Hip Surgery

Shit y’all, I’m only two days out from this hip surgery and I am starting to panic! But not the kind of Panic! that you would find at the disco, rather the kind of panic that keeps you up all night because it gives you bad dreams. Damn it, I’d much rather be all Panic! At the Disco. Jerimiah had a good suggestion though. He suggested I write out all the stuff since writing things out helps me feel better. He’s right, of course, so I’ve decided to turn to the old blog to document my surgery and all the feelings (and pain levels) and what not, so that 1. It might help me feel more in control of things that I have zero control of and 2. Help others? I’m always trying to help others in my writing, so sure, this might have the capacity to do that too. So let me just get through the nitty-gritty first, then we can start down he rabbit hole of things in subsequent posts.

Diagnosis

So as y’all might recall I have an autoimmune disease called, Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). It’s essentially arthritis of the spine and it has the potential to fuse joints and all that not-fun stuff. In order to control the progression of the disease I take weekly Humira injections, see my rheumatologist four times a year, do regular bloodwork, and get annual CT scans and MRIs. During a routine MRI back in December of 2021, the doctor noticed some problems with my hips that were not related to my AS. My AS has mainly attacked my SI Joints, which are the joints that connect your pelvis to your spine. On the MRI it was noted that I have “Bi-lateral Labrum Tears” among other issues. It was also noted that my right side was much worse that my left side.

All of this made a ton of sense to me, considering for the last ten years or so, I’ve had incredible, intermittent pain in my right hip area. I would sometimes be in such pain (mainly in the groin area) that I could not walk. This seemed to happen after intense workouts and when I was stretching or jogging or even walking too much, like when the fam and I would go to Disney and walk 15 miles in a day. There was basically nothing that helped alleviate the pain but rest.

I was referred to an Orthopedic Surgeon immediately and that’s when I met Dr. Whitfield. I should mention here that I live in the Atlanta-metro and because of that am blessed to have Emory right up the road from me. My doctors and hospitals are all within a 20-minute drive, with state-of-the-art campuses like 21 Ortho Lane, where I first met my Orthopedic team and where the Atlanta Hawks practice. No, they will not let you on the court to take a selfie. I asked.

Upon meeting Dr. Whitfield he showed me my scans and I was like, “Eww, is that my butt?” It is, it is your butt on an MRI scan and it’s not cute and he was all, “Can we focus?” Sure thing. Then he showed me where the biggest areas of concern were and it turns out it was with my right labrum which has been really “jacked up” (my term, not his) from years of overuse and also the way my hip bones are made. Seems I have bones that come to a point. Your hip bones should be rounded but mine are not which means for years they have been doing a number on my labrum.

Le sigh.

Your labrum, in case you don’t know what the heck a labrum is like I didn’t know what the heck a labrum was, is the ring of cartilage that goes around the socket that acts as a suction seal and as a stabilizer. One of the other not-so-fun symptoms of this problem is that my hip often “pops” or comes out of place and then goes back in which is usually unexpected and painful. You also have a labrum in your shoulder, maybe other places too, I dunno, I’m not a doctor. Here, look it:

There is the labrum and also you can see the bone that fits into all snug as a bug in a rug? See the rounded part there that looks kind of like a penis, if you see penises in things like I do? That fits up against your labrum, and yeah, it does sound like labia which is how I got there. Annnnnnyway, my bones and ligaments in this pic are all kinda jacked up and that labrum is really jacked up and that is why we are where we are. And that’s my official diagnosis: Jacked-up Hip.

Treatment Options

Since my left hip isn’t bothering me at all, even though it has the same probs, we are just ignoring that one for the time being, but it’s possible I’ll have to repeat this surgery on the left side one day. It’s also “likely” that I will need a full hip replacement on account of my jacked-up hip and my AS. So why not just get a new hip? That’s a valid question, thanks for asking. I too asked that question and Dr. Whitfield told me all about how if you put brand new tires on a young (new) car you will still need more new tires years later because the young (new) car will tear up the new tires and basically I’m a Ferrari.

I’m too young at forty for new hips and my hips aren’t “that jacked up.” But when I’m 60 we will be having a different conversation. No offense to less young Ferraris.

First we tried hip injections. This is where they inject the hip with steroids and hope for the best. My first injection immediately took the pain away and allowed me to go to AWP in Philly for a weekend of walking and exploring the city, then when I got home the pain was back. The injection lasted about four weeks.

The second injection allowed me to go to Disney and have a kick-ass time with the fam, very little pain, until the last day then BAM! The second injection lasted me about a week.

After the two “failed” injection attempts we moved on to surgery. To be fair there is another option, physical therapy. And I could have tried it but with my AS it makes PT tricky. What might help my hip, has the potential to hurt my SI Joints and likewise. Plus, there’s no way you can PT your bones to be more rounded.

Normal/Not Normal

So now here we are, two days from what they tell me is, Hip Arthroscopy to replace a jacked up labrum, along with shaving my bone to make it round, and something, something, something. This is a pretty common surgery with pretty good results. Dr. Whitfield is the resident expert in this surgery at the Emory Orthopedic and Spine Hospital where I will be having the it done. This hospital is actually in Tucker, GA the town I live in and it’s right off The Perimeter, making it uber convenient because it is an out-patient surgery.

Normally they’d just fix a torn labrum but mine is so jacked up it has to be replaced. Normally they replace it with your own tissue, but in my case there’s a risk of my body attacking its own tissue, on account of the autoimmune disease, so I’m getting a new labrum fashioned from a dead person. For sure, it’s cadaver tissue and this isn’t my first time getting cadaver tissue (they use it in dental implants of which I have one) and my body was cool with it, so awesome.

Thanks dead people for donating your bodies. I am also an organ donor, though I don’t know what they will possibly want from me? They probably can’t take a labrum out of my body that originally belonged to a different dead person? Right? Or maybe they can and deeply discount it? Like half off? Most of my joints are junk and my heart, well, check back in with me in about 20 more years. Also, if you want to be an organ donor you can do so here.

Also they will be shaving the bone and cleaning the area, as well as poking holes in it all to generate stem cell growth. I have no idea why, but I’m told it’s all normal. It’s approximately a four-hour surgery and in terms of this surgery I’m getting the Cadillac of deals. As in, this looks cool, but it isn’t. It’s just overpriced and will end up making your friends think you are pretentious. It hits all my out-of-pocket costs though, which means I’ll get all the rest of my medical shit for free* through April!

*Free is not free you see. It’s actually $5000, but $5000 is way better than $40,000 which is the MSRP on this bad boy.

Outcomes

Since my diagnosis I’ve talked to a ton of people who have either had a similar surgery or who know someone who has. This diagnosis is common in athletes of particular sports that require pivoting, like basketball, soccer, and even softball, of which I played all through my childhood. It’s also common with people who suffer from various autoimmune diseases like mine, which makes my outcomes a little more complicated.

With the right PT and a top-notch surgery Dr. Whitfield says I should be at about 90% within the next year. Meaning in a year or less I will be walking normally and (fingers crossed) without the pain and the popping that I have become accustomed to. I might even be able to stretch my right leg or move it in certain ways I was not previously able to! Wow!

My weight factors in, but only slightly. I’m a sturdy girl. Like if I were a dancer I could try out for Lizzo’s Big Gurrrrls, okay. 💁🏻‍♀️But he’s actually more concerned with my AS, than my weight having a significant impact on the outcome of surgery. It just makes it all tricky. Plus, I’ve had to go off my weekly injections for a total of six weeks (three before and three after) to limit my risk of infection. I’ve been okay so far, no flare-up of significant symptoms (someone knock on some wood for me) but I’m definitely reminded daily why I take the risk of injection every week.

My recovery starts immediately and looks like rest and crutches for the first four to six weeks. This is nuts to me, but I see why. It’s just that again, I hear all about people having complete hip replacements and being up and at ‘em the next day, so it’s frustrating to know I won’t be up or at ‘em for a bit. Plus, I have crutches already and I’ve been practicing on them and uh, no. Just no. My upper body strength is gone since I’ve been on rest for almost a year now, and oh yeah, my damn dogs are terrified of them.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Sorry. Just needed to scream.

So there you have it. The first blog post of probably several pertaining to my hip surgery. I hope you’ve found this helpful, enlightening, or entertaining in the least.

