Heavy heavy sigh. I know I have mentioned it in the blog and online, but I think it’s time to chronicle it in the post-op recovery.
February 14th 2013 I was hurt in class, REALLY hurt. We were going over stretching techniques for the hip muscles and my friend and I were talking quietly about why I wouldn’t go as far as other classmates and how my hardware would make this feel different. I told her to go slow and feel for a hard stop… she did an excellent job feeling for what my body was telling her. We were talking about why I had better range in external rotation with my hip bent than with it straight when a teacher came over and demonstrated the stretch on me without much warning. It went fast, and past my available range and hurt – A LOT.
I got scared, really really scared – all the panic, and fear I’d been trying to conquer and tame came roaring back. Not only was the pain horrible but it was awful to see that all these months of trying to tame the beast of fear… wellllll…. it felt like I had not really conquered anything at all. I limped out of class – my heart broken at the pain in my sacrum, rear end, and hip. Searing, tearing, burning…. familiar – too familiar. I got home and tried to find my more rational self – the logical one that problem solves and steps down off the ledge of insanity to find reasonable solutions to problems.
Problem was I couldn’t. I couldn’t best the fear that my hardware was compromised or that something had torn within me. I tried to sleep it off – when I woke up and the pain had just intensified, I called Tim. What else could I do at that point?! I needed a sane person to talk me off the ledge and tell me I was going to be ok. I didn’t even consider that I would need to be BACK in PT, I just needed a sane and knowledgeable voice to tell me my concerns were insane and far more force would be needed to disrupt my hardware.
It wasn’t until a day later when we were able to speak. I had gone to class on the narcotics I had kept after surgery and was sort of present for class, but not really. I was in real pain – pain I had not felt in so long, the infernal burning that I had not felt since surgery… it scared me more than I can express. Deep fear that ALL the work, all the gains, the new life, the new dreams… all of it. I really thought I was going to lose all of it. The need for another surgery, to redo screws, to do a fusion… what would I do, what was going to happen? To school? to my family? To the foundation? TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tim and I spoke, I told him what happened, and his response rattled me to my core… HE asked ME about my screws… I just about came unglued inside – if HE was even questioning that, wait… was HE hitting the panic button?! Mr. calm, Mr nothing rattles him, Mr. never gets upset?! Next thing I knew I was headed out to the clinic for a sports screen so he could check me out and see if I was ok or not.
I went in, told him the story, and he started “poking around”. Clearly I was a mess, I could barely put weight through the foot without searing pain. Pain at rest, pain with movement, no position was comfortable…. I was praying Tim had found a magic wand since I had been released from PT. He had not. His response was one of solemness and shock. The phrase that rattled through my head for weeks was, ” Aim, you haven’t been this inflamed in a very long time…”
We made a game plan to let things settle and let’s see where things are in a bit. I was so inflamed he really couldn’t test much – any and all movement hurt so it was hard to tell what was what.
I walked out with the diagnosis of SI sprain and External Rotator strain…. devastation… complete and utter devastation.
I cried on the way home. How the HELL did I have a sprain of my SI ligaments?! i had surgery, my Si was stable, I had BEATEN THIS THING. I had a blog, and a foundation and plans and and and SI LIGAMENT SPRAIN…… it was too much, too too much.
and then – my own words came back to me. i KNEW this surgery never fixed my ligaments, it stopped movement in my pelvis. It never fixed my damage ligaments, it just made it so they didn’t have to work so hard. I knew it was never the “right”surgery, it was just the only surgery… so while I can’t explain the biomechanics of just how the ligaments were re-injured, it makes sense to people far smarter than me and it does make some sense to me with how the forces traveled through my hip the position my body was in.
I decided it was insane to stress things further, we had been talking about sprains and strains in class and I decided to take what I had learned in school, and a life time of dealing with this stupid pain and just go get crutches and start taking the meds I had kept “just in case’ after surgery. Apparently old habits die hard. Life was better on the crutches without having t put weight through the newly injured tissue. I was glad. I had a full life – school, clinicals, studies, home life… no time to slow down! I’d just have to stay off it as much as possible and I could rehab myself, right?!
Well…. my plan didn’t exactly go as planned. I was put on hold for my clinical and not allowed to go, I had to wait and get a Dr’s approval to rejoin the physical parts of my classes.. It was a mess – a huge messy mess. Apparently the crutches were a bad plan for school, but a good plan for relieving my pain. So three weeks after I was hurt I went to the Dr to get a “you can go back to school” note. once again my Dr was a rock star and we agreed I was clearly not ok, but also CLEARLY had to get back to my program so I wasn’t held back. He armed me with a steroid pack, anti- inflammatories, an x-ray of my pelvis, and a script for PT, as well as my note clearing me for class. I put that in the win column for being able to trust medical professionals again!
So, I made my appt with Tim and went in for the real eval. He did a zillion tests and there was no pain or movement through the SI joint… I think I exhaled for the first time in a long time, but I found myself BACK in PT.
It’s harder this time – knowing what the exercises are for, what they mean about my ability, about what I can handle, my pain level, my level of inflammation…. it hurts my heart. I didn’t ask for this. I have no idea how I ended up back here, in pain, in therapy, and trying to balance life. Lying to people about how I feel, hiding my emotions and my pain, faking it day in and day out and home and PT being the only place I am “real”. I find myself following the same emotional patterns as before – anger, depression, frustration, followed by will, hope, and determination. It’s exhausting.
I’ve finished 6 weeks of therapy and we have managed to maintain things and improve my pain level a little. The additional discovery of hip instability has entered the picture as an additional part of my pain picture. Most of the week is a 3-4 out of 10 but clinic days are a 5/10. I try not to take the meds during the day so I am present, but take them at night to do some level of damage control and sleep. My diet is less than steller – carb and sugar binges to deal with the inner sorrow…. short tempered due to the pain, hard to focus due to the pain and need to reposition myself a lot.
So here we are, 2 years and 3 months out of surgery and I’m back in PT for my 2nd 6 weeks. We made good progress this week. I’m finally standing for some of my exercises and I’m taking some meds during the day, working on new kenesio taping patterns and just trying to make it though the last 3 weeks of school so I can get busy really recovering from this recent set back. I am thrilled to say my pelvis isn’t sloshing all over the place, and that’s good. But this whole hip instability thing has me wondering what the long term effects of this surgery will be.
Think we will ever have the answers we want about this surgery and all of it’s effects?