How the heck do I start this blog? I’m not a writer. I’m just someone who, when faced with the prospect of hip arthroscopy to fix his FAI, read a lot of blogs on the subject. If you wrote a blog about surgery for FAI, I read it. Seriously, I read them all.
I’m not sure if reading all those blogs made me more or less scared of having surgery, but it did make me want to share my own experience. I can’t promise that this will be helpful for you OR for me, but I’m hoping for both. Anyway, I’m writing this post just one week before my FAI surgery, so here is the story of how I got to this point:
I’ve always been a very active recreational athlete. I don’t participate in races (running in a straight line is boring), triathlons (running AND swimming? Pass), or weightlifting competitions (I’d love to, but I only weigh ~135, and I don’t think they make weight classes that low), but I do go to the gym 4-5 days per week, and am often involved in multiple recreational sport leagues at any given time (these include competitive sports like flag football, dodgeball, and volleyball, and more recreational activities such as softball and kickball). As an agile 26-year-old, being able to sprint/jump/move fast in general is very important to me.
A few months ago (Jan. 2013), a volleyball match left me with a lot of discomfort in my left hip/groin. I thought I must’ve strained my groin and took a couple weeks off (incidentally, I was scheduled for LASIK surgery on January 10th, so that made taking a couple weeks off a little easier). Unfortunately, the pain would go away with rest, but come right back with activity. At worst, I would have trouble walking, though could still do it, and at best, my hip was uncomfortable but I was still able to run effectively (i.e. play flag football). High-impact sports such as volleyball, and high range of motion activities such as squats, were pretty much out of the question.
And that’s how it’s been in the few months since early January (it’s April 2013 as I’m writing this).
In between, I tried physical therapy and a cortisone injection. The PT seemed to help, but only because I stopped other physical activity at the time. Once I returned to sports, the pain came right back. And the injection only provided a small amount of relief for a couple of days. At that point, it was time to think about surgery.
The decision to have surgery was a difficult one. On one hand, I can still play many of the sports I love at a high level (I played flag football today, in fact). On the other hand, I have certain limitations in the gym and in high-impact sports, and I don’t particularly enjoy the sharp pain in my hip after activity. Additionally, many surgeons I met with talked to me about the long-term prospects of someone with untreated FAI, and it seemed that I would be headed for an early hip replacement if I didn’t do something.
Once I decided to pursue the hip arthroscopy for FAI, I set out to meet all of Richmond, VA’s hip surgeons (or so it seemed). Ultimately, I had consultations with 4 different surgeons before settling on one and scheduling my surgery for April 30th, which is 8 days from today.
So that’s my hip story. Here are some additional notes about my preparations for surgery and recovery:
- My surgeon said he didn’t typically prescribe PT, which goes against all of the blogs I’ve read about FAI. However, he didn’t argue with me when I told him I’d prefer PT, so I met with a therapist I’ve worked with before, and I’ll be seeing him about a week after surgery, with regular visits to follow (probably 1-3x per week).
- I’ve read a lot about people using Continuous Passive Motion machines and ice machines, such as the ones made by Game-Ready. My insurance will not cover either, but I think I will rent an ice machine if I can, on the recommendation of a colleague
- My surgery is on a Tuesday, so I’ve taken the rest of that week off. Only one week off may be optimistic, but I have the ability to work from home, so hopefully this will help me return to work sooner.
- My girlfriend is learning to drive a manual car so that we can switch vehicles for a few weeks, which will allow me to drive sooner (it’s my left hip that’s being operated on). I tried to teach her, but she fired me.
- I’m doing a lot of physical activity in the weeks leading up to surgery, in some sort of “enjoy it while you got it” way. In the last 10 days, I played football twice, softball once, dodgeball once, and went hiking out west in Zion Canyon. This is reinforcing the fact that something is wrong with my hip.
- I’m trying to keep everything in perspective – there are a lot worse things than a hip scope, and I know I’ll need to remind myself of this a lot during recovery.
If you’ve had a hip scope for FAI, I’d love to hear from you. And if you’re like me, and facing an upcoming surgery, feel free to keep coming back to follow my story. I’m planning on making this one of the positive FAI stories out there. I know people really only tend to share their negative stories on the internet (misery loves company, after all), but seriously, it gets exhausting reading about all the bad things that can happen. I’m determined to experience, and share, a positive outcome. My goal is to return to pain-free recreational sports and weightlifting, and I will reach that goal.
Looking forward to hearing from you!