Dec. 16 2015: 1 Year Post RPAO

Last night marked my one-year anniversary of my right PAO surgery.  I’ve come a long way, baby!  This year has not been without its challenges,  most recently being the loss of my fur baby of 14 years, Evie (she crossed the Rainbow Bridge on 11/10/15).  Evie was with me for a large part of my recoveries, laying and purring right next to each operated hip. The void is immense, but I am eternally grateful  for her company while I was at my weakest, saddest, and loneliest.  I joke and say she was the love of my life, and in a way, she was.  Here is a picture of us when I was eight weeks post op from my first (left) PAO:

Evie and me, June 2014
Evie and me, June 2014

Despite my loss, I have so much to celebrate. I FINALLY feel normal. My “new normal” feels good, though I still have stiffness and soreness.  I ignore it as I know I am bad about stretching and its different than the 24/7 pain that I used to have.  I don’t have to think about proper gait when I walk. I can run. Last month, I started kickboxing (with heavy bags and speed bags, this is the real deal!) three times a week and I feel great. I am entertaining being on a relay team of fellow PAO Warriors for the 2016 Colorado Trail Ragnar in Snowmass in early June (I would run 3×5 miles).   I started The PAO Project, so those diagnosed with hip dysplasia, considering PAO surgery or recovering from surgery can find a source of information and inspiration.  This led to the recent publication of my anthology, “Onward! Navigating Hip Dysplasia, PAO Surgery, and Beyond.” I hope that this is the beginning of bigger and better things regarding increasing awareness of hip dysplasia, and I want to be instrumental in making that happen.

If you are interested in purchasing the anthology, here are the links:

United States:



Worldwide: Order through my Etsy Shop:

United Kingdom, Amazon UK:

My final post op appointment is February 19, 2016.  I am sure things will change a lot by then for the better; I am planning on it!





If we take the time to stop, listen, and look, we can see signs from the Universe, God, Allah, Gaia, or whomever you deem your Deity.  For years, I ignored the signs that something was terribly wrong with my hips; in fact, I lived for over 10 years with progressive chronic hip pain. It wasn’t until  the Universe had to hit me over the head with its proverbial bat in 2013 in order for me to PAY ATTENTION to what my body was telling me.

In this new chapter of life after PAO surgery, I am not going to make the same mistake twice. I have a deeper commitment to myself in wellness and spiritual growth, which brings me to explain the title of my blog: signs.  My dear friend Erika with Turtle Healing Energy did an energy tarot reading for me for the month of October.  The first card was The Tower.  The Tower card in Tarot is a major arcana card, meaning its about life lessons, and depicts people falling from a burning building.  Sounds dire, but what it shows is that its calling me to let go of what is no longer serving my highest good: old structures, old patterns, old ways of doing things and old friendships.  Its time to spring clean the personal closet!  Change feels prominent this season, confirmed by The Tower card, as well as  with the recent diagnosis of my fur baby’s advanced colon cancer and her inevitable transition in the upcoming weeks.  I also applied for a Wellness Director job at FitBit in San Francisco, which would call upon a major change: a move.

As I was headed into Boulder today to meet with an investor of my startup that I created in 2006 and to discuss said company’s future, I was sitting at the stoplight and glanced over to my left and I see a white Mercedes.  My dad drove a white Mercedes and I told myself 11 years ago when he passed that whenever I see a car like his, it means he is looking over me.  Kinda ironic since he was an inventor and serial entrepreneur.  Then to top it all off, almost simultaneously, on the radio came “Winds of Change” by The Scorpions.  At this point I am laughing out loud. “I get it Universe! Change is upon me! I know I have responsibilities and need to step up! I am ready! I am open! I trust!”  I really wanted to be shouting this naked on a mountain top with the wind blowing through me and a crystal in each hand but instead I was sitting in my air conditioned car on 95th and Arapahoe.  Regardless of where I am, signs abound, and this go around I am smart enough to take notice.  I am nervous, I am scared and I am excited.  Most importantly, I am responsible and I am ready. Bring it.


A New Chapter

Its days like today that I really miss my dad.  (He passed away in 2004 from a 3  week battle of liver & pancreatic cancer). Today as I headed west on Woodside Road towards Stanford Medical Center for my nine-month post op, I approach Alameda de las Pulgas Road. Suddenly I time-warped to another time, another life.  “Do you know what ‘Alameda de las Pulgas’ means?” my father asks my sister and me. How would we know? We were five and nine years old, respectively.  Before we could even squeak a noise from our tiny mouths, he answers his own question in a booming voice “THE LAND OF THE FLEAS! HAR HAR HAR HAR!”   Only those that knew my father will appreciate  this.

