Thursday, October 21, 2010

6 Months Post-Op

So, to say I've gotten a little behind in blogging is quite the understatement. School, work, life, post-surgery care have all been much more important to focus on than this blog. When I have any spare time, I'm trying to do PT or exercise or just RELAX! I also haven't had a lot of fun and happy things to report. My recovery is going much slower than I was told and I'm still having pain. The pain is pretty persistent in my groin, on the front of my leg where my hip and upper thigh meet, and my butt. I have been trying everything to help with the pain. Natural remedies, not so natural remedies, pilates, yoga, massage, you name it. AETNA, who are BASTARDS, will not give me any more PT sessions. My doctor prescribed more sessions, my PT submitted all the necessary info, but Aetna won't call my PT back, or even ANSWER THE PHONE. My PT has tried for months, and they've gotten no word back about more appointments. I'm pretty much disgusted by the whole thing.

A few weeks ago, my doctor sent me for another MRI. This MRI sucked in a few ways. First, the contrast shot hurt a lot more than I remembered. My knee felt completely locked and I hobbled for a good 5 hours after. Secondly, they did a crap job taking the images. My first MRI is so much clearer than this latest one. There's only one decent image of what's going on. As you can see there's a bunch of black crap around my labrum, which had me freaking out. My surgeon was worried too, so he took an X-Ray when I saw him a week after the MRI. He thinks that the black areas are the MRI's reaction to the sutures in my hip, because they have a little, very fine, bit of metal in them. I'm hoping he's right, though it did worry me that he was so nervous about it. I feel a bit assured though that that's what it is, because my boyfriend's father looked at the MRI images before I saw my doctor (he was an occupational therapist) and thought that's what the mysterious black areas were too.

After spending the money on an MRI and another doctor's visit, and the pain I went through to have the MRI, I was really hoping my doctor would have some answers. He didn't. "It could be this, it could be this, we know it's probably not this..." I was/am really disappointed. I want a name to call this pain. I want to just hear "hip tendonitis" or SOMETHING. But he doesn't want to make any decisions until he knows more. So I'm getting a cortisone shot next Tuesday, in my hip joint. I'm not really pleased about this, especially since I think the real issue is my hip tendon. I want that shot there, where my doctor was thinking of putting it before the MRI. I've seen two massage therapists and they both exclaimed surprise when they've gotten to my hip tendon/abductors. It's so tight, all the time, I stretch as much as I can. Some days I just want to rip my leg off. Both massage therapists have recommended tennis ball therapy, where basically, I put a tennis ball on my groin/hip area and hump a wall, rolling the ball up and down. It's really uncomfortable and I can assure you it's not as much fun as it sounds.

So that's where I am. Clueless. I realized the other day that this week a year ago, is when I felt the "big tear". I'm sure my labrum was beat to hell, but I definitely felt it completely go. I don't know what to feel about the surgery at this point. I'm sure it had to be repaired, 4cm just flapping around isn't going to heal by itself. But to still be in pain... it's really disappointing and it makes me worry I will never run again. Part of me has been preparing for that to be the reality of things. It's been hard too because I know if I had more time to do PT, pilates, yoga, tennis ball humping and other things that help, I would be in less pain. If I had more money I'd get massage therapy once a week. I hope to update more often, since it seems a lot of people on the Facebook group "Understanding Hip Impingement, FAI" (yes, there is such a thing) are experiencing similar issues. It has been a source of comfort to know that I'm not alone and that other people are out there, with this weird, pretty obscure, f**king annoying orthopedic issue.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

8 Weeks Post-Op

I feel this obligation to say, "I'm sorry, I wanted blog more often..." It would have been a great resource to blog every week about my progress, but honestly, I wasn't up for the emotional toll. A few friends have asked why I haven't been blogging more. The answer is that I've been focusing much of my free time on getting better. When I do have the time to take it easy, I do. Writing isn't easy when there aren't a lot of fun things to talk about. I don't want this to become a place to vent and seek pity. That being said, the weeks that have passed since I last wrote haven't been easy.

