Emotion

This is not the whine and complain section of the blog (wait, there isn’t one).  There are plenty of other issues in the world that have a far more traumatic long term impact on the health and well being of an individual and their families.  The night after my surgery,  I was spending time talking with the night nurse (I never have been a good sleeper), we were having a decent conversation, as I could carry a conversation thread (no pain meds – I was on the lumbar plexus block so my head was mostly clear) and the night nurse mentioned that it was pretty rough on rounds that night because one of the patients a couple of rooms down just got test results cofirmed for Lou Gehrigs’ disease (think Steven Hawking).  That puts things into perspective in a hurry. 

However, there can be no denying that this is still significant in it’s own right.  I want to acknowledge the emotional impact of my issue.  There’s not alot of logic to going through this.  I could intellectually tell anyone what was going on.  How I felt though, was a bit different at times.  I have absolutely no doubt that most of what follows will apply for any major surgery, but alot of it sure came as a surprise to me when it came around.

Part of my self image (active runner) was essentially removed  when I first found out I had this issue.  As with any significant event, I went through the five stages of grieving,  

  • Denial – That lasted a few months (before the diagnosis, once I had the diagnosis, the decision to move forward took about one nanosecond) – This can’t be happening to me – I can’t seriously have something wrong with my hip.
  • Bargaining – I just won’t run as far or as intense.  Maybe I need new running shoes. I can stretch a bit more before and after a run.
  • Anger – How could this be happening to me?  Why me? 
  • Depression – That hit after the surgery – Ugh.  That sucked. 
  • Acceptance – The sooner you get here, the better.  There is a new normal in life, better figure out what it is and learn to work with it.

The first few weeks post surgery were the worst.  That was when I was no longer a provider for my family as I was not/could not work.  I was actually losing stamina the first week (to be expected, but still brutal).  I had to come to terms with the fact that even though I had essentially full recovery to look forward to, I would always have to monitor myself going forward as they had to remove rather than repair the affected portion of the labrum and they had found early stages of arthritis. 

Going through this I lost a sense of personal space and modesty that I’d never considered before.  I had heard people joke about hospital gowns, but since up until this point, I had never really had to deal with that, it was a whole new realm of lack of privacy.  That includes that gamut of X-rays, MRIs, the various examinations, surgery, therapy, you name it.  At all times, everyone was completely professional and respectful, it was still a wretched experience.  The concept of personal space is essentially gone for a time.  There is no doubt that there are plenty of other situations that are more compromising, I just wanted to include this as one more emotional ‘gem’ that I didn’t expect and had to deal with.

I’ve no doubt this could apply for any surgery where people are digging around your insides while you’re asleep, but after the surgery, I really had a tough time dealing with the concept of the surgery itself.  Primarily because a group of people had been poking around inside my hip with drill bits and other sharp instruments. Thinking about that, even months later, I would still have to surpress the urge to throw up in my mouth.  Like I wrote earlier, not a lot of logic here, just something I had to come to terms with.  I’m glad that didn’t hit me until after the surgery.  It wasn’t the size of the scars, I’ve only got two little bitty marks, neither one bigger than an inch across.   It was the concept of people digging around in my insides that  I had more of a challenge coming to terms with than I expected.

Some good advice I received was “don’t let this become your life”.  This did take over my life for at least six months, I had to be mindful of the fact that there is life outside of this situation and other people (especially caregivers & physical therapists) get REALLY tired of hearing about it.

I had to set achievable goals from day to day, that way I had milestones to prove progress.  That definitely helped me in the first few months.  I kept notes and wrote down everything, that way I could look back on milestones and prove progress.

I didn’t have any fear to speak of going into surgery, that came later, during recovery.  The fear set in when I was starting to recover and every day I would wonder if the previous day was as good as I was going to get.  I was also terrified of pushing too hard and messing something up.  The alternative is not to take any risks and become a self made invalid. 

I had a LOT of frustration throughout this process.  Prior to any of this starting, whenever I was frustrated and irritated, I could go for a run, get a nice cardio workout and be done with any issues.  During my recovery, I had to modify the way I handle stress.  A big source of frustration was the rehab process itself.   It is a lifestyle adjustment.

I never really got angry at myself until the rehab process reached the point of where I was just prior to the surgery.  I found out that I could do things that I had been subconciously avoiding for at least a year.  Things like pivoting on my hip a certain way or particular exercises and lateral movements that I had subconciously learned to avoid.  Even though I was statistically average as far as onset of symptoms until diagnosis (about 2 years) I still was frustrated with myself that I didn’t deal with this earlier. 

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