Sunday, September 16, 2012

I'm completely terrified.

Maybe I just need one of these...or maybe I have good reason to be freaking out?

It has been almost a week since I scheduled surgery for my hip, and I am quaking - at times even crying - in fear.  I have not been great about keeping family and friends up-to-date on what has been going on.  I was majorly - hugely - blindsided by the recommendation for surgery and have been looking at articles/studies/recommendations hoping for nonsurgical options...

So, let's back up...

Back in February, I started complaining about pain in my hip.  Actually, in 2001 I herniated a disc, and when I went to physical therapy my hip would snap during some of the exercises.  It was annoying, verging on painful.  The physical therapist thought nothing of it - she said it had something to do with my low body fat (it doesn't).

But, in any case, I figured I just needed to stretch.  I did a little reading up and figured out I had snapping hip syndrome and started stretching my hip flexors whenever possible.  I powered through some pain and ran my first half marathon, figuring I would get myself put back together afterward.

At the same time, I was having a different sort of pain around the 7 mile mark of every training run - I it ran down the side of my leg and sometime pulled a bit on my knee.  That was iliotibial band syndrome (called IT band syndrome and pretty common in runners).

I spent the couple of months after my race running really minimally - I once tried for six miles and ended up limping home after four.  Finally, when I just couldn't seem to shake the pain on my own, I went to an orthopedist.  Sure enough, he diagnosed me with IT band syndrome and hip flexor tendonitis and sent me to physical therapy.

Physically therapy was supposed to take maybe a month to get me back to running again.  But after 5 or 6 weeks I was still finding that anything over 6 or 7 miles a week - when I was hoping to be running that much at a time - had me limping.

I tried backing off of running and doing other types of exercises - like squats and leg lifts and plyometrics (jumping moves, which I cut out pretty quickly, too).  The pain got so bad that I stopped being able to play with the kids like I normally do.  If they pushed me to the side, I would snap at them because of the pain.  There were days I was limping again.

So, the day before we left for 5 weeks at my in-laws' house, I went back to the orthopedist.  He ordered an MRI, which they squeezed in that afternoon.

After a little bit of phone tag, I finally got the results and started learning some new big medical words:  I have a small labral tear that appears to be caused by cam type femoro-acetabular impingement.  (Translation:  the socket side of the hip is called the acetabulum, and it is lined with cartilage called the labrum.  My labrum has a small tear in it, and that is caused by the head of my femur - the ball part of the ball-and-socket joint - rubbing against the labrum.  I'm told that when the growth plates closed, it did so in a slightly misshapen manner.)

So.  This surgery.  The description of it makes my stomach turn.  The risks make me shudder and cry.  So here goes with that...

It's arthroscopic - they'll be using tiny instruments inside the joint.  Which means they are going to take my femur out of the socket by almost a centimeter (gag).  Then they're going to trim up the labral tear (this part does not bother me), and then they're going to shave off some of the head of my femur (barf).

Then, because I do have a snapping hip that doesn't seem to want to resolve, they're going to give my tendon a snip to lengthen it.

After this surgery, they usually give non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to prevent growth of extra bone (human body = weird. I'm guessing it tries to grow bone the same way it does when you break one?!?).  I can't take NSAIDs because of my kidneys.

Guess what the alternative is?  A dose of radiation.

So.  They're going to dislocate my hip, shave off some bone, cut some cartilage and some tendon, and irradiate me. 

And the risks?  Numbness - including in what the doctor referred to as my "private area," which wouldn't be so bad if that meant my office or bathroom or other areas of my house that are private or I wish were private, but I'm pretty sure he meant my genitals/groin.  Also, because they are shaving off a tidbit of a weight-bearing bone, it creates a risk of fracture.  And because they are taking it out of socket (shudder!), there is some risk that it will dislocate in the future.

That's all I remember.  I might have not been able to hear other risks over the voice in my head screaming "LALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

He pegged the risks at about 1-2% chance.  He thinks he can make me 90-95% better, and the most likely long-term side effect is some numbness in my thigh - where I already frequently have shooting pains, burning, dull ache, etc (depending on the day). recovery...

I'm going to be on crutches for 2-3 weeks, ending whenever I decide I'm ready to bear my full weight on that leg.  I will start physical therapy a few days in.  I will not be able to drive for 7-10 days.  It will be 3+ months before I feel as good as I do now.  But 4-6 months in I might be able to start running (a little).  And I'll be fully recovered (i.e. not getting any better) after 6-12 months...

All while parenting my two kids and having a husband periodically travelling for various aspects of work (no travel planned between surgery and Christmas),

So that's the story.  The bone-shaving, radiation-having, hip-dislocating story.

I have tried physical therapy, I tried yoga (it caused more pain), I've seen three chiropractors... I'm quite open to suggestions.

Oh.  And I have to figure out what needs to happen in terms of nursing A-Train.  He's not nursing super frequently, but he will flip his shit if I can't nurse him for a stretch, and I just had a super painful plug without changing anything.  I haven't pumped in at least 20 months, so I'm not even sure I can pump to relieve any engorgement. 

And, there are no real long-term studies on this surgery.  I'm actually signed up to participate in that (by filling out questionnaires for up to 10 years).  Maybe it will prevent arthritis later?  Maybe most patients are better off?  Maybe maybe maybe...

To sum up:  OMG.  AAAGGGHHH!!!

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