My Hips Don't Lie

Shakira Shakiraaaa. 

All jokes aside, be prepared to see the word "hip" a lot in this long post. I feel the need to dedicate the entirety of a post to my hip, as it has been the large hip-popotamus (couldn't help myself there) in my life recently and has affected my work, my body, and my perspective- deeply.

I had hip surgery a little less than three months ago. This isn't a statement that many people in their early twenties say. 

 

Let's backtrack a bit and summarize the chain of events leading up to this.

Right around Halloween of 2013, I started feeling a sharp snapping pain in my hip. I couldn't walk without pain for about three days, then it started to subside. No stranger to my share of aches and pains from my skating days, I just ignored it and continued lifting, yoga-ing, running and doing stupid stuff.

The pain would flare up, but then I'd take it easy for a little, ice, stretch, and then return to working out. This cycle continued for 3 months.

The bright red flag waved when I realized I couldn't even put on my sneakers without feeling sharp pains in my inner and outer hip, along with my hamstrings and adductors. I was also putting off going to the doctor since my new health insurance hadn't kicked in yet (side note, do not ever wait for stupid stuff like this- just suck it up and go to the doctor). The trainer in me + my over-analyzing self had already come up with several possible diagnoses in my head: snapping external hip, labral tear, hip flexor tendonosis, hamstring tear. All no good.

The sexiest shorts you ever did see. This was a size small, and it's already rolled up twice at the waist.

The sexiest shorts you ever did see. This was a size small, and it's already rolled up twice at the waist.

I went to an sports med doc, who evaluated then sent me in for a really fun MRI Hip Arthogram. This involved a lovely 22-gauge 4-inch long needle injection into my hip so they could inject dye to better see what was wrong. By the way, I am a baby even with the flu shot, so imagine my thrill when seeing this monster.

MRI results came back and it's even more fun: labral separation/tear along with a FAI (femoral acetabular impingement). In English, this means that my cartilage (labrum) that helps absorb force between the bones of my hip socket and the head (top) of my femur (leg bone), didn't really like the fact that the head of my femur was irregularly shaped and knocking into my hip socket repeatedly so my labrum cried for help and ripped. 

This is a common injury seen in figure skaters, dancers, gymnasts, soccer players, and golfers aka all hip-dominant sports that twist and compress that joint in every direction. My right leg was my landing leg for all my jumps and throws from 4 feet in the air and also the leg I did many of my flexibility tricks with. 

So what now? Doc says try physical therapy to see if I'm able to manage the pain and hopefully avoid surgery. 8 weeks of physical therapy went by where I'd feel great the day after seeing my PT, then immediately would reverted back as if I never had treatment. My hip is apparently as stubborn as I am.

After a lot of thought, research, and several surgeon consultations, I decided to go ahead with surgery- this would repair the separation/tear of my labrum and shave down the part of the bone that was impinging on the other bone, creating that friction.

I decided for the surgery for several reasons:

1. I hadn't been able to work out seriously or remotely consistently since January, and seeing as how my job is directly linked to my own physical fitness, this was not okay.

2. If I continued to live and workout with my existing condition, the bone on bone grinding would eventually evolve into hip arthritis. And you know what comes after that? Hip replacement. And you can usually only have about 2 of those in a lifetime, and each last about 12-15 years. Calculate my age if I were to have it by the time I was 30? By 60 I'm toast.

3. I was so frustrated, sick of not being able to do anything, and frankly, I was getting depressed. Working out is usually my outlet for stress or when I'm having a rough day, so it was a vicious cycle. It was heading down a bad road.

 
My exciting view when I woke up post- op. PS, my spinal epidural still was in full effect aka numb from the waist down. Fun times!

My exciting view when I woke up post- op. PS, my spinal epidural still was in full effect aka numb from the waist down. Fun times!

 
Called a CPM (continuous passive motion machine), I was best friends with this for 4 hours a day for 2 weeks. Don't think I don't see my mother's Cher tee in the background.

Called a CPM (continuous passive motion machine), I was best friends with this for 4 hours a day for 2 weeks. Don't think I don't see my mother's Cher tee in the background.

Present Day

Orthopedic approved shoes, crutch, and escalators just screams summertime in your twenties, no?

Orthopedic approved shoes, crutch, and escalators just screams summertime in your twenties, no?

You learn a surprising amount about yourself when you are a couch potato for 6 weeks. I had to take off 6 weeks of work (when originally told this, I basically threw a tantrum in the doctor's office... sorry doc!).

Honestly, I don't remember much about the first 2-3 days because I was on some whoppers of pain medication. The anti-inflammatory meds they had me on made me so nauseous I didn't want to eat or drink anything, which is the exact opposite of what my body needed.

But I started getting better rapidly during those first two weeks. I was feeling great and was progressing faster than the timetable given to me. I was down to one crutch about 10 days post-op, and rid of the crutches in 14 days. I was feeling a bit bold and thinking I maybe had it in the bag- I was a former athlete and fit, so it was going to be easier for me than for others, right?

Well, my ego got taken down a few notches. Or about 10.

My physical therapist had warned me about expected plateaus in recovery and setbacks, so I was mentally prepared for the physical aspect of it- but I wasn't expecting the knock it would have on my spirit.

I hit my first setback three weeks post-op and was ordered to lay off everything essentially and just be a lazy slug, stretch, and ice. My mother is a goddess for putting up with me during that time- I was absolutely wallowing and being a brat. I kept feeling sorry for myself and bemoaning how out of shape I was getting with the long duration of this injury after all my hard work at getting back to my athletic body.

I had to slap myself in the face (my mother may have been the one to guide it there) and remind myself how lucky I was given my situation. I was blessed to be able to have this surgery with a world-class surgeon at the best ortho hospital in the country, to have the best physical therapist I've ever worked with guiding my recovery, and loving family and friends who were supporting me throughout everything.

A lot of mindless GoT marathons later, I shoved myself in my big girl pants and got back on track. Then hit a plateau in therapy another 3 weeks later once I returned to work. But am chugging along. And so it goes. 

I've never been the turtle in the tortoise vs. hare race- I'm rather used to leaping and bounding as fast as possible, but my my, the world is a different place when you take the scenic route.

Everyone in my life knows how good I am at being patient with myself (HA), so this has been a true test. I'm sure I will continue to have my ups and downs, but I am trying to keep looking ahead. I have learned so much through this process already and I'm only at mile 10 of this marathon. It has made me a better coach for my clients, and it is continuing to challenge me to be a stronger person. I am still in physical therapy for another 2-3 months and am trying to embrace each little baby step as it comes.

Jumping over some of these hurdles with a operated hip is draining and a lot of effort at times, but I am interested to see how I make my comeback after this. Some days, digging deep to access that belief in myself is more arduous than others, but keeping perspective is what helps keep my head afloat above it all.

After that loooong roman novel, here is some real Shakira hip shaking for you to enjoy: