Last chance saloon

I am now at 5 weeks post hip operation. I am walking a fair bit without crutches, swimming with a pull buoy (no tumble turns or kicking allowed) and able to sit on a stationary bike for 20min. I had a labral repair of the hip (the cartilage surrounding the hip joint had torn), an iliopsoas tendon release (they cut into the tendon to allow it to lengthen a bit) and a herniation pit deroofed (don’t even ask – I almost passed out watching the surgery video). And so began the long road to recovery.

But wait! Hip operation you say? You’ve been complaining about knee pain for the last 2 years? And therein lies the problem. The reason why my injury took so long to properly diagnose was because the pain I was experiencing was in my knee. The knee doctor was contemplating finally operating, but decided to send me to have my hips looked at before going that route. Lo and behold an MRI revealed a labrum tear and tightened psoas tendon. I’m no doctor, but the way I understand it is that the tight tendon was causing my femur to rotate internally which was causing the maltracking of the patella in my knee. No amount of glute strengthening exercises and rehab could get my body to hold my femur in the right position.

People always say that surgery is your last resort and only now do I understand why. It just completely floors you. The fact that I was told that the focus of the first 6 weeks post surgery is just healing and range of motion and only very minor rehab exercises was quite a shock. The first few days after the surgery I was in a fair bit of pain. The iliopsoas muscle is a muscle running down the side of your stomach and attaching near the hip joint. The doctor cut into this tendon and every time I did some movement where my stomach muscles wanted to engage I would experience a searing pain. Try doing a movement without using your stomach muscles!

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Pre-op: Lying in bed reading a book on a Wednesday morning felt like pure bliss

I think most people think that I’ll be racing to get back to full activity and I am constantly warned by well-meaning friends to “take it easy”. The reality is that I will not allow anything to jeopardise a positive outcome of this surgery. I’ve struggled for too long to cut the recovery time short. I have made peace with the fact that my 20min on the stationary bike is not training – it is just getting my leg moving again.

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STOKED just to be outdoors!

Apparently after 6 weeks most of the healing will have happened and I will be able to start doing some proper rehab and a little bit of training. Full healing is supposed to be complete after 3 months. I have never done so much of nothing in my whole life and I am busy watching my muscle waste away. It’s quite scary and depressing.

And on that note, do you know what’s depressing? An athlete who can’t do sport. I am so used to getting endorphins on a daily basis and the withdrawal symptoms have not been pretty. It makes for a rather ratty, unfriendly Robyn. Like an addict I’ve been on a low with no means of getting high. Not to mention that all my mates are out cycling for hours and I am unable to be a part of the activities.

But as “they” say, this too shall pass and I’m already dreaming of the day that I can run and ride pain free. It’s been so long since I was last able to.

Unfortunately I have no nuggets of wisdom to impart on you. No lessons learnt (apart from impatient patience). I listened to my body. I stopped when it told me to. I did my best to get a proper diagnosis and treat the knee accordingly. I went for countless bank-breaking MRIs, arthrograms, physio sessions, doctors appointments, cortisone injections, grucox sessions, shock wave therapy and spent hours diligently doing my rehab. But I am sure I’ll come out of this stronger, albeit slowly.

Anyway. As the aspiring pros say, “Onwards and upwards!”

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