As much as Twitter seems like a useless social arena, it will definitely be helping me write this post. According to my "tweets" May 21st was the first time I got into the pool post-surgery. I felt bad getting to the pool a month after surgery. My doctor and my PT wanted me in there as soon as my stitches were out. I just wasn't feeling up to it. I was exhausted and miserable. It took me about 5 weeks to get off the crutches, a little longer than expected. Everything involving this healing process has been slow and patience has never been one of my virtues. So, I'm making it one. I've been making a lot of changes in my life these past few weeks. I'm trying to be more positive and focusing less on the end goal of doing triathlons again, and more on the present.

Three weeks ago I started doing yoga again. I did some Instant Watch yoga DVDs from Netflix. Then I downloaded a yoga app for my iPod Touch called Pocket Yoga. I figured spending $2.99 was better than spending $15 - 20 a session on a yoga class. It was difficult at first to do a 30 minute session. I remember taking things very slowly, and even a simple pose like "Child's Pose" was hard to do. Since then, yoga has become easier and I'm noticing improvements in my flexibility. Even my PT has noticed added strength as well as the flexibility. The yoga has been great for me mentally as well. Not only does it help to alleviate some of the massive amounts of stress I've experiencing, but seeing the little improvements as well as doing something physically active (albeit slow) makes me feel like I'm making progress.

After Pocket Yoga, I kind of went app crazy. My iPod Touch has now turned into my iZen. I have several different yoga apps on there. The best one is Hatha Yoga which is a pricey app at $9.99. It is the most authentic/traditional yoga app available. You can customize your own yoga sessions, the stop-motion video of the woman doing yoga are well done, and the audio instruction is very good. I have customized the standard session to have more poses that are beneficial for opening my hips and taken out the ones that are too hard for me right now. The yoga has also helped with the back pain I've been having from the epidural.

I have also downloaded some apps to help with meditation. My favorite being iSamadhi which is a meditation timer and journal. I started practicing meditation after I realized that the emotional after effects of this injury and the surgery were becoming too much for me. I was letting the pain and the negativity overwhelm me, own me. I have felt a large range of emotions in dealing with this. A huge part of it is guilt. There are people out there in far worse circumstances than I. Why does this feel so huge? So terrible at times? I'm not paralyzed, I can walk and will most likely be able to go on to doing triathlons again. I feel stupid and selfish for feeling so upset at times. I know I have a history of depression, which is usually just letting myself consume me. Does that make sense? Depression, for me, is letting my sad emotions overpower happiness or even just simply being. I give more importance to the depressive feelings than any other feelings. I feel they must be dealt with, but in the past I've dealt with them just by rolling around in them for weeks, months, years at a time.

Meditation gives me a break from focusing on those emotions. Just 10 minutes or so spent focusing on my breath, on the present has made such a difference. I have been interested in Eastern... well... everything ever since I was a child. Yoga is something I practice, then let go of, then return to. While I don't consider myself a Buddhist, I do like to read about it and about practicing mindfulness. There are certain negative stigmas attached to meditation and yoga... perhaps you're thinking, "Shit, Heather's gone all hocus pocus." If I could I'd show you 11 year old Heather off in the woods burning leaves and calling herself a Wiccan, I'd say: "No. That's hocus pocus Heather." Also, you can be an atheist and still believe in the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. (Shout out to Stephen Batchelor.) In any event, I'm feeling a bit more positive about things, even when I have setbacks.

My current setback is a "groin pull". YAY! Another opportunity for me to say "groin"! You know how I love to say it. Anyway, these past few days my walking has been going downhill. As much as I tried to hide it, a couple coworkers asked me if I was okay. I've been having trouble starting to walk after sitting, then I had trouble walking at all. I hoped a trip to the pool yesterday after work would help, but alas after swimming, doing my water walking and hip exercises I hobbled to the hot tub. When I went to PT today I had to have another therapist because my usual one is at a conference (One part of the conference is focused on my surgery, that's how common it's becoming). I told the assistant PT about how bad the pain and walking has been, and so the PT took a look.

