"My dear, you're having a total hip replacement." As the nurse on the other end of the phone said those words to me, I felt like someone punched a sword through my heart. "But I'm too young for a hip replacement" I whispered to myself.
I've been living with AVN for 18 years. While staying active and losing weight has taken my prognosis of needing a replacement from 6 months to 18 years and has helped me manage the pain, there are still days when I'm in so much pain I don't even want to get out of bed or live.
My life revolves around my hip
I'm constantly reminded I have a chronic illness when people ask why I limp. I don't need to be reminded why I limp because I'm constantly reminded every day when I can't get in and out of a car, sit down on a toilet like I normal person, or stand on my feet in the kitchen too long because my quad aches from nothing supporting it.
Having faith is hard.
There are days that truthfully, I'd rather be dead than living with this and being faced with joint replacements the rest of my life. I remind myself that no matter how much I want to wish this away I can't. I have to face it, move forward the best way possible and have faith that I will be able to live my life as fully and happily as I want to.
But it's hard.
Hard knowing I will never run, jump, climb and do things so many other people can do. Hard knowing my body is physically capable of more, much more. But that I will forever have limits. Hard watching people who can do the things I want to do, make excuses not to do them.
Too young for a hip replacement
Now as I'm faced with surgery tomorrow, I can't help but think at 38 years old how ashamed and embarrassed I am.
Hip replacements are for old people, not young, healthy, active women like me.
I keep thinking how they're going to saw my leg off during the surgery and remove it from my body. A part of my body I was born with that I will can get back. I will forever and always have something unnatural in my body I wasn't born with that I will always depend on for my independence.
What kind of person am I with a fake hip?
Recognizing I'm too young for a hip replacement makes me feel weak, less attractive, and less beautiful than a woman should made to feel. I can't help but wonder what man will ever want someone like me with a fake hip. A hip that will need to be replaced multiple times throughout her life. I'm not even sure I want to be with me. How could I expect someone else to want me if I can't even be accepting of who I am? I don't know if I'll ever be able to except that this is happening.
Will I be as strong?
Every time I go for a walk I wonder is this going to be my last walk? Every time I teach a spin class, I wonder will I be able to teach again? Every time I teach swim lessons, I wonder will I still be able to swim?Every time I lift a weight, I wonder will I be this strong again?
Mostly I wonder am I really going to feel better after going through all this? How long is this hip going to last me until I need a new one? What if I can't do all the things I can do now? I can't bear the thought of not being able to be active the way I am now.
These last months these thoughts have more than consumed me. Finally, I reached out to friends to talk about how I was feeling one of whom was Suz.
She suffers from Crohn's disease and said something to me that for the first time ever made my future feel hopeful. She told me about patients who've lost their colons and have pouches. How those people have lost something. Something they will never get back.
While I may be losing something, I'm gaining something. I'm gaining less pain, more mobility and hopefully, gaining a better quality of life.
For whatever struggle you may be going through, I want you to know you're not alone an I want you to think about what you could be gaining from this.
Life doesn't always hand us what we want in a pretty box with a pretty bow. Life is messy, confusing and at times, not what we want.
You have to fight to be healthy. Every. Single. Day. You have to be willing to embrace life's challenges and turn them into something positive.
Life may be filled with disappointment, heart ache, embarrassment, hurt and shame, and I may be too young for a hip replacement but honestly, I wouldn't want to live any other life.
Disclaimer - the advice in this post is general advice. It's not intended to treat or diagnose. As a health care professional, I cannot give individual medical advice unless you are a patient of mine. This is for legal reasons and to protect your health. I am NOT an orthopedic doctor. DO NOT send me your x-rays or medical information. I CANNOT provide you with specific advice.