I go in on Thursday morning and should be home by dinner. My friend Jennifer is actually bringing dinner to us Thursday night, so I won’t have to worry about that and we’ve prepped best we can for my recovery. I’m so incredibly thankful to my friends and Jackson and Jerimiah who will be helping me out the next couple months. I couldn’t imagine having to do all this alone.

Okay so you know the deal, y’all: Thanks for reading and stay safe and sane out there!

M.

Happy Birthday, Jerimiah!

Today is Jerimiah’s 41st birthday. Usually I write a silly, funny, sappy FB post or a share a pic on Instagram, but he’s off all social media these days so instead I’m turning to the old blog to let the world know how grateful I am for him because that’s what you do for the people you love. You celebrate them every chance you get by reminding them how incredibly important they are in your life and the lives of others. Because really, at the end of this life what do we have but the way we treated people, the lives we touched, and the blog posts that will live in perpetuity.

Forty-one Things We Love and Appreciate About You

  1. You treat our doggos like they are our children. You cuddle with them, you let them sleep on your feet and take up way more space in our bed than they should. You pay stupid amounts of money to keep their hair and nails cut. You worry about them when they develop a cough or eat something weird in the backyard. You try your hardest to teach them right from wrong. Right: Be nice to the neighborhood cats. Wrong: Stop chasing and barking at the neighborhood cats. Even though you also hate cats.
  2. You watch murder documentaries with me and YouTube videos with Jackson because we ask you to watch them, not because they interest you in the slightest.
  3. You do the things that need to get done that no one else wants to do. Example: Cleaning up the mouse poop from that weird crawl space in the basement and not complaining about it one bit.
  4. You don’t mind being “the bad guy” when it comes to holding your boundaries or helping Jackson and me hold ours. You have always said, “Just tell them you can’t (insert thing we don’t want to do) and blame it on me.” We never blame things on you, but we appreciate you going to bat for us at all times.
  5. You vote in every election. You send postcards to get other people to vote. You phone bank. You protest in the streets. You do the damn things. You show up.
  6. Before you have some important thing to talk to us about, you ask us if we have time to talk. This is something you have actively worked on over the years and I think it stems from you being a good leader at work. You don’t want to interrupt people when they are doing something, you are considerate and thoughtful in that way, same as you like for people to respect your time.
  7. Speaking of your time, all your “free time” is spent with your family and we appreciate you for it. You are not the dad or husband who makes his own plans on the weekend without consulting us first. You always say, “What are we doing?” And if you are invited somewhere you say, “I have to talk to the family first. Also, can I bring them?” It’s weird to you to do something without us and the feeling is mutual. We are a packaged deal and you make sure everyone knows it.
  8. The phrase, “We’ve always done it this way,” irritates the shit out of you. You think people use it as a crutch and will never grow or expand their opportunities, knowledge, and ability for empathy if they continue to believe things can’t get better. You are always looking for ways to make things better.
  9. You don’t kill spiders, when you can help it. You shoo them out of the house instead.
  10. You don’t have a fragile male ego. You don’t want your son to have a fragile male ego. You are systematically ridding our lives of these men, even the ones related to us, which is hard and sad, but necessary. Thank you.
  11. You give hugs and kisses and tell us you love us every day.
  12. You take us wherever we want to go. If we wake up one day and want to drive to the beach, you’re game. NYC for the weekend? Why not? Disney for the THIRD time in a year? “Okay, yeah, we can probably make it happen,” you say.
  13. You cook. You clip recipes from random flyers we get in the mail. You pull recipe cards from packaging. You browse the Kroger website for recipes. You often say, “I saw this recipe on LinkedIn that I want to try!” Who looks for recipes on LinkedIn? Who shares recipes on LinkedIn? You do.
  14. You fight for the people who have a hard time fighting for themselves. Your employees have no idea what you do for them behind the scenes, and while it’s best that way, sometimes I wish they knew how much you care about how they are treated, compensated, and spoken to.
  15. You volunteer to come to my doctor’s appointments because you know it makes me feel better to not be alone sometimes.
  16. You despise CIS white men who play golf all day and tell racist/sexist/homophobic jokes. The men who are always turning everything into a competition. You are learning to speak up to them. You are working to rid your life of them.
  17. You do not shy away from the tough conversations. Not with me, not with Jackson, not with your co-workers, our family, or our friends.
