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July, 2011:

Hips don’t lie…

Or how I came to find out that both of my hips will have to be replaced.


Ever get a dull pain and try and ignore it, thinking that it’ll go away even though it’s been there for months? Yeah, it’s never a good thing to do that.

Thinking back I’ve had problems with my hips for years but I always put it down to being unfit, not being limber enough, not taking fish oil supplements etc. Then in January I decided I’d start going to pilates classes thinking that would help things overall. I ended up over doing it and pulled a muscle in my left hip. One day I noticed that that it was painful to walk up stairs. I figured it would go away in time. Next my hip began to hurt when I climbed into bed at night and when I woke up in the morning it would be incredibly painful. Sometimes it hurt if I’d been sitting in a certain position. Still I did nothing. I wasn’t even trying to take painkillers. I finally went to the doctor when it began to hurt to walk.

I was prescribed anti inflammatories and told that if the pain continued I’d need to have an x ray. The medication helped a little but nothing changed. I began taking the lifts at work to avoid walking upstairs. Of course I went back to the drs who gave me anti inflammatory gel to rub in this time, I’d been concerned about the reams of side effects of the other tablets I’d taken, and an appointment for an x ray was booked. This time the doctor was convinced that I’d need physiotherapy for the muscle if nothing wrong was found with the bone . The next day I ran for a bus and it nearly killed me, the pain was excruciating. The gel didn’t help.  I had the x rays and was convinced that I’d be referred for physiotherapy. Not once did it occur to me that there would be something else wrong.

So when I returned to the surgery on Friday to get the results of the x ray, I went into shock when the doctor told me that he had bad news for me. I had been born with coxa profunda and had an aceto femoral impingement. Basically there was a problem with the  joints in my hips. There wasn’t enough room where the hips connect with my pelvis. I would need surgery now to try and ease the pain and also in ten years would also need to have both my hips replaced.

As you’d imagine, I had real problems taking all of this in, I had not expected to be told something like that. Well, who would? At one point I said “shit” and then apologised to the doctor, who’s about the same age as me, for swearing. He wasn’t worried. He’s probably heard worse. It can’t be a picnic having to drop bombshells on people.

I tried to keep it together, reminded myself how strong I am. I am strong but crying in the pharmacy as I waited for  the painkillers I’d been prescribed was a low point in my life. I have always had a fear of surgery and so far in my life I’ve managed not to need any. Now I will have to have several operations and there’s nothing I can do about it. It just is. And that’s the thing. I do just have to go with the flow, let things get sorted out, hope I won’t have to wait too long. How long will it all take? God knows, I certainly don’t. I’ve been referred for physiotherapy and also to the surgeons.  Also I have to slow down, walking is ok but nothing strenuous like running, cycling, anything like that.

After the doctors I met my friend Hannah for lunch and her face changed from horrified to even more horrified and shocked as I told her my news. I couldn’t help laughing at that but I told her that I had to find humour where ever I could. I wondered if that was how I’d looked when the doctor told me the diagnosis? I think I’d just looked shocked and on the verge of tears.

After Friday I am veering between being okish and terrified. On one level it’s still sinking in. Sometimes I forget all about it and then suddenly remember. I’ve also been worrying about the fact that my mum is worried about me. Mostly I am just trying to get through the days. I was on leave last week and I’ve taken a few extra days to just try and used to this new phase of my life.

Part of writing this post is to help me process the whole thing. There is a cure for problem and although I may be in discomfort now, I won’t always be. My friend Jay had both his hips replaced when he was 38 and he’d never looked back. He’s told me that I’ll feel like a teenager afterwards. My fantastic partner, Doug, has been my rock. I have forgotten sometimes that it’s been a shock for him too, to hear that I have to go through this. While I’m recuperating from my operations Doug will stay at my house to look after me. That means a great deal to me. I am still concerned about my mum as she’s taken this very hard. I’ve tried to reassure her that there’s nothing she could have done to prevent this, it is hereditary.

I will get through this and I’m lucky that I have the most incredible support from my other half, family and friends. And although I’ll have to go through some more pain afterwards my new hips will feel better, so much better than my old ones.