I’ve piddled away the last 2 hours. You know, trying to decide whether writing is therapeutic or whether I’d be better off just watching a movie and painting my nails. Indecisively scrolling through Facebook and Googling things that I’d be better off not Googling. But in the end, I think I’ve decided to write.
You know what I’d really like to do? I mean honestly? I want to un-friend Nirschl Orthopaedic Center for Sports Medicine on Facebook and un-follow Dr. Derek Ochiai on Twitter. That’s what I want to do. As if they’d even notice or care. As if that would bring me some sort of satisfaction or healing. Come on, Brittany. Real mature. Get it together.
It feels pretty lame to write 2 consecutive posts on my blasted hip. But I’m going to do it anyway. You can decide it’s not worth your time if you’d like. I won’t be offended. This is just my way of processing things. And to be honest, there’s a lot of you out there who have walked this journey with me. My family…friends…Jobie peeps…”shipmates”…NROTC staff…recovery warriors…teammates…Mercy sisters…classmates…coworkers. I mean half of you I don’t even talk to anymore, but you still follow along and poke your head in to say hi from time to time. Even if that only means clicking the “like” button on my Facebook status. Just that small reminder that you’re still there and you still care…I mean you don’t even realize the power that holds in my life.
This post won’t be all poetic and I’m not sure it will even end with a point. I’m at more of a “these are the facts” kind of a place right now. So I’m going classic “lecture note-taking style” on you:
- I have had 7 surgeries and they have all sucked.
- January 2005: I broke my left femur. ORIF #1.
- May 2005: Nonunion. ORIF #2.
- December 2005: Refracture. Bone Graft.
- April 2013: Labral Repair #1.
- November 2013: Re-tare. Labral Repair #2.
- July 2014: Hardware Removal.
- March 2015: Labral Reconstruction.
- I have been in physical therapy for over 2.5 years.
- Whenever I start making “progress”, my hip flexor flares up and I am practically incapacitated. I have all my exercises taken away from me. We wait. Usually for several months. We get it calmed down. We slowly introduce exercises. BAM. Instantaneous excruciating pain. Repeat.
- I saw my orthopedic surgeon on 9/29. I expected him to tell me there was nothing else he could do. When we decided to do the labral reconstruction in March, he told me that was the last thing he could do for me. So I was prepared for the worst. I was pleasantly surprised. He told me there was obviously something wrong and that there were 3 possibilities:
- The graft did not take or I re-tore the labrum.
- I needed a capsular reconstruction.
- He would refer me to an open hip preservation colleague for further evaluation.
- Even though all the possibilities sucked, I was happy. Because at least there was somewhere to go with things. I emailed my physical therapist to give him an update.
- I had an MRI arthrogram on 10/5.
- My physical therapist calls me on 10/7. He says that the capsular reconstruction makes perfect sense. All of my issues are due to joint instability (which is why I’m also being evaluated for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome). A capsular reconstruction would limit my range of motion and add stability. He tells me that he really thinks there’s not much more that we can do without some sort of intervention (intervention is physical therapist speak for surgery, btw). Again, this doesn’t sound like much fun, but I am now extremely hopeful. A capsular reconstruction definitely seems like an excellent option.
- I drive to Arlington bright and early to see Dr. Ochiai on 10/8. He scrolls through my MRI. Quickly. He rules out possibility 1; the labral graft looks good. He then jumps from possibility 1 to possibility 3, completely bypassing the most appealing and promising of all possibilities. He hands me the name and number of another surgeon and waves goodbye.
- I ALMOST make it to my car before sobbing uncontrollably. Pardon my french, but…WTF?!?! This is what I expected a week ago. I expected him to wash his hands of me and call it quits. But then he had to go and give me hope. And now it’s shattered. I’d rather have no hope than false hope. Call me spiteful, but at least I put a dent in his precious statistics. Ha! You couldn’t fix me! Brittany: 0…but super stellar hip scope surgeon statistic: -1. BAM.
- I stop sobbing long enough to call and schedule an evaluation with this new doctor. The earliest appointment I can get is 11/17. Recommence sobbing.
- I contemplate driving to Illinois, Chesapeake, or Abingdon instead of returning to work that day. I decide that is foolish. Instead, I choose to return to work and stare at the carpet instead of look into people’s eyes because I don’t trust my voice or tear ducts to conceal the devastation I’m experiencing.
- Oh. Oh. I almost forgot. My physical therapist explained what an open hip preservation surgeon does. They perform osteotomies. You wanna know what an osteotomy is? Basically, they cut your pelvic bone and re-align everything. Then screw you back together the “right” way. This COMPLETELY changes your ENTIRE body structurally. Rick really believes that a capsular reconstruction should at LEAST be CONSIDERED before resorting to this. Also. Hey! I just had all my hardware removed! Now you want to go putting more metal all up in there? For serious? ARG.
- I go through hourly cycles ranging from “I don’t even care anymore”…to…”I’ll just give up”…to…”But I know I can’t live like this”…to…”There must be an answer”…to…”I’m crazy”…and pretty much everything in between.
Which brings us to today. I saw my physical therapist (Have I mentioned that he is amazing? Because he is. The whole team at CMRS is In.Cred.I.Ble.). He spent over 30 minutes with me and we just talked. A lot. Then he brought out his laptop. And we researched. A lot. He asked me what my plan was. He made a few recommendations. He said he would talk to a few of his contacts. You know what I love about Rick? He reminds me that I’m not crazy. Even if that means telling me what I don’t want to hear.
The hardest part of this whole thing? Like for real? 5 words: “Take me off the schedule.”
Rick and I ultimately decided to put physical therapy on hold until we have more information. I know it’s what’s best. I’m the one who said the words, in all honesty. Even though we were both thinking it. “I don’t want to pull a Dr. Ochiai on you, Brittany.” “Oh please, Rick. You’re not giving up on me. You’re helping me make a Plan B…although by now it feels more like a Plan U. Maybe even a Plan V. Regardless, you’re empowering me. That’s a big difference. I’m wasting everybody’s time at this point. It’s time to regroup.”
He’s not going to close my file. He’s doing some networking and will contact me in a day or 2. He wants me to email, call, or drop in whenever I need to talk. He says he can always make time for me. For now though, my evenings are better spent researching surgeons, blogging, going on dates, watching movies, and experimenting with different essential oil recipes.
So asking Shannon to take me off the schedule was not an easy thing to do. Now I know why they have a box of tissues in the front office. I’ve spent several hours a day, 2 days a week for the past 57 months with these people (with a few gaps here and there, of course). That’s more time than I spend with most of my friends. These guys are practically family. And even though I know Rick isn’t giving up…and even though I know I won’t be gone for long…there’s something about those 5 words that carved reality into my heart.
But they also granted me permission. Permission to consider all the outlandish Google search results that I once believed to be drastic, comical, and/or foolish. Because ain’t nothing off the table now, folks. Bring it.
Please note: Dr. Ochiai is an incredibly talented, professional, and compassionate orthopedic surgeon who specializes in complex hip arthroscopies. Those of you who know me know that my case is far from ordinary. It’s even far from complex. I will be the first to say that my experience and frustration is not a fair testimony to his impeccable skill and expertise. If you have been diagnosed with any hip labral deficiency, I would refer you to Dr. Ochiai at Nirschl Orthopaedic Center for Sports Medicine in the blink of an eye.