A Surgery so nice, I did it twice.
Anyone who has been through a hip arthroscopy surgery knows, it's really not nice, but I did do it twice. Some people like to ask me if I'm glad I went through with surgery (again). If I could make a meme of how I currently feel, the top picture would say "how I answer" and would have a picture of me smiling. The bottom picture would say "how I actually feel" and it would be me poking my eye balls out.
I know that's kind of graphic, but it's the truth. I haven't blogged much about this recovery because I haven't really known what to say. I've started a new post, then I don't finish it, then I delete it, then I re-write, don't post, don't finish, delete, try again. My recovery timeline should (in theory) be the same as last year, I know what to expect, and I know that I CAN get back to where I need to be when the time is right. Some people like to ask me if this makes it easier, the answer to that, is no. Just because I did surgery once, doesn't make the second time any easier. One time is a mystery, the second time is hard. I'm ready to put an end to this chapter of my life, and some days I'm holding strong, and then there are days where I feel like I'm hanging on by a thread.
All in all, things are progressing, slowly, because that's the way it goes with this surgery. Everyone keeps telling me they think I'm doing better than I was last year, and I just smile and nod and tell them it's the same. In reality, I feel I'm in the same place process wise last year, but I have better spirits, less overall pain, and more knowledge regarding recovery. I think because I came back from my first hip so well, people think recovery was easy. Honestly, this second hip at this point in recovery, compared to the first, has been a breeze (I haven't wanted to say that out loud as I'm afraid I'll curse myself). What people don't know is how much pain I woke up with everyday last year. Every morning for the first 2 months-ish my hip ached and throbbed in the groin, any type of internal rotation or adduction, or external rotation HURT. A slight pivot on that foot left me crumbling to the ground in pain. For the first few weeks post-op BEING IN A CAR HURT, not the sitting (that hurt too though) but the accelerating, the braking, the turning, it was excruciating. I couldn't sit without irritation for MONTHS (think....6+ months). I had joint pain for nearly 8 months. Yes, I recovered, but it came with a lot of patience, a lot of tears, HOURS of physical therapy, weekly acupuncture visits for 7 months, and persistence. Hip surgery is not for the faint of heart and I'm continuously in awe of people who don't take it seriously.
This go around I've had to hold myself back more often than not. While I feel last year I was "conservative", I was still holding on to that tiny thread of hope. Hope of being able to get back out there sooner, hope that I could hang onto some tiny ounce of fitness I had going into surgery. Hope that I could maintain my strength and muscle. Looking back now, I realize I was holding onto so much hope, I ignored so many signs I should have listened to. 2018 Courtenay laughs at 2017 Courtenay. I'm a much wiser recover'er this time around.
What many don't know, because I didn't want to talk about it or go into details about, is my major flare up 3 months post-op last year. I ended up with SI Joint Dysfunction, compressed vertebra, and a massively flared up hip. I think I touched on it on a post at some point, but honestly, it broke me, physically and mentally. I had worked so hard to get to the point I was at, I was (so I thought at the time) so incredibly patient, and when things flared, I lost all hope in my recovery. I kept counting in my head how many months I had to prepare for CX, and each day as the pain didn't subside, was another day lost. What you don't know, is it took me well over 2 months to recover from that back flare, the hip settled after a couple of weeks, but my back pain lingered into July, and on and off clear into the CX season. To this day I'm not sure what went wrong last year, if it was a pile up of signs I should have seen before it all happened, or if the universe wanted me to learn something, I just don't know.
What I do know is, 2018 Courtenay learned a heck of a lot from that flare up. I learned how to handle the back pain I've dealt with for YEARS. It comes and goes, but when it comes, I can make it better with the techniques I learned in PT. 2018 Courtenay learned when you go through surgery, you can't hold onto fitness, LET IT GO. This year, I let it go. I didn't push what I thought "would be fine". With my first hip when I was told I was allowed to do something, I went and did that something 100% of the time (which is probably what got me in trouble with these damn hips in the first place). When my surgeon said I could ride outside for 1 hour, flat pavement, easy, I looked at it as something I could do every day, because when I'm fit 1 hour IS easy, so I rode my bike every damn day. Funny, right? When I was told I could go back to Yoga at 8 weeks, I went back to Yoga, 2x/week, because that's what I did before surgery, so why would it be a problem now? I got myself back into the gym 2x/week for some upper body work. Everything was fine, until it wasn't, and then it was awful. 2018 Courtenay laughs at 2017 Courtenay. 2017 Courtenay was kind of stupid, but I was holding onto hope I should have let go of.
If I'm honest, I'm scared of a big flare up like that, because it was bad. It hurt, I cried, I was humbled by life, and I don't want that again. Everything we experience in life is a lesson, or it should be! I learned how to be a wiser and better recover'er from that flareup. I can look back and see where I went wrong, and I can hopefully, make it better. I've been intentionally taking this recovery even SLOWER than my first one. I've been riding my bike less days, I eased my way into outdoor riding, I've only been going to Yoga 1x/week, AND it's not on a day I ride my bike! I haven't had a focus on going to the gym as much, as I would rather my hip recover and we don't have a big ol' flare up like last year. I survived not only 1 but TWO 6 hour flights to and from Hawaii. Along with the flights, I survived walking on sand, travel days, walking on uneven undulating lava trails, SWIMMING with KICKS (something I wasn't allowed to do until 3 months post-op), lots of car time, and on top of all that, lots of pool and beach time while in Hawaii.
I'm continuously amazed at my body and what it is capable of. I'm amazed every day when I get out of bed and my hips support me, I'm amazed every time I ride my bike in the pure beauty of being outside, and how far my body can take me. I'm amazed at my resilience to keep persevering when there are days I want to give up. I know I'm strong both physically and mentally, and when I'm on the other side of this chapter, I'll be that much stronger.