Where Did the Time Go?

I am so very sorry for letting too much time pass without posting.  After relocating to a new state, the kids started school, I started a new job and life got in the way. My intention has been to continue to give updates to those of you who are searching for answers and I dropped the ball...I hope you will forgive me!

This blog was started simply out of frustration and desperation for information and answers that were not available at the time regarding FAI. I never could have imagined how it would grow and reach far beyond my small world, to hundreds of thousands of people and members of the medical community. I truly appreciate every reader and don't take for granted your journey and search for answers. 

Here's the good news, more than 4 years post-op I can say with confidence my surgery was a complete success. I am 98% pain free most days and have returned completely to normal activity. In fact, I am doing much more than I ever thought possible when this whole things started.

I also want to make absolutely clear that there was no immediate fix...no quick route to diagnosis, treatment, surgery or recovery. It was long, scary, painful and frustrating. It was hands down the hardest and most painful thing I have EVER gone through. However, I found out what I was made of and how much I was loved...even when I wasn't lovable and for that I am thankful. 

My prayers were answered when I found Dr. Thomas Byrd in Nashville and his excellent staff as well as the physical therapy I received under his care at  Nashville Sports Medicine. I noticed today protocol for the hip is now posted on their website: http://www.nsmoc.com/nashville-sports-medicine-tennessee.html.

Having the surgery at that time was considered very controversial although it seems to have much more awareness now. It was not covered by most insurers and there weren't very many surgeons with the skill and experience to perform a hip scope. Actually, there weren't many surgeons even familiar with FAI. Like many of you, I worried if i would make the right decision. I took a long time, almost a year to decide. Once we had a wheelchair at the house, it got easier. If you can't walk there's less reason to wait.

After the surgery every tinge of pain scared me. I was terrified of injuring myself or tearing my labrum again. I doubted for months...I was still experiencing a lot of pain even 8 months post-op. I am an impatient person, but I followed orders exactly and used my crutches for weeks, followed the PT protocol and was very conservative in my activities well beyond the one year post-op mark. At 12 months post-op I began a program to run by alternating a one minute run with a one minute walk, increasing the run time by one minute each week....that's slow folks. Once I could run for 30 min (over 6 months to get to that point) I started increasing by mile.

It took FOREVER. It was slow, but you know what? It worked and I never (knock on wood) suffered the dreaded overuse injury.

I did compete in that adventure race in 2012 and placed in my age group. I've ran in many other races since and have returned to normal activities I had once grieved the loss of. I snowboard, kayak, train run...mountain bike regularly and even get this- I've started CROSSFIT!!! Which I've been trying unsuccessfully to hide the obsession of.

What's different now is that I know my limitations and have nothing to prove to anyone. I've already proven to myself that I'm tough as nails. I've known how it feels to be at the bottom, so there's no falling left to do. I am careful with my body because it is precious to me now. Everytime I am blessed to have the warm sunshine on my face during an afternoon run I thank God for his mercy, my friends for their support and my family for their patience.

I want you all to know how much it means to me to look back and know you have followed me through this journey. I will try my best to post more regularly and hope to hear good things happening in the lives of others who have been touched by FAI. My heart aches in knowing that not everyone has a happy ending. I hate that some of you who started this with me years ago are still suffering. I only hope that as more attention, research and experience continues to bring light to this condition, success will be the norm for those in treatment.

Happy Healing,

Vanessa








One Day at a time becomes 2 years....and adventure racing!

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep". Robert Frost

I have not always been a runner, but i have always been obsessed with the outdoors. If you haven't read my story I met my husband in my twenties working as a whitewater raft guide. I have always loved kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, camping...anything that involves being immersed in nature. It soothes me and feeds my soul.

At my one year post-op mark I developed the urge to run. The idea of running a marathon had always been a "bucket list" kind of thing for me, but I had never really considered myself a runner. It was more something I did occassionally when i got the urge...and that urge soon would pass as I would come limping and huffing home gasping for air...and the remote.

But when not one, but 3 orthopedic surgeons told me I may never run again, but maybe, yes that is maybe, we can do something about the chronic dehabilitating pain in your hip...well being the stubborn person that I am I wanted to run darnit!

But that involved one 4 hour hip surgery, weeks on cruthes, months of hard physical therapy, countless sleepless nights and a river of tears. It also involved a life changing, mind centering, prayer warrioring time in my life that i became someone i liked a lot better than before the whole thing started. Oh, and most importantly feeling the love and support of so many who came to bring meals, help with the kids, stand with me in my darkest moments. It really was a beautiful thing.

