I fell apart today. Tears streaming, snorting snuffling nose, splotchy face. Face buried in pillow. And I couldn’t stop it.
There really wasn’t any one reason why. I haven’t slept well in months. I can only get 1-2 hours of sleep here and there throughout a 24 hour day. My back has decided to join the hip pain party with muscle spasms. Luckily I know this doesn’t mean back issues but just a side effect of the hip condition and it’s likely due to compensating for the hip pain and condition. I have physio this week and I think she’ll be able to help me to calm down the back muscle spasms as she has before. For now, I’m just trying to rest as much as I can. And if sleep comes, I embrace it whether it’s 10pm, 8am, 12:30pm, 2pm, 4pm or 7pm – just whenever I can.
And that is exactly what I was trying to do when I melted down. Attempting to sleep mid afternoon. With the back spasms, I lay flat on my back with my left leg propped up on angle that helps the hip condition – and I began to doze off.
Ring, ring, ring. My phone rings. And when you’re waiting for a surgery date – you don’t like to ignore any phone call. First – a work call. 5-10 minute conversation. Done. Close eyes. Ring. A scam call. Click. Didn’t bother after the “if you do not pay us, you’ll be likely held in federal criminal law” or whatever line they use. Close eyes. Ring. My surgeon. A phone call appt/consult/check in. 20 minutes.
I didn’t feel as if I could sleep now but I was still desperately yearning for this nap so I crawled back into bed. I could not find a painless position at all. My usual go-tos were not helping. Toss toss turn turn toss. I couldn’t get comfortable – either my hip hurt in one position. If I moved, my back hurt. If I moved, my knee hurt.
When I finally managed to find one heck of an odd position that seemed to be okay for all 3 – the bedroom bathroom toilet starting to run constantly. I tried to ignore it – but constant running water is not something you can easily ignore. I did not want to move after all the effort to find a reasonably comfortably position, but I gave up after about 5 minutes and attempted to fix the problem. I couldn’t. So I thought I’d just close the bathroom door and my partner could fix it after he was done work. Bathroom door wouldn’t close. After 3 tries, I slammed the door shut.
And. Then. Everything. Fell. Apart. I just started ugly crying and sobbing. I climbed back into bed feeling weary and empty and exhausted. I was the tired where you know you’re so exhausted yet you’re not going to be able to sleep. I cried for 40 minutes instead.
After, I almost began to feel bad for this moment of vulnerability. For allowing myself to feel what I was truly feeling. But feeling your emotions is not shameful. It’s how you channel those emotions. So, I had a good cry fest in bed – but my actions didn’t hurt anyone. If I had taken those emotions and punched a whole in the wall – that is now going from feeling my emotions to letting my emotions control me.
In Yeats’ poem, he writes “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…” My centre couldn’t hold today and things fell apart. In some ways, I’m in a world where darkness just keeps coming – the unknown, the pain, the insomnia, the exhaustion, the inability to do the things I love. While I am sure there are many more days where I’ll fall apart, my plan is to not be ashamed of those feelings but also be patient, with the waiting for surgery and with myself; to put myself first; to rest; to sleep when I can and however I can. I’m not sure when I’ll get my call for surgery but once it happens, I have my own second coming to look forward to. One that isn’t going to be an easy journey nor a short one. And one most definitely made up of many moments of “falling apart” that will be a part of the journey to put me back together again.
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.
This past week I’ve felt the stress of family, friends, colleagues, parents, teachers, students, businesses government, and society in general. However, in this stress, I’ve also felt one other emotion – gratitude.
We’ve never experienced a moment where so much we take for granted for as a given to be there every day is just suddenly gone. For 8 weeks, I’ve been dependent on grocery delivery and pick up, and physio. It’s extremely challenging to get a grocery order right now and even physio is now closing next week. Likely my 2 month estimated time to see my new surgeon will be delayed. And it sure as heck is terrifying to not have the medical tools that help indefinitely or to have a timeline for seeing someone who can help me move forward.
This whole week I have felt frozen – I think we are all feeling frozen. The days feels surreal. Yet, I can’t live the next days, weeks or months like that. So, what do I do? I managed to get one last physio appt tomorrow. I am going to do my best to get as many tools I can – stretches, exercises, whatever – to help myself during this time. I have a TENS/EMS machine that while is no way comparable to what my physiotherapist can do, if I use it regularly, I think it’ll make a difference. My pool therapy is gone and I cannot swim – the one workout I could do almost pain free. I can’t change that so I’ll do my best. Surgeon is okay with short walks but to stop when it hurts. Some days this 20 minutes, some days 10, and even some days 5 minutes. Most days getting ready is a workout.
