Day 13: The Year of Surgery

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As the years roll on, each seems to assume an identity, or at the very least they take on some strong character traits, which then get imparted to me as Life Experience. For example, I have taken lessons from Bad Hair ’95 and Was I Really At My Dad’s House for Three Whole Years in the Mid-2000’s? and applied them appropriately:

  • NEVER cut or color your hair as an immediate reaction to a break-up.
  • Yes, staying at your dad’s for three whole years while you were trying to start every part of your life over is fine, BUT, …no wait, no buts. That was all the way it was meant to be. Carry on.

I mention years as markers because once you are smack in the middle of life, they no longer feel like the largest, most never-ending measurement of time fathomable. They pass on at a steady clip, seemingly going faster each year, piling up the experiences and stories along side the ark in some vast warehouse of memories, photos, and boxes of receipts. Events get compressed and classified by year, and the older we get, by decade. (If you have kids, well then, you have some extra weird human-time machine living in your house to also contend with, who is constantly pulling you into the future with all their growing and changing and learning.)

Last year, and now seven months into this one, are going to be known as Oh, That’s When I Wasn’t Running years, because, like all active people, I have been injured and trying to heal. 2014 will be, The Year of Surgery. In 13 days, on Friday, 1 August, I will be having a fairly extensive arthroscopic hip surgery on my right hip (see my MRI above!) to remove bone spurs and repair a torn labrum caused by my acetabulum impinging on the top of my femur, which in turn is caused by the way my hip sockets and pelvis are formed genetically, a weak right side, and repetitive motion, AKA, walking, hiking, running, skiing, yoga, sitting, standing, AKA being alive.

That surgery is in 13 days is both daunting and exciting. I have a to-do list a mile long from prepping my house for recuperation and lining up friends in a schedule to come check on me, to buy plane tickets for Christmas, as if I can’t do that, say 17 days from now while I am laid-up with a computer in my lap. That is the funny thing about time and getting things done. Once we are contending with a massive project (surgery in this case), we tend to go into overdrive trying to get all the shit done we have been not doing over the years… like throwing out those boxes of receipts! While my focus is of course on my health and putting my most ardent energy into healing my body, the life experience I am taking from this past year and a half is:

  • Do the annoying/daunting chores or tasks a little bit a day as much as possible. Then before you know it, every photo album is filled, and you have space to have a little meditation room! (And no, these are not done yet!)
  • Demand an excellent physical therapist. Figure out which side of your body is physically weaker. Do the required, annoying, repetitive, constant, sometimes painful, daily exercises and stretches to strengthen and balance it. Don’t avoid massages because you deem them frivolous. Do these things. You will then rule the world.

Updates to follow, thanks for the support, and any surgery prep/recovery tips are most welcomed!

Diagnostics

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If you have never had an X-ray taken of any of your bones, please go out and injure yourself immediately because no human should be denied the ego trip of seeing their own skeleton. I mean, I guess you could go get a bit high and imagine your own skeleton by staring very long at your hand, but SEEING it on a giant screen is just such a better buzz.

Especially since the reason you find yourself splayed out on an X-ray machine or breathing tiny, imperceptible breaths in the confines of an MRI tube is because you are in pain, over many months time, and no amount of rest or physical therapy is helping. Those moments of gazing at the shadows of your own insides can be as good as a dose of anti-inflammatories. It’s not only hard evidence of injury, which then leads to a plan of action to heal it, but SEEING your own bones… it makes you feel so actualized and alive. I need these affirmations since my fitness is so deteriorated, I cannot climb my stairs without gasping for breath or finding another sore muscle in my low back that needs to be soothed.

Today, after my X-ray ego-trip subsided, I got down to business to talk diagnosis for my right hip with the orthopedic surgeon. (Right hip has had a rapidly decreasing range of movement in last six months and increasing amount of pain.) Today was Doctor Number Two and his diagnosis and recommendations for treatment could not have been more different than Doctor Number One, which is both confusing and clarifying.

Doctor One (my knee guy): likely bone spurs, no surgery is needed, PT and A.R.T. prescription. Get MRI for both knees since knee pain still persists.

Doctor Two (hip specialist guy): likely not bone spurs but instead hip impingement called Femoral Acetabular Impingement or FAI; specialized MRI with dye, numbing agent, and cortisone. Ultimately it will have to be hip surgery to smooth out hip socket and remove any labrum tears. (Link to FAI page for all you aspiring Internet doctors.) Knee pain will likely improve once hip is structurally sound and strengthened properly. 6-8 months post-surgery to get to 80%, 12 months to get to 95%. This is VERY common in women athletes (from recreational to competitive) in their 40’s.

I have not totally processed how I feel about all of this information, so I am going to take my time to do that. I want to be methodical and clinical, but also make sure I have my emotions in check about making all of these decisions about more diagnostics and surgery. There is a financial component which is cumbersome and scary for me, but I don’t see how I can let that be a barrier to getting well and healthy. I am single and have to do a lot of this all alone. I could very easily slide into a pity party getting overwhelmed by the whole daunting process, including the dark daydreams of how bad it will be going up and down the 52 steps with no lung capacity and on crutches and trying to carry groceries and dog food and the mail. But, I know I can’t do that.

I am too enamored of these bones inside me, that are very, very real, and strong, and deserve to be healed. (I’d know that was the truth even if I were high.)