Its a fault of mine that developed when I was young: I have the bad habit of over-explaining myself. Perhaps it was growing up with an unstable mother and I had to over-explain myself with every single thing I did so that it would not result in an ass-whooping. Or perhaps it was of a uber-controlling step-father that demanded to know my every move as a teenager. So I should be used to explaining the reason why I limp and waddle while walking, why I am taking two months off of work and the type of surgery that I will have, right?
Perhaps its the chronic pain but I have little energy these days, especially when it comes to explaining hip dysplasia and what a PAO entails. I am grumpy, and my fuse is short. I know people have good intentions, but when they interrupt me with their own assumptions, I feel unheard and invalidated, which makes me pissed, so I go for the shock approach. I want to be heard! I want people to understand! A typical conversation goes like this:
Me: “Oh, I am having hip surgery…(in March)…”
Person (interrupts before I can say “in March”): “Oh! A total hip replacement, my grandmother (or aunt, or whoever) had one and she is doing great!…..”
Me: “Mine is not a total hip replacement, its far worse.”
Person: “Uh, what is worse than a hip replacement?”
(Cue the shock approach) Me: “Oh, they are going to saw around my hip socket and take it away from my pelvis, reposition it and screw everything back together.”
Cue the person’s unique “I have gas” expression. Then the person leaves or I get an awkward reply.
I realized there are two “I have gas” looks when I am explaining a PAO: there is the horrified, panic look of eyes darting around looking for the closest exit – like they are about to let a “silent but deadly” one rip with anything behind them surely to wilt and die, or there is the less severe grimace like they are going to let a noisy, but not smelly, “popcorn” fart surface. I explain this in jest, but its true! I think I am going to keep tally to see which look is more popular.
And then, rarely, I get the simple question, “What type of surgery are you having?” and a honest response, where the person is not afraid to show their horror. Last week, I was talking to a colleague of mine who is a well-known retired professional athlete. When I told him about PAO surgery he gasped, “OH SHIT! OH SHIT! Dude…you’ll be fine.” It was refreshing and validating. We chatted a bit more about the rehab, and a quick hug goodbye I was on my way, feeling happy that someone could allow himself to connect with me.
My hip dysplasia guide book has a chapter about this very topic, and they even touch on the “shock approach”; though they recommend instead, using the hands to show the ball and socket and what the PAO does to shift the socket over the ball (“move cupped hand over balled hand to show full coverage…”) Well, there are only six weeks to go of enduring my crippling hip pain and then I can begin to get my life back. People that have gone through the PAO surgery says PAO life can be life altering, an opportunity for the PAO warrior to grow leaps and bounds in mind, body and spirit. I have been in the brute reality of my hip saga, so raw truth is all I have left in me. No more over-explaining; I am changing already.