But – not all of you reading this will be that stuck. Get outside, sit on the deck or porch, go for a walk. Find an outdoor training program. If you don’t have a gym anymore, ask if anyone has any gym equipment they aren’t using and maybe you can borrow them. You can even get active by offering to do the grocery shopping for an elderly parent, grandparent or neighbour – it gets you out of the house while also helping them stay protected.
I have felt useless for 7 weeks and very alone. This week – I have felt useful and that I was needed. Nothing changed for me physically but suddenly we were forced into a world where it was acceptable to use my skills to teach online. I’ve been able to create lessons while lying in bed. I’ve helped share tools for parents while doing some physio exercises. I’ve thought of ideas to add to my i online French classroom website while icing and taking a rest or nap. This reminded me that we are all useful in some ways but sometimes our society, and even ourselves, doesn’t realize that until we are forced to.
The challenge comes with balance – I have to take care of me too. Sometimes even lying in bed with my laptop hurts and I have to know it can wait. Even if it is just making 1 document or adding 1 link. So as much as we all want to help, we also have to practice self awareness – for both physical and mental health. We are living in a time where we have to really pause and consider the physical ramifications of even just going to a grocery store. We have to consider beyond ourselves and for all of our loved ones too. So I rest and I am still putting myself first. I have naps, I do my physiotherapy exercises, I allow myself to simply do nothing especially when my pain is at its worst. I binge watch Netflix, read a book, lie in bed and look at the sunshine (or snow as event weather is wonky still.)
What I also find intriguing this week is how much we are all thinking of how our actions affect our community – and sometimes we don’t always pause to reflect on that. More often, we have lived a life where we focus on ourselves and our families first as before, typically, our choices for our lives such as going to stores, gyms, parks, school, and work didn’t possibly cause harm or risk to others. Businesses are trying to find a balance of how to keep customers/clients safe yet while trying to be available for them. People are jumping to help others with lessons for kids, online workouts, getting groceries and running errands.
Overall, amidst the stress and chaos, I have seen so much kindness. Patience for the stores struggling to keep stock in; understanding for those who struggle to shop such as seniors and those with disabilities and opening store hours just for these individuals; buying from local businesses who are struggling to survive; gratitude expressed for teachers more so than I ever have felt before. I’ve even had more people checking in and I’ll admit, via texts and social media, I’ve checked in on people more myself this week.
I don’t want to forget yesterday or not get back to that – I know we will get back to the normalcy we grew dependent on. But this is what I hope we will not forget about this week or the upcoming weeks of uncertainty: One, we can survive by working together. Two, we are so fortunate to have so much available to us. Three, communication and socialization – it really does mean so much and it’s necessary for mental health. Sending a text or message to someone even when life is busy can make a world of difference for both the sender and the receiver. Even better, when this is over, don’t forget about those who actually are isolated due to illness or disability before all of this – make an effort to visit. make efforts to pause in a grocery store to have a conversation with someone you haven’t seen. More often – and I know I’ve done this too – we say “Oh hi! Sorry, wish I could chat, but I got to run.” Before, we were so focused on the next thing on our to do list as we took for granted we could chat with our friend next time. In this same mindset, let’s not forget the time we had with our families – time that was spent without multiple activities or events happening in our schedules. Four, physical fitness – while there are ways to do it now, many are facing limitations – don’t take it for granted. When this is over, if you’ve never trained or always done it alone, I recommend joining a local gym or training group – being physical is one thing but doing it with a group or around people is so different. I encourage you to try it. Plus you’re supporting a local community business who had to shut their doors for a period of time. Five, buy local – even if it’s a bit more money. I’m not saying you have to solely buy from them but even if you just buy a package of chicken here, or a load of bread here. Get a coffee from a local shop instead of Tim’s one day a week. These businesses will be the ones that will hurt the most from this Covid19 period but I’ve seen more local businesses reach out in compassion and kindness in so many ways as they try to help their community. If all of us made an effort to buy one local something each week in our community, we will help them build up again when this ends.