  18. You are a lifelong-learner who is always taking opportunities to grow and change, even if what you are learning has the capacity to bump up against your worldview and beliefs. You will still politely listen, take it all in, think on it, talk it out with us, then decide. Maybe you will change your mind, maybe you won’t, but you always try to see the other side.
  19. You love board games, but only when they aren’t taken too seriously.
  20. You jump in with both feet. You have always taken the chance. It hasn’t always paid off, but when it does, it pays off big. Your motto is: The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. There are times I know you were nervous to do it, but you did it anyway and every time we are better than before because of your courage and tenacity.
  21. You cry when you need to, even if it is in front of our kid. I don’t think you realize how important that is and how hard it is for other men to do.
  22. You always read what I write or let me read to you. You always try to have feedback for me, even though that is not your thing.
  23. You remember birthday and anniversaries.
  24. You ride the Tea Cups at Disney, even though they make you sick. You ride them with us one time and you smile and you make a big deal of it so Jackson laughs and laughs and laughs. Then afterward you sit on a bench and drink a Sprite while you watch us ride them eight more times.
  25. You smile for the picture and you don’t complain.
  26. You volunteer for all the things and make them work in your own capacity. You are the freaking President of Band Boosters for fuck’s sake. How many other dads do you know work full-time as the sole supporter of the family, show up to all the school events, help the PTO whenever they need, and are also the PRESIDENT of the freaking Band Boosters? I only know one guy.
  27. You dress up on Halloween with us in whatever theme we come up with.
  28. You have no qualms about driving for 12 hours to pick up my mom in Kansas, because she is afraid of flying, to come stay with us for a month-long visit.
  29. You are the SOLE financial supporter of this family. With an artist for a wife, you don’t have a lot of options. But you do it without complaint or ridicule or even side-eyeing me. In fact, you go out of your way to make sure I have very little guilt about it. There’s always guilt and I know that frustrates you, but I’m working on it. You tell me to keep writing. To keep pursing my academic goals. You tell me we will make it work. You have always said that and it has always worked.
  30. You are sarcastic and clever and wicked funny.
  31. You are working hard on breaking the cycle of generational trauma.
  32. You let Jackson and me work things out on our own. You don’t “mansplain” and if you accidentally do, you realize it and apologize. You always apologize, in fact, when you have messed up, even sometimes when you haven’t but think you might have. You ask if you messed up. You let those conversations happen. You seek ways to get better. You think about what you just said and how you said it. You do this with friends and family, with coworkers, with me, and most importantly with Jackson. You never chalk it up to him “being a kid” and not needing an apology. We hope you know how much we appreciate this and how hard it is for people to do. You should teach a masterclass.
  33. You support whatever weird obsession Jackson and I develop. You go all in with us.
  34. You always get the doggos pup cups from Starbucks and kid cones from Dairy Queen.
  35. You like to shop for Christmas presents and birthday presents and any other presents. You aren’t that Dad who just gets his name written on the Mother’s Day cards or the Welcome the New Baby cards, you often write them yourself and sign our names. Thanks.
  36. You always involve Jackson in work, conversations, and situations that will benefit him in the future. He can change tires and brakes. He can drive a manual. He can clean out the gutters and have tough conversations with family members because he’s been privy to all that.
  37. You send us articles that you want to discuss with us or that we might find interesting or challenging. We wouldn’t know about half the cool-ass shit we know about without you and your articles and your podcasts.
  38. You share your pronouns when asked. You wear your “Proud Ally” shirt whenever you can. You support friends and family all the time.
  39. You don’t have to be “right,” you just want to be heard and respected, while also respecting everyone else’s thoughts and ideas.
  40. You take fashion advice with a smile, even though I’m sure you get tired of me saying, “Are you gonna wear that?”
  41. You will drop anything you are doing if we need you. We know that is the case and we try to do it sparingly because we always know you are there and that we are the most important people to you in the whole world. We hope you know we feel the same and that all the other things in this life don’t matter as long as the three of us (ahem, five of us) are together. We would follow you to the ends of this world to keep us as close as possible. We love you and appreciate the dad, partner, and friend that you are to us.

Happy 41st Birthday, Dad. We love you to the moon and back.

M. and Jackson

There’s honestly too many good pics to post of you being awesome! But Jackson wanted to make sure this last one made it on here! 🙂