So it’s been a rough couple of months out here. I’ve basically been having nonstop right hip pain ever since the Oakland half marathon, and it’s been bumming me out big time. The hardest part has been not knowing for sure what was wrong – was it a muscle pull? Bursitis? For a month or so I thought it might be due to some pretty big fibroids I have. But although they are clinically classified as “huge,” they have not grown or changed in size since 2009. So my gynecologist was not ready to do anything drastic until I got a complete workup from an orthopedist.
I finally went and had that evaluation on Wednesday. First he did a physical exam. He said he was pretty sure that I did have hip arthritis, and also based on my symptoms, pretty sure I am going to need a total hip replacement.
(that was my heart falling out of my body onto the floor)
I had been sort of bracing myself for this possibility. I tried to recover myself quickly and then I asked, “But what about running?” I think I had this picture in my head, like, as soon as I can just get FIXED, then I can carry on with all my usual stuff, that has, been by the way, on hold for a long time. He said, you know, people are going to do what they’re going to do, but we really do not recommend it. Especially for a young person, we want that new joint to last a long time, and the more you use it, the faster it will wear out.
And then I started crying. And pretty much didn’t stop for about eight hours, until I passed out from sobbing. I had to go to my Weight Watchers meeting. I drove past the site of See Jane Run and totally LOST MY SHIT.
I thought, that was my last race. Of my entire life. I thought, I was going to do that half marathon. And now I never will. I was choke-sobbing all the way to the parking lot of my WW center. I tried to pull myself together. A few of my observant members noticed that I looked like hell. They asked me if I was having a bad day. I really could not even talk about it for fear I would start hysterically wailing right there. I went and hid in a storage closet until the meeting was supposed to start, and miraculously I got through it more or less. It was frankly a relief to talk about SALADS for half an hour.
I got back in my car. The waterworks resumed. I had this image of coming into the house and seeing my beloved medal rack with all my race bling hanging there. I was wailing as if the world was over. Part of my world WAS over. I went home and crawled into bed. I felt like I was seventeen years old and the love of my life was breaking up with me. The love that I had never thought I’d have. Who ignored me my whole life and then finally turned their attention to me and said I was worthy.
Mr. McBody came in and held me as I carried on. I told him that he was not allowed to utter the words “swim” or “bike” until I deemed it acceptable. It was like when we lost our first child. People kept saying I would go on to have other wonderful children. Which turned out to be TRUE, but at that moment it was the last thing on earth I was able to hear. So, I might go on to have a wonderful biking or swimming life, but at that moment I needed to mourn the running.
Sometime during all this melee, I received a text from my dear friend Carla. She texted, Have you seen hiprunner.com? They have an e-Book….
I took a look at the site on Thursday, when my head was throbbing and my eyelids looked like giant waterbeds. I made some sort of wild noise of disbelief and joy as I read about other runners who had undergone hip replacements and who were… RUNNING! WHAT!?!?!?!?!? I immediately posted a comment of OMG OMG OMG are you kidding me?! I received a very warm welcome and an invitation to join the Hip Runners Club. Did I want to participate? HELL YES.
So. I have dried my tears. I am dusting myself off and looking toward the next whatever-it-is. I don’t know when this will actually happen because I need to find myself a new orthopedist (the one I saw this week is retiring) and I am going to find one who believes that some form of running post-op will be okay.
And I’m gonna order myself this T-shirt. Game on.
July 26, 2013 at 10:21 pm
I’m a firm believer in ‘everything happens for a reason.’ You’ll get through this and you’ll find new support in this awesome group. And you’ll look hot with that new hip and in that shirt! 😉
July 26, 2013 at 10:26 pm
Susan, I’m not a runner so I can’t say I can imagine exactly what you are feeling, but still I feel bad for your pain and anguish. I hope you find an orthopedist soon that you really like and trust. And I hope to see you soon…it’s been too long time. Take care, Carolyn
July 26, 2013 at 10:32 pm
OMGOSH yes. You must have that tee.
We will get through this You are one tough tough lady.
July 26, 2013 at 10:40 pm
I am very sorry to say that it is a HUGE blessing that the doctor you saw is retiring. I mean you get “fixed” so you can continue on with your life and what you want to do. To be told you won’t be able to do what you want after you get a new hip sounds damning. I am glad you are having to get a new doctor. You’ll find one that will replace your hip AND support your goals.