For today – unfreeze. Thaw. Melt. What can you do that’s positive right now with so much frozen around you? I started Duolingo and I’m making quite a dent in my Goodreads Want to Read list. I’m trying to be outside and get some fresh air but respecting my physical limitations with it. When able, I’ll continue to add lessons to my Online French classroom website during the duration of school closures – I’m still physically unable to teach but now I’m in a world where my body isn’t needed – just my mind. My partner has to work from home now – he has set up an office but then as soon as work is done, we have had some friendly Duolingo battles but also just enjoyed watching tv or Netflix together. He seems less stressed working as he gets up, works, done. I think having no commute has helped so much with reducing stress.
We have had such amazing yesterdays and so much to be grateful for in our past but we are only really recognizing that in this new reality – in this today. While there are so many stresses with this new unknown reality we are facing, we can find so much to make it positive. Once this ends, I hope we don’t rush back into old habits – forgetting what we’ve learned we took for granted and missed when we didn’t have it. While unexpected, not exactly wanted, and still surreal, I think this time and experience can inspire more patience, kindness and compassion in each of us; show us what is truly important in our lives; bring families closer while some may learn how to support each other in a multiple home family setting; make communities stronger; and maybe this experience of disempowerment and entitlement will help our society to grow to be more accommodating, charitable, and sympathetic. Hopefully we can continue to live with what we’ve learned this time, so that it doesn’t take a virus for us or future generations to have to learn it again.
Amid this coronavirus crisis, it’s been an odd experience as someone already secluded from society due to an injury due to a newly diagnosed hip condition – femoral retroversion. The past 2 months I’ve focused on navigating how I can live my now with the pain until my diagnosis – waiting for tests and surgeon appointments. Now with a diagnosis, I am focusing on the tools being given to me from physiotherapy to reduce the pain I’ve been in. It’s going to take time and patience. I’ve been overwhelmed by the uncertain future of decisions we will make because of it as we await to meet with a new specialist surgeon for this condition. So amidst all of this, it has been hard to balance the emotions of my own world and the world around me.
As someone who has already cancelled most of her 2020 race season, the emotions I’ve felt as I’ve heard cancellation after cancellation along with the reactions to the cancellations has been something I couldn’t quite register the last few days. But today, I finally understand the emotions I’ve been feeling and hope these can help you realign and make this a positive experience. While I feel terrible for people who have had races, even multiple races, cancelled and my heart breaks with them as I know the effort and time we put into our training, at the same time, I’ve seen posts where some have said “everything I’ve trained for was for nothing”. I’ve also seen posts from the team I train with who are still putting in their all to train for the upcoming Montana Spartan races, even with fears it may be cancelled. My team is a great example of how to see training is for tomorrow and for life – not for just a race. Even if that tomorrow has changed.
If you’ve felt like you’re training only for sake of races, step back a moment. Reevaluate. Training is a life achievement – and what you are doing is not just valued by the events you choose to challenge yourself with. Challenging yourself each and every day to be the best you can is a value all on its own. You have a new opportunity to prove that again. Regardless whether the race you’ve planned for is cancelled or likely to be cancelled. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. You don’t know when the day will come when you can’t do any of it at all.
My races were cancelled before this virus thing all began. I was disappointed- still am but I am still focusing on the priority that training is for me – it’s a lifestyle change. It’s what gives me motivation. I can’t run or do any kettlebell training right now, barely can walk, and I just found out I can’t even do the short stationary bike rides I was doing – at least for the immediate future. And I used to hate the pool and now find myself in a position where that’s the only exercise I can do with limited pain. So I’ve embraced it and even fallen a little bit in love with it. I went from forgetting how to be able to front crawl even 5 metres and now I can do 80 metres of front crawl laps before switching to a breast stroke or back crawl for a break. While I am terrified that pools may eventually close, I’m taking it day by day. I can’t control the future or what happens – I’ve sure learned that these past 2 years. But I can control how I deal with it.
So yes. Be disappointed but don’t let that interfere with what you’re doing to change your life as it is still so worth it. Find something else to embrace the disappointment with and put your energy into the positive. Be the best you can be. This is temporary and while for some of us, it feels like it’s just starting, I know it’ll end. As someone who has experienced setback to setback for the last 2 years and still isn’t fully through it all, all I have is hope that there is still more to come.
