I let the near-scalding hot water pour over my head and on my face as I am in the shower after a six-mile trail run on a muddy/snowpacked/icy trail which required some fancy foot work.  I rub the salty sweat out of my eyes and heave a big sigh.  A sigh of exhaustion, of accomplishment, of relief.  I slowly bend forward to stretch my lower back and hamstrings, letting the hot water from the shower-head massage and soothe my muscles.  As I allow my body to relax, my mind is still out on the trail on this crisp, clear February morning.

In two days, I leave for California for what may very well be my final post op appointment with Dr. Bellino at Stanford.  I anticipate good news: my right PAO is rock solid and fully healed.  Ironically, my younger sister has an appointment with my surgeon an hour before me: as I am completing my hip journey, she is beginning hers. Hopefully she gets answers so a plan can be put into place.

I am nearing almost three years since I was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia and labral tears.  Three years ago my world was turned upside down and my identity as an athlete was stripped from me: I was told not to do anything that caused pain.  I stopped all activity and gained 20 pounds. By 2014, I couldn’t walk more than 10 steps.  I had both of my PAO surgeries in 2014 (April and December).  I  have worked my ass off in physical therapy just to walk again and to be able to put socks and shoes on like a normal person.  Now, in 2016, I am training harder than ever before as I am no longer in my 20s and stick-thin.  Every meal is planned, and my calendar has a specific workout written in six days a week.  I plan my work days around my workouts and my time to prepare healthy meals. I have lost 14 pounds since November.  I am putting me first.  I have a picture of me racing a tri in 2002 as my cover photo on Facebook, to remind me that every day is an opportunity and a gift to choose health and physical activity.

I have a level of discipline that seems to have never existed before.  I run now because I can.  Pain-free.  That is a huge thing!!  And when the weather gets better I will bike and swim too…because I can.  There are no excuses (OK, I had the flu a few weeks ago, that was a good excuse to rest.)  I am so eternally grateful for this diagnosis, for my PAO surgeries, and everything that has come along with the ride on this crazy journey.  I am stronger and better than ever.  Today I reclaimed my identity as an athlete, and it feels damn good.




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