Friday, August 16, 2013

Taking Each Day In Stride: Dealing With Hip Pain

As I was grew into a young man, I poked fun at myself at how I would run when playing sports during gym class. When I graduated to rugby in college it followed. I even noticed that while I was indeed fast on the field, I had a slightly odd gait. Then, about 12 years ago, I had some excruciating hip pain where I could only sleep when I lay down on my right side. It became so bad that I wasn't getting any sleep. X-rays were taken and the diagnosis was that I 'might have arthritis' in my hip. There was no recommendation to see a specialist or anything. The X-rays were not shown to me and I had no idea what to look for so I took their word for it. It was recommended I take Ibuprofen when it hurt. Hmmm, ok.

When I retired from rugby in 2005, the pain went away for a long time. I would always feel a twinge in there if I stretched too far or increased my stride while hiking, but I figured it was me getting older. Then we bought a house and I started doing a lot of work outside. To me it was no big deal, because I am an active guy and it felt great to work outside.

Five months ago the pain gradually came back. It wasn't super painful at first, but the aches in the afternoon slowly turned to aches throughout the day and then into the night. Before long, I was hobbling, not working out at all, and not sleeping well. My threshold for pain is abnormally high and usually I would pass this off as something temporary, but I knew I had to see the doctor. I couldn't exercise the way I wanted to and I was becoming lethargic. I still tried to train using my Badlands 2200 backpack with weight in it, but I have gained more than a few pounds back after losing a great deal a couple years ago and it needed to change.


Photo courtesy and © kymberli q. photography

My physician had no idea what was wrong and sent me for X-rays. He said while it could be arthritis, he thought there might be something more to it. He also recommended me to a orthopedic surgeon to review the results. Immediately upon seeing the X-rays, the surgeon said he could see one issue. I had hip dysplasia. In Layman's Terms, the sockets of my pelvis never fully developed and the ball of the joint wasn't covered as much as it should be.

After the surgeon explained the issue I became very angry. Not at the surgeon, but the hospital staff and doctors that looked at my X-rays 12 years ago. They SHOULD have seen that I had hip dysplasia and then actually TOLD me about it. Almost as quickly as I was angry, I let it go because it wasn't going to change what was happening now.

The surgeon said my cartilage looked great and I had great spacing, so I would not need a hip replacement (cue angels singing). He also mentioned that if he had been the one reviewing the X-rays 12 years ago, he would have done some incredible surgery on my pelvis. Breaking it in a couple spots and adjusting it for more socket space. Remember how angry I was? Yeah, now I was relieved that they hadn't spotted it because I would have been laid up for months recuperating. (Everything happens for a reason.) Then he noticed two spurs on my ball joint. He set me up for an MRI and told me to take Aleve for the next couple weeks. I hate taking medicine, but I had no problem because the pain was almost unbearable.

My MRI completed, I met up with the surgeon three weeks later to reveal that I have a 2" cyst near my joint. It was immediately apparent when viewing the MRI results. Here is what it looks like:



Arthroscopic surgery is now required to remove the cyst. I was referred a top-of-the-line surgeon to do the work, but I have not gone to see him yet. Why? Well, honestly I am a stubborn guy. Hunting season is upon us and if I have the surgery now (or soon) I will be in physical therapy for a couple months. I decided that I am going to manage the backcountry hunts hip pain or not. I am also a strong believer in God and believe in the power of prayer. Once I left the surgeons office, I called my wife with the news. She took it well and reminded me to keep it in my prayers and that she would keep it in hers. My daughter even prays for my hip at bedtime every night. I have a very supportive and loving family, which i am very grateful for.

Know what else I am thankful for? Since my trip to the surgeons office to review my MRI three weeks ago, I have had little to no hip pain. I haven't had to take any meds for pain and I have gone jogging (4 miles one night, 5 the next) and also gone biking (11 miles one night and then 6 the next). No pain in the hip. I have been tired and my quads were screaming at me, but no hip pain. Now, getting out of a car I can feel it, but it's only as I am getting out. I am going to keep praying and have faith that this cyst might disappear. If it doesn't, I will be holding out until early next year for the surgery so I have time to hunt and enjoy the holidays with my family!

7 comments:

  1. This definitely sounds like a serious issue, Al. But it also sounds like it could be much worse. Thank God for the comfort that you have currently. I'll be praying for you, buddy!

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    1. Thanks, Mark. It's a serious issue for sure and will be taken care of one way or another. I have had the pain for so long that it's part of me now. When it's gone it'll be fantastic! I just can't sit still and love staying active. Going scouting a couple miles in tomorrow, so it'll be a good test for the season.

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  2. Went thru something similar when I had 3 vertebrae in my neck collapse 5 months before I went on my bison hunt in 2006. I feel for you Al! Power of God and prayers are very effective and just as you mentioned, God likely answered some unknown prayers when you were not told about it before.

    Godspeed and health my friend!!!

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    1. I would say three vertebrae in your neck are worse than my hip! Yikes! Thanks for the well wishes. Mind over matter and through the power of God I will remain strong.

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  3. I hate seeing people suffer, I got you in my prayers.

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    1. Thank you, Daniel. I appreciate the prayers. Fortunately, I am not suffering a great deal. I tend to push myself harder and harder. The pain has been gone for a couple weeks now and I hope it stays that way! Have a great one!

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  4. "Cue angels singing" - you might have a cyst, but you still have humor.
    Thank you for sharing this personal item.

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