I am awe of anyone who trains regardless if they race or not this year. All of you that keep moving forward regardless of current situations are inspiring those who are struggling whether due to lack of motivation, an injury, an illness, or physical disability. Whether it is because of the coronavirus or due to an injury like me, we can be brave in a time of fear, we can realign priorities for what is truly important today, and we can not give up just because we can’t do something. Races will be back eventually but you can’t get back the days you wasted throwing in the towel and only moaning about what you can’t control. Do something with this. Continue to be brave. Continue to be amazing.
We don’t always get a say or choice in the factors that determine our journeys, but we do get to decide how to move forward, not move at all or move backwards, in the journey forced upon us.
My pre surgery symptoms have returned. While I am managing it way better than the first time, I am in almost constant pain just at different varying levels. Some nights I can’t sleep again, some days worse than others. Sitting and standing long periods are more challenging than the 20k ruck i did over Christmas break.
However, whether I’m more mentally strong this time or luckily the pain is less severe more often, I am trying to resort to only necessary measures for pain relief. So right now just OTC extra strength Advil recommended for the almost constant inflammation. The effects of the narcotic pain meds last time were almost worse than pain itself. There may be a time that medical team may not agree, and I’ll listen to all parties involved before making my own decisions as I am now, but right now at this moment fortunately they are working with me on this and supporting my decision.
I saw my surgeon yesterday and he believes there is a high chance I have a hip labral tear again – what extent is unknown. Is this definite diagnosis? Not at all. But he said the symptoms and physical exam indicate it is highly likely.
Ok, what’s up Doc? As in what’s next. The short answer. Waiting. And more waiting. And tests.
Test 1: I’ll need another MRI to confirm if it is a hip labral tear again or maybe even perhaps something else. Right now, it looks to be about 3-6 months wait. In Saskatchewan, MRI are covered by public health care. However, the recent provincial government has a new program of a few years where you can pay to get it privately done. The catch? To take advantage of the faster privately paid one, the program in place has the cost higher than paying what a private one typically costs. You’re actually paying for you, and paying for a public one as well. A special government deal to address the backlog of private MRI. While you get the advantage of being guaranteed to have MRI done within 2 weeks instead and therefore jumping the queue and getting results and any possible surgeries sooner – it comes at a financial cost. I think we may be leaning towards private but we haven’t decided 100%. We are waiting to hear about the actual price from the private company before making final decisions. Hopefully we hear early next week or even by end of next week.
Test 2: CT Scan. Surgeon believes there may be more going on the hip that originally thought. So to determine any femur or rotational issues this test will rule anything else out. This will also help him to know if something more needs to be fixed – especially if MRI does confirm a hip labral tear, the CT scan may point towards a body make up reason for it that can be addressed.
My life: Running and rucking are out obviously. Kettlebell club is on hold too. Even simple tasks as doing dishes and getting ready for the day are challenging and slow- within 10 minutes my leg is flaming and groin is stabbing. And as much as I’ve always been the “get it done now person”, I’m once again learning that sometimes you have to stop. Resume when able.
Regardless of results, my race season is likely done. I already am working on cancelling Spartan Montana Trail Race in May. Even if tests are sooner than expected and/or diagnosis is not as serious with a much easier quicker fix – my body won’t be ready for it with less than 3 months to go. There’s next year or the year after. I don’t have the body or time to train for it this year and at this moment so there’s no point sulking and trying to find a way around it – just move on and try it again when ready for it. My big September race will still depend on results and timeline. If it is a tear, it is 100% not happening but right now I have the time to hold off on that decision. One decision at a time and accepting the necessity to back out of Montana was heartbreaking enough today.
My medical team, my coach, and I are going to focus on making sure I go into this surgery stronger than last time as it will help reduce the length of my recovery. I am off work for now – I cannot stand or sit longer than 10 minutes without pain and mobility issues. My focus needs to be on using rest and minimizing pain, while doing physio approved activities so my body does not lose all the muscle and strength and conditioning it had last time. Physio has outlined a plan of swimming, short walks, stationary biking with seat high up, upper and core strength. I must avoid 1 legged activities and any hip bending beyond 90 degrees. I will see my physiotherapist every 2 weeks for now. My coach is going to help use physio/surgeon approved activities for a daily plan. I will focus on my nutrition plan with him so I can maintain or even lose weight – my hip issues will be better for any weight maintaining/weight loss I can achieve especially if I’m facing a surgery again.
