Thursday, July 13, 2017

These Hips Don't Lie

I have so much to be thankful for in my life. In fact, today Jeff surprised me with coffee.

I'm also thankful for my mom-- I called her today, trying to hold back my tears. I was doing a decent job, but she knew something was wrong. All I said was "Hi." She responded, "What's wrong?" She's really good.

I have so many other things to be thankful for, but today the reality of the situation with my right hip set in.

Nearly three years ago I was scared. I had to have major surgery.

My surgeon performed a periacetabular osteotomy as well as an arthroscopic procedure to repair a torn labrum. My left hip was dysplastic, and the deformity tore my labrum, a ring of cartilage in the hip joint. After months of recovery I eventually got back to normal (a year later I had the screws removed). Jeff and I even went to Oregon and hiked some of the most amazing, difficult, and more gorgeous than words can describe trails I've hiked in my life.

Gorton Creek Falls. 

Oneonta Gorge Trail.

It requires climbing over a log jam, and hiking through a creek bed to get to the waterfall. The water in the creek bed can get chest high depending on the season. It was above my waist at certain points and very cold! But it was well worth it.  
Triple Falls... I don't know the name of this trail because it was not the trail we meant to hike that day. But we kept going and found what is called Triple Falls.

But everything changed this February.

I thought my life was "normal." I had plans--my PhD work, a conference later that spring, papers to publish, trails to hike in the summer, and books to read in preparation for comprehensive exams in the fall. But then I felt it. I was walking around Campus Lake with a professor--I took a readings course with her, and rather than sit in her office to discuss my readings we walked around the lake once a week. One moment I was telling her about Doctor Who and various theories. The next I was rambling on, trying to hide my pain, and thinking "Oh shit. Why is this pain in my right hip? Oh shit. This can't be happening."

But it was happening. I had to scale back my plans, focus on course work only. Between my assistantship and the daily grind of graduate school course work I knew I couldn't take on the extras I wanted to, needed to. I didn't have an official diagnosis--my surgeon is one of the few in the country that does certain procedures (such as the periacetabular osteotomy and the labral repair) so I had to wait more than a month to see him. But I knew the pain. I knew I'd torn my right labrum. After going through the non-surgical routes, getting an MRA to confirm what we all knew-- I'd torn my right labrum-- I was told surgery was the next option.

I need arthroscopic surgery to fix the torn labrum. My surgeon will also perform an osteoplastly-- essentially he'll shave my femur so it is shaped how it should actually be shaped. Part of my femur is too flat (the arrow... that part should look more like the circled part), and the deformation likely caused the labrum to tear. The deformation has fancy names, but its often times referred to as an impingement.

There's only an 80% chance I'll fully recover. I'm also at risk for osteoarthritis. I knew this as it's true for my other hip. I'm nearly certain my other surgery carried the same 80% chance of recovery. I just don't remember because it was nearly three years ago, it was completely successful other than it just feels weird to lay on it sometimes, and when I got the news I started balling so I didn't absorb the information fully. Although this procedure is less invasive, it still requires more recovery time than one might expect. But that isn't what hit me today. It was the 80% percent. Or maybe it was the 20%. Regardless, the notion that I might not fully recover... well, it sucks. I realize it could be worse, far worse. And yet...

Indeed it does suck. Will I be able to hike all the trails on my bucket list? Will I be able to find a new comfortable sleeping position? Will the NSAID Dr. Clohisy prescribed help me sleep well enough so I can get through comprehensive exams this fall? I already have depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia. These are things almost no one talks about in academia. So what does it mean now that I am adding my mess of a right hip into the mix? I can't afford to not attend conferences for another year. If I were rich I'd consider taking a leave of absence. But I'm not rich. I'd also get really bored and my brain would end up torturing me. Boredom is not good for my brain. I already struggle with the lack of structure that summer brings. All of this and more has and continues to cross my mind. But I know I will persist. I will persevere. I don't have a choice. Plus, it's all I really know how to do. I haven't had a terrible life, but I've met my fair share of obstacles. Some I've conquered, and some I'm in the midst of conquering. What's one more?

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