Round Two

I had my second hip surgery this past Wednesday, roughly 12 weeks after my first procedure. This time, I received a full labral reconstruction, rather than just a repair. In some not so insignificant ways, this has been reassuring, because my left hip is the one that became significantly painful at the very end of 2022. Throughout the early months of 2023, I struggled to run more than four consecutive miles without seriously debilitating pain. It was only by sheer luck that I was ever able to run longer than that, and most times, I did so out of sheer willful stubbornness. The cortisone injection that I received at the end of March helped dial down the pain for about 6 weeks, but by the time that I was preparing for the procedure on my right hip, the left one was hurting again.

It has also hurt somewhat mildly throughout the rehab process for my right leg.

The immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s procedure was much more painful than what I experienced after the repair on my right side. Interestingly, though, my left leg seems to be able to move much better than my right one did in the days and even weeks after that surgery.

Early this morning, one of my cats started coughing up a hairball. The sound is unmistakable, and it is always horrifying, because my cats always elect to spew hairballs on either the carpet or the couch (or the bed). Without thinking, I sprang right off of the couch, crutches right in hand, just in time to realize that he was electing to throw up on the ceramic tile in the kitchen.

Even when they are being considerate, cats are jerks.

My right leg is doing okay, though I wish that it were a little less painful than it is. Everyone has assured me that it is doing just fine and that everything will most assuredly be okay. However, it worries me a little that my left leg feels reasonably okay while my right leg still aches in certain positions.

At this point, the tally is something like this:

Right hip (labral repair): 12 weeks out still with mild pain and no clearance to run, but was cleared for leg press work and other weight bearing lifting activities (and the exercise bike)

Left hip (labral reconstruction): 24+ hours of immediate post-surgery narcotic pain medication to bring down the pain, significant time watching Arcus figure out Uninvited

Looking back on over ten years of very strange pain and discomfort in all of the joints that have required surgery, I can’t help but feel both vindicated and annoyed.

I feel vindicated because I have known for the longest time that there was something wrong with my hips. I remember from about 2012-2015, I would somewhat consistently experience very odd and sharp pain in my lower left abdomen. To relieve this pain, I would lie flat on the bed and then would dangle my left leg down over the edge so that I would create tension in my lower left belly. Eventually, I would feel something pull, slide, and pop, and the pain would disappear immediately.

At first, I thought that my hernia surgery from 2004 had failed, so I underwent some unnecessary imaging exams in 2015 only to discover that the surgery had not failed. Right now, I’m pretty confident that I had labral damage, and that strange pain was a side effect of it.

I feel annoyed because out of desperation, I paid for lots of physical therapy in the late 2010s to try to relieve persistent hip/groin/adductor pain to no measurable effect. I have never been particularly impressed with physical therapy, but the more that I undertake it—I am required to do so now—the more I’ve come to see it as nothing more than postmodern faith healing. The whole thing follows a ritualistic routine where the therapist lays hands upon the patient, supposedly feeling the evils of muscle knots and various other nefarious biological things after a few minutes of poking and prodding. Then, magical tools are produced to cast out these evil physiological dysfunctions. Then, the patient must stand and perform all manner of odd “exercises” at the command of the therapist

Like a man possessed, I will stand on one leg and lean my head into the wall while stretching my left arm outward! Begone evil trigger points, begone!

My favorite was this past February. At the time, I knew that my hips were thoroughly busted, but I was desperate to stave off more surgeries. So, to physical therapy I went. At one point, the therapist, who was convinced that I didn’t need surgery, wrapped a strap around my right leg, which was bent, foot flat, on the exam table. She then wrapped the strap around her waist and leaned backward while pushing my bent leg in the opposite direction. She was, she told me, “creating space in the joint.” This particular form of treatment lasted maybe a minute.

The whole time, I couldn’t help but wonder how this elaborate show was going to result in any permanent change once I stood my 170lb frame on the ground with both feet firmly planted. Would the “space” that she “created” remain once my whole upper torso was resting upon my hips that were absorbing the bulk of my body’s entire weight?

Three weeks later, I was told that I needed surgery due to torn cartilage in both of my hips.

I guess the feeling of vindication isn’t always synonymous with joy.

More to come.