Updated: Jun 6, 2019
The funniest thing about sitting down to write this blog is that I had this beautiful ambition to write blog posts about preparing for my hip arthroscopy paired with weekly updates about the recovery process.
Here I am, a little over three months post-surgery - still barely comfortable even writing this - SO here are all of the dirty, dirty details of my hip injury, surgery, and recovery.
Ready? Set. Go! - Oh wait...I can’t run anymore. I just hurt my own feelings.
About a year ago, I was laying on my back in yoga, crossed my leg over to get a really good stretch and… I was stuck.
Well, my hip was stuck - so, I thought to myself, “Wow, I’m really tight. I’ll just foam roll later.”
That didn’t help.
I started noticing some sticking in my hip while I was squatting. There wasn’t any particular pain, It just felt a little off.
A few weeks went by and my new lack of mobility became increasingly frustrating. It wasn’t debilitating per se, but it was annoying enough to affecting me while I was working out. Being a high jumper in high school and college, this hip had always “popped” back into place and it never stopped me from any activity that I wanted to do, but...this time the sticking continued.
The visits to the chiropractor increased.
But there still wasn’t a huge concern..
SEDENTARY IS NOT FOR ME.
I was in an educational position where the meetings and interviews increased as the year went on, which meant I was sitting. I was sitting A LOT. If you know anything about health and wellness - sitting isn’t good. It’s especially not good for your hips.
While my 9 to 6 sitting increased, my daily physical activity level increased.
Turns out, this is a recipe for disaster.
Towards the end of the school year, I discovered that if I stood in meetings - I had less pain.
Enter the chick who stands at the end of the table during meetings, awkwardly stretching her hip while she’s talking.
While moving, I felt great.
When I stopped, my hip was basically giving me the finger.
While I continued to push the limits of my hip, my wallet and I became incredibly good friends with my chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist, turmeric (for inflammation), and the infrared sauna.
I was open to any modality that would allow me to keep running and strength training.
If Hogwarts had a spell for healing hips, I would have tried it. Hiphealia Leviosa!
Summer came and I was working full-time as a personal trainer. I noticed some relief, but by no means was I healed. Enough relief for me to enter the Kiawah Island Half Marathon.
Smart, I know.
Training was going great - I wasn’t running my fastest or farthest, but I was running, and I was happy. During every run, whether two miles or eight, I would need to “pop” my hip in order to run any faster.
Usually it worked and if it didn’t, I’d just run slower.
The frequency of visits to my specialists decreased. My bank account was happy.
Around Mid-September, I went for a quick adjustment with my chiropractor, Dr. Eric Bassett and he commented on the fact that my hip hadn’t been bothering me and that maybe I was finally past that “issue.”
A few days later, I went for an eight mile run that included running the bridge for the first time - this run was a big deal for me not only because it was the farthest I had run in almost four years, but I’m also terrified of running over water.
I felt so incredibly free during the entire run.
The bridge felt comfortable and safe.
I ran with two running friends and we took turns pushing the pace.
Towards mile six, I let out a little (okay, huge) “YIIIIIIPPPPEEEEEE!”
I just felt that damn good.
Two days later, I was UNCOMFORTABLE.
A level of discomfort that I’d never experienced before and did not know how to handle. So - true to my nature, I did a test run...by literally running. I did two loops around Hampton Park and actually didn’t feel terrible. Until later.
I went to my chiropractor in tears. We finally talked about getting some imaging done to see what was could possibly be going on. I was so determined (read: stubborn), that I tried one last run near Colonial Lake.
A smart person would have ran a lap or two around the lake. An intelligent person wouldn’t have run at all.
Apparently, I am neither. I “successfully” ran one loop around and convinced myself that I would feel better if I ran a little farther.
I ran toward the Battery which was about a mile farther.
Not a great idea.
Another mile later - I hobbled back to my car, resigning myself to the fact that I needed to start the process of figuring out what was going on in my hip.
Clunking. Clicking. Sticking. Popping.Grinding.
