November 8, 2017

My PAO Journey

Recently, the two-year anniversary of my hip surgery passed. I have referred to my hip surgery in a few of my posts, but have failed to explain it in depth until now.

When I was a teenager, I went to a podiatrist who advised me to use inserts in my sneakers, due to over pronation in my feet. In my college years, I experienced pain in my right knee. I was told I had “runner’s knee” by a doctor (which is ironic, because I wasn’t a runner, largely due to the pain in my knee) and sent with a script for physical therapy. I fit in physical therapy whenever I could during my busy college schedule, and I finally felt like it was making a difference during my last semester.

Shortly after the Holidays and my unofficial graduation (I graduated mid-year), it was off to New York City for a dream fashion internship. One of the things that I love about New York is that is is such a walkable city. This is where I first noticed pain in my hip. I would notice it after climbing multiple flights of stairs (I always make myself take the stairs instead of the elevator) or walking many blocks in shoes other than my inserted sneakers and it really aggravated my hip.

I ignored the problem for a while, hoping that it would go away. But it just got worse. In 2014, I found myself in a chiropractor’s office. He instructed me to go get an x-ray done on my hip. Once he took a look at the x-rays, he told me I had hip dysplasia. Basically, my right hip never grew into its socket 100%; a condition that I was born with.

The chiropractor referred me to another doctor. He took a look at my x-rays, and prescribed physical therapy and injections. The physical therapy really didn’t help and the injections only relieved some of the pain for a few days. Given this was an anatomic structure issue, continuing with physical therapy wasn’t going to fix the pain. Thus, this doctor sent me to Dr. Millis at Children’s Hospital (yes, even though I am in my late twenties).

After looking at my x-rays, Dr. Millis said that surgery was basically my only option. I already had signs of arthritis starting in my hip. The surgery he was talking about was periacetabular osteotomy. Basically, they would cut into my pelvis, twist it, put screws in and wait for the bone to grow back. I am lucky to be a Bostonian; there are two surgeons here who do the surgery. Only about 6-12 doctors in the country perform this surgery.

Given my level of pain, I knew that I had to get this surgery; there wasn’t really a decision to be made. I scheduled the surgery for October 8, 2015. I was actually excited to get the surgery done, because I wanted relief from the pain. I would have to move home with my parents for the initial recovery.

My mom picked me up in the early early morning of October 8. It was a Thursday. I had to pack for the month that I would be staying with my parents. I remember getting some well wishes texts from friends before the surgery. Obviously, in pre-op, they gave me anesthesia. When I woke up, my parents were there. I just remember being incredibly thirsty when I woke up. I was then transported into a private room at the hospital; I got lucky. The room had all the TV shows I could ever want and even Playstation. The only time I was in pain while there Friday night; I remember almost crying from the sharp pain in my hip.

These were the screws that were in my pelvis and eventually removed.

I was supposed to be on crutches for about five months, but it ended up being twice that, as it took my body an abnormally long time to heal.  Those ten months were extremely challenging and I was basically on my own for the last 9 months of it. I had some friends help me out here and there, but without my parents or a spouse, the littlest tasks were really difficult. I couldn’t grocery shop (thank God for Instacart), do laundry, clean my room, climb more than a few stairs,  take public transportation and even getting together with friends was a challenge. Any physical activity was out of the question. Just going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I would have to grab my crutches. Making meals was a challenge; I would hop around, trying not to put any weight on my right leg. I didn’t realize how hard little things like this would be.

For a while, I was permitted to use one crutch; this put me in kind of a weird limbo. Yes, I was recovering, but not at the rate that I was hoping to. Things in my life felt very stagnant at this point; I felt like my life was on hold. Though I had friends help me here and there; it was really challenging having my parents two hours away. My mother did come up for all of my doctor appointments and come help me with a few times with grocery shopping and laundry.

Every appointment I had, I was desperately hopeful to be cleared off of my crutches. Those ten months of my life were extremely challenging, but I did get a few things out of it. I got some time off from work, spend time with my parents, (I stayed with them the first month after surgery),  catch up on my TV shows (and discover some new ones) and most of all….Start “Busy as a Bee!” In terms what I got out of it mentally and emotionally, it taught me resilience and patience.

How is my hip now? I have days where it hurt, but it is significantly better than it was before the surgery. It doesn’t randomly click that it used to. I hurt my hamstring trying to get back into working out, and that hasn’t been the same since. In an ideal world, I would be going to physical therapy twice a week and trying to strengthen my core (hey, I’m trying!). Sadly, I probably won’t be able to do yoga as intensely as I used to. I won’t be able to be a runner (given the impact). But the alternative was arthiritis and constant pain. I have forever grateful to Dr. Millis for improving my quality of life.


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