My one year appointment was Thursday of last week. I wanted to share the letter I wrote for my surgeon. It's a fantastic summation of my feelings as of late.
To my most favorite Doctor,
I need you to know, my life is totally different now.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I could write this letter to you, and many times I’ve seemed to come up short; not able to relay my true level of gratefulness. I’ve found it to be impossible to fully put into words. However, I’m going to try.
Before PAO, my life was based on decisions; decision that were completely dictated by levels of pain. “Can I go to the store after work? Or will my hip hurt too much by then?” “It’s Saturday, but we can only run two errands because I can’t walk for more than a few minutes at a time.” “I should take a carriage around the grocery store, I will need it to help me get around.” “How many pain killers should I take this morning to dull the pain?”
Many days, I was too exhausted to even think about running errands. My hip had gotten best of me more often than I care to admit.
I have to be honest…I had lived with it for so long that I really didn’t even know how bad it really was. It was just life as I knew it. I didn’t know how bad it was, until I was so, so good. I am now so good.
As I progress in my recovery, it is becoming clearer and clearer how much this surgery has genuinely changed my life. It was life changing. Those words are often used in dramatic fashion, but in this instance they are completely, 100% true.
My milestones have been plentiful, and happen rather often. I don’t want to bore you with what seems like millions of amazing moments since PAO, but I do feel like I need to share some of these things with you. You need to understand just how meaningful your work is, and how much life you have given back to me.
My youngest brother got married in June. I was ecstatic 2 years ago when I was chosen as a bridesmaid…and I knew I’d be pretty far along in recovery by then. His wedding became one of my personal major milestones for recovery. I knew that not only did I want to walk down the aisle with no assistance devices; I wanted to walk down the aisle pain free, as well. On June 15, I completed my task as bridesmaid. Better yet, I reached my personal goal and I walked down the aisle at my brother’s wedding. Instead of limping down the aisle and worrying about my hip buckling in pain, I watched my brother’s face glow as he prepared to see his bride. That was a really fantastic moment for me both personally, and as an emotional moment for my family.
In August, Matt and I traveled to California. We spent 8 days seeing the sites and taking in as much of San Francisco and Los Angeles as we could. Leading up to vacation, I had worked hard at physical therapy to get to a point where I could walk correctly, pain free, and without fatigue for the entire trip. I am happy to tell you that not only did I not have any pain at all in the hip throughout the entire trip, but there were 2 different days that I logged over 10,000 steps. One of these days, I walked 18,000 steps. 18,000 steps! An entire day of walking the hills of San Francisco, and I didn’t need to stop once to rest because my hip hurt too much. And while that is an amazing feat in and of itself, what is even more amazing is that I didn’t even think of my hip that day. Dr. Schiller, I walked 18,000 steps without even thinking about my hip. At the end of the day, I glanced down at my pedometer and nearly cried with joy. That may seem silly, but that is something I’ve not ever experienced.
These events, with the tens of thousands of steps, are now frequent from week to week. I am doing things every day that I never ever would have even thought of doing. I am doing 12-14 hour workdays in the woods, and I’m not even batting an eye. I can walk, hike, climb, step…I can do everything that I should have always been able to do.
I had a moment today, a simple moment that won’t seem like much to most people. I got up from my chair at work; I walked across the office, and went down an entire flight of stairs. This seems so absurd, I’m sure. But, what I’m not saying is that I did all of this correctly. I didn’t have to carefully stand up, and I didn’t have bend down gingerly to grab my workbag. When I walked across the office, I walked upright, with perfect posture. I took full, long, graceful steps. I extended my legs and when I took the step up and over my hip joint, I didn’t flinch at the thought of hip buckling. When I traveled down the stairs, I did so confidently. I didn’t walk down facing sideways and carefully bring my leg down each step. I descended the steps just like my other co-workers did.
It was a simple moment, and it wasn’t the first time this had happened. It was just one of the times that I actually realized how fortunate I am to be able to do these things correctly now.
Like I said, I couldn’t comprehend how bad I really was, until I realized where I am today.
To close, this recovery has taught me many, many things. It’s taught me patience, and more patience (and then more patience). It’s taught me how to ask for help when I need it, and to accept it when it’s offered. It’s taught me that it’s okay to rely on others; if you surround yourself with the right people, they’ll always come through. It’s taught me the meaning of hard work, and that physical therapy is not just physical…it’s mental therapy, too.
This recovery has taught me many, many things. However, of all the things I’ve learned, the most important thing I’ve learned is gratitude, abound. I wake every day and the first thing I think of is how grateful I am for my new hip. Every time I get up from my chair, or I stroll across the parking lot at work, or I even just get up to go to the kitchen in my house, I am grateful. I am grateful for comfortable sitting positions, and to sleep soundly through the night. I am thankful for long days out and about with my best friend and husband, Matt. I am thankful for never having to turn down a day of shopping with my mom because my hip will never be able to keep up. I am grateful for a normal life, doing normal things. I am so filled with gratitude that I am bursting at the seams.
Above every other thing, I am most thankful for you. I am thankful that I found University Orthopedics, and that I somehow made my way into your care. I am thankful for your talents, for your support, and for your encouragement. What you’ve given me is worth more than any amount of money in the world. Thank you for every single appointment, for the diagnosis, and for the recommendation of PAO. Thank you for completing the surgery in such a skillful way, so that I can be where I am today. I’ve been blessed to have such a seamless recovery from such a daunting procedure…that is all, no doubt, because of you. So, thank you. I am forever grateful for this new life that I am living. I will be sure to never, ever take a moment of it for granted.
RPAO – 10/26/12
Right Arthroscope – 3/18/13
P.S. – I have been keeping track of my entire PAO experience on a blog that I thought you might like to see. I’ve documented all my trials and tribulations, and my triumphs and my milestones. All my thoughts since first deciding on the PAO are written down there. The web address for the blog is below:
I'm not sure there's much else to say. At the end of the appointment I was told to schedule an appointment for 1 year from now. Amazing. I will go a whole year without an appointment or trip to the hospital. My first real year without hip worries. I can't wait to see where it takes me.