She touched the spot where I've been having the most pain and exclaimed how tight it was. She started to massage it, and I started to do deep breathing exercises. It was incredibly painful. She took me to a private room, and continued to massage the tight areas. I had tears streaming down my face as I focused on my breath. Yeah, it was painful but it had to be done. After ultra-sound and ice, my walking was already improved. I'm to ice 3 - 4 times a day for the next week and lay off exercises, even yoga for a couple days. I'm relieved that the pain wasn't from my surgery, like it was failing or I did something wrong. The worst days have been the ones where I've been scared of a pop or pain and worried that the surgery didn't "keep".

Besides the hip, I finished my first semester of grad school with As. I'm quite proud and feeling confident about that part of my life. I'm currently taking a summer course online which is overwhelming right now. I'm hoping I get used to the format in a couple weeks. The above picture is me ripping the dance floor up to Lady Gaga at my friend Maura's wedding. It's hard to tell from the back but she looked absolutely gorgeous. It was the best wedding I've been to. Congrats again you two!


Monday, April 26, 2010

First Week Post Labral Tear Surgery

Day 1 Post-Op: After what seemed like an eternity, 8am arrived and so did breakfast. It was gross eggs and gross Cream of Wheat so I didn't eat much. I remember crying at one point because I was just so stressed out and in so much pain. The amazing nurse Steve sat down with me and talked to me for awhile. He said that it was understandable I'd be crying after such a rough night and especially after such little sleep. He also said the pain meds don't help with emotions either, which I've definitely found to be true in the past. He told me about his ACL surgery and how there will be downs but there will also be ups, and recovery will happen though it seems so far away and overwhelming right now. Steve is an incredible nurse, to take the time to sit down and talk to me made me feel so much better.

Some random doctor came in to take the epidural out of my back. It was a quick pinch but my back was so sore it hurt just to lean over so he could take it out. Then my doctor came in to check up on me. He told me I could get on a stationery bike the next day as long as I pedaled with my good leg and left the other leg resting on the pedal. I laughed at that because I was in so much pain I couldn't imagine pedaling. Even a week later I feel uncomfortable with the idea. There's no way I'm getting on my bike (on the stationary trainer) until my hip feels better.

I was barely lucid when physical and occupational therapists came in to teach me how to use crutches. First of all I thought they were insane having me move in the amount of pain I was in. I was on the verge of passing out the entire lesson which consisted of me crutching down the hallway, up a little model of stairs and down, and back to the room. Voila, the entirety of my crutch training. The OT helped me learn how to use the bathroom and put on clothes. At this point I'm allowed to put 20lbs of pressure on my left (operated side) foot, which is basically just touching the foot to the ground.

Soon after they left Scott arrived and nurse Steve came in to answer any of our questions before discharge. Scott grilled Steve on all the medications and everything I (we) should be doing this first week. So glad Scott was there to be so assertive and ask everything. I'm not really good about asking medical staff questions, although I am getting better at it. Also I was still on the verge of passing out so having him there to write things down and clarify was essential. After that I was discharged and a nurse wheeled me out of the hospital.

Most of the day was spent in pretty awful pain and keeping myself from blacking out. From my waist down was still waking up and I was paranoid I was peeing all the time. I couldn't really feel my stomach but I was bloated from all the fluids and meds. My hip was obviously quite swollen. Some lady dropped off the CPM machine at my house, which I talked about a couple posts ago. It moves my leg really slowly from straight out to 45 degrees. It's important to do this (4 - 6 hours a day!) so that my leg doesn't get all knotted up and stiff. Controlled movement helps keep things loose so that I don't have permanent damage. I slept on the couch that night so Scott could have the bed to himself, he was completely exhausted as well. I woke up a few times to the room spinning around and to use the bathroom, which seemed to take a half an hour each time.

Using my CPM wearing the sweet double-sided tread socks the hospital gave me.

Day 2: Wednesday was a good day. I felt pretty positive and was already feeling a bit more mobile. The worst part that day was still feeling bloated from the Percocet. It's gross to talk about but seriously, it's important after surgery to drink a lot of fluids (although getting up and down is a serious pain) and take in fiber, probiotics, fruits & veggies and if necessary a laxative. It's the icky side of surgery that I was grateful other people blogged about, so there you go. I wish I saw this post from Susie at Goodnight Nobody before surgery.

