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.
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):
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.
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!