Sarah Finnegan wants a pain-free first dance at her wedding.

Finnegan will undergo surgery on her left hip in December at Allegheny Health Network to repair hip dysplasia. She says she wants to be proactive in dealing with her pain issues so she can enjoy her May 2018 wedding and honeymoon shortly after.

“That pain can really ruin your day,” she says.

When Finnegan was a baby she wore corrective braces for her hips. But it was during high school that things began to go downhill for her. Finnegan experienced acute pain in her hips. As an active young woman Finnegan found the pain began to slow her down and limit what she could do. She enjoyed participating in multiple sports and says she never really allowed her body to take a break and believes that exacerbated the situation.

When walking one day, Finnegan’s right hip suddenly gave out and she collapsed. Finnegan began to experience pain in her hip and often had to catch herself as she felt her leg give out. She also found it very difficult to sit with crossed legs without pain and discomfort.

During her junior year in high school she met with doctors to find out why that was happening. After multiple visits, she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia in her right hip. At first doctors prescribed physical therapy in an attempt to correct the issue. Eventually though it was discovered that Finnegan was also dealing with a tear in the labrum, the ring of cartilage along the socket of the hip joint, as well as a few other issues. Two years later in 2012 she finally underwent surgery to correct that issue.

Following that surgery Finnegan’s orthopedic doctor warned her that, given her history, she was likely to experience similar issues in her left hip. Fast forward four years and the doctor’s predictions proved to be accurate.

Now 24 years old, Finnegan first noticed the pain in her left hip after taking a job at Morehead State University in Kentucky. As a residence hall director she is responsible for overseeing operations at several of the campus’ dormitories. That required her to walk back and forth across the hilly campus. With all the ups and downs of campus terrain Finnegan says the pain manifested as the doctor had predicted. When the pain in her left hip began to Finnegan was ready and understood what needed to be done.

“I wasn’t about to live with that pain again,” she says.

She reached back out to her doctors at Allegheny Health Network about the issue and praised the doctors at the hospital for working with her despite her living in another state. Now another surgery is scheduled for December – however Finnegan says the left hip is not as badly damaged as her right hip.

Finnegan was able to schedule her surgery during Morehead State’s winter break. She will return to Pennsylvania and the doctors she trusts for the surgery.

“There isn’t much I really need to do to get ready for this surgery,” she says. “I have been trying to strengthen my other leg to help with support as I recover. I know what to expect and what the recovery is going to look like. Getting the surgery will be a lifestyle change for the better.”

Finnegan will remain in Pittsburgh until Jan. 7 and will then return to her job in Kentucky. She will continue with any physical therapy there.

Because she is familiar with the surgery and recovery, Finnegan already has her eye on the near future, which includes that first dance, a honeymoon trip to Europe and a move to Colorado Springs in the summer due to her fiancée’s new position with the Major League Baseball Alumni Association.

“There are so many experiences and activities there, and I really want to appreciate the natural beauty of the state,” she says. “I just want to live a life where I don’t need to take pain meds as an anticipatory act to something. I want to run a bit and not have to stop for pain. I don’t want to have to think about it.”