When I was a teen, through my twenties, and early thirties I was a runner. Always experiencing pain after a run in my right shoulder, I went to a sports Dr. (in high school) to find out my shoulder pain was caused by the difference in lengths of my legs. Now I know that to be a characteristic of hip dysplasia.
Fast forward 15 years and I was 4 years into increasingly intense pain in my right “leg”.
I kept up my intense yoga schedule but had forgone running 2 years prior due to pain. Walking from my car to work was unbearable. I had to psych myself up to get the mental and physical courage to even walk to the bathroom. I hated the stares at my increasingly pronounced limp, the strangers coming up to me asking what was wrong … I just didn’t know !!!
Right when I couldn’t take it anymore, at age 33, I found out I was pregnant! For the first time! What a crazy turn of events. Given this new responsibility, I scheduled a long overdue MRI. It was that day that I was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia. I would start with replacing the right hip, then the left, then in 15 years do it all again. It felt like a ton of bricks slammed me in the chest – how could this be real?
Pregnancy was excruciating, but there was an end in sight. Three months after my scheduled C-section I was going to have a total right hip replacement. I had ultrasound-guided cortisone shots injected into my pelvis every 3 months that kept me walking without a cane, crutches, or a wheelchair – that, and pride.
My daughter’s arrival into this world went wonderfully and my beautiful healthy baby was finally here. Now came the reality – I have to figure out a new body part, re-learn to walk, oh yeah and keep a tiny human alive – with my body!
Becoming a mother changed my hip dysplasia journey profoundly – I don’t know how I would’ve handled this without my baby, or if I would’ve even thought having a child was the right decision for my body. Although reading this story you may think that it was irresponsible to not seek proper treatment sooner, I believe there was something bigger at play and the diagnosis came exactly when it was meant to.
Before all this – running, swimming, surfing (sort of), hiking, yoga, teaching paddleboard yoga, and any physical activity were my identity – and now they were gone. Who was I without it? What made me happy? Would I ever be active again? Am I disabled? Is that my new identity…disabled? The thought plagued and embarrassed me.
That was one and a half years ago.
Today I just returned from surfing 5-foot waves on sunset cliffs in ocean beach – something that I watched from the sidelines for ten years. Eight months after surgery, I joined 8-week program called Ground Swell Community project that gave me back the skill and confidence I was seeking in the water (if you’re interested at all in surf therapy please check them out, they are amazing).
For my 35th birthday this July I went on an off-roading surf trip to Mexico where I had the courage and skill to surf off the grid spots. Nothing can describe how that felt, or feels every time my board touches the water. I saw myself in my mind teaching my daughter how to surf. I didn’t know how I was going to get there but things fell into place as they do.
When I tell you that my new hip gave me my life back – believe it. I am beyond grateful every day that I can do all these amazing things – but also that I can pick up my daughter without pain, walk her down to the farmers market, play hide and seek … all the things!
A lot of the time I have trouble wrapping my head around the surgeries and “things” that may come up in the future, especially as my now 35-year-old body begins to age.
If anyone reading this ever doubts their physical ability after this life-changing diagnosis – please don’t. You are capable of so much. So, so much.
If you’d like to keep in touch or share YOUR story please contact me on Instagram: Cali_surfin_mama