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Sallyann Mulcahy Hip-Replacement Surgery in India (Ballet-Dancer)
Age: 54 yo
Surgeon: Vijay Bose, Apollo Specialty Hospital, Chennai, India
Surgery performed July 2013
SAM head
How many professional ballet dancers look at someone in their field who has had hip-replacement surgery and immediately feel in their gut the fear of what can only be called sheer nightmare? This is generally followed by the confident response, "What a relief that this will never happen to me!"
Or will it?
Sallyann fell in love with ballet when she was five, attending classes in Helena and Missoula before leaving home at 14 to train on full scholarship at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Alberta, Canada. While there she met Betty Farrally, co-founder of Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, from whom she received full-scholarship admission to the Canadian School of Ballet in Kelowna. Two years later Arnold Spohr, renowned director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, invited her to train in the company school's professional division under director David Moroni.
At 18, Sallyann took stage with the Royal Winnipeg's corp de ballet, and in her first year was performing soloist work. Eventually she traveled east to join Finis Jhung's Chamber Ballet USA in New York, and New Jersey Ballet.


Sallyann returned to Helena from New York after a 20-year immersion in ballet culture, it was never her intention to re-create in her home state the world she left behind. She was injured and tired; she sought recovery and rest. But while Sallyann Mulcahy was recovering and resting, the world she left behind followed her to Montana.
From 1995 through 2012, Sallyann spear-headed Ballet Montana. She rehabilitated injured dancers, refined the technique of those whose training had been left in abeyance when their employment began, and inspired performers to rediscover their love of the art. She choreographed and staged 54 ballet works -- over 300 roles -- for 62 career dancers; she created and built more than 250 costumes and 50 tutus; she propelled one in four of her pre-professional students into professional careers.
Biographical information from:

I was exactly this person believing "this will never happen to me" while I was in so much pain that a passé was no longer possible and simply walking my dog was a sad challenge. My denial had been reinforced (when first began experiencing pain, seven years prior to my surgery) by an x-ray that revealed no problem - so I blamed my psoas. I held onto that story no matter what; it had to be soft tissue. I was just not doing enough to heal it even though I had done everything imaginable except hypnosis! I finally acquiesced to another x-ray when the horrible, grinding noise started.
The doctor who broke the news to me called later that day to check on me because, he said, "You left my office in dazed shock."
Having no health insurance and, at last owning my sheer nightmare, I was led by research and recommendation to one of the finest hip surgeons in the world, Dr. Vijay Bose, in Chennai, India. We communicated by email; I sent him my x-rays; I was diagnosed with having hip dysplasia from birth and a bone-on-bone arthritic joint. But his words, "I have performed hip surgery on dancers who have had full recovery and returned to their same level of work," were music to my ears.
The second song to my heart came the day after surgery when Dr. Bose said, "This is a perfect Delta-motion hip replacement!"
In a profession where the word perfect is ingrained, my confidence soared. All I must do, I thought, is follow perfectly the rehabilitation instructions and post-operational-care advice given to me by the medical staff in India, and I will have my full recovery.
India was amazing. My experience at Apollo Specialty Hospital could not have been better. Dr. Bose's integrity, efficiency, and humanity reflected with light through his whole team. Their work ethic resounded with graciousness and respect for their profession. The kindness and care - their personal-touch regard for medicine and nursing - made me feel that they personally wanted me to heal. There was complete peace and quiet in my clean, cool private room (with an extra bed) that was so supportive to my senses.
I experienced no pain (that I recall), I walked the day after surgery, and by day four I was climbing steps. On day five I retreated with the loving support and care of my dear friend to an exotic hotel setting an hour south of Chennai. I spent the next week, amazed by the surroundings and culture, walking the beach of the Bay of Bengal with a single elbow crutch. Before I knew it we were state-side and I was repaired!


I can only remember being happy, even through the initial rough days post-op.
Truly, what an amazing distraction it was to be in the exotic and complexly layered world of India while facing such a trauma. My horizons were expanded immensely, aside from my surgery, with colors I will never forget. Today, eight months after surgery, I am fit and ready to teach and choreograph. I have a new ballet waiting in the wings of my mind and can't wait to give it flight!
The cost? For two travelling from Pittsburgh to Chennai, including coach airfare, all ground transportation, 15 nights in two hotels (eight in the city, seven on the beach), all meals and gratuities, a half day touring Mamallapuram with a driver/guide, four custom-made Indian dress outfits, and, lest I forget, surgery with pre-op and post-op examinations: $15,500 US in 2013.
A vitally important final note: I have heard of many bad hip replacements. Do the research!
20 June 2014