Gratitude and Recovery

Manipulated photo of me in the hospital after my most recent surgery (Dec. 5, 2019)

I had an MRI with contrast. They had to inject the contrast right into my hip joint. Even though they gave me some Lidocaine for numbing, I felt the long(est piece of pointy metal I’d ever seen) needle wiggle around in my hip. I bit the inside of my lip and pressed my eyes shut, as shut as they could go. That was the worst part. During the MRI, they played me some music and I laid as perfectly still as I possibly could. All of my limbs went numb by the end and when I got off, they filled with static, and just like an old TV, returned to function once I gave them a good whack.

Once the MRI confirmed that the problem was a Labrum Tear, I went to the specialist who I now refer to as my surgeon. Within the first two visits, I was scheduled for my surgery, which was done in December of 2015 – right at the end of my semester in college. 

After the surgery, I was going to Physical Therapy.  Since I had a break for the holidays, I was going to Physical Therapy pretty often. It was my first surgery, so I wasn’t too sure how quick my progress should go, or how my incisions should look, but I started to get worried about them. I showed my Physical Therapist. He immediately told me to call my surgeon. It turned out that my body was rejecting the stitches that were supposed to melt inside my body. Super fun. I had to go back on antibiotics for a while.

In the meantime my sister fell in school, which resulted in a torn meniscus and something with her patella as well (In the knee). Her knee was extremely swollen. We were close before this, but during this time, we created a special bond. We laughed about how “we’re in this together”. My sister was out of school for a lot longer than I was. She missed most of the school year. She had a whole struggle of her own during this time, but that’s a story for another time, if she’ll want to tell it.

For those of you who have been reading until this point of my story, you may recall that my wrist was hurting me also. Well, once my hip healed and I was doing everything as usual (better, even), I decided to tackle my wrist issue. I found out that I had a Ganglion Cyst. This is a lump that usually shows up in the joints or tendons of the wrist or hand. It was probably pressing on some nerves, which is why it hurt me so much, especially when I put my weight on it, but even during simple tasks like writing or painting. In March of 2016, right after my 21st birthday, I went for a surgery to get the cyst removed (instead of going to the club like a normal human being).

For the most part, my life started picking up from there. I found some new friends and I became more active. I was going hiking again, and working out whenever I had the time.

A photo of me during one of my first hikes after the first surgery.

It may seem to you that the story ends here. What more could there be to this already extremely long story? Well, NO.

About 2 years after the hip surgery, I started feeling an all too familiar pain in my Right Hip. Panic set in. No, it can’t be. I mean, the doctor said it could tear again, but it couldn’t have. Could it have? Did it? I tried to calm myself down. I figured the only way to know for sure, was to see my surgeon again. 

My surgeon sent me for another MRI with contrast again to look for another tear. The results came back clean. He said that the labrum had healed very nicely and there doesn’t seem to be any issues. The pain may be from a lack of movement, so he sent me to physical therapy again. 

Physical therapy wasn’t helping. The pain continued. I started to fall back into my old habits – doubting my pain. Well, my surgeon said that everything is fine, so why was my hip hurting me again? There had to be an explanation. I mustered up the courage that I worked so hard to build back up, and I took my butt (or my hip, actually) to my surgeon. I told him with confidence that I did my physical therapy, I started going to the gym again, but nothing was helping with my pain. Actually, it was making it worse.

I don’t know why I was surprised with my surgeon’s reply, but it really shook me. 

More or less:

“Although the labrum looked good in the MRI, you are still experiencing pain in that area. We have to trust that your body is telling you that something is wrong. I want to send you for a CT scan to see if you have any abnormalities in your bone structure. If that’s the case, we may be looking at a much more serious surgery.”

Not only did he believe me; he gave me a potential problem and a solution to that potential problem! Is anyone else impressed? Only me? OK.

Well, it turns out the potential problem was my actual problem all along, but it took a process of deduction and a REALLY dedicated surgeon to find it. My surgeon explained that I have a femoral anteversion. Whaaattttt?  What is that?  Yes, I know. The best way I can explain this, is that the head of my thigh bone (the Femur), which is supposed to go straight into my hip bone, like a puzzle… is not. I hope that was helpful, but here’s a picture to help.

A drawing by me that is most likely NOT anatomically correct, and should not be used as a factual representation of a Femoral Anteversion, but is drawn to the best of my knowledge. Angles are also not exact.

This explained why I walked with my toes facing in when I was very little. My parents worked hard to teach me how to straighten out my feet, but unfortunately my hip was probably still rotated. The hip may have not been rotated as much when I was little. It is possible that the injury I had with the fireman pole at the park, may have prevented my femur bone from naturally fixing itself during the most crucial time in my development. All of this is just speculation of course. We have no way of knowing for 100% when this happened or if I was born with it.

The surgery consisted of the doctor going in and cutting my femur bone, then rotating it to be as close to 10 degrees, as possible. A rod had to be inserted to hold the bone in place and keep it from reverting back to it’s previous position, and screws had to be put in to hold the rod in place.. or something along those lines. I’m no surgeon myself.

I decided that this surgery was way too complicated and I would just carry on living my life and try not to think about the pain. Besides, my surgeon himself said that if it was him in my place, he wouldn’t rush into this surgery.

In this time, I got engaged, and then married. Even though the pain was increasing, I didn’t have time to take a deep breath and think about the surgery that was suggested. I moved, I started a new job. Working with kids and being on my feet all day at work, and then coming home and working on my new house, was becoming too much. There were days that by the end of the day, I was crawling, not walking. By the way, my cyst returned in this time as well.

I put a lot of thought into the surgery on my own before I told my husband and my parents. If I decided to get this surgery, I would have to leave my new job for at least a month, and I would have to move back in with my parents. My husband would continue working, so I needed someone who could take care of me. My dad wasn’t working anymore and my mom was home most days. I knew the physical therapy in the area, I was familiar with the doctors and staff there, and it was easy to get there.

Finally, I told everyone about my decision. I received an overwhelming amount of support from my boss, my coworkers, even my students, as well as my family. I had everything I needed, so I took a leap of faith and I put my future into my surgeon’s hands. 

The surgery went well. My surgeon gave me the option of having him go back in to check the labrum while he would have my leg open. I agreed, and thank God for that, because my labrum was starting to tear again. It was fixed during the same surgery. If I hadn’t agreed, I would have done this surgery, and I would have still been in pain.

I also got my cyst aspirated. I am still struggling with it, but I hope to get rid of it once and for all! My body is rejecting my stitches again, but I know how to take care of it this time.

Today, it is 6 weeks after my surgery. I am making progress every single day. I have so much support from my friends and my family. Even the team in Physical Therapy is super supportive. They celebrate even my smallest improvements. They don’t judge me when I scream in pain while they stretch my knee, or when I sweat through my shirt. They push me so that I can get better.

I want to take this post to thank everyone that has been there for me through this journey. I want to thank you for believing me and believing in me. I want to thank you for helping my on and off the bed, for helping me get dressed, for helping me use the bathroom, for helping me shower. I want to thank you for making me coffee and sandwiches, for passing me my art supplies, for getting my crutches whenever I need them, for waking up when I need help in the middle of the night, for driving me around. Thank you for massaging my leg, for pushing me past my limits, for inspiring me, for giving me hope. Thank you for visiting me, or writing to me, or checking up on me in any way. THANK YOU! I am so grateful to every single one of you that have contributed to my healing. I am blessed to have you in my life.

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