Why I Opted for Hip Surgery

Today is officially 3 weeks post-op.  

I'm not sure if I'm writing this post for my readers, or for me (for reassurance of my choice).  Hip arthroscopy is an elective surgery, as in, it's not really something you HAVE to do, I chose this.  I chose my ultimate destiny.  I've been sitting in bed for 3 weeks watching my bike friends on social media riding their bikes in sunny places (or cold and wet places like the PNW currently).  I wouldn't say I'm "jealous" per say, especially since the weather currently sucks, but there's a small part of me kinda sad, knowing I put myself through this.  

Here's why I CHOSE this surgery, since I get a lot of people asking me "you got 15th at Worlds, and you're having surgery"?  Even my surgeon asked me if it was something I really wanted.  

Spring of 2010 I went for an "easy" 30 minute run, and within 5 minutes of my run I had this excruciating pain in the front of my hip.  I gimped through the run, got home, stretched, and limped for a couple days after.  Once the pain went away, I went for a run again, and it was the same thing.  Pain, limping.  I was convinced I did something to my hip flexors, so I proceeded to ignore it and thought maybe it would be best if I stopped running since that was the only thing that really hurt it.  So I quit running for a couple of months.  I eventually started running again and noticed anytime I ran longer than 30-40 minutes my hip would hurt, or perhaps if I ran too fast I would get this deep pulling sensation in my hip.  For over a year after the initial pain I noticed anytime I sat, the front of my hip would burn like crazy, car rides sucked!  I couldn't sit still for very long without this horrible burning, but much like the pain, it subsided and life went on.  

Every once in awhile the pain would come back for a couple of days and then go away.  I never thought anything of it, and I called it "my hip thing".  The only thing I couldn't do was run for longer than 40 minutes, and given at this point I loved riding my bike, I didn't care.  

Spring 2015 my life went topsy turvy, much like Tony in "I dream of Jeanie".  Ultimately, it was a workout in the gym that gave me my final destiny.  I remember the workout to a T, and I'm a go-getter, so you know I was putting in all 110% effort, 2 days later my hip pain came back with vengeance.  I kid you not.  I knew what it was, I knew I needed to not run, and at this point in my life I had an idea I had a torn labrum (now that I had heard of it and knew plenty of people who had the surgery).  Only this time, things were different.  Nothing I could do would help my hip, I quit running that Spring and Summer and just rode my bike, because if I dare do anything other than ride my bike (like walk for 30 minutes), my back would seize.  Given the upcoming season, I wasn't about to do anything drastic except damage control.  I raced that Fall of 2015 with hip pain, a constant burning hip, and unable to run without pain.  My season was pretty subpar.  

Summer mountain bike racing.  Photo Credit: Dave McElwaine

Summer mountain bike racing.  Photo Credit: Dave McElwaine

The season ended and I hung up my bike to give myself a break, I did other things, my back continued to seize, I tried running, and when I had shooting pain down the front of my quad, I decided it was time to do something about it.  Enter Physical Therapy, I started PT in February 2016, I saw my surgeon Mid April who was 100% convinced it was torn, and had an MRI at the end of April.  We did a follow up in May.  He told me I needed surgery right away, I said no, I wanted to race another season.  He told me I was crazy but okay come back in October for another appointment and we can schedule surgery after that.  

The 2016 season started, turns out it wasn't too bad.  I had some hiccups mid-way, but I resolved them (sort of, or just learned how to race with them), and heck, I had one of my best seasons to date, capping it off with my best World Cup results and a 15th at Worlds.  I crossed that finish line, and the first words I said to Chris was "I cannot wait to have surgery".  My hips hurt.  They ache.  I thought it was normal.  I now know it's not.  

Yes, I can race on my hip, I can ride my bike with my hip, but I couldn't do anything else in life.  I gave up everything.  I forced myself to get through running, I learned how I could run pain free.  I gave up hiking with friends, I gave up even attempting to get into a kayak on the lake in the summer, I gave up strength training because it flared my hip up, I gave up plyometric work at the gym, I gave up agility work (think any cutting like maneuvers), I gave up childs pose in yoga (heck I gave up a lot of poses in yoga..owiee my aching hips just couldn't take it), I quit my job and my hip stopped aching on the daily, I gave up an hour every day JUST to do PT work so my hip could function on my ride.  I sat through MANY uncomfortably LONG plane rides with an achy, burning hip.  I'm short, I know, but there was never enough leg room to stretch my hip out for it to feel good on any flight.  

I should be able to run across the airport for a tight connection and not be limping 5 minutes later and then pay for it for 3 days after the flight.  I should be able to be a tourist in a city like Rome and be able to walk around on cobblestones without grabbing, pulling, sharp hip pain.  I shouldn't have to think about my hip before I step up onto a tall ledge.  I shouldn't have back pain at 31.  I shouldn't have to put my car on cruise control on the freeway because the simple act of pushing on the gas pedal irritates my hip.  

There are so many things I gave up because of my hip, and so many things I miss.  While I sit here in bed recovering from surgery asking myself if this was the right choice, I look back at the past 2 years and think about everything I gave up, and I tell myself "yes" this was the right choice.  I'm not ready to succumb to a life of pain, and having to think about my hip before every action.  I'm ready to take my life back.  I know 3 weeks is a tiny blip on this long journey back, but I know the further away I get from my surgery date, the happier I'll be.  

The Vatican in Rome.  6 hours of playing tourist, and my hip was toast!

The Vatican in Rome.  6 hours of playing tourist, and my hip was toast!