Once upon a time people stopped by this blog to read about my life in the trenches of motherhood or body image or my faith journey and/or struggles. Now a lot of people Google their way over here because they, too, are dealing with frustrating, nebulous injuries like high hamstring tendinopathy or SI joint dysfunction. Welcome! And for those of you who are tired of my periodic ramblings pertaining to my broken body, I’ll give you the Cliff’s Note version: I have been trying to overcome pain and myriad injuries since September 2013 when a physical therapist (one of 6 I’ve consulted since then) thought I had piriformis syndrome, and now it looks like my left hip may be the reason behind my litany of injuries, trigger points, etc. and that surgery may be in my – and by default – my poor family’s future. How will I ever chase down a wild 3-year-old boy while on crutches?
Now for the unabridged post: After I was told to go ahead and run the half marathon I’d trained for back in October 2013, my husband, who knows I listen to my body about as well as aforementioned 3-year-old boy listens to Mommy when in the throes of tantrum, suggested I get an MRI, which revealed I had a partial tear left semimembranosus tendon at ischial tuberosity. Not enough doctor-speak for you? Read more here.
I remember crying to my husband and one friend in particular who has had to hear every detail of this injury (poor thing; I love you, friend) that I would never run again. He assured me that I’d probably be doing another half marathon and maybe even qualifying for Boston in a year. Well, it looks like Eeyore was right this time, doesn’t it? Sorry, Mr. Pollyanna.
Later MRI showed only mild high hamstring tendinopathy and the tear had healed, but some pain remained and then other weird symptoms – symptoms that didn’t get worse with running but also never went away, started to crop up. Then there was a new PT who thought, “Hmmmm…maybe there’s something going on with the labrum.” MRI arthogram and a slew of further imaging studies said, “Yup. There’s something wonky with that hip joint.”
But was it leading to all these other injuries? Some people have wonky hips and don’t have the kind of problems I do. And before I write anything further: Running does not cause FAI (what I’m dealing with). It’s just the way my hip joint is fashioned; however, people who are more active may end up having more problems because of tightness in the hip area and biomechanical/compensatory issues that result from the wonky hip. (Can you tell I am really into the word “wonky” right now?)
Anyway, it’s been more than a year of searching, of being fearful that chronic pain was in my genes (thanks, Mom), of hearing so many different expert opinions and feeling like it was going to be difficult to trust anyone since everybody seemed to think they had the answer and would get me better to no avail, wondering if maybe I was just weak or everything was in my head or I was going crazy, of learning (once again!) that what I do (or don’t do or can’t do) in this life doesn’t define me as a person, of crying, of getting angry, of embracing the “Honey Badger don’t care” attitude (don’t watch with kids within an earshot because of bad words) and just being as active as I want because it didn’t seem to make the pain worse, of being grateful for all that I am capable of, of letting it all go, of feeling guilty for even letting something like this get to me when so many people face horrible tragedies, injustices, sicknesses, and misery. I’ve had dry needling in my back, hamstring, obturator (ouch!), and other places, acupuncture, scraping/Graston, active release therapy, pelvic adjustments, pelvic floor physical therapy, an injection directly into the hip joint, and more. I’ve stopped running for months, started running again, stopped running and then started again, and I still hurt regardless. When I was feeling good during a recent run, I fell hard on the concrete and have a bruised knee and elbow, and several scrapes to show for it. Oh, and I got my first corn ever. Gross. And my dear friend’s amazing doctor-husband offered to look at it, and I was sure to wash my feet beforehand but as he was examining my crustiness, I noticed my toes had their winter coat. Anyone else forget to shave their toes in winter? Fortunately, it’s blonde, but it can get long enough to braid. If he noticed the nasty hair, he didn’t act like it. He showed me nothing but compassion, and I ended up talking about far more than my corn (which thankfully finally fell off the other day). He encouraged me to remember that medicine is sometimes about managing pain and that we can’t always get rid of it. He also helped me to realize I am NOT crazy. This is real, all that I’ve gone through. He and his wife are such good friends.
So despite the medical mysteries, my foot barnacle (corns are stubborn buggers to get rid of), glute/hamstring/iliac crest/groin/back/hip pain every day, I keep pushing because I am stubborn or idiotic, because while I am making peace with my body’s physical limitations, I refuse to give up and to stop fighting for answers.
And I feel like I am finally getting some of those answers. A renowned hip specialist in Atlanta whom I’ve been seeing for a few months and has been wonderful was the one who gave me the recent hip injection. Based on its results, my imaging, my history, and physical examination, he suspects the hip joint (my FAI and labral fraying to be exact) could be behind my ongoing hamstring, iliac crest issues, etc. and that I am a decent candidate for hip surgery. So I am in the discernment stage, trying to determine if I want to take this leap (of faith, foolishness, or futility?).
I’m no fool. I know it’s likely not a panacea, and I’m really reluctant about jumping into surgery. However, there’s also been something freeing about knowing this isn’t all in my head and there are others – lots of others as evidenced by this Facebook support group – who have dealt with similar issues. The funny thing is the groin pain that the doctor said is a direct symptom of FAI I had attributed to girly problems or IBS or even my past kidney stones. Things are finally starting to fall in place. In my before kids days, I was diagnosed with snapping hip syndrome during a training cycle. I was young and recovered quickly. Oh, to be young again, but I wonder now if this was the beginning of what has finally led me to where I’m at right now. Later, I was told I had hip bursitis – perhaps another red flag. Who knows? What I do know is I am going to get a second opinion from a hip/FAI leader because I happen to live only a handful of hours from where he practices and see what he thinks. But it looks like hip surgery and crutches and all that fun stuff might be in my future.
In the meantime, I’ll do what I can do and be thankful for my body. The doc did give me the go-ahead to run light mileage, so I have plans to run my kids’ school’s 5K. I have been told to listen to my body – something I’ve never been entirely good at. “Your hips will tell you if you need to slow down even if you don’t feel the pain in your hip,” the doctor told me.
Oh, Shakira, you were onto something when you said your hips don’t lie.
Stay tuned for more of the Kate’s wonky hip/body saga.