The Pre-Surgery Journey of Emotions

Panic.  Denial.  Then…?

 

My pain isn’t constant. Nor is it debilitating.

Vocabulary.com gives a rather rambling and conversational definition of the term ‘debilitating’: “Something that…seriously affects someone or something’s strength or ability to carry on with regular activities, like a debilitating illness.”

I no longer run. When salt is needed for the water softener, I hesitate because the bags weigh 60lbs apiece. Occasionally I utilize the handicap parking tag my doctor suggested a few years ago (“I signed the application for the permanent card. Hip dysplasia doesn’t get better…”). At work I often stand at my desk because sitting for any period of time makes my hips ache.

So maybe it IS debilitating.

Our brains do sneaky things to us when we aren’t paying attention. It tells me that I would go for a run if only the wind chill weren’t -10F this week! But lately its favorite thing to do is to tell me that the pain isn’t all that bad. As in, definitely not bad enough to warrant breaking my pelvis in a few places and re-aligning it with the help of long screws.

When I scheduled my PAO for May 18th, my brain spent the first two weeks panicking. Now it’s shifted into denial mode. Anxiously awaiting the next step in this emotional process…

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Thought this was ovah!

So it looks like it was 3 years ago now.  February 2013.  That’s when I saw Dr. Trousdale at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.  And he told me that my hip angles were such that I could get away with merely an arthroscopy (scope) in the left hip.

I rejoiced, as it were.  My dad drove the 4 hours home and I texted everyone and their sister about the good news.  No PAO for me!  Woot!

I did not ultimately go through with the scope.  The pain actually got better for awhile.  It came back about 7 months ago, and has been relentless.  Re-started the process.  X-ray.  MRI.  Orthopedist.  Referral back to Trousdale.

This time he thinks I should have it done.  The PAO.

I discovered that the anxiety and fear are also part of the process again, unfortunately.  Currently I find myself re-anxious and re-scared.  The sense of relief is long gone, although I did manage to enjoy it while it lasted.

“Make your decision when the pain interferes with life and you can’t tolerate it anymore.”

How do I know when that is?  There must be someone out there who can decide that for me…

Adapting. Or at Least Trying…

 I should probably mention that I have a therapist.

 

I’ve gone back and forth on divulging this, mostly because of the stigma associated with mental health care in this country.  But I fancy myself as sort of an advocate of being mentally healthy (particularly in my job in the healthcare field), and as such, I should be forthcoming about that.  That and she might get a mention here and there, because she tends to say things that are very reasonable and would actually occur to me on my own if I took a minute to stop freaking out.

So.

I began lamenting to her about This Hip Thing on Thursday (she doesn’t allow me to lament for more than a few minutes, which is good, because lamenting isn’t actually all that productive), and I could immediately tell that she wasn’t going to be able to relate to me on this one.  She has kids my age, and has been wonderful in terms of relating to me about motherhood, school, work, relationships and just about everything else I’ve told her.  So anyway, I don’t fault her for not empathizing about This Hip Thing in the way I need her to.   I have found, in telling a few others about this, that people who are athletes or who just love to run, or bike, or challenge themselves physically, have been more able to understand what it is about this that’s weighing on me.

What if I’m never the same again?

I mean, I know that I won’t be, in the structural sense.  And I also know that I probably won’t ever run again (at least not the marathon distance, for sure).  I know some people who have run after PAO surgery, but the surgeon who is going to be re-constructing my hip isn’t keen on running.  That’s fodder for another blog entry, though.

My body has always done what I’ve wanted it to do.  I played women’s tackle football.  I’ve run 3 marathons.  I was a competitive swimmer for many years, and it’s always been my intention to train for an Ironman triathlon at some point in life.  This body that I’m proud of has never failed me in this fashion, and although I think I knew that it would happen at some point, I didn’t think it would be at age 35.  82 maybe, but not before that.

I have begun ‘fluffing up’ my support network –  with women who have gone through this experience, mainly.  And they all definitely get what I’m feeling.  I think about stupid things like whether or not my football friends will view me the same way afterward (you know – like if you’re in a reptile club and you suddenly no longer own reptiles, what is there to talk about?), or if I’ll fall down the stairs the first time I try, or if my leg is going to be too numb for me to take up cycling.

It’s all a matter of processing.  And some days I’m doing it much better than others.

Here We Go. I Think.

I’m no longer a runner and won’t be, not ever ever again.

And if you know me well (or maybe not even very well), you know how heavy this news is; how difficult to absorb.  I wonder a lot about how long runners’ rage will stay with me – that overwhelming feeling of wanting to drive over any runner I see out on the bike path.  Of wanting to trip women in winter running tights coasting through campus, feeling snowflakes falling onto their chilled, rosy-red cheeks.  Of being unable to breathe for a few seconds (minutes?  A lifetime?) when I realize it’s sunny outside and I can’t go run.  Oh, and just releasing some of that stress………..eek.

So yeah.  It’s not a brain tumor.  And I would NEVER make light of that; it’s something a friend said to me in an effort to put some of this in perspective.

This blog is about my journey – emotional, mental and physical – through hip pain and surgery and all that badass shit that goes along with it.  I’ll try to keep the f-bombs at a minimum (What, what??  No I won’t!).

Periacetabular osteotomy.  Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, especially the first time you say it.  But as you try it out a few times, saying it quietly to yourself on your way home from the orthopedist’s office, it gets a little easier to say.  And perhaps that’s the first step.  First of many en route to accepting this new me.

I’m a little hesitant about blogging – partly because I am a very, very rusty writer – after obtaining a minor in creative writing a zillion years ago, I suppose I figured that this skill would just stay with me forever.  Alas, it needs constant attention or it withers.  AND because I don’t have just one style of writing.  AND because I’m not so great at sharing my feelings.  But fuck, I can be sarcastic as anyone you’ve ever known.  And sometimes funny as shit.

So maybe there’ll be something worth writing about.  We shall see.