So, here I am just shy of 2 years post-op, training for my first adventure race. I am averaging 10-15 miles per week running, but hope to see that increase one mile per week now. I started running about 9 months ago by using the run to walk program as suggested by my physical therapist. Basically each "run" is 30 min, walk one minute/ rest one minute. Every few days increasing the run time, but always a one minute rest. It is ideal for injury prevention. And if you're like me you are paranoid about reinjuring yourself post-op. There is pain from weakness and it used to really freak me out, but i have learned to recognize it. And when I feel it i rest until it is gone. Usually that is about 24 hours, anything longer than 48 could be a sign of trouble.

I have 2 months to go until race day and I will keep you all posted. But i am loving the early mornings on the trail...even the steep hills. Every step is a reason to be thankful.

Happy Healing!

Vanessa







Think Positive Thoughts...

At least the first year of post-op recovery I had my painful days, my doubting days.  Early on the pain free days came often enough to make me hopeful, but not so much that I was convinced I would ever have the life before FAI came into the picture.  It took months of therapy, months of working hard on my own keeping up with strengthening.  I think about 8 months post-op is when I truly began to see the light, that this might turn out okay afterall.

But I still had some painful days. Just often enough to remind me what I had been through...and to keep a hint of fear around.  At 12 months I started to feel real strength and recovery...i started to feel comfortable with the idea of running.

I started a very conservative run/walk program.  Run and minute/walk a minute and alternating this for 30 min.  Every other day I added a minute to my walk, not focusing on distance or speed.  Just run/walk.  Now, I am not a patient person.  Actually I am an extremely competitive person who wants it NOW!  But this experience has taught me that one calculated step at a time sets me up for success in the future.  And this lesson has helped me in all areas of my life.  If I can make it through this, better, stronger with more perspective but most of all with a positive outlook on life...i like who i am more now.

Don't get me wrong...suffering through this is a nightmare.  It hurts.  And chronic pain affects every part of your life.  For me, and many it caused depression.  It made me crazy.  I cried myself to sleep many nights, woke up crying in the morning.  I grieved.  And you may need to grieve too.  But I kept perspective.  I tried my best to put the anger away, cry when I needed too, but keep going.  Keep searching and praying and believing there had to be an answer.

I ran my first 5 miles three days ago and expected my hip to complain, but it didn't.  And after a day of rest I ran 4 miles.  I'm still pain free.  And it was a long road getting here.  It wasn't just a surgery.  I feel blessed to have had the best surgeon for the job, but that was the beginning.  It didn't come easy and it didn't come quick.  And during the beginning of running I had many days when I iced and cried and doubted...but I kept going.  (Oh, and from my experience and what I've been told by the dr and pt is that pain the next day is ok.  But if you are still having pain 48 hours later, that could be a bad sign).

So, whatever you are facing...keep perspective.  Keep your thoughts on how you are going to get through.  Set your heart on recovery and seek out a way to get there.  The first time I went to see a doctor for my hip pain was 2005...6 years later I can honestly say it is behind me.  


Losing Count...doing great!

Ok, let me think...i am 16 months post-op now for scope on my right hip to repair labral tear, clean up loose debris, and bone shaving for cam & pincer impingement...and synovectomy.   Whew.  And you know, it's all good.  It really is just fine, almost like a fading memory now.  But I made a commitment to keep up this blog and I plan to do just that.  I know, trust me...I KNOW some of you are suffering.  I know some of you are afraid or maybe even struggling with the aftermath of an unsuccessful surgery.  My thoughts are with you and I am so glad that many of you follow this blog and leave all of these incredible comments and have even found "hip buddies" through this and other hip fai related blogs and sites.

As for reporting the state of my right post-op hip...rarely i feel some fluid swelling and usually at some point my hip will pop and that goes away.  Honestly, that's about it.  I'm spinning, running, and taking pilates, zumba and the regular gym activities with no trouble.  But I do handle with care...i think, "is it worth it"  pretty often and will sometimes choose not to do something that could cause me to reinjure my hip. 

Hope the update finds you well and is helpful in some way...I do think of posting but I have been super crazy this year with a relocation and then starting a new business...so fun but wow, it's like a racehorse and I'm just holding on:)  I've made this nutty commitment to finish a painting everyday for 365 days!!  Follow the link below to see how it unfolds... 

oh, and i want everyone to know that I am soooo appreciative of your comments...i know they are helpful and assuring to others on here and that was my goal in starting this blog.  I wish I could keep up and follow-up to each comment, but I am a working from home stay at home mom of two small children and i just don't have the time in my day to do it!!  But I do care a lot and I am cheering you all on:)

happy healing,
Vanessa
http://www.helloheartdesigns.com/2011/01/365-days-of-paintingsyes.html

Growing Pains: 13.5 Months Post-op

I'm still working towards my return to running, but each day brings a new challenge.  I started a bit more aggressive than I should've.  No hip pain to speak of, but the trouble was in my knee.  The pain is most likely due to muscle weakness as a result of the surgery combined with inactivity.  I took a few days off, but focused on cross training such as lap swimming and spinning.  Also have continued with yoga and pilates, but this time with more focus on stretches and strengthening to combat the typical injuries associated with runners.

