Explaining PAO Surgery

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.

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3 thoughts on “Explaining PAO Surgery

  1. Hi Jen-
    I’m on the PAO FB group and saw your blog so I thought I would do some reading to pass the time and because I’m in a similar recovery phase as you (I’m almost 6 weeks post LPAO). It helps to reaffirm that my frustrations & struggles are shared with other people going through this life changing experience. And it also helps to see others find the positives along the way. I enjoyed this entry. After the frustration of looking for a pain source, getting a diagnosis that knocks the wind out of you, then coming to terms with the fact that you need a major surgery that will turn your life upside down, you have to deal with peoples ignorance and inability to listen and understand. Of course, I don’t really blame them because I too was clueless as to what having hip dysplasia meant in terms of pain, immobility, surgery, & recovery. But for some reason, I find the “oh my ____ had a hip replacement and walked great after 2 weeks” comment sooooooo infuriating! And it still continues…I had a RPAO in Oct & my LAPO in May. I am at the point where my irritation has turned to apathy. Although, as I sit and think about this, I believe that since the general public is so under informed about HD and PAO that it’s important for me (& all HD/PAOers) to spread the knowledge. It would serve to help people with symptoms of HD get quicker diagnosis, lead them to the correct medical teams, reduce the number of unintended insensitive comments (ie: doggy dysplasia, old aunties THR comments), and help employers/colleagues understand the seriousness of this surgery & recovery. I had to explain multiple times, in person, by email, and finally brought in pictures and post op precautions to my nurse manager and human resources, prior to surgery, in order for them to understand why I needed 16 weeks off before returning to 12 hour, highly physically demanding shifts. It was crazy how many times I had to correct them that I was NOT having my hip replaced! My OS’s PA asked me what I thought as far as ideas on how to get the word out there because so many people have unnecessary THR’s when they are actually better PAO candidates. And as we know, THR with HD is less successful due to poor fitting of hardware.The general public AND the medical professionals are generally clueless
    about these topics! I think these blogs and the PAO group are a great start to spreading the word… So, thanks for putting it all out there! 🙂 Christine

    (wow – sorry that turned into a rant with lots of run on sentences:). Can you tell I am stuck here in the “sit still and let the bone grow” phase? Lol!)

    1. Hi Christine,
      Thank you for your comment and I appreciate you taking the time to tell your side of the story. We can all do our part in spreading awareness. I hope at some point to launch PAO warrior car decals as well as a line of jewelry. All those little things, as well as blogs, etc. help increase awareness. Best of luck to you in your PAO recovery!
      Best, Jen

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