My Experience

I Need Surgery

Anyone with chronic illness can tell you that you’re not immune to normal issues. When I first started to get in shape after getting diagnosed, I took to running pretty fast. This was soon after my physical therapists had taught me how to walk again with a normal gait. I set off with the goal that I was going to run a marathon. My plan was to run a 5k every month for eleven months. Then on the twelve month, exactly a year after my first 5k, I would run a half marathon. After my half marathon, I would take a year to train for a full blown marathon. With another half marathon at six months. I thought it was the perfect plan. My doctor was proud of my determination and ability to commit. I had set my mind to it. I said it out loud and now it was going to happen.
I ran my first 5K in August 2019. It was the most accomplished feeling I’d had in almost a full year. I had to walk about ¼ mile but I was proud of myself. After feeling so successful, I couldn’t wait to run my next 5K in September. Before I could I started having some pretty significant hip pain. I would feel pinching while walking and burning pain while running. Despite warnings to stop and take a break, I persisted. Nothing was going to stand in the way of my goal. So I did it, I ran my 5K in September. I ran the entire thing and beat my previous time by five minutes. A consistent ten minute mile for all three. I was over the moon. 
So there I was, ready to train for the Halloween 5K but the pain was becoming more and more intense. I started working with a different physical therapist. This one was more specialized to runners. My hip was so tender they couldn’t touch it. For the first several weeks, I told I could run but only one mile a day. The PT wasn’t exactly helping and finally they told me to stop running altogether. This helped with tenderness and pain. Still, the more exercise I had in a day, the more my hip would hurt. Finally, I got an MRI. They injected dye into my joint to visualize the area. The picture was evidence of the damage I had done. 
I have a labral tear and hip impingement in my left hip. The doctor was somewhat shocked that I hadn’t had some significant trauma to the area. People often have one event that causes their tears but how I acquired mine is a mystery. So what does this mean? I have extra bone on my femur and because of that the cartilage, or labrum has worn down and torn it’s full thickness. Now, the doctor gave me two options. Get surgery now or a full hip replacement later. The choice was pretty easy for me. I’m banned from running and exercise altogether until I fix the tear. I’m opting for surgery. 
I will be on crutches for four weeks post surgery. With my already unsteady balance, it will be interesting to see how that goes. Luckily, I have Crush (my service dog) to help me out. The entire recovery process takes about nine months. That’s short compared to most hip surgeries. I am still hoping to train for a half marathon in 2020. I may have to revise my timeline but as long as I get to run, I’m happy. 
With my pre existing issues, I have to get four doctors to sign off before the surgery. Well five, if you count the surgeon himself. My primary doctor, allergist, neurologist, and an autonomic specialist will all have to approve. My health is in a declining state as of right now. It’s unclear of what my future looks like as far as full autonomic function. Exercise plays a large role in being able to cope. I use exercise for everything, fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, joy and excitement. It’s how I make sense of everything and most importantly, it’s how I deal with my OCD. 
It’s difficult to put into words the emotions that go behind needing surgery. I have lots of fear about going under anesthesia. I have regrets about not listening to my body. I have excitement to be able to run again. I have sadness because I can’t run right now. Surgery for someone with chronic illness isn’t the same. There are more risks and often a longer recovery period. Making these choices doesn’t come without consequences but I have to plan for the longevity of my body. I know that if I can’t exercise, my health both mental and physical will decline. Getting a hip replacement at forty isn’t exactly in my life plan. I know that I am making the right decision for me. I’m confident that my hip pain will resolve post surgery. Making this choice was not easy but at the end of the day, I want to run.

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