Last week was the 11th anniversary of my hip surgery. In some ways, it feels like this was a lifetime ago. In other ways, it feels like it was only maybe a year or two ago. I still think all the time about my surgery and what else I might need to have coming up, but it’s not as huge of a focus of my life as it’s been before. That could be because I have other medical issues that are a bit more important right now. But whatever the reason, I was thinking so little about my hip surgery that I almost completely forgot the anniversary of the surgery.
I actually ended up remembering on the day of. Usually, I think about it leading up to the day and then acknowledge it the day of. This time, I was working and all of a sudden looked at the calendar with a shock thinking I had totally forgotten about my surgery anniversary. It was almost a sense of relief that I didn’t totally forget and could still say something about it being 11 years later. But it’s crazy to think that I easily could have had the entire day go by without remembering it.
I’m no longer thinking of milestones the same way with my hips. Before, it was just trying to do better than my surgeon’s predictions. There are still potentially 3 more surgeries I could need, and he felt like I would not be able to make it this long without having another surgery. I’ve completely surpassed that prediction so I’m not thinking too much about it. Now, it’s the goal that he got in my head that it would be ideal if I could avoid getting a hip replacement until I’m 40.
The problem with hip replacements are that they don’t last forever. You do need to replace the replacement, and sometimes that can be every 10 years. Each time you replace them, that’s another pretty major surgery. So to wait until I’m 40 would limit how many times they would have to replace them. Ideally, I’d like to avoid hip replacements completely but I’m aware that it’s not necessarily the most realistic goal. So I just want to stay on the plan to not need a replacement for at least another 6 years.
I’m still doing most of the things my surgeon told me to do to keep my hips as healthy as possible for as long as possible. I’m not doing things that are risky for me falling and potentially breaking my hip like skiing or skating. But I am running now and I know that it’s not the best thing for me to do. But I’ve come to a place where I’ve realized that maybe I need to be a bit riskier with my hip health to keep me happy and healthy. I can go without skiing forever if I have to, although I have been wishing I could do it again. But now that I’ve started to run, I’ve realized that I can’t drop it like I dropped other stuff. I haven’t been feeling any extra pain with running and until I know that it’s causing harm I don’t feel like I need to stop.
I’ve also realized that if I want to live in a protected little bubble to prevent future surgeries, I could do that. But I’ve lived in fear of needing my next hip surgery soon for too long and I don’t want to have it hold me back anymore. I think that I’ve grown so much as a person over the past year or two and I don’t want to stop making that progress. So if I have to take a few extra chances in my life with my hip, so be it. Also, worst case scenario is that I need to get a hip replacement before I’m 40. That’s not the end of the world and I’m still doing much better than my surgeon expected me to do.
Even though I almost forgot my surgery anniversary this year, I think that I’m going to think of it every year and remember how far I’ve come in that time. 11 years is a long time (1/3 of my lifetime!) and I know that there was no way for me to know that I would be in the place that I am now back then. I was in so much pain before surgery and I’m so grateful that I haven’t had to experience that again since waking up after the surgery was done. I was looking back at the photos my parents took of me right after I got out of the hospital (which was only about an hour or so after surgery) and the smile on my face is just so huge. I know the smile then represented getting through surgery and not being in pain anymore. But now, it represents a new beginning to my life and being able to do things that I never dreamed I’d be able to do.