The waiting is over and plans are being made. Time to finish up several things in process before my self-imposed 3-week deadline. Life is about to take another turn…for the better, I’m certain. Total hip replacement. Finally.
Some of you already know that I was diagnosed with hip dysplasia back in 2006. After a bit of research, I realized the extent of my condition. I was sad. I cried. No more tennis. No more volleyball. No more high impact sports. The recommendation back then was that I put off hip replacement as long as I could given my young age and the supposition that most hip replacements last 10-15 years, meaning a second one would be in my future. First hip replacements have become more art than science, making hip replacement an operation with the highest success rates. The second ones? Not so much.
Pain would help me decide when the time would be right. Five years ago, I had tightness and pain that could be somewhat relieved with physical therapy. Eventually, well really, the last couple of years, I’ve come to depend on Ibuprofen for my pain reliever, along with a slathering of Biofreeze at the pain points. Physical therapy helped last Spring, just before our summer in Norway. It was livable then and through the Fall. But my physical therapy visits stopped in November when I got busy with work and…life.
I started up again about two weeks ago, this time at BaySport. After a week of daily exercises prescribed by Tegan, my new physical therapist, I didn’t really feel any improvement. She encouraged me to set up a new consult with a local hip doctor. In fact, she arranged the appointments and everything. I can’t begin to say how thankful I feel for her push to get this done.
My meeting with Dr. Matt Miller was eye-opening. What I thought were pain and tightness in my hip flexors were the loss of cartilage in and around my hip joints and bone-on-bone grinding. It was time. Then we had a far more encouraging discussion than I remember 5 years ago (with different doctors). New materials for artificial hips have been developed and become more widely used in the last 5-10 years. The target is now about 25 years before degradation in hip joints will require a second replacement surgery. This is huge – from 10-15 years to 25-30 years. Yippppppppppeeeeeeeeeeee! It also means that the second hip surgery may also include higher success rates; a lot of research and testing can happen in 25-30 years.
My limitations? Nothing as cut and dry as I had come to understand five years ago. Sure, my doctor said that he doesn’t want me doing any high-impact sports like running a 10K or something but running after my kids here and there? No problem. What about tennis – my old favorite sport? Well, doubles is preferable over singles. And no, don’t go chasing after that errant ball that you’ll have to stretch out and slide after. Be conservative. The message? For obvious high impact activities, stay away. For gray area activities – just remember that I’ll have mechanical parts in my body that will wear down over time. The more wear, the less time that part will last. Words I’ll live by the rest of my life. I’m looking forward to getting back on that court.
Eliminate pain, recover function. My hopes are basic. Simple. But my plans are far more extensive. I know that I will be a better photographer. Right now, I see things – angles, perspectives, expressions – and if I could react just a little quicker getting into position or running faster to catch up, I could create even more amazing image(s). I get so excited just thinking about the possibilities.
But honestly, most of my hopes have to do with being able to keep up with my twin almost-7-year-old girls. Bike riding, hiking, cross-country skiing, [maybe] downhill skiing, walking to/from school, working with them on their Tae Kwon Do form, teaching them to play tennis, dancing and well, so much more! Without pain. I can’t wait.
Right now, my girls’ image of me is far different than the way I want them to know me. I’ve had pain and tightness since my girls were born. If it wasn’t my back, it was my hips. They’ve never seen me at my most active…or active, period. Truls knows me and how unlike me I’ve become with the decreasing function in my hips. I met him when I first started doing triathlons and loved playing beach volleyball and tennis. I did a marathon and several long bike rides. I went for a run when I felt like it and entered 10K’s and shorter runs whenever I felt the need for a challenge. He taught me to windsurf and ski (downhill and x-country). There wasn’t a sport or activity I hesitated to try out. If it looked like fun, I was there. Lately, not so much.
I am biased; I admit it. I want my girls to be athletes, the way I grew up. I played field hockey at Stanford for four years; the last two years on scholarship. In high school, I played tennis, basketball, field hockey and soccer and earned the Golden Girl award (my high school’s scholar/athlete of the year). I’ve biked a couple of centuries and run a marathon simply because they were there and I wanted to challenge myself. My mentality did not question whether I could do something or not but how I could do it and what I would need to do to train. I want my girls to think like this. I want them to look at something and think, I could do that! But I need and want to set the example for them. Soon, I can. No pain. No hesitations. I can’t wait.
To see all of my posts related to my hip surgeries and recovery, check out these posts: