Columbia youth won't let surgery slow him down

April 26, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

Instead of cringing at the thought of an operation that will keep him in the hospital for a week, David Hogue is looking forward to the procedure.

After a lifetime of operations to correct a bone disorder and to remove tumors from his arms and legs, the 16-year-old Columbia youth on June 1 is due for his 11th -- and what he hopes will be his last -- operation at Kernan Hospital in Baltimore.

"Once it gets here I'll be satisfied," said David.

The youth was born with multiple osteochrondroma, a bone disease that forms tumors in the bone. Those abnormal bone growths cease appearing once a person reaches adult height.

Despite operations that forced him to miss school and required painful physical therapy, David has never let his physical ailment slow him down.

"He's pretty committed to everything he does," said Howard High tennis coach Craig O'Connell, who watched David try out for the team twice before making it this season. "I don't ever recall him mentioning [his bone disorder] to me."

In addition to playing on the tennis team, David plays baseball and umpires in the Howard County Youth Program. He also golfs and skis, and jogs near his home in Glenmount.

At school, he earns top grades and tutors students at Phelps Luck Elementary.

Last year, he worked for Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Del. Virginia Thomas, D-13A.

Yet David insists that he's not special.

"I'm pretty much an average 16-year-old," said the high school sophomore, who enjoys collecting baseball cards and teasing his siblings, Sharon, 14, and Brian, 10.

David's first operation was in the first grade.

"He's really had to grow up real fast," said Evelyn Hogue, David's mother.

His father, Jim Hogue, said his son's attitude toward life has touched those around him.

Since that first operation, David has had nine surgeries, including five on his left arm, which was slightly shorter than his right until surgery last year to lengthen a bone.

After that operation, David wore for eight months a metal apparatus that held sections of the partially severed bone apart until new bone grew between them.

The eleventh operation, in June, will remove bone growths from his left ankle and left hip.

The days immediately after the operation are always the hardest, said David.

"The first time they try to get you out of bed is the worst," he said. "I try to be resilient and bounce back."

In past years, however, he has missed large portions of baseball and tennis practice.

"At first, it was frustrating," said David, who recalls that he would begin to perfect a skill, only to lose his mastery over it after an operation prevented him from playing.

He has grown accustomed to such interruptions. "I don't mind starting over again as long as I can play," he said.

David's baseball coach, David Adler, said the young man is a good hitter and a source of inspiration for the entire team.

"He doesn't complain. He just comes out and plays ball," he said.

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