Throughout the week Scott slept at my place so he could make me breakfast and make sure I had what I needed for the day. That usually involves making sure I took my morning pills, leaving a glass of water (or my favorite, coconut water) around my bed and feeding my cat. He also biked over from his job during his lunch breaks to make me lunch. I'm still in awe of how much he's helped me this past week and I don't know how I would've gotten through this without him. He definitely helps to keep me positive and I'm sure that without him I would be a depressive, bitter mess. Later that day my friends Kelly and Jason stopped by to visit me. It was so great to see my friends! Kelly had me laughing so hard I thought my stitches were going to burst.

Day 3: Spent the morning being miserable. For some reason I thought I would be feeling much better than I was. It seemed like before surgery the doctor and other people I had talked to acted like I'd be fine in a few days. I still felt pretty terrible and wondered if I was just being a baby or if its normal to feel so bad. I guess everyone is different when it comes to these things. With a lot of things in life I'm prone to wondering if I'm handling things "okay". Feeling quite helpless has had a way of amplifying my already self-conscious nature.

Scott gave me a massage during his lunch break. My body felt so scrunched up, twisted and gnarled post-surgery. The stress, the actual surgery itself, the epidural and then having to mostly lay in bed left my body so sore and my muscles tight. I started crying it felt so good. Since then I've noticed my body in general has felt a lot better. I highly recommend rubbing sore muscles with Arniflora and Triflora, which are natural topical gels that I've had much success with. I also love the fact that they don't smell like IcyHot or other muscle rubs, they have a light herbal scent. The Arniflora contains arnica and witch hazel. The Triflora contains comfry, poison ivy (yes weird I know, but it shouldn't cause a reaction) and wild rosemary. These two gels also help with bruising. I've been using them since before the surgery and I've noticed my hip usually felt achier if I've forgotten to apply them in the morning. The bruising from the surgery hasn't been so bad. Usually I bruise quite easily and expected my hip to be a purple and black mess, but I've only had light greenish bruising.

Later that day Scott brought me to my first post-op physical therapy session. I am back to going to Excel Physical Therapy in Hamden. I was happy to see my PT again. First thing she said to me was "No wonder you weren't improving!" and she said how happy she was that I got a second opinion and how she knew I wasn't going to stop trying to figure out what was wrong. Scott sat in on the PT session so he could learn along with me what I can and can't do. It's so great to have his active support in my recovery. I was still woozy that day and started to realize the Percocet was causing me to have acute nausea throughout the day. Not enough to make me completely sick, but enough to make me miserable. Anyway, it was great to have Scott there because I still wasn't feeling lucid enough to remember everything my PT told me. She reviewed my crutching and said I was actually doing really well. I was sure I was doing it wrong. I went home feeling really hopeful and positive about my recovery.

Day 4: I was upset once again that I wasn't getting any schoolwork done and was feeling pretty scared about returning to "normal life" in a few days. Avoided the world by watching a lot of stupid TV shows on Hulu. Took my first shower since before the surgery (they wanted me to avoid changing the dressing and showering as long as I could) and felt sort of human.

Day 5: My parents came down to visit. We all went to brunch down at my favorite diner in West Haven. My parents took me to the grocery store and I got to ride the motorized cart. I felt like a jerk when I passed an old woman going the opposite direction in the dairy aisle who was somehow controlling a walker as well as her cart and looked like she was about to fall over. Whatever the cart is as fun as it looks. My parents cleaned around the apartment while I fell asleep, the events of the day had worn me out. Most of the day was spent feeling nauseous from the Percocet, even though at this point I'm only taking one at night and dealing with the pain during the day.

Day 6: My parents stayed at a local hotel so they could see me two whole days in a row. We went to lunch and my parents proceeded to clean even more of my apartment while I rested and used the CPM. Finally did some schoolwork that night and started to feel better about returning to "normal life". Decided not to take a Percocet before bed so I'd feel better about driving the next day. Took a Benadryl because I've been spending a lot more time with my cat Björk this past week. I slept pretty well for the first night since surgery, I think the Benadryl helped.

