I am writing this to update friends and family on my hip pain This is hard for me to write. I’m a very private person. My hope is that this blog can update many of you if I’m not able to call or see you in person. I’ll back up and start from the beginning, since I’m testing out my first blog post.
I am no stranger to running. I love the training, race day with my husband or friends or occasionally solo. My favorite race is the half marathon distance (13.1 miles). As my family grows and changes, I am ready to give the distance a final try or two before taking a break. I still want to run shorter distances, though. That feeling of moving into new challenges in life had taken hold of me in a powerful way. I stopped doing long runs and just ran when I felt like running. I did jump into strength training, but my running miles were really low.
Along came half marathon race day in early November. Mike and I signed up to do this race together months earlier, but we lost training momentum (or never had it to start) with this one. We have the most awesome running group in our town. Mike decided not to do the race on a Tuesday. I was able to find not one, but two friends to do it that Sunday. Crazy girls!! These are my people and I’d follow them to any race. I know that they weren’t trained for it either, but they were looking at it as fun long run. It was cold that morning and I didn’t feel like warming up or stretching. I could stop to stretch during the race. Did I mention that I’m the LEAST flexible person?
This race was a towpath, but the first few miles were not flat. Then the course followed the old canal. Around mile 8, I felt some hip flexor pain. My friend’s knee was starting to hurt, too. Finally, we crossed the finish line. I was in pain and tried to do some stretching. We saw a few more people in our running group and chatted while we waited for the shuttle bus. The pain was momentarily suppressed.
I took a day off and felt better. After a few more runs on the treadmill, I knew that my hip flexor and outside of my right leg was hurt. I stopped running, but continued to sneak some time with Shaun T. I love to work out, so I tried to put on blinders to try to keep going. It took me a whole month to come to terms with what needed to be done: rest.
Two weeks flew by. It was getting close to Christmas, and I was so busy with the season. I didn’t have time to feel bummed about missing work outs. I was on my feet all day and also hiking outside in our woods with my family. One morning, I woke up and couldn’t walk. After a trip to a walk-in orthopedic clinic, where X-rays were done, I was diagnosed with right hip bursitis. I was already taking an elephant’s dose of ibuprofen. The doctor changed me to naproxen (a switch of NSAIDS) and sent me out the door with a follow up after New Years Day. I was exercise-free over the holidays, and the medicine made hiking, walking, and standing bearable. However, the pain persisted. I decided to stop all medicine before my follow up to accurately access my level of pain. I wanted to know the truth. The pain was excruciating.
My follow up appointment was more shocking than the original. The doctor was very knowledgeable, but he was a knee specialist. He told me it was either a femoral head stress fracture or a torn laborum or both. I was instructed not to put weight on my right leg or a potential femur fracture could worsen. He ordered an MRI. I’d come back for another appointment. I could tell he was afraid for me. Mike’s crutches were dusted off and lowered for me. My doctor also told me not to chase my kids around and rest. My boys are 4 and 6 years old. It is the middle of winter. They are currently not in sports. I am on crutches. That can be tough to do.
I had the MIR and another week went by very slowly. Mike went with me to this appointment. The news was positive but frustrating. The first MRI showed that I do not have any fractures or any problems with my hip ball and socket. There also isn’t evidence of swelling, although I’m two months out from the initial injury and have taken high doses of NSAIDS. My doctor was most suspicious for a femoral stress fracture, so the MRI was done without contrast dye. A fracture will show up on an MRI all by itself.
However, now I need a second MRI. A deep tissue tear, like a laborum tear, might be small enough to need contract dye to light up and become visible to a radiologist. A specialized musculoskeletal radiologist would be best to read this MRI, as these tears can be very small and hard to see. I didn’t have either of these done with my first MRI. The frustrating part of this process is still not knowing what is wrong and having to get a second MRI.
We had a ton of questions for the doctor and he was great about answering them. He said that he doesn’t know what is wrong with my hip. I could even have a strained tendon. He admitted to hips not being his specialty. He has done exactly zero torn labrum repairs. He doesn’t even believe that the surgery is useful, but we found some articles about celebrities (Lady Gaga) and pro football players that have had this surgery and fully recovered. I appreciate his honestly, but I would definitely find a different doctor if this ends up being my diagnosis. He said doctors are not what they used to be. They are facilitators and the insurance companies dictate a lot of what they do. For example, they can’t order tons of tests at one appointment. They also can’t chase multiple diagnosis. It often drags the process out for the patient. I love it when people are honest and real.
That is where I am right now: I don’t have a diagnosis. My MRI is normal. A second MRI with contrast dye could light up a laborum tear or I could just have tendinitis. Surgery could be the way to go for one diagnosis but not the other. There are a lot of unknowns right now. On the positive side, I am feeling much better than I was a month ago. The pain in my right hip flexor is okay in the morning, but as I make my way through the day it gets worse. I often ditch my crutches because it hurts to hold up my right leg more than it hurts to walk on it. I am still sitting and resting much more than usual. Last night I did some stretching and I felt better than I have since this started.
The silver lining is that my eyes have been opened to the many blessings in my life. My husband and kids have taken over a ton of my normal duties. My kids now pick out their own outfits, take their own baths or showers, and get their own breakfast in the morning. My mother-in-law has sent so many wonderful meals to our home. My father-in-law has given up work to watch the kids so I could go to some of these appointments. My mother calls me every day offering to move in with us. My dad, who had a double hip replacement a few years ago, is very supportive. He hopes I did not inherit his hips! Our neighbor girl has visited several times to play with the kids and ended up taking down a ton of Christmas decorations. My Godmother has offered wisdom from 82 years of living. Friends have had play dates for my kids, called, texted, prayed, and sent meals. Thank you! It means the world to me. My problems are small and will get better. I hope I can support you the way you have supported me.