After waiting a while to see Dr. Bellino, he finally came into the exam room.  He told me I am “pretty much healed” and he is confident that the gaps near the ischium (aka “butt bone”) will heal by the next time I see him in the Spring.


But this post-op visit was so much more than wondering what my x-ray would show in terms of bone growth.  I was anxious, like a kid on Christmas morning, to tell my surgeon about the ultimate PAO win: being physically capable to save someone’s life, which occurred two weeks ago.  And to tell him about my labor of love, And last but not least, to give him the thank you present I made him, a photo book of all my “firsts” post PAO: first bike ride, first hike, first rafting, etc.  He read the whole thing and was truly touched. At the end of the appointment, I reached out to shake his hand and  he opened his arms to give me a hug, which meant a lot to me.

As I headed back towards Highway 280 (a much prettier drive than 101, so I take the scenic route), I saw a sign that said “Emerald Hills.”  My dad lived in Emerald Hills, an upscale neighborhood in Redwood City.  My heart ached to be able to share with him my successes.  I have been through SO MUCH in the past two years: the dust is finally settling and I am emerging from the ashes.  I am a better version of me.  Life after PAO: a new chapter begins.

The “Why?” Answered

Do you ever wonder “Why me?”  Whether that be with a loss of job, a breakup, or in my case, being diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia and the need for two PAO surgeries, its easy to ask that question.  Often we have to trust in not knowing the answer to the why and move forward the best we can.

Throughout my life when faced with adversity (and I have had my share), my mind has gone to the dark side, and I wondered what my purpose in life was or would anyone notice or care if I was no longer on this planet.  Certainly last year recovering from my two PAO surgeries I struggled to stay positive.  I am stubborn as hell and fiercely competitive, which I think were the catalysts for my healing.  However, I often felt lonely and depressed, laying in bed for an average of 20 hours a day with a broken pelvis, eagerly waiting for a visitor friend to bring me a meal, which was the highlight of my day.

And then, sometimes, the Universe can deliver an answer to why:

What if that answer is: “You are a better, stronger person now?”

Or, “You will never take walking, showering,  or doing anything pain free for granted again?”

Or, “You can help and inspire others with your story?”

Or, “You have fixed hips which enabled you to save a person’s life?”

Yes, yes, yes and yes.

Next Friday is my 9 month post op appointment (right PAO 12/16/15) with Dr. Bellino at Stanford, and I am eager to tell him the story (short version) of the ultimate gift: that thanks to him, I have fixed hips, which enabled me to run and maneuver and squat to assist in a medical emergency (name and gender withheld for privacy):

Evergreen is a small town nestled in the Rocky Mountains just west of Denver but at an elevation of 8000 feet. Last weekend was the Evergreen Fine Arts Festival, an art show  ranked as one of the top 50 art shows in the country.  Needless to say I was thrilled  to be upgraded from the wait list to being a vendor.

Sunday morning was crisp and clear, with a hint of fall in the air.  I saw 2 deer and an elk as I drove up the canyon from Morrison to Evergreen.  Once I parked my car in the artist lot, which was about 1/2 mile away from the venue, I took a deep breath of the cool air and looked at a fellow artist, who was getting on a bike to ride from the artist parking lot to the venue, which was 1/2 mile away.  I decided to walk and not take the shuttle; with a walk I could enjoy the morning and get a little exercise before “parking it” at my booth for the next 8 hours.  As I was walking up, I noticed the bike was on the ground and a person who was not the cyclist was on the phone. I immediately went into rescue mode (I have been trained in First Aid and CPR for over 20 years) and sprinted across the street (of course I looked for oncoming cars!).  The person was on the ground unconscious, and as I gathered what little info I could from the person who was on the phone with 911, I proceeded to scuttle down the ditch and assess the situation.  Once I determined there was a pulse, I determined the person was not visibly breathing (“look, listen, and feel”).  I opened the mouth with my hand by opening the jaw, keeping the person still and a big gasp of air occurred.  I kept the mouth open and with the help of two other Good Samaritans, whom I instructed to keep the person still until the paramedics arrived.

