The ongoing and "groundhog day" hip injury has affected my heart and mind. It will be coming on three years since the original hip labrum tear occurred and the process to get to today has been beyond frustrating and consistently stalled.
At the beginning of this year, I paid a thousand dollars to see my hip surgeon at his private practice next to Vancouver General Hospital. The appointment was worth it, as not only was hard information shared and discussed, but he put me in direct queue to get surgery via MSP and ideally a cortisone shot in August. I had hopes to run Hallow's Eve if the scheduled steroid injection was set up in time. It wasn't, so I didn't race.
I threw my hip out while putting my youngest son to bed several weeks ago and was bed ridden for two days. Thankfully, the steroid injection was already scheduled for two days after that. A saving grace indeed.
|My right (fucked up) hip with the needle in it.|
On a standard day, my ambient pain rating scale is between 4 -6. After a work out, I'm sitting between 7-9. Post cortisone, I'm between a 1 and 6. So it has benefited greatly, albeit a temporary band aid.
I'm scheduled for hip reconstruction surgery on the right side for early 2018. While the cortisone shot lasts, I intend to get stronger. I'm starting to get some light runs in and strength and conditioning the legs. At least by doing so, my recovery post surgery ought to be more rapid with less residual side effects due to overall weakness.
What is the issue? In short, the hip is fucked. My surgeon said, "It's wrecked. You can't do anymore damage to it." In our discussion he stated very frankly, that the labrum is torn off, there's no synovial fluid in the joint, and the inside of the socket is riddled with cysts. To fix it, they're going to do arthroscopic surgery, shave down the femoral head and hip socket, reattach and add tissue to the labrum, and flood the hip with fluid and drugs. If it works, which the surgeon gives a 70% chance, then I'm looking at 4 weeks of focused recovery. First week on two crutches, then a week on one crutch, and then a cane for the final two weeks until I get all my weight on my legs. Seeing as I already bust out the cane and hiking sticks at my youthful age of 43, it seems like the best bet.
I'm looking for light run/walks or brisk walks by week 5. I'm signed up for races starting mid-summer.
To be totally candid, it's been pretty shitty. The lack of social connection with my friends and running community has been deeply missed. I tried volunteering on a couple of races, but I felt resentment. I rarely reach out to my friends and have become somewhat of a hermit.
I had a couple of decent adventures, but always with massive repercussions. We did a side jaunt this past June to show a few of our friends the final 23k of the Squamish 50 race course. It was fun with many meaningful moments, but ultimately put me out for a couple of weeks of no activity.
I've been hesitant to get on pain killers. I avoid it when possible. Lotion based anti-inflammatories are my friend. So is alcohol. Not the rubbing kind.
Trying to keep a clear and mindful mental state while staying emotionally grounded has been a challenge. One that I've not always succeeded at. Being in a dark state and disconnected with my own feelings has been hard. With work stresses changing (for the better since I left my role at Chambar and since returned to my previous workplace at Hart House), I've had the time, close colleagues and my own presence of mind to reconnect with important relationships and find renewed purpose. Call it my second wind on an Ultra where things have been going wrong. Except on this one, having a DNF is more consequential.
I've been working on quieting the mind. Lowering negative self talk and using breathing techniques to keep my mind and body from racing out of control. It's been effective and has allowed me to realize that it is through writing that I can express my artistic side and stay in touch with my feelings.
Running has always been an escape for me. Somewhere where I could exert physical and mental energy. It was meditative and healing in a way that nothing else ever was for me. It took old pains and memories, and developed clarity of mind. I enjoyed the struggle. The moments that challenged me. I likewise enjoyed the successes. The rankings on Strava and being crowned as the fastest on a segment or moving up the ranks in a race. Those moments were not petty or ego feeding. They represented physical movement with a still mind. And I need them back.
In the meantime, I'm trying to remain both optimistic and pragmatic. I'm trying to deal with constant pain. Not daily or weekly, but minute by minute. And I'm trying to let the whole process of remaining strong, mentally, physically and spiritually not crack and let it all be for nothing.
So there it is, my absence in a single post. Vulnerability as strength.
Next post will be post surgery. . . come wait with me.
Photo Credits: Rosie Fraser (Unsplash), St. Pauls Radiology, Ricardo-Gomez-Angel (Unsplash), Denys Nevozhai (Unsplash)