July 27, 2013 at 1:04 am
I should clarify, Terre. I actually really liked the doctor a lot. What he said made sense to me and was realistic. These artificial hips aren’t made to last forever (15 yrs for some). Most people who get them are a lot older than me, and don’t run, so they will last a lifetime. If I want mine to last 30+ years I need to be really careful – either learn to run in a “new way” or maybe run less or not at all. I don’t want to have to re-do this surgery so I am going to do a lot of research and investigation of what is best in the long run (pun intended). Thanks for your support!
July 26, 2013 at 10:48 pm
Mega hugs, and happy happy for a new community! I hope you find a new doctor you love. We’re all here for you!
July 26, 2013 at 10:54 pm
hey maybe there’s hope that i will run again some day! Is there a kneerunner group????
July 26, 2013 at 10:55 pm
I’m so glad that you ended up with good news afterall! 🙂
July 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm
You are a runner!! Your heart and determination is so much stronger than anyone telling you no. If it can be done and figured out YOU are the person for the challenge! I will always be here cheering you on! XOXO
July 26, 2013 at 11:56 pm
So eloquently said. And I have been there. Thank-you for sharing.
July 27, 2013 at 10:09 am
You got this. You’re strong! I have no idea if this would help, but I read somewhere that diet can help arthritis. Something about inflammation? Good luck. I’m so glad you found a community to help you through. We all know how big community is. 🙂
July 27, 2013 at 1:15 pm
Hi Susan, I am so sorry to hear about this. Reading your posts on running have been such fun. However, I do Taoist Tai Chi, and there is probably a club in your area. Go to taoist.org and follow your nose to find classes in your area. Taoist Tai Chi is amazing for helping us learn to use our bodies better, and for strengthening all our body parts, especially those we damage with other forms of exercise. Try it, your hips will hurt less, the arthritis will be less of a problem, and you “might” be able to put off surgery. If not, it will help you prepare for and recover from surgery. Most of us who found it, find that it is a journey we can follow for all of our lives. We don’t run marathons (well some of our members do) but we do exercise for up to seven hours a day when we attend workshops.
July 27, 2013 at 1:24 pm
Susan, I was riveted to this post! I’m way older than you, but I walk for miles every week and take yoga classes and pay attention to bodily signals. And my left hip is giving me big problems. Though I’m hoping it’s the psoas muscle, I fear it’s both that and the joint. Bad arthritis in my hands, so why not my hip, hey? Anyway, your story gives me hope but mainly makes me happy for you–that you’ve found this group and your skies look brighter. You’re such a fabulous example.
July 27, 2013 at 1:39 pm
Susan, I’m so sorry that you’re facing this and at such a young age. I have worked with several clients with hip replacements and I have a few thoughts … some you’re not going to like to read.
1) your doctor is right, these replacement joints have a shelf life of 10 to 20 years depending on a) the manufacturer, b) how well it’s installed and c) wear and tear … and yes running will definitely increase the wear and tear.
2) manufacturers are always working on increasing the longevity of the artificial joints so do some research and see where things stand these days. I had a roommate who worked for Johnson & Johnson and they have a large replacement hip division and this one their #1 focus.
3) since you’re young you have to expect at least one possibly two more hips in your lifetime. Likely this will be your first surgery … make sure you doctor thinks about this when they’re doing the replacement. You want to do as little damage to the bones as possible because you will likely need to use them again later.
4) Most people who get hip replacements wind up with that leg slightly longer than the other (the way the joint is usually installed). Just be aware of that and make sure you get a referral to a physical therapist who specializes in sports med. It’s a separate area of concentration and one that you’re really going to want.
5) If running is it and there just simply no other sport for you consider taking it down a notch. For instance … 5Ks and 10Ks instead of half marathons … also consider cross-training more. So run twice a week and do something else twice a week.
6) Get as much PT as you possibly can, work your HMO for every penny! You’ll have much better gait work if you can stick with a PT for as long as possible.
7) Hips can be replaced in different ways … some people go in “from the back” and some go in “from the top” of the femur (your thigh bone). Each option will effect your gait and weight bearing in a different way, discuss it fully with your doctor.
