When the doctor told me that I needed hip replacement surgery, I thought that was it. My life was over. I was old. I was 43 years old.
All I could imagine was my grandma – she lived in an old house complete with crocheted doilies under lamps and the whiff of camphor oil in the air.
The worst times were the middle of the night, when it was dark and the pain in my hip shrieked its loudest. I’d think of the surgery and all its grisly tools. I imagined the worst and let my fears take over.
I didn’t want to think about hip replacement surgery. But I felt I had to prepare myself. I knew my hip wouldn’t get better. I knew it couldn’t go on.
The problems started innocently enough. I had difficulty stretching. At first, I thought I was suffering from just a tight hip flexor. I’d been exercising all my life, and I was used to different body parts aching from time to time.
Hey – it wasn’t like I’d found a lump while taking a shower or anything like that. No big deal.
I kept on with my activities, teaching four or five spinning classes a week. I upped my yoga sessions and tried to stretch more. Nothing really changed how my body felt, though.
After a few months, the tightness moved closer towards my groin. It became more painful, too, but at least I wasn’t limping.
There’s an ironic twist in my story. A good friend of mine is a hip surgeon at HSS in New York city. He has a fascinating job – he operates on many NYC ballerinas who develop problems after years of turning their foot stance.
My friend and I spoke often about the athleticism of ballet, but never about hip replacement or THR. When my pain continued to worsen, though, I asked him about it.
He had X-rays taken – and I was diagnosed with dysplasia, or shallow hip sockets. I thought only German Shepherd dogs had this problem. I know better now.
The shallow placement of the head of my femur in its socket gradually wore away cartilage. I had a “good” hip, one that had more cartilage than my “bad” hip, which suffered bone-on-bone pressure and grinding. Ouch.
Arthritis set into my hips, and that’s the moment the pain and this frightening stage of my life began.
For two years, I endured daily and eventually nightly pain. I modified my exercise routine so that I was only teaching yoga, not practicing it.
The problem was that yoga actually helped ease my suffering by calming a stressed mind caused by the constant pain. In turn, that helped reduce the stress of living with the pain, too.
I kept up with teaching spinning classes, and they seemed to help me for a few hours afterwards. I attributed the relief to endorphins, those feel-good hormones released during exercise.
But the situation kept getting worse, not better. I couldn’t walk with my kids to school, a distance of only five blocks away. The wheelchairs offered in airports and Disneyworld looked tempting. I didn’t want to walk – it just hurt too much.
I was desperate. I wanted to divorce my hip. I couldn’t live with it and I couldn’t live without it. My mind chanted, “Enough,” with every step I took.
Being a Libran, I’m naturally indecisive. Accepting I needed hip replacement was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. The struggle to sleep through the night and the thrumming pain that made me limp like my 80-year-old grandma finally won over the fears I had.
Hip replacement was the best decision I have ever made in my life. I don’t know why I waited so long! I wake up every morning with no presence of pain. Life is fresh! Life is new! I must sound overexcited, but I truly feel that lucky.
I’m living the active lifestyle that was – and still is – my passion.
My mission is to share my story and help people like you, people who ache with pain and who are afraid, to make the right decision and get back to living. Find the best doctor you can, someone who performs hip replacements every day, someone with an outstanding reputation.
Then do it. Change your hip – and change your life.