A New Perspective
In addition to the traditional visits to the medical professionals, I also tried several alternative methods of healing. Out of these alternative healing methods I did this one thing that seemed to help the most out of anything. It was called Egoscue. Although it had a funny name, I was already familiar with it because their main clinic was right down the street from where I worked.
The first time I went into the clinic for an appointment, I was skeptical and reluctant to try something new. I had already tried so many things, and at this point could not afford to keep spending money on things that didn’t work. I was desperate, and I had heard really good things about it, so I knew I had to give it a try.
When I got there, I was greeted by a friendly girl who took me back to a small room and took my pictures. I waited while she completed her analysis of the photos, then she let me see for myself what the pictures showed. Sure enough, I was able to see in the pictures that my body leaned to one side, one shoulder was higher than the other, and my entire body was twisted to one side. With my background in fitness as a personal trainer, it was really surprising for me to see how crooked I was! I always thought that because I lifted weights, and I was strong, that this equated to being balanced, but boy was I wrong.
One of the things that stood out to me most when I looked at the picture of my back view was that one of my butt cheeks was higher than the other one.
The girl explained to me that this was a sign that one hip was higher than the other. Just the notion that one of my hips could be higher than the other one, and that this could have something to do with my hip pain was foreign to me. Up until this point, all of the specialists talked about my hip like it was a problem that needed medical treatment. Now for the first time, I was starting to see things from a different perspective.
The girl at the clinic gave me what they called a menu which was a series of exercises that would supposedly improve the alignment of my body. When I flipped through the handout with instructions I could see that the exercises were nothing like anything I had ever seen before in all of my years of experience in fitness. There were no foam rollers, there were no bands, there were no lacrosse balls, and there were no weights.
I doubted the exercises would make a difference because they looked too easy. I wanted to say to the girl, “But don’t you understand? Can’t you see that I am having a major problem here? Don’t you have something a little more impactful you could give me?” But I practiced restraint and kept my thoughts to myself. I took the exercise instructions home and got to work doing the exercises every day like they told me to do.
At first, I felt like the exercises weren’t working, so I went back to the clinic and asked if someone there could help me. A nice young man who was in training to become a therapist in the technique took me through the exercises. Along the way he pointed out things I was doing wrong that I never would have thought of myself. After doing the exercises correctly for the first time I noticed that I felt lighter and taller and the pain in my hip immediately lessened.
I was invigorated with new hope and I set out on a mission to improve my body alignment and to get better.
A Turn for The Worse
These hopes were quickly shattered when every time I did the exercises I got a little bit better, but the pain still reliably kept coming back.
At this point I was desperate. I had to find a way to make the pain go away and I had to find a way to get back to school, work, and ultimately to my life. My last hope was surgery.
After doing tons of research I found a hip surgeon who specialized in labral tears who was in a city two hours from where I lived. I got on the waiting list, and two months later, in January of 2010, I had arthroscopic surgery on my left hip. This means that the surgery was performed through a small incision in my upper thigh. The surgeon reshaped the bones of my hip and sutured the cartilage in an attempt to prevent the tearing from continuing to happen.
He also did something called a psoas tendon release, which means he severed some of the fibers of the tendon that connects my psoas or hip flexor muscle to my bone in an attempt to stop the catching and popping that kept happening when I moved my hip.
Immediately after the surgery I felt better. I had less pain in my hip, and I was even able to start walking again. I thought that finally all my struggles were over and that I could finally get on with my life.
I gradually started easing back into the activities that I thought would help me recover. Then one day, in the middle of a yoga class, I sat my hips back into a child’s pose and there it was…the deep, nauseating ache in my left hip.
I immediately called the physical therapist that assisted the surgeon who operated on me for help. I was frantic on the phone and had to keep asking him to repeat what he was saying. “Sometimes a set-back can happen.” He said. “But does this mean I ruined the surgery?” I asked trying to choke back tears. He went on to explain to me that there was a special series of injections I could do to help speed recovery in the joint after the re-injury. I was sick to my stomach as I listened to him on the phone that day. After all that I had been through, was the solution really more injections? If the injections didn’t work, then what? Did it mean more surgery? When would this ever end? When and how was I ever going to get my hip to work again!?
It wasn’t until this point that I truly understood what it meant to treat symptoms versus getting to the root cause of pain. Every time I tried to treat the symptom with injections, drugs, physical therapy, or surgery, I only continued to need more and more of these treatments, but I never actually got better. I felt like I was in a never-ending self-perpetuating cycle of treating symptoms which only led to more pain.
But what was the solution? How could I put an end to all this madness and just get back to living a normal life, like all normal people do?
It was at this point that I hit rock bottom. I was in constant pain, on drugs, broke, and my relationships with my friends and family were suffering. Nobody wanted to see me this way, but there was nothing the people in my life could do to help me.
Click here to go to part three of this series when I share about one of the most challenging decisions I have ever had to make in my life, along with what my road to recovery looked like.