I am forever grateful for a coach willing to work with athletes of any kind, all with extremely different goals, and as well at any step of their journey, even injured ones. I am also grateful for a physiotherapist and surgeon who have worked hard and put in countless hours in my recovery and continue to fight for me and with me. This is not the outcome anyone wanted and we all honestly thought I had surpassed what the surgeon originally thought I would be able to do after surgery.
So for now, I focus day to day. Hour to hour. I may or may not be able to do something one day that I can another day. Even what I’m capable of doing may be change or be reduced if pain increases. And I have to listen to my body and know when to stop. Rest and not push myself back into severe pain that excessively reduces my mobility, like a week ago, is the priority right now. But I want to use any available tools approved to get myself back to my life 110% hopefully more timely this time.
The last time my recovery was not just focused on rebuilding my repaired hip and weakened left side due to the hip injury but I had to rebuild my whole body as the pain was serious enough to give up on everything and was on complete bed rest. Was it right or wrong to do that – I won’t question the decisions of the past as it was what was directed by medical care but it sure had its negatives too. But in this moment, I only have now and how I deal with this journey in the present.
So, yesterday I began step 1 with my surgeon appointment. Today I’ve been working on step 2. It may be some time before I can move from step 2 depending on wait time for tests and results of those tests but I haven’t quit. And I’ve still taking the first step to begin. I’m not quitting. I’m not throwing in the towel. Turning the page or closing the book? I’m not ready to close the book on my journey so I’ll turn the page and while not the words I expected to be written for me this year but I will be writing what are MY WORDS. I want my journey and my book to be written by me – not for me. Some of the future pages may not be where I want to go in my story and may still encounter more setbacks but I’m promising 2 things – it’ll be me holding the pen and it’s going be one heck of a comeback story.
In October I was in a car accident when a lady turned left into my lane as I was going straight. Easy at fault verdict? Not really. It was the first day of snow and roads hadn’t been cleared or sanded. Instinct? I was only going 35km and thought I had time to stop, so I braked slowly. And I hit a patch of ice that left me with 0 control of my car as I slowly slid sideways into a car waiting at a red light going the complete opposite direction. It was like slow motion slide that I had no control over. It took a month to fix my car. The provincial insurance we are mandated to have only looked at who hit who – not who caused it. I was put at fault but won my appeal with the safety points taken off given back. The highway board also said “We can’t reverse the fault” but I could tell they didn’t fully agree with provincial government insurance decision for fault.
I feel like I’ve lost that same control again. Yet this time it’s my body and my former pre surgery injury symptoms. I was heading straight – progress was great, and I was following all the directions I was given by surgeon and physio. Then suddenly an unexpected obstacle in my path. My body began to slowly feel the old groin pinch. The stiffness in upper left leg. The worst it got the more my left side suffered. Swelling. Knee stiffening up. Pain into the left butt cheek and lower back. Not able to sleep on my side anymore. I feel like something is grinding in the hip joint. And a couple of familiar old pops in the joint. So I hit the brakes first on running and kettlebell training. On Monday, I received the call that my surgeon would see me February 6. All I had to do was make it through 2 weeks of work…
But each day it worsened. The more I was on my feet teaching – or even just doing mundane household chores – the worse the symptoms grew. I said I could bare it. I would be ok. My pain was evident to many of those I worked with – while I thought I was doing okay masking it. By Tuesday, someone reminded me that “just making it through the day” means I shouldn’t really be at work. I considered this and by end of the day, my body was screaming no more. I booked a sub for 2 days and made appointment with my family doctor.
Today, my family doctor put me off until I see the surgeon. I wanted to haggle for half days or something – anything that doesn’t mean time off. But my doctor said that the symptoms being so similar, it isn’t worth the risk of my health. And working in pain in my job is not safe for me. As I left, maybe because he saw the tears in my eyes or maybe because he knows how long my recovery was the first time and how diligent I worked in this recovery – he said with such force that it was like he knew I was already beating myself up: “Jess, take it easy. And be easy on yourself.”
“Be easy on yourself.” Since the first time I even let myself admit I was in serious pain, all I’ve been thinking of is others – my new students, the school I’m fallen in love teaching at, coaching basketball, falling behind on my resining goals, my partner and I finally back on track financially after the last injury and surgery, my partner and I making plans again for the future, my friends and commitments to them… I also had the “what if we have to go through this injury and surgery all over again?”
