I am trapped in a body that does not work.
A gymnast. A dancer. An Actress. A gymnastics coach. A
choreographer. An athlete. A wedding planner. A weight trainer. A
10,000 steps 6 days a week mover (curse you, my beloved Fitbit).
you are confused, rest assured I have spent the past six weeks trying
to wrap my head around the words, "We have two options. One - do
nothing. Two - you need a total hip replacement."
mind spun out of control, the doctor went on to explain to me that
something to do with Hip Dysplasia is measured on a scale from 1-4, 4
being the worst. I'm a 4. Osteoarthritis is measured on a scale from
1-3, 3 being the worst. I'm a 3. There is an angle they measure to
recommend hip replacements at anything less than a 20. I'm a 14.
Obviously, I lost grasp of details here.
Other words swirling as they entered my brain were:
bone-on-bone, bone spurs, no ligaments, calcified ligaments, zero range of motion
Time to back-track.
of you are probably confused, either never having heard me complain or
perhaps remembering a time or two I mentioned my hip was sore. I didn't
want anyone knowing I was in pain because then I might not get cast as a
dancer in a show or asked to coach gymnastics, or I'd be lectured on
why I wasn't going to the doctor. I was afraid. I was afraid of
knowing what was wrong. I was afraid of being stupid because I had no
idea where to start with the doctors. I was afraid of medical bills. I
was afraid of being told there was nothing they could do. I was
afraid, most of all, that I was crazy and making up some phantom pain.
But I am not crazy.
all started 4 years ago when my hip started popping just prior to
getting married. The feeling was a discomfortable pop out of place -
like a searing knuckle popping almost.
In January of
'14, I had my first of many, as I call them, "flare ups." The pain in
my groin/inner hip area was as if I was being stabbed. I could not walk
without a severe limp and my poor husband found me collapsed on the
stairs in tears, paralyzed with fear. But the pain subsided after a few
Every few weeks, I'd have a day or two of pain.
Especially if I had a heavy dance day. I remember auditioning for
"Footloose" and hardly being able to walk that night. But I kept moving
and dancing, hoping I'd just tweaked some muscle or aggravated
something in my aging body, accepting my new normal. My husband became
accustomed to hearing, "I'm having a flare up today, don't walk so
fast." But that never stopped me. I kept trucking right along.
the way, I tried massage therapy, chiropractic care, sports
chiropractic therapy, stretching, stretching, more stretching, and I
even became a gymnastics coach in part because I knew it would keep me
active and stretching every day. All the while I continued to work out
6 days a week with weights and cardio. I tried anything I could do to
loosen up what I thought was a "locked hip," but nothing helped. Even
cold/heat therapy, electric stimulation, a daily regime of mobility
exercises, and ultrasound stimulation. I am often told, "Just hearing
about all you do is wearing me out."
Why did I keep pushing through this pain?
me tell you a story that helps you understand what happens inside of me
when I do gymnastics or dance. Last May, I auditioned for "Beauty and
the Beast" at Hale Centre Theatre. I left the theater feeling as if I
were flying through clouds of freedom. My body moved! I moved! I
cartwheeled and high-kicked and tap-danced and split and jumped and
leaped and every beat of my heart exhilarated the core of my soul. I
posted from the parking lot, "And then I danced. And suddenly all was
right in the world."
You see, when I dance or tumble, my
soul is free. My heart is free. Anything is possible. Happiness is
limitless. My brain tingles. I love feeling the strength of my body
and of what it is capable, tying together what is inside my heart with
physical expression. My body is literally flying when I do a back tuck
or an aerial...literally I am a bird soaring. There is nothing in this
world that can free my mind, body, and soul this way. I can fly.
to "Beauty and the Beast." I sought some massage therapy before my
final audition (callback) and my leg was manipulated in all sorts of
positions. Thinking it was simply a muscle problem, imagine my chagrin
when this caused the worst flareup yet. At our first rehearsal a month
later (I made it!), I walked as normally as I could, not wanting my new
cast mates to know that not only was I 10 years older than all of the
other dancers, my body wasn't working. A few weeks later, I did
something coaching gymnastics that rendered me practically immobile. My
hip would pop painfully without warning with almost any movement. I'm
talking paralyzing, breath-stealing pain. I remember a friend grabbing
my leg at rehearsal to fix my positioning on the floor, my hip popping,
and then the room flashing bright colors and spinning around me because
of the blinding, searing pain.
