Last year, the world was feeling pretty dark and dreadful. I was just recently diagnosed with femoral retroversion – finding out my first surgery was only a fix of a secondary issue and not the main issue fixed. The pandemic was spreading and lockdowns began happening – resulting in making my surgery even that much more delayed. Spring’s usual joy was muted by so many setbacks.
This year, spring is the opposite. I feel so much hope. The pandemic is still surrounding us but vaccines are underway. There’s some light even with some uncertainty. My hip surgery happened and while I am still limping, have some healing issues to work on, and I have a lot of work ahead of me in my recovery, I’m on the other side of the journey. The waiting to be “fixed” side, the limbo side, is so much worse.
None of the last year’s struggles with the pandemic should be minimized – lives lost, jobs lost, homes lost, families broken – nor should the setback I went through either. But spring has a way of letting you feel free to let out the breath you held all winter and the really breathe deep. A real cleansing breathe. Something I think we all need right now. So, wherever you are – if you can, go outside and let out the breath you’re holding and take in a new one.
Hello spring. Welcome. You are very much what we need right now. Please be gentle with us.
“She believed she should so she did” is one of my favourite short motivational quotes. However, we forget that “she should” and “she did” doesn’t mean you can’t say no to things too or take the necessary time to rest. I’ve believed I could do so many things – my lifestyle change, weight loss, comeback from 2018 surgery, my thesis, this current journey – and I did and I am doing. But none of it was done without also balancing my physical and mental health.
None of what I’ve achieved in my life was done without also having days of not doing anything. None of what I’ve done in the past or now was or is perfect and none of it was or is possible without setting realistic expectations. And sometimes, even when she could and she did, she has to start over again – and that’s okay too.
I know – because due to my setback with my hip disability and surgery, I’m restarting my weight loss journey as well as working towards a comeback to teaching (again) and back to any of the fitness activities I loved and I am able to do again.
And…the pandemic. I know, I know. We are so tired of talking about it, but it’s been a year since Covid began to really hit North America and initiated lockdowns world wide. I’ve really been on a lockdown since January 2020 when my hip issues intensified forcing me to be put on leave from work as I couldn’t even walk. After 6 weeks of being unable to walk, drive, work – I watched the world become almost as restricted as I was. It was surreal.
The most ironic part of the pandemic is that when the world became locked down, more services became available to me, someone disabled and stuck at home. So many things that I could not get before the pandemic suddenly became easily available with a click on the phone and delivered right to my door.
The pandemic really challenged everyone in similar and different ways. It’s often hard to change the routines we’ve had for years and realize that the realistic expectations we had for ourselves before the pandemic may need to be adjusted or completely changed now. That’s the same with my surgery and recovery. If you’re just doing your best each day, even if you don’t accomplish all the tasks you thought you should, that is enough. There’s no set rule book for how to survive a pandemic, or a medical setback. We have to take it day by day. Sometimes even hour by hour. Just remember – you are not alone.
So, now, sometime today, please go pour let’s go make ourselves a cup of coffee or tea and take a moment for ourselves.
My tshirt I wore up to Saskatoon yesterday said embrace the journey. A part of me was like “hell yes” let’s do this. Another part of me today says I’ve embraced this and fought this so long, I’m so tired.
But today is day 1. I can’t give up now.
I haven’t written in awhile. I’ve been waiting for a surgery date and it finally has arrived. That date is today. I don’t really don’t know what to expect. I’m checking into the hospital at 10am and my surgery is scheduled at 1pm. I’m trusting the surgeon. I’m trusting the powers that be.
I know today’s surgery is not going to be easy. To fix the femoral retroversion, the procedure is called a derotational femoral osteotomy. The surgeon will cut into my femur to break it, realign it, put a rod in, and then stitch/staple me up. I’ll be in the hospital for undetermined amount of days – anywhere from 2-4 days. Thanks to the pandemic, my partner cannot be with me. I’m alone while waiting for surgery, after surgery and during the hospital stay. I think that part is what scares me the most as he is my solid ground when the life is crazy.
I don’t have much to write today. I’m writing as the start gun to this important long race. so here we go. Bang. The race began. Day 1.
We are on our way to meet the new hip preservation specialist surgeon to discuss the femoral derotional osteotomy that realign my retroverted hip femur. The emotions I feel are many – anxious, hopeful, uncertain, angry, impatient, excited, worried… but really – just ready to do it now with hope this is the finale of this ridiculous hip journey.
I’ve been dedicated and passionate about my comeback from the hip labral tear surgery in June 2018. 2 years of recovery, physio, pain, and missing out on many things almost feels like it was for nothing. It’s hard not to feel let down or discouraged. Yet, there’s no way of going back to change any of it. I only have now. Today. Tomorrow. I can choose to let the past define me or I can define myself throughout this next chapter of this journey.
