John 15

John 15
‘I am the vine, you are the branches'

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Please understand.....

As you see me go throughout my day, please understand that some days I still need my crutches and others I can go longer without them. There are days that I don’t need them and my muscles all play nicely. However, there are also days that my muscles are pissed at each other, not getting along, not working together, and/or just plain refusing to work, throwing a tantrum in true toddler fashion. It’s on these days that I am in the most pain, and I humbly use my crutches to take some weight off my legs so I can enjoy my kids’ sporting events, get to the store, and/or just plain enjoy life.
So, you ask, why do I not get a hip replacement? Well, for starters, Orthopedic Surgeons will not perform a hip replacement until arthritis becomes severe enough to warrant one. The option I was provided with was to live in pain until I reached that point, or have the PAO. Secondly, a person can only have so many hip replacements in their lifetime. Because I am so young, if I chose to have a hip replacement now, this could put me in a grave situation in my 60’s to 70’s when I reach the end of functionality with a hip replacement, causing me to be permanently confined to a wheelchair. I am not interested in that gamble. Thirdly, when you are dysplastic, having a hip replacement does not fix muscular issues caused by the dysplasia. The muscular issues are often as painful, if not more so, than the joint pain itself.
With regards to rehabilitation, please understand that PAO rehabilitation is not even remotely close to a hip or knee replacement rehab. PAO rehab is usually one year, sometimes more. Therefore, when you look at me in bewilderment, wondering why I am still on crutches at 3 months, it’s because my surgeon has not released me to go full weight bearing. I am only allowed to slowly add weight to my leg as my bones fuse back together, and my body is healing at its own pace, try though I may to hurry the process along. 
Also understand that, for me, this condition is bilateral. I am still rehabbing my left leg from my LPAO in November of 2014 and am only 3 months out from my RPAO in July of 2015. Many of my glute, hip, and leg muscles have atrophied away. Pair this with 36 years of incorrect biomechanical movement, underuse of some muscles and overuse of others, my muscular system is a hot mess. Sitting around on pain medicine for the first 4 weeks after surgery is the easiest part of rehab. The struggle becomes real when (a) you’re drug free enough to realize your muscles have turned to jello, (2) each increase in PT results in increased pain and the subsequent roller coaster of emotions, and (3) you realize that you will only survive this journey by staying patient and accepting that you are not in control.
I am pretty sure whatever you are thinking in your mind, I have already thought. Yes, I have gained weight. Yes, it pisses me off and gets me down, especially since I am confined to a playpen of what I can do to control it. In addition to the limited amount of activity I can do, much of the medication I am on also causes me to gain weight, so please don’t give me weight loss advice. Please don’t tell me to just move more and harder. I have moved hard core for 36 years. What I am dealing with on the muscular scale is nowhere near just being out of shape and pushing through the pain. Instead, what I am dealing with are muscles that once locked up make my leg look like it has been squeezed through the tightest sausage casing imaginable. I start to get rapid fire electrical shocks through my leg, my muscles feel like they are being squeezed out, and I have radiating hot burning patches all over. One wrong step, one day, or even hour, of doing too much can set me weeks behind in PT. This I know from my first surgery. My PT had to give me the “come to Jesus” conversation, telling me that if I don’t slow down, and let my body move at its own speed, I may never reach optimal rehabilitation. It’s a sobering realization for someone who loves the rush of adrenaline. 
I have become very good at hiding these symptoms, but if I drift off in conversation or suddenly become silent, just know that I am battling another war in my mind and with my body. Your stories are not boring. I am certainly not ignoring you. Please be patient with me.
I have mourned deeply for what once was and the roles I can no longer fulfill. There is a perpetual sadness, and corresponding guilt, in my heart for my spouse and kids as this has obviously affected them as well. However, I try to remember that wisdom always follows sadness. Growth occurs after a rest. I am not asking for any sympathy. We all go through our own struggles in life and this is mine. I fully expect to rehab to a functional level that enables me to lead a modified lifestyle. I have no desire to run or do Crossfit again. After $250,000 in surgeries, another $10,000 in PT, and additional thousands of dollars in personal expenses, I will always choose a lifestyle that preserves my joints, rather than partaking in activities that will potentially cause them additional harm.
As much of a struggle as this has been, many beautiful things have happened as a result of this journey. I have learned to face and let go of many preconceived notions about life. I have learned to celebrate my victories, no matter how small the gain. I have learned what it is I truly want out of life versus what I once thought I wanted out of life. I have learned that humans are resilient; our brains are pliable and happiness can be found in any situation. I’ve grown more spiritually, and my connection to God is the strongest it has ever been. I have learned to be thankful for more of the smaller things/moments in life instead of the bigger, more glamorous ones.
Therefore, who am I to curse my circumstances when so many beautiful realizations have unfolded from them? I have learned to truly live life in the moment instead of in the past, or pining away for the future. I’ve learned to be thankful for each moment, as they are all gifts from God. I am forever grateful that I have learned these lessons now versus 20 years from now. As I continue through rehab, I have no doubt that there will be many more ups and downs. I will face them as I have learned to, with grace and a spirit of thankfulness. I will continue to strive to reach whatever my new normal will be. I will continue to trust in the Lord and have faith that he will guide me over these hurdles. I will Persevere and Overcome (PAO).

Friday, October 2, 2015

Hip Dysplasia is not an Individual Diagnosis

Seven simple words....  "Hip Dysplasia is not an Individual Diagnosis". The truth behind those words resonates loudly. While being the person consumed with pain, an unknown diagnosis for 2  years, and the physical and emotional turmoil that I endured my family was also affected. To hep increase awareness and support, my husband wrote a lovely narrative for the PAO Project Hip Dysplasia is not an Individual Diagnosis.

My husband has been the silent "Warrior". I can't express how humble and unselfish he has been over the last 2 years. He continues to keep work, the house, kids, activities, and errands together as I take a step back to heal.

Twelve years ago, we started off as an adventurous couple deep sea diving and rock climbing. Since saying "I do", we have moved 8 times, lived in 4 different states, brought 3 amazing young men into this world and continue to plan for more adventures. However, in lieu of my momentary sabbatical, at times he has had to do it all. Having experienced being a part time single parent during one of his many deployments, I empathize with how hard it is. In additional to my husband becoming the default parent, he also had to assume responsibility for my well being especially during the early stages post surgery.

Unfortunately, the emotions that caretakers go through is sadly overlooked. I hope you take a few minutes to read his narrative: Hip Dysplasia is not an Individual Diagnosis