Meanwhile for those I’ve shared this news with, I’ve put up a brave front. I’ll deal with whatever comes I say. We will figure it out. Maybe it’s nothing. Yet inside I am feeling a turmoil of pain, doubts, fears.
The injury and surgery do not scare me – heck, if they said they could diagnose and fix me tomorrow I’d be game. It’s the uncertainty until we figure it out that scares me. The time lost. Losing the moments for all the opportunities I had planned this year. In Canada, a diagnosis for this type of injury takes awhile. We have to wait for tests such as MRI’s. Last time it took 3 months – my life on hold for 3 months. 1/4 of the year. Followed by 2 years of rehab that I really hadn’t fully finished.
I have goals to reach. I freaking love my job as a travel cart French teacher – as crazy as my job is. My job is a part of my “home” and a huge part of me, Being away from what I love doing takes away from who I am. And I feel so lost again.
For 2 weeks I’ve hidden these feelings. Ive beaten myself up. Like my accident – questioned whose fault is this – mine? Did I do something wrong? Did I do something to deserve this pain? I’ve put on a mask. Said I was being brave and tough. Taking on facing the unknown courageously while hiding how you feel really isn’t courageous. So here it goes – I’m freaking out. I’m losing my mind. And guess what? Even just admitting that brings me back a small sense of control. So the question is now what do I do about this? Well, I’m going to rest. I’m going to read, sleep, Netflix/Disney/Crave/Amazon Prime binge the heck out of this week. I’m going to prepare myself for how I’ll handle the worst but also hold hope that maybe an easier shorter fix is possible.
Meanwhile, life will go on. My students will miss me, basketball will likely find another coach temporarily, my workouts will go undone. But I do know that whether it takes a week or another year, there’s still so much more out there for me. And it isn’t anyone’s fault. I have to let go of blaming myself for life’s setbacks. I grew up blaming myself for family challenges that I couldn’t fix. Never did fix. It has created me to always blame myself in any situation.
I am sliding out of control. Hit the brakes. Time to rest. Minimize the damage. Let go of the guilt and blame. Accidents happen. Injuries happen. Sometimes there’s no explanations why – so you just have to deal with what life has given you.
It took my car a month to be fixed. Maybe it’ll take me just this week. Maybe it’ll take me a month. Or a year. Either way, pressing the gas going directly into the obstacle is likely only going to result in a head on collision with more significant damage and a longer recovery time.
Last year running would have been theain focus of my life. I lived for my days of training that included a run of any type – aerobic, intensity, hills. If it was running, I’d be excited for it.
Last week at physiotherapy when I was told I could start doing some outdoor running again, I was so excited initially. But then I was hit with a sense of fear and anxiety. What if my hip hurts? What I tear my labrum again (whether same hip or the other)? What if running isn’t good for me? What if I only ever hurt and exercise never feels good again?
But on Saturday last week, I layered up and said “runnies?” to my best friend and 4 legged running partner – a word she hasn’t heard since March 4, 2018. And we set off. It wasn’t easy but I enjoyed the 3k we did even with the run/walk intervals I have had to go back to.
The problem with my hip labral tear is that we don’t fully know the reason why I had it. The surgeon had thought it may have been a hip joint issue – that there was something on the hip joint that caused the tear. But when he did the surgery, nothing was wrong with the hip joint itself. So did the tear happen during the many hours of shovelling had done during a snowstorm? That’s when hip began to hurt. But I’ve been told shovelling isn’t a typical movement that would cause a hip labrum tear. Possible though. Or was it something that had already been happening due to running? Hip labral tears are a common (even if not well known) running injury.
I don’t talk about it much but I want a reason for this. I want to know what caused it so I can avoid it. I want to know the whys and the how’s. And even now, almost 5 months post op – it still haunts me.
Especially as I’m told it’s ok to start running again. But is it?
Each week I feel like I’m getting better, something else is bugging me. A few weeks ago, it was my knee. It hurts like heck – typically not during an activity but after and during just normal day walking around the house and such. Last week it’s the front of my shin. It has a sharp pain. My physiotherapist is amazing. She takes all my concerns seriously and I’ve learned that any small isn’t a small thing but important to share. I usually hate to complain. I don’t like to express how I feel or if I’m hurting. I hate admitting when I’m not doing well. But I’ve learned how to this past year. I still struggle admitting pain or when I can’t do something – but I am able to do even with a deep internal mental battle where I’m trying to convince myself I can.