I’m worried about hearing it’s a lengthy wait for this surgery. I’m hopeful maybe it won’t be. I have doubts – as in is this really the last problem causing my pain? Or are they just pinpointing the first thing they found again? While the surgeon said on my phone call appointment two weeks ago that he is positive I’m a good candidate, today he decides for sure – so I’m also scared – what if he rules me out for it? What if my osteoarthritis worsened and he can’t do it?
These what if’s can control you so much when you’re facing an uncertain future with something that affects your life so intensely every day. And more than ever, I’ve felt closed off from the world – Covid didn’t help that much. The first time I went through my hip labral tear surgery, I still felt more connected with those around me. This time, I feel more far apart. I know there’s many reasons for it:
I have to say no to many things and I know that has meant some may have given up inviting me.
I’m unable to join my team and friends in things we used to do. The common athletic interests and fitness goals I had (still have but on pause, some may be unable to do ever again), while I’m still interested, I’m unable to do. I feel less important now that I’m not able to participate in events or crush the daily training plans.
This is 2.5 years now – some do not understand what chronic pain is like to live with and have cut themselves off as it’s too hard to be around something that scares them and they can’t understand it.
Unintentionally, I’ve secluded myself. Driving anywhere hurts. Being outside the comfort of my home where I know the spots and places I can sit or lie down in that will reduce pain – or even that I can just be comfortable in even when the pain is at it’s worse. I’m terrified to go out and then be somewhere when pain flares up badly. I hate admitting this so more often, I come up with excuses instead for why I can’t go to a friend’s or out somewhere with friends.
I’m tired all of the time. This isn’t like me at all. I’m the 5am get up and run and do 8009 things in a day person. Now, taking a shower means needing to rest after. And I never knew before, but pain is exhausting. It takes everything out of you and more. It’s hard to even find the energy to hang out with a friend – even if in my own home.
Covid. Oh, Covid. While many are struggling with Covid fatigue and many are immersing themselves into the Reopening plans, due to upcoming medical appointments and surgery, I’m having to retreat more into my bubble. I can’t risk getting sick and missing the opportunity if surgery in the immediate future is a possibility.
While many of these may be all on my emotions, I think there’s truth to all of it too. When you’re the one with life on hold, you don’t want your family and friends to put theirs on hold – heck, you become more empathetic for when those you love also face setbacks – but at the same time, it isn’t easy to be the one left behind. Especially for 2.5 years and counting! And while you’ll hear all same similar well wishes that most resort to, these only make you cringe. Such as:
“This too shall pass”. (Sure, easy words to say. Pass when? This too? I’m on multiple “this” setbacks in just 3 years and “this” hasn’t passed. “This” means unable to walk, stand, sit, lie down without pain and it means 5+ years of my life on hold…. so “this” shall pass feels like belittling the trauma and negative related consequences (like affecting finances) this has brought, and will bring.
“At least you’re moving forward.” Umm – moving forward doesn’t mean not even knowing when I’ll have surgery and the wait time. It sure doesn’t feel like forward when it now means another surgery after one already. And one that means breaking my femur and needing a metal rod put in. Moving forward would be best determined AFTER the surgery and actually seeing some positive progress. Not still stuck in pain.
“Feel better soon”. See above. This is best used for short term illnesses like the flu….
I could go on – but I never knew the power those simple common well wishes had. I never considered the meaning of the words before I encountered chronic pain and setbacks myself. I’m not attacking anyone who have used those – I’ve used them many times myself. But in situations where someone is encountering years of life spent on chronic pain, sometimes just saying “it sucks” or “I hope this surgery is the answer” or even uttering a few profanities is better than the well wishes that hold false positives for a lengthy painful process that has no guarantees. Well wishes that minimize the significance of the setback can send mixed messages that the setback is just an easy hill to climb – when for the person going through it – it’s a cluster of mountains with sharp cliffs and many ascents and descents.
I share this as all I’ve been through and continue to face, as well as all I’ve opened myself to learn in my setbacks have undeniably changed me. Unless I express how I feel, then I can’t expect anyone around me to understand or learn from my journey.
Today is Chapter 1. While I know I have months ahead of moments of isolation and feeling alone, I’m hoping my writing can break down the walls I feel around me. It is no fault of any person – circumstances have made some walls, such as Covid. I’m going to have to continue to say no to many things. While today isn’t the end of this journey nor really a big start, it is a start. While I’m going to have to put many things on hold in my life and continue to mostly isolate myself, hopefully today, we can turn Chapter 1 to Chapter 2.