A simple google search tells me that denial is not just a river in Egypt, but can be "the action of declaring something to be untrue" or maybe it's the "refusal of something requested or desired" or perhaps is "a statement that something is not true" <---when in fact...it is.
It's funny, I never thought I would be one to be in denial, I'm pretty good at being honest with myself, but recently I took a pretty big slap in the face with reality. I saw an Ortho for my hip and he told me I likely have a labral tear. I've suspected this for quite some time now, so I'm not sure why it felt like such a slap, but I was really hoping he would just look at my X-Rays and tell me it was only FAI. I was mentally prepared for that. I was mentally prepared to schedule an FAI surgery for next Feb. I hear FAI surgery recovery is a bit easier than a labral tear recovery. What I wasn't prepared for, was him looking at my X-ray's, telling me he sees some calcification, which tells him it's likely a torn labrum, and maybe some minor FAI. I wasn't prepared for him to move my leg around and ask me to tell him when it hurts, I'm an athlete, I just lied there biting my tongue in pain hoping he wouldn't tell me this was a problem. He let go when I told him it was uncomfortable, and said "yea it's a labral tear, you should have about 40-50 degrees of motion there and you have 10". I wasn't prepared for that. I mean, I knew my hip was a little messed up, but not that. I look back at my appointment with him, and I realize I don't think I heard 90% of what he was saying. It was something straight out of movie, where you feel like your world has come crashing down, you're bearing the weight of 1000 soldiers and you can't hear anything going on around you.
He asked me if I had any questions. I sat on the weird table they have in doctors offices, I looked at the ground, I looked at him, I looked around the room and all I could muster up was "I don't want surgery". He didn't even mention the S word to me in our appointment, his response: "thats fine. Lots of people have labral tears and they're asymptomatic, if you can manage your symptoms you can live with it. Just know you are more likely to get early arthritis with the wear on the joint, and more likely to need a hip replacement at a VERY early age". This is what hit home the most. I've joked about needing a "hip replacement" when I'm "old", with my dad, with my clients. And I found it funny, until he said it, then...it wasn't very funny anymore. I can live with the discomfort I have, because I don't have discomfort all the time, I can live with not being able to run for longer than 30-40 minutes, I can handle that. But a hip replacement? Do I want an artificial hip when I'm 50? Do I want to be THAT limited when I'm 50? About 75% of my clients have hip replacements, and holy moly are they doing amazing, but they have their limitations. If I get a hip replacement I will never run again, I will never jump again, I will never be able to do deep squats or lunges, and you cannot cross your legs. My ROM will never be the same, I won't ever pass a metal detector at the airport or anywhere for that matter, I will never have my ASIS, and I'll probably dream of the days of having a good hip. That hit home the most. It's not "do I want this labral surgery", the question no doubt has become "do I want a hip replacement"? I immediately started thinking about my Cyclocross season, I've been thinking about next year since February, I can't possibly ruin next year by having surgery NOW. I had nothing to say to this man, I was literally sitting there in shell shock.
He discussed what surgery would be, 4-6 weeks on crutches, light spinning post surgery, but probably no hard efforts until about 6 months in, and 1-2 years for a FULL recovery. I was counting months in my head, at this point, is it even possible to have surgery and be prepared for the upcoming season, my immediate answer was absolutely not. There was no way no how I could go into surgery and be ready to race a front heavy cyclocross season. The worst part is, there is no "easing" into cyclocross, the first race of the year is a C1 and then 1.5 weeks later is a World Cup, plus 3 days later another World Cup and more C1's. I believe we have 3 C1 races and 2 World Cups in the month of September, I can't go into the season with a hip that might not function. That was running through my mind, I can't, I can't, I can't. No way, not how, not happening.
I got to my car, I texted everyone that wanted answers, and I sat there in silence. What do I do. Silence has never felt so painful. I read my discharge documents, turned the car on and headed home. It was the quietest 1 hour car ride of my life. I held back tears and many mixes of emotions. I know this isn't an end all be all surgery, but it's never an easy choice to put yourself under and CHOOSE to go through such a painful (physical and mental) process. Being an athlete my body is my number one priority, I use my body in my job, in all senses of it. I race bikes at the highest level, I work in a gym teaching group fitness, doing personal training. My life is activity. I thought through options, surgery now? Surgery later? No surgery? I still don't know what I'm going to do, I'm sure time will tell.
What I do know is, I'm going in for an MRI to see the exact amount of damage I have put on my hip. I am going to have the STRONGEST and best looking booty and hamstrings around, and if I opt for surgery somewhere in my future, I know that I am going into surgery as strong as I possibly can and my recovery will be THAT much better.