The story has a happy ending, this person is alive and doing OK.  I had a very heartfelt conversation with the person’s spouse, and the one time that I got choked up with tears on the phone was when I explained that if it wasn’t for me having fixed hips and being able to sprint and then go into a deep squat and hold that position for minutes, I may not have been as capable to help.  At that moment, I understood the “WHY”.   This is why: we are all connected.  There are no accidents.  I feel so blessed to have had an amazing surgeon and his staff, as well as my Physical Therapist, to empower me to be a new, better version of me; a pain-free version of me who can give back!   Before my PAO’s I couldn’t walk without intense pain, let alone even run or even think about scuttling on uneven ground. And forget about squatting.

So if you find yourself wondering “WHY ME?” know that the answer may be waiting for you…

Between the Wolf and the Dog

Last night I was driving my sister to the airport; she came to visit for a long weekend: a respite for her; for me, a chance to put my fixed hips to the test of physical limits as well as to show her a true Colorado adventure.  In three days, we went white water rafting in the biggest water flow Colorado has seen for some time, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and a 12-mile bike ride on mountain bikes.  I am pleased my hips were fine, just a nary complaint from my muscles.

As I was driving her to DIA, the rain drizzled, then poured.  We encountered flooding roads, glare and the worst light conditions I have driven in for quite some time.  “The light is terrible, I can hardly see anything!”  I sighed in frustration.  The sun played peek-a-boo with the clouds and emerging storm, all the while the sun tried to retire behind the mountains.

My sister replied, “Entre le loup et le chien.  Between the Wolf and the Dog.  There is a saying in French that at the point at which the light changes at dusk where one cannot easily distinguish between what may be a wolf or a dog.”

I pondered that sentiment, thinking that perfectly explained what I was able, or not able to see.

This evening, I reflect back on what she said.  I feel like my life is in between the Wolf and the Dog.  I am letting go of a business that was my “baby” for many years, I am finding a new normal being pain free with the capability of pushing my body to new limits, I am starting a new project (, and I just found out today it is possible to venture into homeownership after suffering the reprocussions of a foreclosure in 2011.  In this state of transition, I find the PAO surgeries put me on this path of newfound discovery and into a new period of ease.  May I move past this period between the wolf and the dog and into clarity.

Reset: 1 Year Post Op

A year ago on this Tuesday, I was had my left PAO surgery and labrum repair, though my actual 1 year anniversary is tomorrow, April 8.  A few months later, I wrote this poem. I never shared it with anyone until now.   I am pleased to say I am pain-free and moving on with my life like I have never done before:


Burning medicine from the epidural

Weakness, nausea, confusion

Alarms sounding

Am I dying?

Suddenly I feel better

But cannot hold

On to consciousness.

Guided to my back

Arms stretched out to my side

Strapped down;

A crucifixion?


Crucify my old self

Put me out of my misery.


I awake

A man speaking tender words:

“Your operation went well.”

“You will be comfortable.”

I feel different.

Bone sawing business

Deep in my core,

My Pelvis.

Sawing out toxicity

From generations past.


That hooked itself

Deep in my core.

I lost my sense of being

My self-worth

My self-love

For many years.

My only choice was this surgery.

Chakra reset

Cutting cords

DNA unraveled and realigned

Release what does not serve

My highest good.

Bone sawing business

Deep in my core,

My Pelvis.

The reset button has been pressed.

I have come home to myself.



Ready, Set….Wait?

I am 14.5 weeks post op RPAO.  So far, my recovery had been about 3 weeks ahead of schedule from my LPAO on April 8, 2014.  That said, logic would say 3 weeks ahead of schedule. So what do I decide to do?  Go for a walk! Hell, even try to run!  The weather was damn near perfect today, high 60’s/low 70’s. I decided to carve a little bit of time from my buried pile of work to go outside, get some Vitamin D and exercise.

I felt good for the first 10 minutes into my walk, so I wanted to push it, just a little…”What harm would a 60 second trot (or plod, if you are a runner in Boulder) do?”   First bit felt ok!  Well, OK then!  I walked for 3 minutes and tried my second 60 second trot.  This one hurt a bit more, but my athlete’s mind reassured me, “Just run through the pain, you’re just stiff from not doing anything in the past 8 months.”   So I walk and stretch for the next 3 minutes.  By the 3rd round, I was in pain.  I stopped 30 seconds short.   Heartbroken, and a little worried, I had to make it back the 1 mile (2 miles total) to my car.

Immediately icing, I got up from the couch and I could barely move! Excruciating pain! “What the…?” I thought. Great. I really did a number on myself.  How pathetic. 2 mile walk and only 150 seconds of running.  There are people healed from this stupid surgery at this point!  Obviously I am NOT fully healed and PAIN was screaming at me, telling me I am NOT 100%.