My physiotherapist has always been compassionate, sympathetic, concerned, and patient in any small or big issue I have had. She works with me on it – gives me tools to help it. I often want an immediate fix but sometimes there is none. It just means time. I spent 4 months bedridden in pain before we were able to get the MRI to confirm the diagnosis that both physiotherapist and surgeon believed was a hip labral tear. After surgery, I was on crutches and mostly in bed for another 4 weeks, before progressing to 1 crutch for 2 weeks but still resting a lot in bed. My whole body, not just my left hip, has been through the wringer this year. My mind too. There is a lot of work to put back in to get me back to just functioning as pain free as possible. It’ll take that much more work to get me back to where I was athletic wise before this injury happened.
On Thursday, I went to my Conviction Fitness workout and was so excited to see kettlebell snatches in the daily WOD. The first 3 rounds felt amazing – I didn’t know if I’d even remember the movement but it came back like riding a bike. In the 4th round, something in my hip stabbed. I’ve been learning how to listen to my body – and to not let all pains freeze me into stopping what I’m doing. So I stopped, shook my hip out to loosen it up. Thought it felt ok. Positioned myself to try again, and one snatch in – same pain returned to my hip. So I stopped and asked my coach if I could do another movement instead. He asked “what’s wrong?” And I explained and he said “I say just stop. You don’t have to jump back into everything all at once. Sometimes it’s ok to just do what you can and stop.”
Again. Patience. I want to hit the ground running, push through the pain and just be who I was athletically before this. But that’s not what’s going to get me back to where I was. In fact, it’ll do the opposite.
After my Saturday run, I was sore so I didn’t jump immediately into a run on Sunday. I also got hit with a flu early hours of Monday morning. So I didn’t force it. On Wednesday, I felt way better and excitedly prepared for another run – thinking I’d do a 5k. I had a terrible run. Every step felt like I was fighting to move. My calves were angry. It’s now winter in Saskatchewan and winter running is not easy. I wore my grip tractions over my running shoes and that was great from my house to the park on the snow covered roads. Once I hit the park, the running paths were actually clear and the metal of the grips on asphalt seemed to jar my hip and my body more than it ever has in the 4 years of winter running I’ve done. It never bothered me before and made more sense to wear them for the sections that needed them than to not wear them and slip when I hit a bad section. Especially this year – I can’t risk a fall!
Throughout the whole run I wanted to cry. Something I used to enjoy seemed to have lost its spark. I slowly also became angry. Angry that this injury happened. Angry that everything seems to be a challenge. Angry that when it seems it’s getting better, something happens that reminds me it isn’t all easy. Angry that I can enthusiastically agree to do every event or activity presented to me. Angry that the cold winter hurts me more than it ever as. Angry that my calves were hurting. Angry that this took so long to get back to running.
I returned home angry.
I think under the surface for most of this week, I was angry. But after hearing my coach on Thursday and his comment “you don’t have to jump into everything fully right away” and hearing physio on Friday say similar things “you’re doing amazing but you have to give yourself time and patience”.
I am a giving person – except to myself. But I have to learn to be. I may be barely running right now but by learning to allow myself time and that it’s ok that I can’t do it all right now – I will be running again and loving it. I will be able to do more events with my Conviction Fitness team. I will be able to find a race (or 2) that I can do to fall in love (again) with the athletic person I’ve become.
One day, I’ll be running again and I’ll be reminding myself that once I was barely running. And I’ll make sure to pause, breathe, and ask myself what am I doing each day to make sure I remember this new patience with myself I’m learning so that barely running isn’t forced due to injury but just a choice I make when my body needs to rest.
I used to love that quote that “a bad run is better than no run at all”. I don’t love this quote anymore. Forcing a bad run means you’re not listening to your body. Perhaps when your body is telling you not to run it’s time for a rest day or perhaps another aerobic activity you enjoy ( I like walking, swimming, the stationary bike and rucking).
This I do know now. Barely running is better than no running. And if I push it, I could find myself back to the point where running wasn’t even an option. I won’t take this gift of running and of learning patience that I’ve been given again.