Yet I danced. I
danced for 4 months day in and day out. I loved every moment as much as
my comprehension of love allows. No experience in my life has left me
But the day after the show closed, I
could not even lift my right leg. I had to pick it up with my hands to
get it in the car.
And you know what this dummy did?
Thought, "Huh, I must just be fatigued from the show. It will get
better." That's right...I still
didn't go to the doctor. I continued working out, dancing, choreographing, coaching gymnastics....all of it.
summer, I was part of another production where my dancing was minimal,
but I found myself frustrated. How could this little amount of dancing
cause me pain? Then I wore my heels for the show. Have mercy. My hip
wanted nothing to do with those heels.
I traveled to
Disney World just before we opened, and my friend there, at the end of a
3-park day, said, "Are you okay? Do you have blisters? You are
hobbling..." I said, "No blisters, just this stupid hip thing I have
where it hurts at the end of the day. No big deal." That's when I knew
this was not something I could hide much longer.
emotional week when my husband was out of town, I had collapsed in pain
too many times. In between tears, I picked up my phone and googled
something that lead me to the Orthopedic Specialty Group at TOSH. I
pretended I wasn't crying as I told the poor woman on the phone my sob
story, not even knowing if she was someone who knew anything at all.
She was an angel and referred me to the right doctor based on our best
The next available appointment was 2 months out. For. The. Love.
Which brings us back to some of the strangest words I've ever had to comprehend. "You need a total hip replacement."
Aren't I too young for this? Isn't there another option? How could I have prevented this?
I did caused this and nothing I did could have prevented this.
Apparently, this condition is quite common for females in their 30s.
Hip dysplasia is genetic.
Do you know what was actually
happening this whole time I was in pain? Because of the dysplasia, I
developed severe osteoarthritis. My bones began slicing into my
ligaments until they were destroyed, then began grinding into each
other. My body began building new bone to protect itself - calcifying
the surrounding tissues and even forming bone spurs. The doctor cannot
even temporarily prescribe pain medication because none will help my
I walked out of the doctor's
office into the perfect sunshine of a September morning. The wind dried
the tears off my face. My life, as I know it, will change forever.
But there is an answer. Relief is in site. I am not crazy.
This entire time I have been running about willy nilly with my bones grinding together. Who does that?!
This is where I ask for your help, your patience, and your forgiveness.
I now know what my body has been going through. I now know why my mental health has been slowly, yet steadily declining.
have been suffering with chronic pain for 4 years. Please Google "long
term effects of chronic pain" for more information. What I can quickly
tell you is that it deteriorates your mental state. Sufferers are
prone to emotional variances, depression, outbursts, extreme fatigue,
lack of comprehension, and the list goes on.
had some friends say I don't seem as happy as I used to be, that I'm not
myself. Others have simply distanced themselves from me silently.
Several have asked about my "swollen" body. Friends, I need
you....there is a light at the end of the tunnel! I will be back to
"normal" in about 4-6 months! Please hang in there with me. Please.
Right now, I am exhausted beyond comprehension all but a few hours a
day. Choosing what to do with my very limited energy supplies each day
is almost impossible and has left me disappointing others and myself
almost constantly. The surgeon said the most important thing I can do is to keep moving every day, so most of my energy is prioritized into workouts. Frustrating workouts because my body is putting all of its focus on healing a hip that can't be healed and none into metabolizing. This has left me humiliated and ashamed, as my whole lifestyle revolves around health and fitness. I should not be because none of this is my fault, but I can't exactly stop every person on the street and say, "I'm just so swollen because (fill in the entire story I just told you)."
My surgery is scheduled in January. I'm scared. Out. Of. My. Mind.
recently watched the beautiful musical theater stage show, "American in
Paris," at the Eccles Theatre. As we walked back to the car, I started
crying as I told my husband, "The dancers are all so free. They all
leap and spin and dance and their bodies are free. I'm scared to death I
will never feel that again in my life. I need to feel that way, Rob. I
need to dance. What if I never get to feel that way again?"
one of his wisest marital moments to date, he responded, "You can't
move like that now. This surgery will fix you. Maybe you won't be able
to do everything
you did before, but you certainly can't now. Let's get you out of pain."
am having a total hip replacement. I am hoping for a new lease on
life. I am hoping to be able to feel free again in this body that
currently has me trapped.
Until then, I'll cry every
time I watch "Dancing with the Stars," or coach my gymnasts and watch
them fly, or see my friends perform, or imagine what life will be like
when I can once again take a step without pain.
|Yep, this is me playing "Grandma" in "Addams Family "just two weeks ago...still refusing to accept my condition|