I am generally very hard on myself.  I was upset the rest of the afternoon, picking apart my poor choices.  Then I got pissed.  I have been in survival mode for so long, years in fact, that I am finally done with just surviving. I want to THRIVE, not survive!  I want some normalcy, like, being able to get on and off the floor EASILY.  Like have a decent earning wage to where I don’t have to stress about paying my bills.  Like having a normal day off to chill and do fun stuff (hike, bike) rather than being in bed icing, looking at Facebook at all the good times that my friends are having.    I want to grab life by the balls and feel well enough to experience life’s adventures, big and small.  Is that too much to ask?

While my mind says yes, my body says no.  I guess I will have to wait. And definitely cut back on Facebook.

Stoked: 12 Weeks Post Op

How time flies (well, time flies once cleared to bear weight on the operated leg and being able to drive again)!  I am currently in the Bay Area for my 12 week post-op appointment for my right side and my 1 year follow-up on my left side.  I met with Dr. Bellino yesterday, my amazing surgeon at Stanford. Below are pictures from 3 weeks post op (top) and 12.5 weeks post op (bottom):

xray rpao
3 weeks post op RPAO
12.5 weeks post op RPAO
12.5 weeks post op RPAO

Good news!  He said my bone growth (see the cloudy/fuzzy spots around the cuts?  That is bone growth) looks “really good” and he was impressed how well I am walking unassisted.  I am cleared to ease back into all activities as long as I let pain be my guide (basically, if there is pain, don’t do it).  I know I won’t be busting out a 30 mile bike ride or 3 mile run anytime soon, but I know I can start working up to that level.  Also, things are going so well, he doesn’t want to see me in 3 months, but in 6 months!

So his good news has me stoked on life.  It has been months, even years that I have been this happy.  To be pain free, walking normally, knowing that I never have to have another PAO surgery again.  Its cliche, but I really have learned not to take anything for granted. I love walking without pain, I love sitting on a toilet seat with ease, I love sleeping on my side, I love being able to put on my socks by myself, I love to drive, I love to bend over to pick up my cat, and I love being able to start working again.

I am forever grateful for the invention of PAO surgery and to Dr. Bellino for giving me my life back.  I am also grateful for the team at Stanford Hospital and all my support crew who took care of me with these past two surgeries.  The decision to undergo this brutal, bone sawing elective surgery to preserve my hips was the best decision I ever made.

Nothing is Sacred in the PAO Life

My diagnosis of bilateral hip dysplasia in 2013 at the age of 39 was a shock.  Almost 2 years later, I can say without a doubt, that it was certainly life changing.  Two periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) surgeries within 9 months has also been life altering.  Looking back, I never would have predicted I would have had 6 screws in my pelvis, live with my sister in California for a total of 2 months, spend 7 of the past 11 months on a walker and/or crutches, not drive for a total of 5 months, own not one, but TWO sets of surgery recovery equipment fit for a nursing home, and learn how to be a patient person.  I have grown in ways that is hard to explain, so I will just say I am not the same person I was when I got diagnosed; I am a better person for it.

The other day I was thinking about my first surgery recovery and what is different (do not equate “different” with “easier”) this go around, and this story came to mind. I  was horrified when it happened, but now I can look back and laugh.  Nothing is sacred in the PAO life:

I was 7 days post-op PAO #1 (April 2014) and I was staying at my sister’s house for awhile post-op before I flew home to Colorado. I had to pee BAD (like the kind that you wait forever in bed holding it until you absolutely have to get out of bed because, on a walker, it takes forever and a day to make it to the bathroom.) The non-master bathroom was my bathroom and I had my raised toilet seat.  The raised toilet seat fits over a regular commode but is 6 inches higher, making it so much easier to passively flex at the hip to sit.

It was at night and I walkered gingerly to the bathroom, and sat on my trustworthy raised toilet seat and I started peeing something fierce. Relief! Then I felt that my bare foot was wet, I was perplexed, thinking, “WTF? Is the toilet leaking?”  So I look down. Much to my dismay, I realize I was peeing on myself and all over the floor because the toilet lid was DOWN!!! Prior to my little bathroom excursion, my 7 year old nephew went to the bathroom, put the lid down and then he was trying to be helpful so he put the raised toilet seat over the closed lid. I screamed in horror and my sister rushed in and I had a total freaking meltdown; bawling my head off, saying I was sorry. Being a mother of a 3 yr old and 7 year old, she didn’t care, she was just mopping it up with anything handy saying “At least it isn’t explosive diarrhea!” I just could not let it go, I was melting down like a toddler, bawling saying “I’mmmmm sooooorrrrrrryyyyyy….I caaaaaaaan’t doooooo thiiiiiiiis! Its only been a weeeeeeek”.   At the time, I really thought I could not survive.  Of course, we laugh about it now and that did not happen again!