I know that sounds like the lyrics of an R. Kelly song, but these were the words that I started to use continuously to describe the sounds and feelings inside my hip. The discomfort went from tolerable to unbearable. I was uncomfortable sitting, standing, walking, running, stretching, and sleeping.
On the other hand - at least my hip wasn’t into peeing on underaged girls.
My first X-ray showed that I might have necrosis in my acetabulum. Yeah, I didn’t know what those words meant either.
In layman’s terms, it meant that there was a distinct possibility that the bone was dying.
To get a better understanding of anything else that was going on, an MRI was ordered.
The MRI showed that while I did not have necrosis (Hooray!), I did, however, have a labral tear. Just my luck, the orthopedic doctor that I was meeting with did not repair labrums. (less enthusiastic Hooray.)
Well shit… Now what?!?
I’d heard that some labral tears can be healed with physical therapy, but my tear was significant enough that it needed to be surgically repaired. Commence doctor shopping.
I met with a surgeon in Charleston, and another in Maryland (yum, crabcakes) - until
I finally found my match in Charlotte at OrthoCarolina.
In meeting with Dr. Durham Weeks, I learned that not only did I have a labral tear, but I was at-risk of needing a hip replacement based on the way my femur head was sitting in the hip socket. My MRI showed that the muscles surrounding my hips were strong. They were also fatigued from working so hard to keep my hip in place. He didn’t advocate for an injection to decrease inflammation and pain, which was good because that wasn’t an option that I was open to exploring, and added that physical therapy would only serve to aggravate my hip.
He said surgery would be my best option for repairing my hip as it was - delaying the need for a hip replacement.
Excellent, where do I sign up?
Then our conversation took a turn that was unexpected, but deep down I knew was coming...
“You cannot run anymore.”
(Insert deep breath here.) “Ok... Let me make sure I understand…”
“Good. I’ve never run a marathon and I don’t want to…”, I rationalized.
“...And no 10Ks.”
“Hmm - what about 5Ks?”, I was getting desperate.
“No. If you’re going to prevent the need for a hip replacement - you can NOT run.”
This was fine. Okay, sure. No running. None. No running at all. No running. Perfect. I was feeling fine about this new information. I gallantly stood up and grabbed my notebook to ask a few additional questions.
In reality, I was starting to have a panic attack. I could feel my heart racing and my hands trembling. I took five deep breaths. This was not the end of the world. It was just end of running. Even though running WAS my world. Another deep breath.I asked questions about the surgery, the recovery, and what I could do to exercise now and what exercise might look like after surgery.
I was so grateful for that three and half hour drive home. It gave me time to listen to the thoughts rolling through my head. I talked to my husband Amol, who was supportive and reassuring. I talked to my brother Bobby, who is also a runner and my favorite person to run with.
That’s when I lost it - I sobbed. I blubbered.
Bobby snapped me out of it.
I knew I was somehow going to be okay without running.
It still sucked.
Since age 12, my identity was being a runner. Running allowed me to manage my anxiety. Running allowed me to release those nagging frustrations. Running trails gave me the opportunity to escape. It challenged me and forced me to test my limits through climbing a hill, running faster, or running farther.
But - three nagging thoughts constantly boomeranged back to me:
What am I going to do to go into surgery strong?
What’s the recovery from surgery going to look and feel like?
What do I do now that I can’t run?
Oh wow, you’re still reading. Thank you.
I feel like I should drop some cheesy TV drama tagline like, “All these questions answered and MORE, next week...on As The Hip Tears, Sundays on CBS.”
There’s still a ton more I want to talk about, but I’ll give you a break. Let’s just call this the “cliffhanger ending”. I’ll delve deeper into the physical and mental preparations I had to go through before and after my hip surgery next Sunday. Follow me, Share this weeks post, Email me, Inbox me, DM me, send a carrier pigeon, and we can chat about all of this stuff and more while I keep you on pins and needles for next week's “episode”.
See you next Sunday!