Wolfforth teen doesn’t let hip disorder keep her from active life

Try telling 17-year-old Autumn-Rose Gregory that she has limitations.

Chances are the Wolfforth resident will beam her winning beauty pageant smile at you, and then run right by.

In the last weekend of September, she participated in the Learn To Golf clinic hosted by the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children at The Rawls Course at Texas Tech.

It wasn’t until she started middle school that Autumn, who is now a junior at Coronado High School, started having intense pain in her hip as she started running track.

Sometimes the pain was so intense she could barely walk.

Her mother, Mia Gregory, took her to several doctors. Some told her that Autumn had learned to walk incorrectly. Others told her parents she was just a hypochondriac.

“I got so discouraged, because I was in so much pain, some days I couldn’t even walk,” Autumn said.

Finally, Lubbock orthopedist David Shephard talked with Autumn and her parents, Mia and Jim. He asked to do what Autumn calls a frog-leg X-ray, and noticed that she has hip dysplasia, a misalignment of the hip joint.

“What a blessing, someone finally figured it out,” Mia Gregory said.

Shephard called another doctor, and ultimately, Autumn was referred to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.

Scottish Rite arranged for Autumn to have surgery in January of 2012, specifically a periacetabular ganz osteotomy.

On her left side, her hip bone was sawed in half and the hip socket was rotated so the bone could grow around it. Four screws were drilled into her bones, forming tiny bumps that Autumn carefully shows poking up under the skin of her tiny frame.

Without the surgery, said her father, Jim, she would have needed a full hip replacement surgery by the time she was 25, and would not be able to have children.

Scottish Rite provided the surgery to Autumn free of charge. Mia Gregory said the family paid for medications and for a wheelchair rental and other necessities, but the hospital picked up the bulk of the cost.

“They are angels,” Mia Gregory said of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and its staff.

Even with the surgery, Autumn said there is a chance that her hips will give out and she will someday be in a wheelchair.

Some people might choose to forgo intense activities like track and cheerleading.

The only activity that Autumn has given up is hurdles. The motion of that jump was something that doctors said definitely needed to be eliminated from her activities. Instead, she now runs the 400 meters, and she cheers both on the Coronado varsity squad and with a competition group.

“I never know when my hips are going to give out, and I can’t live in fear every day that that’s going to happen,” Autumn said.

She has already decided that she wants to be an orthopedic hand surgeon, and she said she knows that whatever happens, she can do that activity sitting down.

“Whatever I want to do in life, it’ll be OK,” she said.

She said it does occasionally cross her mind that she should pursue less strenuous activities.

“I’ve always been told that ‘can’t’ isn’t in my vocabulary, and that it’s never allowed to be, and that if I love soemthing enough, there will be a way I can do it,” Autumn said.

Faith has played a big part in her recovery from a very painful surgery and moving forward. She still deals with intense pain, and may face more surgery in the near future.

“My favorite Bible verse is Joshua 1:9, and it says, ‘Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged. The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ And every day, I kind of repeat that,” Autumn said.

While she was in the hospital, Autumn said she was encouraged by other children who had worse problems and faced them with great attitudes. Since her surgery, she has returned to the hospital to visit other children and encourage them, a process her father called paying it forward.

Autumn has also gone on to win Miss Limestone County Outstanding Teen, and won Miss Congeniality at the Miss Texas Outstanding Teen pageant in the Miss America system.

After the pageant, she visited Scottish Rite wearing her crown to encourage the kids there. Autumn said she wants those kids to know that they can overcome medical hardships.

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