Day 7: I went to my second post-surgery PT session in the morning. My PT says I'm already showing increased movement and I'm doing well. We went over my exercises again and she answered some questions I had. Called my doctor's office complaining about the Percocet. Now I have a prescription for Vicodin, so I will be taking my first one tonight. Hopefully it will treat me better. I have been in pretty significant pain most of the day. When my parents were here they gave me their TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) machine. My PT uses one on me, but the one I have is a little consumer model. It's the size of a beeper circa 1997 and it connects to little electrodes I have to stick on myself. "A TENS unit is an electrical impulse generator that is used to relieve post-operative, acute and chronic pain," reads my instruction manual. I'm hoping I can use it during the day and then only take pain medication at night. Apparently they're not completely sure why TENS works and there are limited studies about its effectiveness. I will say that when it is running I feel the buzz sensation of the machine and it does seem to "block" the actual pain I'm in, which is a deep, burny pain.

More about TENS from my machine's manual:
How does TENS work?
"TENS, or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, means the transmission of small electrical pulses through the skin to the underlying peripheral nerves. TENS is thought to work in two different ways.

First, "high frequency" continuous, mild, electrical activity may block the pain signal travelin to the brain. Brain cells perceive pain. If the pain signal does not get through to the brain, the pain is not "felt".

The second way TENS is thought to work is by stimulating the body's own natural pain-control mechanism. "Low frequency" or short bursts of mild, electrical activity may cause the body to release its own pain erasers, called beta endorphins."

I'm getting better at crutching, definitely moving faster than Day 2. I feel a lot more mobile and my bruising is already gone. I was happy that I finally got out to drive myself around, and I'm feeling more confident about going back to work and school. Like I said, I'm still in pain but it is manageable, then again I've been "managing" life with pain since last October. It's hard to believe that at this time a week ago I was lying in bed at the hospital completely miserable. Feeling much more positive compared to that experience!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Surgery Day

On Sunday I turned 26. On Monday I had hip surgery.

I got up at 4:50am and took the last shower I knew I was going to fully enjoy for quite awhile. I took my time and shaved and just stood there in the scalding hot water, relishing it. We got to the hospital for 6am and I tried my best to keep it together. We got to the SurgiCenter and a very sweet nurse took me to my pre-op area. She would be the first of many amazing nurses I'd come across at Milford Hospital. She saw how nervous I was and did her best to calm me down, she didn't talk down to me (like a lot of medical staff tend to do) and put on extra blankets because I was already shivering. Scott came to say goodbye but the anesthesiologist doctor decided it was time to do my epidural and Scott had to leave. I started crying and that bought me a few more minutes with Scott. I vividly remember looking up and him, sobbing, scared and just wanting to be held.

The spinal was awful. I don't care what the hell the Russian doctor and over enthusiastic assistant he had tried to tell me. That shit hurt. Even on the Valium or whatever he put in my IV to calm me down I just wanted to rip the assistant's throat open with my hands as she braced me, repeating in a sickly sweet fake voice "SEE it's not so bad!?!" while the doctor shoved a needle in my spine. After that I met my anesthesiologist nurse and I was rolled down the hallway to the operating room. I looked up while people in scrubs walked around me and it was just like the movies. So surreal. I remember entering the OR and looking over at the "table" which was really a bunch of platforms and the foot braces that they would lock me in. I looked up at the giant lights and I thought back to alien abduction movies. Then I looked over to Dr. Schachter setting up the video screen for the camera. "So you gonna record it for me?" I asked. He said something about taking stills of the best shots or something and then...

I woke up in the recovery room shaking uncontrollably. One nurse there, who knows what I said to get her to like me so much, but she really took a shining to me. She piled warm blanket after warm blanket to get me to stop shivering. I always shiver after anesthesia but never this bad. Then I realized my throat was so sore. Not just sore but it felt like there was glass in there every time I tried to talk. She kept giving me sips of ginger-ale through a straw. She talked to me, asked me some questions. I told her how I lived in New Haven and we talked about restaurant week. I remember her telling the nurse upstairs who'd be taking care of me that I was "just a kid" several times and that I was a triathlete and made sure my boyfriend was in my room. When they wheeled me out she said something about how rare it was to get such a sweet kid in the recovery room and wished me the best of luck. I wish I knew a way to tell her thanks for being so comforting.

