Amber Eder's Surgery for Polyostotic Fibrous Dysplasia
My name is Amber Eder. I am a 25-year-old certified medical assistant for UW Hospital and Clinics. I cannot imagine working anywhere else as long as I'm able to work. I have had a dream to work here since I was 6 years old.
I grew up about an hour away from Madison in a little town called Richland Center. One day, in 1991 (I was 6), my mother was playing with me and noticed that one leg was a little longer then the other. She had taken me to my physician and he explained that it was normal to have a little difference in leg length but for my mother's satisfaction, he took full X-rays of my legs. That is where my mom had the biggest scare in her life. They told her that there was tumors in my femurs that looked like bone cancer on the films.
They sent me to my first visit at UW to see Dr. Heiner in Orthopedics. They fit me into the OR schedule within days. Dr. Heiner brought my mother and father great news and bad news that day. The great news was that the tumors in my femurs were not cancer but the bad news was the tumors were polyostotic fibrous dysplasia. That means that part of the bone in the bilateral femurs was fibrous tissue rather than bone marrow.
I remember that stay at the hospital. The staff was so nice and made me feel so comfortable, as well as my parents. I was there for about five days and didn't want to leave! I can just imagine now with the new American Family Children's Hospital how much the kids feel comfortable.
I will never forget one little girl that would come to my room and help my mom lecture me that I needed to eat. I didn't want anything but plain Cheerios without milk. She would walk in with an IV pole in her hand. She had no hair but you didn't see any of that. All you saw was her smile. She must have been miserable but carried her smile like each day was a gift. She would take me to the kid's playroom and talk to the wonderful staff. They also had many smiles on their faces.
After my surgery, I returned to the clinic often to see Dr. Heiner. He watched me grow up! I remember coming to UW Hospital and admiring the people that work there. I wanted to be them when I grew up. When I was 13, I had been experiencing a lot of pain in my right leg. I came in to see Dr. Heiner and found out I had fractured my femur where the fibrous dysplasia is located. That is common, considering the bone is quite soft compared to regular bone marrow. I was put on crutches for about a month. I tried a week without the crutches and was not able to walk without excruciating pain considering I was walking around on a broken leg. I went back to see Dr. Heiner, had more x-rays, and found out it was cracked almost all the way through.
At this point, I was so used to pain that I waited until I just couldn't take it any longer. Dr. Heiner fit me into his OR schedule once again to put in a plate down the proximal side of my femur, with four screws going down my femur and one large screw into the ball of my hip. Again, I was very pleased with my stay. I remember while I was going to anesthesia there was a woman who brought me a red stuffed bulldog to give me comfort while I was falling fast asleep. I still have it to this day. She told me she would see me after my surgery is over. I looked at her tag and asked her what her position was, as I did every staff member I met. I wanted to know what my options were and what schooling I had to have to work here.
After waking up, I saw the same woman. She brought her beautiful smile, a disposable camera and a picture frame to remember my visit to UW Hospital. Each staff member made my visit great.
A year after I got a plate and screws placed in my right femur, my left leg started hurting more then usual. I went to see Dr. Heiner and he gave me the option to wait it out or have the surgery. We decided to do the surgery so I didn't have to go through the excruciating pain again.
Since the plates were put in, I haven't had many problems with my legs. I saw Dr. Heiner often, then after a while, I was able to see him once a year. I do experience pain every day but it is something I have to deal with.
From all my experiences at UW Hospital and Clinics, I knew I wanted to work in the medical field and it was a dream that seemed so far away. I started working where I wanted to since I was 6 years old in 2008. I love my job and wouldn't change working here for anything. I see different faces every day, deal with different patients every day, and I am always appreciated wherever I go. Working here has been an honor.
I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, whether it's working or being a patient.