us from pitching in and doing all we can to support and participate in Arden’s care as she proves once again what a courageous little fighter she is.
 
Since Arden was very little—before she could talk—she always wanted to help. We were constantly thinking of ways she could participate in whatever was going on.
 
Now we’re determined to help Arden in a crisis we didn’t see coming.

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Thankfully, her parents have great medical insurance. But insurance doesn’t cover everything. We are grateful for all the friends and family who are willing to help.

All the money from this campaign will go to cover airfare for multiple flights between Alaska and Seattle and for meals and other expenses during time away from home at SCH. It will also cover household expenses that will quickly add up during Allison’s two months of unpaid leave to care for Arden.

So please visit this page often and share it with your friends! I’ll be posting regular updates here and also at www.carolyncustisjames.com .
 
                                               —Carolyn Custis James
                                                    “Nyla” to Arden & Avery

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Organizer

Carolyn Custis James 
Organizer
Sellersville, PA
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