Recovery is a Wavy Line

It’s been a few months since I first posted about my labral tear in my left hip and so I thought an update was in order.

In April when I posted, I was waiting to meet with a hip surgeon about whether to have open hip surgery. This would involve shaving down my femoral head and repositioning it so that it would sit deeper in the hip socket in hopes that it would produce less labral thinning.

After waiting 6-8 weeks, I finally heard from the surgeon and they said I am not a candidate for the open hip surgery. Mostly since my hip dysplasia isn’t drastic enough to warrant such an invasive surgery. I had mixed feelings.

I really didn’t want to do such a large surgery to begin with because the recovery time was a year plus and I didn’t like thinking about how my muscles would atrophy in that time. Comparing it with the ankle surgery I had in December of 2016 and the fact that I am still dealing with some imbalances from that surgery, jumping into another surgery wasn’t something I was keen to do.

I also felt relieved that I wasn’t a candidate for this surgery, which meant any discussion about it was off the table. Just hearing about the description of making my femoral head sit in my hip socket better gave me the heebie jeebies.

But on the other hand, I now felt like I had no real options to fix the labral tear or any clear path back to my normal.

Logically, in my brain, I knew that things would probably never be the same, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t hoping for it. That I don’t really want that. I would love to be able to do a full front split again and a straddle pancake, but the reality is, I probably won’t ever be able to do those things again.

There are skills on trapeze, hoop and especially silks that I will never be able to do again. There are some that I might be able to do and it will take some slow exploration to test the waters with my hip, but I also know that star drops on silks are a no-go for me now.

Coming To Terms With Loss

Coming to terms with all that is a slow process. Even when my brain knows, it’s my heart that still feels sad for the loss of what was once a part of me. I know people out there can relate. I know that this is what all athletes go through at some point or another as they recover from injury and figure out their new normal. Yet, you need to have that sit down with yourself to be like yo, this is not the end, it’s just differentWhat can I still do? What can I explore that I didn’t before?

Also I know that I need to allow myself that mourning process so that I can say goodbye to the things I will need to say goodbye to. Be sad, but work on letting it go. Knowing and being ok with the letting go and that it is a process and that some days will be good and others will not. Recovery isn’t a straight line, it’s going to be a wavy line, but as long as it has an upward trend, then I am doing well.

These are the things I tell myself.

Looking On The Bright Side

On the bright side, I have been diligently working with my two Physical Therapists–one covered by insurance and one that is not; both wonderful. One I see because they specialize in working with dancers and the other because they work with a lot of gymnasts. Their combined expertise is helping me get as close to consistently asymptomatic as possible. I have even seen an Orthopedic Massage Therapist. I am working with all these professionals to help me work through limited ranges of motion and gain strength back in my left hip–which has been going really well.

So well that I performed in a show back in June–on trapeze! It wasn’t an act filled with every ‘hard’ skill I know. Actually it was pretty simple, but filled with a lot of character. It was an act that I am really quite happy with. Here’s a photo.

(Top leg is the affected hip, this is where I have to think and be very diligent about squeezing my glute to pull the leg behind me and not just put my leg there without intention.)

Just this August, I joined a small group personal training group as a birthday gift to myself to further push me to help gain more strength all around, but especially in my hips and legs. Prior to this, I had been strength training this whole time, to varying degrees depending on pain, and I have been in a really good place these last several months–really progressively increasing the weights that I am picking up, strengthening my hip complex, but I thought the extra push from a trainer as well as their watchful eye would be a benefit for my recovery.

And it has!

I am happy to report that I am now deadlifting more weight than I ever have in my entire life-108 lbs! (see video below) It’s not much, but my personal best prior to the injury was 90 lbs. So lifting over 100 lbs. is such a huge win for me.

On top of that 108lbs doesn’t feel that hard. I feel strong and ready to grab a kettlebell that is a little heavier. Incrementally of course. This also feels like such a big win.

I also joined a partner acro class to slowly try to get back into balancing on people and with people. This week was my second week and I feel good. I even had a person climb up and stand on my shoulders and it felt good. They were the smallest person in class, but still another huge win! I would say the acro class is the scariest thing I am trying so far. I am excited that it’s going well, but each class is an adventure in what will I be able to do, what am I willing to try–crossing my fingers, hoping for no pain and seeing what happens.

Keeping A Level Head

There are some daily movements that continue to cause me discomfort. Like when I cross my left leg over my right. I can’t do that without pain, yet I forget at least 3-4 times a week. A quick step-turn or when I have to quickly turn my foot out and step on uneven ground–like when hiking–totally will cause hip discomfort. It’s always the little random moves. My PT’s say this may always occur now. This may be my new normal. And I have come to terms with that.

I see some hope that maybe I’ll have a straddle pancake again, but if I don’t, I am still pretty darn close and that feels good for me. I am happy to say that diligent work with my PTs and being an advocate for my own health and well-being have really helped me progress. Even taking the time to pay a little extra out of my pocket to see some of the best in the industry, because my recovery is of the utmost importance to me.

My recovery has always been more than ‘I just want to be able to sit on the toilet without being in pain.’ In the beginning there was the hope that I would recover to pre-injury status quo, but now I know that that is probably not going to be the case in certain aspects of what I used to be able to do with my hips. Now, I am confident that I will get close to where I was, but have more stability and strength in and around my hips and be stronger and safer in my circus activities. Strength training is needed for both good movement in life, but also in circus. So being able to continue to increasingly pick up weights that are just a little bit heavier every few weeks has always been a goal of mine and I am happy to say that I am still checking that box off.

Thank you for being part of my journey and encouraging me forward. I hope that if you are dealing with an injury or set back that you too can find your own path to a stronger more healthier you. Know that mourning the loss of what could have been is still a tough road to walk and I, myself, am sure I will take detours down that road a few more times, but that is part of the recovery process too. I am ok with it, and I hope you can be too.

Be strong my friends. ~Theresa~