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 www.understandingfai.com 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.