The Surgery, Part One

I mentioned I'm recovering from a pretty major hip surgery. I've debated whether to share the details here, but I have decided I will. I will document my progress as an encouraging reminder to myself that I'm healing. Also, as I prepared myself for this surgery, I didn't find a lot of information about specifically what to expect. There were medical sites, and then there were message boards, full of horror stories such as, "I WAS ON CRUTCHES FOR FIVE YEARS" and "I WILL NEVER FEEL MY TOES AGAIN".

Message boards are of the devil. Run, run away.

But only the scary stuff gets written about, it seems. I know there are numerous success stories, and Lord willing, I plan to be one of them. So I document this here, with a big shout-out to any other hippy chicks who are thus afflicted.

The Condition

I have Femoroacetabular Impingement. I have no idea how to pronouce that. Inside my head, I call it "Femo-bluh-bluh-lar Impingement". Thankfully, it also goes by the abbreviation "FAI".

Here is a great medical description of the condition.

Here is a mediocre non-medical description: The top of my hip joint (the "ball" portion) has a bony bump ("cam impingement") that has been shredding the hoo-ha out of my labrum (the tissue in the hip socket).

I would like to point out the sentence on this website that says "FAI is common in high level athletes," so that anyone who knows me in real life can get a good belly laugh. Yes, it is Olympic gymnasts, professional baseball players, and me. (Not really. It's common for active people to have a labral tear, and not everyone will be symptomatic. The cam impingement isn't quite as common, and I was probably born with it. That bony little outcropping has gradually caused some pain over the last few years.)

The Injury

So with my congenital impingement, the stage was set for some trouble. (Side note: I am always very uncomfortable with the word "congenital". Every time I use it I look it up in the dictionary first. I feel like I might be saying something my grandmother might not want me to say.)

Then, about two years ago, I discovered the Zumba.

Ah, Zumba. At the mention of the word, I feel a little step-step-cha-cha-cha comin' on. I LOVED THE ZUMBA. I shimmied in with both feet and I Zumba'd at every class I could find. I Zumba'd at my house on the off days. I Zumba'd in the kitchen while I cooked dinner, promting the ten-year-old to cha-cha with me and the teenagers to avert their eyes. ("Mom is twerking again!" they'd shout. Let me be clear: There was never, ever any twerking.)

I even got certified to teach Zumba. ("I AM VERY UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THIS," said the 17-year-old.) It was about this time that the dull ache that plagued my hips for years turned into something sharper. It had been a deep ache that often radiated down my thigh and wrapped around the sides of my hips. This new pain was becoming sharper and was moving into my groin. About 75% of the time, each step I took created a painful, grinding sensation.

Shakira, with whom I naturally have so much in common because of all the Zumba, says that hips don't lie.

Oh no, they do not. It was sadly time to hang up the cha-cha shoes and find out what the problem was.

And thus, I leave you with a compelling cliffhanger in which I have quoted Shakira. Part two will include an elevated geriatric toilet seat, but you will just have to wait…


Nothing Doing

See this view?

It's mine.

I had major hip surgery 11 days ago (more on that later), and this particular surgery has a long and complicated recovery. LONG. Did I mention it is lengthy?

I can bear zero weight on my operative leg (the right one) for a total of six weeks, so here I sit. Actually, I can only sit in short spurts too. So here I lie. Or lay. Whatever–I couldn't figure out "lie/lay" even before pain meds.

(And let us pause for a moment to acknowledge that if you zoom in on that picture, you will see the name of the socks are "Bair Paws". Seriously. They gave me misspelled socks in the hospital's pre-op room. I took one look at them and started to gather my things and told Hubs, "IF THEY CAN'T SPELL 'BEAR' THEY ARE NOT CUTTING OPEN MY HIP." Thankfully, he talked me off this ledge, as they are the most comfortable socks I have ever worn. Also, and I really need you to work with me and picture this, the Bair Paws gown they gave me had a hose attached and it blew comfy warm air into my gown. I am a chronic spelling snob, but I'm also a chronic cold person, and guess what? Comfort wins. Nice job, Bair Paws people. Atrocious spelling, but great product.)

Back to recovery.

(Side note: Clearly, the FDA should list that a side effect of painkillers is over-use of italics and parentheses.)

I haven't been this helpless since I was a toddler. I can't fix a drink and carry it with me to the couch. I can't sit at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time. I can't sweep a floor or empty a trashcan or drive a car or walk to the mailbox with my husband.

My mother–the Greatest Hero In My World–has all but moved in to run my family. Precious friends are providing weeks of meals and rides for my kids and are coming to sit with me so that I will not be alone.

This is how it will be for much of the summer. Once I can start walking in six weeks, I am assured the recovery will still be slow and my limitations will be many. I am told my joint will not be normal, strong, and pain-free for six months.

And I won't lie to you: This is hard.

Me, the mom of the carpool, the class party, the field trip, the sleepover, the mega-grocery trip–I am a bump on this couch while that world outside my window just whirls along without me.

And I feel it, smacking me in the head every time I look around, the lesson that hangs in the air waiting to be learned: I can still love my people.

Let me repeat that, because I don't fully believe it yet, even though a little part of my brain knows it must be true: I can still love my people.

I sit here, waited on hand and foot, knowing how much work I'm creating for the people I love best. And I can't help. I cannot love them by jumping up and fixing them a casserole or driving to dance class. I can love them, as I sit (lay/lie) here. I can listen, pray, watch, laugh, comfort, but I can't DO.

And guess what? Loving your people by DOING is way easier than loving them the other ways. I realize, painfully, how addicted I've been to proving my love to my family (and myself) by just moving around on their behalf all the time.

The other day, I crutched myself gently out to my front porch because I need to breathe some air. It was starting to sprinkle, and my ten-year-old daughter dashed out past me and began to dance in the rain. I just watched her, easing myself onto a bench. She danced. And I just watched. I didn't run inside to grab my phone and snap a picture of the cute moment. I didn't watch for ten seconds and then tell her, sorry, I have to go inside and fold clothes now. I just watched her. I watched the beautiful length of her legs, and the funny way the hair started to stick to the side of her face. I just watched and savored that moment, right there.

I just loved her.

I am seeing these moments begin to take shape, as I let go of the old ways of loving my family and try to embrace these newer (and harder) ones. I listen to the sound of my husband's footsteps in the kitchen as he prepares my meds and comes to put me in bed, and I pray that God will ease his burdens. I just love him.

When my son needs to discuss a school frustration, I do not cut the conversation short to hop onto the next thing, because I can't–because the only way I can love him is to hear him. And we talk, more deeply than we've ever talked on the topic. I just love him.

I am ashamed how hard it is to slow down and love my family in this new way. I should've learned it years ago.  I wonder what all I have missed when I dashed off to fold their towels instead of watching them dance in the rain?

Teach me, Lord.