I think its human nature that we are quick to label circumstances as “good” or “bad.”  My earlier posts about being diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia at the age of 39 and navigating my way to treatment showed that it certainly rocked my world, and shook me to the depths of my core.  At that time, my diagnosis was BAD and the inevitable surgeries were BAD!  For the past two years, hip dysplasia and PAO surgeries forced me to ponder the “why?”, the “how?” and the “when?”  of all aspects of my life.

Two days ago I had my second  Physical Therapy appointment,  my first real workout since surgery (the first PT session was mainly an evaluation).  I came home and my right glute  was on fire (in a good way; look out “bun of steel!”).  Tired and bored, I decided it was a fine time for an afternoon nap.  I awoke suddenly to realize the sun was setting.  I was perplexed that I slept that long: two hours!  I managed to get myself out of the groggy slumber and once I did, my phone rang.  I glanced at the caller ID, and it showed “Stanford Ortho.”  I scrambled to reach the phone and I quickly answered with a cautious “Hello?”

“Hi Jen! This is Rachael at Dr. Bellino’s office,” Rachael greeted cheerfully.

“You are not calling to reschedule my post op appointment, are you?” I questioned. (This is kinda a joke between us as I am a long distance patient and once my travel plans are set, they are set in stone.)

With a laugh, she replied “Oh, no.  Dr. Bellino and I were talking about you today and we were wondering if you wouldn’t mind being a reference for a patient.” [Long story short, this poor woman got the news about hip dysplasia and PAO surgery and is terrified.]

“Of course.  I’d be happy to be talk to her.  Yes, the news about PAO surgery IS terrifying!”  I replied.

We chatted for a bit and when I hung up, I smiled.  I was touched that they thought of me to be a reference.

The next day, (yesterday) my PAO buddy that Jessica and I visited in the hospital, Jenni, had her follow-up with Dr. Bellino.  I messaged to ask how it went, and she responded that it went well. She then proceeded to share that she mentioned Jessica and me to Dr. Bellino, and mentioned that he responded  “how rare it is that a patient would extend herself in that way” [to visit a fellow PAO patient in the hospital].   I was blown away.  First of all, its my nature to go beyond the expected, especially if it means helping someone who is have a tough time.  I don’t think anything of it….then I started thinking more about PAO surgery and recovery (what I call the “PAO life”), and I had an epiphany:

I felt the threads in connectivity come alive.  The crazy journey of getting diagnosed in Colorado, researching adult hip dysplasia on the internet and found Kelly Ariagno’s website (a PT in SF who had her PAO with Dr. Diab) which led me to fly out and meet Kelly for a session, who encouraged me to consult with Dr. Diab and Dr. Bellino, which led to another trip out to CA to consult with said surgeons, to researching “Diab Bellino PAO” on the Internet and finding Jessica’s blog, which led us to becoming pen pals and fast friends, to her recommending the PAO Facebook support group, to the cancellation of surgery with Dr. Diab and reschedule with Dr. Bellino….well, I can go on and on, but I realize it was all for  a reason.  In addition to learning some life lessons that PAO surgery and recovery has taught me (patience, process),  I sit here in bed and feel so incredibly blessed to have a whole new circle of friends through the PAO Facebook support group, most of which I have never met.  We cheer each other on and share our experiences as needed.

Helping and empowering people to see the light in their darkest of times, that is my purpose.  Having my surgeon recognize that just reinforces my purpose.  I am such a better person after going through such a brutal elective surgery on both hips, it truly has transformed my body, mind and spirit.  In the end, the hip dysplasia diagnosis and PAO surgery recoveries have been GOOD, not bad!  Its probably been one of the best things to happen to me.  I have Dr. Bellino, the team at Stanford Hospital and Clinics, my Physical Therapist, my PT Aide, my support team at home and my fellow group of PAO warriors to thank for enabling me to have a purpose to Shine.  And as I type this, I realized my blog theme is “Shine On.”  Yes, Shine On…everything comes around full circle.