I was wheeled into my hospital room and I was so relieved to see Scott there. He was equally relieved to see me. I found out it was 3pm and I had been in the OR for 5 hours. That was two hours more than I remember them telling me it would take. Scott, my parents, his parents had all been worried because they expected me to be out much sooner. The tear was bigger than expected and I would find out later, bigger than average. Usually it takes 2 - 3 staples to repair a tear, mine took 4. My doctor said that when they put the camera in, the cartilage was flapping around in front of the camera. As promised, he took stills of the video for me. It looks like fish and the "staples" look like the plastic twine you use to tie down a pool tarp. My friend Kelly said the stills look like "a whale's vagina". Enjoy that image.

After I had finally stopped shivering, the worst symptom from the surgery was the sore throat from having the tubes put down my throat. I was drinking water, ginger-ale and chewing on ice chips trying to make my throat feel better. Scott went for a walk and came across a Carvel and brought me icecream. :) I didn't think I'd eat the whole thing but I did, it was so sweet of him. The nurses also gave me lozenges but nothing seemed to help my throat.

A few hours after surgery I realized that I was allergic to the epidural medicine. I couldn't stop itching. I couldn't feel my hip at all but the sore throat and the itching were too much to bear. There were even places on my skin where I had broken out in hives. The nurses gave me Benadryl but nothing seemed to help. I would try to sleep but I was overwhelmed by crazy, fast-cut editing visions of nonsense that freaked me out. I would look over to the wood cabinet in the room and it would swirl, warp, become fuzzy in places. I thought I was going insane. I would "fall asleep" and wake up hoping an hour had passed and it was only 15 minutes. I remember being so incredibly lonely.

After dealing with the extreme itchiness and sore throat for several hours I just broke down in tears. The nurses asked me what was wrong (like I hadn't been complaining for hours) and I could barely speak, all I could say was "I'm... so... fucking... miserable... I'm.... so... itchy, my throat... I can't... sleep..." Finally they called a doctor who recommended they stop the epidural drip. I spent the rest of the night watching TV, checking Facebook and Twitter on my phone and just hoping for the itchiness to subside and for 8am to come because that's when I knew I'd get breakfast, people would be coming to give me PT or whatever, and most importantly Scott would be there soon.

Next post will be about Day 2 and hopefully after that my successful recovery.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Labral Terror

So after my last whiny post a lot has happened. I wrote that post on a Wednesday night and by Friday I had an appointment set up with a new orthopedic doctor. This was the doctor my coworker recommended to me months ago, but for some reason didn't go to. Now I wish I had, but hindsight is always 20-20. Dr. Schachter realized my problem right away. It was NOT "snapping hip syndrome" but most likely a labral tear. As defined by the MayoClinic: "A hip labral tear involves the ring of soft tissue that follows the outside rim of the socket of your hip joint. This ridge of cartilage, called a labrum, works a little like a suction cup to help hold your hip joint together."

Guess what sports are attributed to such a tear? Well among them are running, biking and kickboxing! Yay! We're thinking the combination of my naturally deep hip sockets with all the sports caused this tear to happen. An MRI confirmed the tear, and while they put contrast in my hip joint to show on the MRI better they also gave me a cortisone shot. It was SO worth the giant needle in my hip for 10 minutes. On one side of me was a doctor putting in the needle and on the other side was the x-ray image of my hip. The image would refresh every minute so I got to watch the needle go in deeper and deeper, then feel the fluid going into my hip and then watch the screen show the fluid dispersing. It was a highly unnerving experience. Also nobody tells you how LOUD an MRI is!! The protective headphones hardly masked the crazy sounds the machine made. I thought MRI's were these highly advanced silent machines but I was wrong.

So what happens next? Surgery. The day after my birthday to be exact. Last year on my birthday I rode 25 miles to celebrate my 25th year. This year I get crutches. I went to Dr. Schachter today for my final visit before the surgery. He explained that there is some hip impingement so along with fixing the labral tear they will do some very minor bone shaving. I actually got really lucky because in some cases of FAI there needs to be some significant alterations done to the bone. (Read more about FAI here.) I found out today that I will be staying in the hospital overnight because my doctor is worried I'll have adverse reactions to the anesthesia and get sick. Also, unlike my first and very shitty orthopedic, he has taken my gastritis into account.