Tomorrow is Sunday. What I used to diligently refer to and practice as long run Sunday. Perhaps I’ll wake up and my body will have no pain in the calves, knee or hip. Maybe I’ll lace up the running shoes and try a run. Or maybe I’ll wake up and feel just a twinge and decide to go for a ruck or walk instead. I’m learning that it doesn’t matter what the activity is I do. What matters is I’m getting up every day and I’m doing something active to strengthen myself that I feel capable of being able to do. That is patience. And that is what will get me from barely running to running again.
Not a great sleep – kept waking up. I woke up at 6am with nausea again so I had some apple juice and took my medications and gravol, along with first ice of the day way earlier than I normally start with ice. I put on my audiobook and feel asleep until 9am. I woke up feeling a bit better and got breakfast and came back into bed. The bed seems to be the only really comfortable spot for my hip right now. I still had a foggy fatigue and I fell asleep again until noon.
I spent the afternoon watching Netflix. I also had groin and hip pain pretty bad for first time since surgery. Not sure if I overdid moving the day before or if I accidentally bent too far somehow. It scared me as I hate feeling pain – thinking surgery failed. I just kept telling myself to not stress and take it super easy all day. I even took a day off my physio with the extreme pain I had with any movement.
My new stationary exercise bike was delivered around 5pm – so excited for it. Brad will set it up sometime this weekend. I already asked my physiotherapist about duration and I was thinking maybe 2 short sessions of ten minutes. She told me one session of 5 minutes. I was a bit shocked but I’m going to listen. She emphasized that I still rest – like she knows how much I want to get moving again. I also ordered some resistance bands.
Local football game was on and Brad forgot to take out the freezer meals we needed so we ordered shakes and burgers from a shake shack. Skip the dishes app is amazing – so many restaurants use it now. My team won too!
I didn’t nap yesterday after sleeping most of the morning. I felt close to wanting to but managed to stay awake and I actually felt tired around midnight. I threw on an audiobook as I was still hurting but it helped me drift off to sleep.
Post Op Day 10: Friday, July 6
I actually woke up at 9:30am this morning with no nausea and even some of my old morning energy I used to have. So I made my healthy freezer meal breakfast of eggs and veggies. I watched Netflix and did my first rounds of ice for my hip. I had a nice shower around lunch time – all Brad has to do for me now is put on the suction handle onto the shower wall. I am able to get myself in and out – I use a crutch for balance. I’ve learned to make sure crutch does not go on bath mat outside of tub or it slips. I get right leg in first and then, thanks to a tip from Brad, I lift my left leg at the knee behind me and holding the suction handle on shower wall with right hand and my crutch outside of tub with left hand, I can get my left leg over the tub wall with minimum pain. Once in I can reach the handheld shower head without reaching and the taps without bending. Just barely – if either were even half an inch further, I’d need more help with showering. I’m so thankful for the shower chair. Standing for a long period of time with only putting weight on one side of body is very hard on your good side of the body. Getting out is harder. I grab crutch I leave outside of tub but near shower. I hold onto the suction shower handle – lift left leg back at the knee, but it’s harder because I have to bring left leg out first. It’s hard to not put weight on the leg while getting right leg out. I try to make sure weight is mostly on crutch but still not easy. But it works.
After showering, I had lunch and was watching Netflix. All of sudden I was hit with fatigue, nausea and a headache. It got really bad – I took a gravol for nausea but didn’t want to take anything for headache with already on aspirin to avoid post op blood clots and pain meds. I drifted off to sleep until Brad woke me up at 4:30.
The teacher that took over my French teacher position at my school wanted to cook a meal for us as a thank you. She said it was to thank me for helping her but it was really her that was amazing!
Now in pyjamas and watching Netflix. Im really hoping to get some thesis reading in soon, and maybe even begin to do more Core French unit planning but I’m trying to be patient with myself.
The pain today is immensely better than yesterday. I can’t seem to have a day without either pain, nausea or fatigue but I know my body has been through a rough ordeal and the medications I’m on now aren’t helping. Soon I’ll be back to working, thesis and workouts so trying to tell myself to enjoy this little lounge vacation. My body feels better when I listen to it so I’m going to keep following its cues.
We hit a heat wave today – humidity makes it feel like 40 degrees Celsius. I may try to go outside tomorrow for a few moments.