If someone told you having surgery was like jumping into the never ending rabbit hole in Alice and Wonderland, would you go in? Is ignorance truly bliss?
It’s been awhile since I popped my head out of the hole to update on my surgery, life, riding, and everything. It’s been 5.5 month’s post-op, and here’s a quick update.
I’m so happy to report things are going in a very positive direction. Last you heard from me…2 months ago, things were great…and then they weren’t. I’ve learned with recovery, things don’t go your way, your body and mind have 2 very different agendas. I’ve learned I can’t push what isn’t there and I have to embrace when my body says no. I’ve taken the slow and conservative approach to getting my fitness back, and while I feel kind of strong, I’m quite slow on the bike, and my running legs/hips just aren’t there.
At 4 months I was given the green light to push things and start up the intensity and length of my activity, and was told I should be back to my regularly scheduled activity in 6-8 weeks. Since then, I’ve made my way back into the gym, incorporating weights into my PT exercises, added 1 day of running (up to 15 minutes of intermittent running and going to add a second day this week), I head to yoga 2x/week (more on this momentarily), and I’m riding 4x/week (up to 3 hours with some solid tempo work and back on the MTB as well), more on this too. While it’s been a much slower ramp up than I ever wanted and imagined, I’m glad I’ve been taking it conservatively, I’m thankful for my surgeon who has gone above and beyond the job he’s paid to do, I’m thankful for his conservative rehab protocol, I’m thankful for all those people who told me about their recovery, and thankful for those around me who kept my head above water when I thought I might drown. I’m thankful for my ever patient PT, Sarah, who got me to where I am now, and continuously worked with me for the past year.
This is when I ask, is ignorance really bliss?
Prior to surgery I knew my hip was pretty messed up, as sitting was uncomfortable, walking for long periods of time (at a fast rate might I add) wasn’t comfortable, running beyond 20-30 minutes hurt and left me limping, but I could ride my bike, what I considered “pain free” and that made me happy. You might recall last October my “good hip” went bad, the thing with it, it really only hurt when I rode my bike, and when I tried to push hard on the pedals. That’s a huge bummer when your heart and soul is riding your bike. I was told I was just compensating, and I went with that, and went on my merry way. Due to this “compensation” I was feeling, it really helped me decide that surgery WAS the right decision for me (aside from all those other points I made earlier).
About 4 weeks ago I was enlightened. It started on a bike ride, my first ride back with a little bit of tempo. Keep in my mind all my other rides had been simple easy listen to my surgery hip (right side) rides. This one, it informed me, my left side was no good. My left hip had 4 months to recover from the season, to calm down, and all that pain I was feeling would go away. Throughout my recovery I would feel my left hip, but I just called it “sympathy pains”, it wouldn’t linger, it would just throb occasionally. I do my PT exercises on BOTH sides, so the muscles should be getting equally strong (right?). This ride on a Wednesday, it hurt my left hip, that exact same feeling I felt last season during every single interval, every race, every hill. I stepped off my bike and my leg nearly gave way. This made me angry…frustrated, but also aware. Aware that something was truly indeed wrong. The following day I went to Yoga, and I was enlightened, yet again. I’ve been going to Yoga for 2.5 years, which cracks me up because I think it took me 5 years to finally step into a yoga class, but that’s beside the point. For the first time in 2.5 years of going to Yoga, my right hip DIDN’T hurt. Seriously, I didn’t know that your hips aren’t supposed to hurt in any warrior pose, or chair pose for that matter. Twisted chair…to the right, it didn’t hurt my right hip, it didn’t burn, it didn’t pinch, I nearly giggled with delight, because this was unheard of for me. Then we turned left, and that was a whole different story. Down dog to any step through pose…I could do it, for the first time…ever, on my right side. My left leg, doesn’t go, can’t move, can’t go. The following day I walked into my Chiropractors office and requested an MRI. I think he was a bit weary of my request, wasn’t REALLY sure he should do it, but I gave him my reasoning. My surgeon already has X-rays, I want the MRI. For the past 2 months he kept telling me all my pain I was feeling on my left side was compensation, and I kept telling him I wasn’t satisfied with that answer, and I truly believed there was something else going on. He finally said fine, lets order the MRI, but I just don’t believe you have a labral tear.
Readers, trust your instincts, a gut feeling is usually correct, and as he put it, a woman’s intuition, always 100% right. I’m really bummed to say, my report came back with a left side labral tear, but also relieved to know I’m not crazy, and there’s a reason for the pain I’m feeling. Having been 5.5 month’s post-op, I’m so insanely happy with how good my right hip feels on the bike. Riding has never been the MOST comfortable thing on my hips, especially that right hip (now the left). That right hip would burn every time I pedaled, but I would just coast a lot, stretch it out when I could, take standing breaks, etc. I’ve never been that great at long seated efforts, it’s never been comfortable, it’s never been easy. I just called it a weakness, I’ve now discovered, riding bikes isn’t supposed to hurt your hips. Every time I ride I want to scream with joy at how GOOD that right hip feels when I pedal, I smile with every pedal stroke, and I’m continuously in awe at its capabilities. Would you still consider ignorance bliss? Ladies and gentlemen, I thought I was riding my bike pain free, it's only now that I learned, it wasn't pain free, it was all I knew.
I’ve been enlightened, but also demoralized seeing how bad that left hip is when I ride, it doesn’t feel good. Is ignorance bliss? It makes me wonder if knowing why I’m hurting is better than, just pushing beyond the pain I feel and ignoring it? My left hip had 4 months to recover after I had surgery on the right, and all the same symptoms came back, the rest didn’t help. I’ve had a lot of people ask what my next step is. The thought of going through surgery again…right now, sounds awful, I can’t do that, I can’t put myself through that right now, besides, there is racing to be had!!!!!! I’m sending a copy of the MRI CD to my surgeon and he’s going to look at it (again going above and beyond) for me and let me know what he thinks. I’ll see him August 2nd and we can discuss in person a plan of action. For now, I don’t see surgery in my near future, I can’t face it again right now. I’m going to do some focused PT (hopefully my insurance company will give me more PT sessions, as I have run out of my allotted amount) on my left hip, and hope I can find some relief and good results. Even though I suspected a tear, I’m still in a bit of denial, as everything I feel seems so soft tissue related, but that makes me ask the question of why? There is SOMETHING that is causing the muscle to respond that way.
Having surgery has opened up my eyes to a lot of what is happening in my body. I feel like I went into surgery to get fixed (and awhile yes my hip feels so good), I had a lot of other issues come up that I never anticipated. I feel like I’ve been slapped across the face with a tear on the left side, but I also know that things could be SO MUCH WORSE. There’s a lot I’m thankful for, that I’m not going to be sinking into a black bubble of depression. I have 2 legs that work, I have an incredibly stress free amazing life, I’m a healthy 32-year-old, I have amazing friends, and a supportive husband. In the grand scheme of things, I know this time is a blip on the radar and from here my body will only continue to improve. I am thankful for all the kind words of encouragement you have sent my way, the texts, the social media comments. Thank you. My heart is always so full from the love of the cycling community.