When Dr. Schacter first told me I would probably need surgery I Googled the bejesus out of FAI. Instead of scaring me I actually found a lot of relief. I found my symptoms described in perfect detail. I found people who went on to do Ironman triathlons. I found a lot of encouragement and I also felt so much better! This post at describes the writer's experience with her symptoms and I felt a weight of guilt lifting off of me when I read it. She too had intermittent and sometimes unbearable pain. I felt guilty because I thought that "snapping hip syndrome" could be fixed easily and that I must be doing something wrong because it wasn't getting better. I also felt guilty because some days it feels fine and other days it burns so bad, so I thought that the pain must be in my head. I must be the one making it out to be worse than it was. Chronic pain is an emotional roller coaster, and I'm ready to get off and enjoy the things I love to do again.

The recovery includes: 3 weeks on crutches and two weeks of this baby:

Look! She's loving it! And soon so will I! PT sessions probably twice a week for a couple of months and the doctor says I should be able to train again in about 4 months. I was hoping I'd be able to do a September triathlon but it looks like I will just have to wait until next year. The doctor wants me to be very careful and to "cool my jets" for awhile. A lot of people have seen the recovery A-Rod has made (who has this exact surgery... and I still think a douche bag) and think they can go back to running around in 6 weeks. Unfortunately since A-Rod exists had this surgery people have been increasingly getting tendinitis because they're pushing themselves too soon.

Despite the fact I need surgery I'm pretty optimistic. From what I've seen on blogs, people have gone to five or six orthopedics before finding a doctor that recognizes what this is. It is often misdiagnosed as snapping hip syndrome, hernia and other issues. Because it's a relatively new procedure there aren't that many doctors who do it. There's one guy in New York I keep hearing about, who is highly recommended except for the fact he takes CASH ONLY, UP FRONT. Um, sorry but I don't have $20,000 just hanging around. The other doctor who is "the best" is Dr. Philipon out in Vail, Colorado. Since finding out I need surgery I've had everyone giving me other orthopedics they've heard about. While I appreciate it, I'm happy with my current doctor. My coworker's brother-in-law is an orthopedic doctor who knows Schachter very well and I like that he is very thorough and cautious and treats me like a human being, which I've found to be a rare quality amongst doctors, especially orthopedics.

*It should be noted that "labral terror" is my boyfriend's amazing pun, not mine. I like to give credit where it's due. More of his amazingness can be found at this site.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Low Point

This will probably be the most unedited, emotional mess of a post yet. I'm at a loss for what to do. I keep building myself up only to have the pain return. I dropped $200 on swimming stuff Tuesday. Flippers, kickboard, new goggles, 2 suits because I lost one and other is severely stretched out. Swam my first 1000 yards of the year, mostly with flippers, feeling like I was cheating having them on, but whatever my hips are weak. I took Advil later. The pain burned and gnawed at my groin for the rest of the day. Yeah. Groin. I have fucking groin pain. It's embarrassing and uncomfortable and so painful. Pain that just burns and feels like someone is pressing between my lady bits and the beginning my thigh. If I sit too long it hurts, if I walk too long it hurts, if my back isn't straight, if my legs aren't a certain way, it hurts. It hurts every fucking day and I'm just so sick of it.
I've been pouring time and money into PT. Into yoga. I try to do my exercises but then I'll have a day where I've gone to PT and it still burns, and I'm left wondering if I'm getting worse or better. Yoga hurt. Elliptical hurts. Swimming hurts. I just want to move again. My body is slowly turning all the muscle I worked so hard for, 2 hours a week for almost a year, and I'm watching it disappear every week that goes by. I haven't gained weight, but it's obvious my abs are weak again, my legs are no longer taut, it's just all going to shit. I know I should do ab work, and it would really help, but it's so hard to motivate myself to do it, to go to the gym especially when no cardio is involved. It's gotten to the point that I see runners as I drive around town and start to cry. Because I can't do that anymore. It all seems like another life. It's so stupid, so stupid to cry over a muscle injury. There are people out there with missing limbs, who have to have surgery, and yet here I am whining over this stupid, lame injury. I feel like a total dick and helpless at the same time. My boyfriend, who has been a saint, has been there to pick me up every time I have a day like this where I just fall into fits of frustration and tears. He's been amazing and I'm so sick of being Debbie Downer.
I want definite answers. I want someone to go "do this, this and this daily", and have it actually work. I hate these down days. I hate whining. I hate that it just takes over and I don't know how to deal with it.