I returned to the start of the run to walk program and although I have the energy and the excitement to run longer and faster, I am sticking with the plan religiously because the pay off of running pain free, if I achieve it is worth the wait.

I can't say that I would wish this process on anyone, but it has taught me many valuable lessons and no doubt has strenghtened my character.  My goals and motivation for running or any physical activity has always been connected in some way to body image.  This time around I am truly working to heal and strengthen my body.  I have learned first hand how precious our health is to the well being of our whole person.  So tomorrow just before the sun creeps over the horizon I will be running with a grateful heart and counting my blessings with every step.

Knee Pain: Patellofemoral Syndrome?

Patellofemoral...I first heard of this about 6 weeks post-op while working with my PT after noticing an audible clicking in my knee with each step up the stairs.  It was painless, but loud and left me with no warm fuzzy feeling.  If I remember correctly, she suspected it was due to my weakened muscles causing the kneecap (patella) to be off track in the groove of the femur (thigh bone).  This is called Patellofemoral (Runners Knee) and can be a real problem.  I was encouraged to focus on strengthening those muscles for improvement and we would take another look if it didn't.  Sounded like a good plan (that I neglected to follow).

Fast forward a year later and here I am about a month into my return to running, icing my knee as i type this and facing my first roadblock, literally.  Funny thing is it's been in the back of my mind, I need to strengthen those darn muscles, afterall my knee still clicks everytime i go up steps.  But you know, when you hear your knee click for over a year you learn to tune it out and eventually don't notice.  Looking back that just sounds stupid. 

Yesterday morning when I woke up things felt wrong.  The night before I did some weights and 2.5 miles on the eliptical that hurt a little and I had this sinking feeling as i started my morning run there might be trouble in the knee.  But i broke my own rule and ran anyway, slowly and with several recoveries.  The problem came when I had gone too far to get home in time for my husband to leave work.  So I ran on a hurting knee, a little over a mile.  Then spent the entire day walking around on concrete and taking the kids to a fall festival. The result, pain in my kneecap with a buckling weakness that makes even walking around the house difficult.

So where to go from here?  I've learned enough from my mistakes to know if this does not improve soon to see the doctor.  In the meantime I am going to ice and rest until it hopefully feels better.  In a couple of days I'll start working on those weakened muscles.  This article looks like a good place to start. 

I will continue travelling to Nashville to see Byrd with any hip issues, but for this knee I'll be looking for a new surgeon in Birmingham, AL.  Preferably someone with experience with FAI related problems, so if anyone has a name to suggest I would really appreciate it.

Happy Healing!
Vanessa

Running Post-op: First Steps Plan

I tore out of the gate with a burst of motivation to run again.  Almost as if I woke up one day and decided, this is it.  No more fear, no more wishing...drove to a trusted shoe store, got fitted and took off.  I realize that wasn't the best approach, however I've been cautious the entire time.  Most days my body would like to go a bit farther, but when i sense the limit approaching I stop. 

If you're considering a return to running post-op but not sure where to begin, here's some advice I've been given from a trusted source.  Also, a very similar plan is here that you can follow until you work up to a 30 min run.  Keep in mind, most injuries happen when people start off too aggressively.  Take your time, it's worth the healthy pain free days ahead!

Start intervals of walk a minute, jog a minute for about 30 min total.  Slowly work your way up to longer jog time with one minute recovery.  For example, jog ten minutes then recover by walking a minute and repeat twice for a total of 30 minutes.  I always walk the first and last 5 minutes of my run, it just makes sense to me.  Over time the goal is to reach a comfortable 30 min run.  Once that goal is reached you can begin to increase speed, etc.

I'm proud of myself to say that when I look at this plan, I am almost exactly where I should be in the process, peppered with a few overly ambitious days in the mix:)  I'm jumping in at week 5, keeping this plan tacked on the fridge.  I'll continue to let you know how it goes.  It's nice to be posting regularly again, especially with fun and exciting goals!

Here's another great article I came across on Runner's World about a first steps plan after recovery.

Happy Healing,
Vanessa