Well, I finally got a firm diagnosis on my hip pain….and surgery 24 hours later! It happened quickly last week and I’m just now getting around to blogging about the experience. Its been a lethargic (for me) and busy (for Aaron) week since surgery last Tuesday. Aaron has had to take care of everything since I am not much help on crutches but we have been blessed with meals from friends from Church and my Mom just got into town to help too.
The positive thing is that Aaron and the kids got to enjoy a nice vacation in Vail while I was recovering in bed and going to physical therapy twice a day. Vail is home base for the Steadman clinic and Dr. Marc Philippon, one of the best hip surgeons in the world. Why did I need the help of a world renown hip surgeon? Over the past year my left hip has been a constant source of tightness and pain. Most of the time I managed it quite well with ART, massage, and dry-needling along with hip mobility exercises and cross training but it started to worsen and become overbearing throughout my buildup to running Boston. I probably shouldn’t have run Boston, but I stubbornly stuck to the plan and experienced the most painful race of my life. Four months later, unable to run without pain, limping, weakness in my hip, I was starting to lose hope in ever running pain-free again. I tried, ART, massage, physical therapy, hip mobility exercises, acupuncture, dry-needling, rolfing, rest, cross training, orthotics, barefoot running…you name it, I tried it and it did not improve my pain. In the meantime, my ART Dr., Richey Hansen suggested in May that I had all the symptoms of a labral tear, so I got an MRI. The MRI report specifically said “no labral tear” and the two other doctors who had looked at my MRI were not assertive about a labral tear either, although they both did say that the labrum looked damaged or frayed. One Doctor suggested that I had cysts in my ovaries and that I was possibly experiencing referred pain. My Obstretritian quickly debunked that theory through ultrasound and I was left searching for answers. Right after I got the MRI in June, I sent the images to the Steadman Clinic and was calling Dr. Philippon’s assistant 2-3 times a week in an effort to either set an appointment to see him or have him call me to discuss my MRI. Continued months of therapy, cross-training, slow painful running, and no improvement was getting old.
Finally on Sunday night, July 31st I asked Aaron if he would give me a Priesthood blessing (a prayer by the laying on of hands through the power of the Priesthood). He and our friend Adam Hunt administered the blessing and as Aaron spoke, he promised that I would find the right people to help me with my hip and that I would be able to heal and run pain free again. I felt very peaceful and confident after the blessing and knew things would work out. The next day, Monday August 1st at around 9 p.m., Dr. Philippon of the Steadman Clinic in Vail finally called. I was a bit alarmed and surprised to finally hear from him. During our brief conversation he said he was looking at my MRI and I do in fact have a tear in my labrum along with some bony impingement on my femur and my hip which was hitting into my labrum and causing the trauma. He said he’d like to see me in his office for a visit the next morning and if I fit the criteria through physical examination he would operate the same evening, so I shouldn’t eat past 6 a.m. since I may be getting surgery that day. I was kind-of freaking out. I asked him a few questions but my mind was whirling. When I got off the phone Aaron and I called a few Doctor friends for their opinions and talked out the options. I was previously scheduled to receive prolotherapy and possibly PRP on my hip with Dr. Ron Hanson at the Ceneno-Shultz clinic in Broomfield and was hopeful that he could help regenrate my labrum or at least the tendons in and around the hip. I also had an appointment scheduled with Dr. Leslie Vidal to get her opinion about the MRI and symptoms. After a lot of talking and more prayer, there was nothing left to do but go to Vail and see what Dr. Philippon had to say to hopefully make a more educated and confident decision. Luckily we had a friend staying in our basement and she was able to watch the kids all day so Aaron and I could go to Vail for the appointment.
As we arrived at Dr. Philippon’s office it was like walking down a hall of fame with all the professional athlete jerseys and “Thank you’s” hanging on the wall. Dr. Philippon has repaired the hip labrum of over 1,000 professional athletes and has a 93% success rate with all clients returning back to their previous strength or better. In our appointment he and his assistants evaluated my hip and did testing, looked at my MRI and X-rays to show me where the tear and bony impingement was, and Dr. Philippon told me I was a great candidate for surgery and he was very confident he could fix the labrum and remove the bony impingement that was the root of the problem. He was very confident I would be able to get back to full running strength, possibly even still in time for the Olympic Trials in January. I was pretty stoked to finally hear a Doctor speak so confidently to me and assure me that he knew what the problem was and he could help me. As he left Aaron and I alone to talk about it, we both felt that all of our concerns were addressed and that surgery was the best option.
I sent Aaron home and told him he might as well get some work done and get back to the kids so that he could come pick me up the following morning after surgery. My day was filled with paperwork, more paperwork, more hip and muscle testing, explanation of the operation procedure repeated by three different people, blood work, explanation of the recovery, making a bunch of phone calls to cancel all my appointments and plans for the next two weeks, and finally dressing in a hospital gown, marking the left hip, IV placement, PRP blood draw, and waiting. Dr. Philippon had been in surgery with four other clients all day and I was the last one of the day. I kept wondering when he’d ever get to me as it approached 7…8 p.m. It was a long day since I hadn’t been allowed to eat since 6 a.m. and I had to stop drinking at 2 p.m. I was starting to get nervous but trying to stay positive and also feeling grateful that I was settled on a solution and also that I had only been stewing about surgery for one day as opposed to dreading it for months. Finally the anesthesiologist came into my room at 8:45 p.m. and gave me something to make me feel relaxed. He was administering the epidural and I was so calm I commented to him how I had never had an epidural before and was surprised at how easy it was. Soon enough…I was out.
The next thing I remember it was 12:30 a.m. and my stomach hurt. I was back in my recovery room and could’t really feel my legs. Dr. Philippon and his assistant came in to tell me the surgery had gone really well and that the repair would help me. As the epidural wore off, the stomach pain eased off and I slept in short segments throughout the night. I finally ate the most delicious orange jello of my life around 3 a.m. and slept some more. All the nurses in the surgery center were very kind and helpful. A few more hours of falling asleep and waking up as the drugs wore off, I could feel my legs again and ate some oatmeal. Aaron and the kids arrived just before 9 a.m. and they took me downstairs to physical therapy where I got right to work with the therapist moving my leg around and having me ride the stationary bike for 20 minutes to get the blood moving again. The rest of the week consisted of twice a day 90 minute physical therapy appointments, sleeping, driving back and forth from the hotel to PT, and watching (sleeping through) movies with the kids. Aaron took the kids swimming every day and to the park and on bike rides.
Now that I am through the first week post-op my energy is coming back and I feel stronger more optimism about the future of recovery and healing. I will be on crutches for a total of 18 days and should be able to run within 7-12 weeks. I am SO grateful to have finally found a solution with a timeline to recovery! Dr. Philippon did an injection of PRP (platelet-rich plasma) at the end of the surgery and is doing another injection at my 6 week post-op appointment, which will help boost the healing process. I am busy with physical therapy three times a week and getting the kids ready to go back to school on Monday, luckily Mom is here to help me with everything. Aaron has been an amazingly supportive, multitasking superhero and our kids have been very patient and helpful too. While I am sad I have had (and will have) to miss out on 6+ months of healthy running and racing, I am looking forward to future running and mostly just grateful to hopefully have my health restored. Here I am at the end of a physical therapy appointment with my ice pack on….HEAL HIP…HEAL!!