Monday, January 25, 2010

On the Mend

The new year is here and with it a lot of changes. As I briefly stated in my last entry, for the past few months I've been dealing with a hip injury. It started after my last triathlon. I was running more on the treadmill, trying to squeeze in workouts as best as I could. Hip pain would flare up soon after a run. I would stretch all sorts of ways, but nothing could stop the pain or burning. An hour or so after running on the treadmill 4mi I was limping so badly I could hardly walk. The next day I called up my physical therapist.

After a month of seeing no improvement I went to an orthopedic. At first the doctor told me to go to a gynecologist because he thought I had a hernia. He seemed to be taking guesses for a diagnosis. (BTW - he's a horrible doctor and I wouldn't recommend him to anyone.) He was about to leave when I asked, exasperated that I was losing my one chance at getting a physical therapy prescription, "WHAT ABOUT THE SNAPPING?!" He came over and said he didn't feel any snapping. So I rotated my leg the way I had learned that makes it snap, and it did, painfully. My eyes shut and my face tightened in pain. He looked down at me, unamused. "Ok. You have "Snapping Psoas Syndrome". Uh. What?

Well he was no help really explaining it so I did a ton of Google searching after I left his office. The smart explanation via

"The most common cause of a snapping hip is the iliotibial band snapping over the greater trochanter. This may be associated with trochanteric bursitis or with increased varus of the hip. The finding of a tight iliotibial band is common. Sudden loading of the hip (eg, landing after a jump) may reproduce this sensation of the iliotibial band subluxing over the greater trochanter. With sudden loading, the hip typically is flexed, causing the iliotibial band to move anteriorly followed by the tendon snapping backward as the individual recovers and extends the hip."

Basically, there's a muscle in my hip snapping over another muscle. The causes of SPS (BTW - Snapping Psoas Syndrome is also known as Snapping Hip Syndrome) are varied. My amazing physical therapist over at Excel Physical Therapy in Hamden, CT had the same injury from running and training for half marathons. Mine is an overuse injury as well. It's a bitch, but with a lot of work, is treatable. The added bonuses I had to make this ordeal more painful was 1. Hardly any hip flexor strength, and 2. Scar tissue developed in my groin to make up for the lack of hip flexor strength. I can think back over the years and remember all the times I stopped or skipped an exercise that dealt with hip flexor strengthening. Every time I tried these particular exercises my hip felt like it was grinding and snapping, the feeling made me nauseous as it was so strange.

It seems logical when you feel pain or grinding/snapping you would respond by stopping. Stopping turned out to be the exact wrong thing to do in this situation. I should have pushed forward, built up some hip flexor strength and I wouldn't be in this mess. Hindsight = 20/20. So I've been building up strength, little by little, and the snapping is less persistent. The constant burning feeling (which was bursitis) has lessened a great deal. My PT has broken up the scar tissue over the past few weeks with ultrasound and scraping (yes, scraping) at my groin with an object that looks like a wrist bone. As much progress as I've made, I still have to keep working at strengthening and stretching my hips before I can run. I have been going on the elliptical and today started a month trial of Bikram yoga.

Other than all that, this week is my first week of grad school. I'm going to the New School in New York City to obtain an MA in Media Studies. For now I will be staying in New Haven and commuting once a week into the city. My job has kept me on part-time, and I can't say enough how thankful I am that my company has been supportive of this decision.

Great blog post on helpful tight psoas exercises:
Low back pain while running... a real pain in the butt

Yoga Journal article 'Get Hip' which goes over some hip stretching poses, such as pigeon (shown above).