Lizzie’s Story

Lizzie on the ice

Lizzie, now age 9, is a joyful, active child and has been a competitive figure skater since she was four years old. In April 2015, she was on a family trip in Amarillo when she began to complain that her right knee was hurting her. By the time the family checked into their hotel later that night, she was limping so badly she rode the luggage cart up to their hotel room instead of walking.

Her mom, Lorien, a pediatric rheumatologist on staff at UT Southwestern, sensed that this was more than just “normal” childhood aches and pains so the family abruptly cancelled their weekend plans and traveled home the next day to bring Lizzie to Children’s Health. After an x-ray and an ultrasound in the Emergency Department showed no cause for concern, and with no other symptoms, she was sent home and expected to get better with rest.

Still, Lorien felt that something just wasn’t right. So that Monday, she called the Children’s Health orthopedic clinic and explained Lizzie’s symptoms. Within 24 hours, Lizzie had an appointment with Dr. Lawson Copley, director of the Musculoskeletal Infection Program.

After a review of her symptoms and a physical examination, he diagnosed her with septic arthritis, and just hours after the appointment, Lizzie was in surgery getting her hip washed out to drain the infection. She was discharged a few days later and fortunately had no complications from the surgery, but it was a whirlwind few days, to say the least. Lorien says what helped calm everyone’s nerves was the unique way Dr. Copley and his team involved the entire family - including Lizzie - in the discussions about her care.

“Lizzie’s care team made sure to include my husband and I, as well as Lizzie, during daily rounds so everyone knew what was going on and what to expect,” she says. “This was very atypical of what I think most expect to see in a hospital setting, but in a good way. I think it really helped Lizzie feel more comfortable during her hospital stay and helped ease her fears.”

Lizzie’s fully recovered and back on the ice, where she continues to skate circles around her family and friends!

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