Hello! I’ve been pretty silent around these parts for a couple reasons. The first one being that I’m not really running much, and the runs aren’t that much to write home about anyway. Additionally, I’ve been getting ready to start graduate school – filling out all the papers, getting financial aid in order, registering for classes, etc. I’ve also been running from doctor to doctor (and physical therapist) for my hip and for a stye that I can’t seem to get to go away. (Well, the one in my right eye lasted for 6.5 weeks, and the same day it went away, I got one in the other eye. These are terribly pesky and I can’t wait for them to go away.) But anyway.
Last we heard about my labral tear, I visited a doctor who told me to come back when I had more pain. A little crushing to someone who had been dealing with discomfort and the inability to run properly for over a year. I ended up getting an appointment at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS, aka THE orthopedic hospital in NYC), which I obviously should have done a long time ago. They’re not necessarily the easiest to get an appointment with (although hopefully worth it!), not everyone takes every insurance so I had to do some searching since different websites say different things, and honestly, it’s not like they’re the only good surgeons in the city. But oh well.
I had x-rays done right before my appointment since my last round of x-rays was over a year ago. I then met with the physician assistant who took my story and complaints and did a physical exam. I have a little pinching in my left groin when you do the official labral tear tests, but that’s about it. She took my MRI and left to look at it. This is when I immediately panicked and realized that I only brought my MRI from March 2015, which didn’t show anything, per two radiologists, one of who was specifically looking for a problem with my labrum. I accidentally left the MRI with contrast (from May 2016) at home, and I panicked and wondered if I just set myself back again.
The doctor came in (the same one who did Ashley’s surgeries, so that’s reassuring), and he reviewed the info from the PA and asked a few more questions and did his own exam. Then he said he was going take a look at my images (I’m assuming he did before) and asked me to come with him – this is when I apologized and said that I didn’t bring the latest one that showed the tear. To which he said, “Oh, you can see it on the one you brought.” I laughed and said two radiologists looked at it and how can that be?? He said they don’t usually use contrast when looking for a labral tear because it clouds the cartilage (don’t quote me on that, I think that’s what he said), so the one I brought was fine.
So we headed to a computer and he showed me the tear. For the record, the only thing I can really read on x-rays, MRIs, etc is whether or not a feeding tube is in the right place. (I can also see a pneumothorax, although luckily we don’t have too many of those.) So I had no clue what I was looking at. He pointed out the cyst near my labrum that indicates that I have a tear, and he said that people usually miss it unless they know to look for it. (Guessing that’s why they didn’t find it last year!) He also showed me the bump on the head of my femur which most likely caused the labral tear. He also pointed out that the cartilage in my hip looks good, which is a positive. Back to the room we go.
With all of this in mind, he immediately recommended surgery. Clean up the labrum, place some anchors, and shave down the bumpy part of my femur. Regional anesthesia with conscious sedation. 10-14 days on crutches, 3-4 weeks out of work (clarified this later), and back to running sometime (also clarified this). I asked if he definitely thought surgery should be done – silly question, but I’ve been anticipating it for forever. He said yes, it will fix the problem, and away we go. He didn’t mention physical therapy, but I’d been doing it for ten weeks at the time of the appointment without much improvement, so there’s that. He shook my hand and I was off to schedule surgery.
They offered mid-June, asked if I needed to think about it, and I was all over the place. This is all complicated by the fact that I’m starting school – I’d do it immediately if I could, but they said I couldn’t expect to go to class three days after surgery (….obviously? maybe?), so I’m a little delayed. I have a break in August, so I’m planning it for then. I believe I go back to class about ten days after I have surgery (….yikes), so that will be a little tricky. Far from ideal, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I’m in a bit of a bind because I was never sure when I was going to stop working – but I need my health insurance, and I need to keep my health insurance. My health insurance is very good (although these co-pays are adding up), so although I can get it through the school, I feel like switching insurance in the middle of all of this would be troublesome. I keep joking that I don’t need my job for the money, I need it for the health insurance. The main perk here being that as a result of rarely calling out sick, I have a lot of sick time I can use because I will definitely need time off. Nursing is very physical.
I needed to get a CT scan of my hip to rule out dysplasia, or an abnormal formation in the hip, which could complicate surgery. The PA called me today with the results, and I don’t have dysplasia – another positive sign that the surgery will be successful and hopefully fix my pain. I asked her a few more questions – when I could get back to work and running. She said no running for three months, and then I’d be able to start back super slow. As for work, she said it depends on my job – I was really nervous about going back after four weeks because that seemed so soon. As a nurse who is on her feet all day, moving patients, etc., she said, “As long as they’ll let you take,” but somewhere around 2-3 months is more reasonable. I felt much better.
Some people have asked me my feelings about all of this. There are a few things that keep my floating through my mind.
Surgery? Really? I sometimes struggle with the idea of having surgery for something that isn’t life altering. I can function in my daily life. I live with feeling something “off” in my hip, and sometimes I’d call it pain, but it’s fine. I notice it. I can tell when I run that my stride isn’t quite right – I don’t think my leg swings forward as much as it could, although I don’t feel a “catch” like they say you might. I don’t know whether running much slower is due to my tear or to being out of shape. Maybe both. I figure I’m 31 years old and have a long life ahead of me – and a long running life, hopefully! I’ve done less aggressive things – taking time off, physical therapy – so it’s time for the big guns. It’s been over a year, let’s get on with this. Plus, I don’t want to run into any bigger problems with my hip until I’m much older – no hip replacements at 40, please.
Three months of no running?? Don’t get me wrong, I am going to dearly miss running for three months. Maybe more, depending on how it goes, I guess. And I know I won’t fully be back to running for months after that. However, I haven’t been able to run to my potential for over a year. I love running, and it is so frustrating to wonder how each run is going to go. It’s not fun. I don’t know what level I’ll get back to after surgery, but it has to be better than where I’m at right now.
I could have known this a year ago. Okay, this is my own feeling. I’m a little mad at myself for not going to the experts (aka HSS) last year – maybe I could have had surgery all over with by now! I know some people say, “Everything happens for a reason,” but I think that’s more to make you feel better than anything else But this is where I’m at now, and life will play out how it will. But it would be nice to have this behind me, that’s for sure.
That’s mostly it for now. I’m looking forward to having the summer to do some running – nothing crazy, of course – and to get stronger before surgery. I’ve been told that glute and core work will really help me post-op, so I need to get on that. The PA said I’d get more info about surgery/preparing for surgery in late July-early August, so we’ll hear more then. In the meantime, I’ve been reading about people’s experiences and what to expect. It seems to be a little all over the board, although the latest people I’ve talked to who have had the surgery haven’t even filled their narcotic prescriptions, so that’s a plus. Most people say to prepare for a long recovery, which I definitely know to expect, although I imagine it will be very frustrating at times. I’m just ready to get this show on the road.
Alright labral tear friends – what’s your best advice? How bad was surgery? How long until you were moving around okay? Hoping there’s a nurse out there who can share a work timeline…