The first week was a blur. I was in the hospital for a few days after the surgery. They were painful and degrading. I still didn’t really know or understand what I was dealing with or how long the recovery would take. I was holding onto hope that we were talking a four to six week timeframe on recovery.
Going home wasn’t easy. I spent the first week on the sofa, timing out my oxycontin and knowing right when it was wearing off. I couldn’t do anything for myself, and since I couldn’t do the stairs very easily, I couldn’t shower. I had to have food brought to me on the sofa. I could barely make it to the bathroom. Friends visited and brought dinners, and my husband mostly worked from home. I had visits from home health care service: a nurse, an OT and PT. It was a surreal existence. I could barely lift my right leg without pain, and getting around consisted of hopping on one leg with a walker for balance. My arms grew sore and my hands grew calluses.
I didn’t leave the house for anything for weeks. I attended my son’s eighth grade graduation in a wheelchair, same for my daughter’s dance recital. I went to doctor appointments and got blood drawn and had my bone density levels scanned. The world, my world, became very small. I watched as my friends and colleagues rushed around finishing up their school years, while I diligently tried to do my sets of PT exercises on the sofa. It was very isolating. Visits from friends dropped off as the weeks wore on and my injury became old news. I became very lonely, and very depressed.
Summer started and the days grew warm, and I watched it all through the big picture window next to my sofa. My surgeon explained that my injury was so severe that I needed a very conservative approach towards recovery. At the eight week mark, I am still using crutches and a walker. I still can’t put my full weight on my right leg, which means I really can’t drive much of any distance (slamming on the brake would mean putting more than 50 % of my weight on that right leg). I am now doing outpatient PT, so that seems to be speeding up the level of strength and range of motion on my hip and leg.
But no one still really knows why this all happened. All of my bloodwork came back mostly normal. My bone density scans showed the same. I’ve heard everything from necrosis on my femur to worn out shoes to being overweight as possible causes for my injury, but none of them are definitive.
The only thing that all of the doctors seem to agree on: that I’ve run my last race.
With no real way of knowing why I broke my hip so significantly, there is no real way to prevent it from happening again. That’s what they say anyway. I agree with the logic, and don’t want to do anything stupid, but I still can’t imagine it. I love running. I love going out for a run early in the morning and just feeling that exhilaration of being outside, clearing your head, getting your heart pumping, and moving. I love having that solid time to myself. I love logging in my training plan runs and comparing the times, the distances. And I really love pinning on a bib and running a race: that feeling of pushing yourself, being with others who push you, and the community that brings you.
One of my proudest accomplishments has been doggedly learning how to be a runner. Despite never being athletic, despite being overweight, I set out to do something I never imagined being able to do, and I did it. Did it over and over and over until it became part of who I am. The day I completed the NYC Half Marathon was one of my favorite moments ever. Competing in two triathlons last year was something I never thought I could ever do. I can’t imagine never doing any of those things again.
The loss of that person, the one who ran and did bootcamp and competed in triathlons, combined with the isolation of my recovery, has left me in a strange new world that I am struggling to navigate. I don’t like being this sad person who is so negative and feels so melancholy all of the time. A better person would use this time to reflect on who I am inside and find a silver lining. Find the resolve to push on and be able to write a new story for myself with a different ending. And maybe I will get there some day, and maybe that day isn’t all that long off.
But I am not there yet. For now, I sit in my chair, looking out my picture window. I watch the world outside; it keeps moving forward while I sit still, waiting. Waiting for my hip to heal. Waiting for the day when I can walk again. Waiting for my life to begin again.