Hope this helps … I had a client with a chronic hip issue but it didn’t need a replacement and she was a runner through and through. She finally admitted to herself that she had to stop and switched to Yoga and found she loved it in a different but equal way. That might not be your best solution … but I just wanted to put it out there as an option.
July 28, 2013 at 1:14 pm
Thank you Lisa, very helpful!
July 27, 2013 at 2:03 pm
I’m so sorry about your suffering, Susan. Forgive my dunceness, but what exactly about your hip requires surgery? I couldn’t tell from the x-ray. And would the area calm down if you weren’t running and did take up a gentler form of exercise, which I know you’d rather not hear, but I’m just trying to understand your health situation. Is arthritis irreversible? I certainly wouldn’t want to live with chronic pain if there were a surgical solution, so I understand. Just trying to figure out the options. In any case, I hope you feel soothed by the many people who love you and who responded on your blog and who are in your life in the flesh day to day. Sending you healing prayers.
July 27, 2013 at 3:16 pm
How amazing that there is a support group for you to connect with already. My sister-in-law had her hip replaced and she said it was the best thing she ever did. My father-in-law had both knees replaced and he says the same. I wish you the best of luck with your decision and support throughout your healing process. HUGS!
July 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm
When I had my back surgery, I was told I probably wouldn’t run again. I worked at the rehab but didn’t push it. Eventually I was able to run again.
The key was finding a physical therapist who believed in me and a community of friends who were supportive. You’ve found the community and now work well with your physical therapist.
Lots of love and mucho FREE HUGS!
July 27, 2013 at 9:05 pm
Susan, I’m sorry that you are going through this. However I know from a friend and my uncle who had this surgery that they do recover well. Now knowing there is a hip runner community, I have no doubt you will get through this new challenge. You have amazing strength and lots of people praying for you. Sending you lots of love.
July 29, 2013 at 11:47 am
Susan. You ARE THR Tough!!! Welcome to the “Hip” Runner’s Club. Looking forward to hearing more about your progress. Hip Brother Tom.
July 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm
I’m so sorry, Susan. What tough news to hear. I really hope you are able to get back to running after your surgery.
August 2, 2013 at 11:00 am
OMG Susan…I am in shock FOR you! But if there’s one thing I know about you it’s that you will make this work for you! If you want to tap on it, let me know! 🙂
August 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm
You are a good teacher, Karen. Even though I have arthritis and may need to have my hip replaced, I still love and accept myself. 🙂
August 5, 2013 at 7:44 am
Oh hugs! You have the determination and health to get back to running after surgery. I’ve treated a few THR patients in my brief athletic therapy career, and you’d be surprised how much personality, determination & mental toughness plays in the recovery prognosis. I have no doubt that you will do all the work required to fully recover. It’s actually because I could not understand the patients who were unwilling to do the work to get better that led to me having to leave the industry. It broke my heart to treat people for years and months who were unwilling to treat themselves and do whatever it takes to recover. You on the other hand – are much different. You can do this!!!
August 5, 2013 at 8:39 pm
I wasnt going to leave a do this or that until I remembered my sil who has wornout one of her hip sockets which I’m not sure thats what youve done. Anyway she is getting sugar injections, it irritates the joint into building protection in the joint. She took a 15 mile mountain hike the week after the first injection and had no pain and no after pain either! Wishing you the best! Karen
August 6, 2013 at 1:39 am
Sugar injections? Who administers those? I have never heard of that! Thanks, Karen!
August 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm
I will get the info from her and get it to you. She says its incredibly painful but so worth it.
August 6, 2013 at 4:44 pm
AWWWW well kinda bad news, for her anyway. Prolotherapy. She said she had a miracle with the first treatment and a terrible experience with the second. She is going to a different dr that also does prolo and consulting ith an ortho late in the month since the prolo has not gone well. She said Prolo will only buy time not prevent a hip replacement. Sorry, I thot it was to really do a long lasting job. She didn’t say what dr.
April 16, 2014 at 12:03 am
Hi Susan! Glad you linked your blog over at Hiprunner 🙂 We live in the same general geographic area, are runners and I just had my right hip replaced 🙂 If you ever want to talk or commiserate, feel free to email me 🙂