Monday, February 23, 2009

Better Living Through Chemistry

Molly, me and Larry -- the photo is relevant because I know Larry will get a kick out of this post, and I love the pic!

A very well-meaning volunteer at a competition I recently judged thought he was doing me a favor when he suggested that I should contact his friend, a chiropractor who has "studied physics," who could fix my hip problem by changing the energy fields and the chemistry in my body. He approached me at a time when I had just lugged my bags several miles (or so it seemed) across a smoky Las Vegas casino, and I was tired and crabby and not really in the mood for advice, so I'll admit I wasn’t the most tactful in my replies. But really … give it up, already:

He: You should really contact ****, he can fix you right up. He has this amazing energy field program, which can correct almost anything that is wrong with you. The website is ...
Me: (with a tired smile) Surgery is the only thing that can correct my problem, but thank you for your recommendation.
He: Oh no, you don’t need surgery, you really need the energy in your body re-balanced. It’s physics …
Me: Look, I know you’re trying to help, but do you even know what’s wrong with me?
He: Well ...
Me: I have hip dysplasia. Do you know what that is?
He: Yes!
(And I’m thinking to myself no, you don’t, but you’re so convinced that your friend can help me that you don’t even care to find out what it is.)
Me: I have a structural imbalance – a mechanical problem. No amount of chemical changes to my body will correct it.
He: (interrupting) But the chemical changes will get rid of your pain!
Me: No, they won’t. You are wrong. I’ve done months and months of research. This problem is not caused by a chemical imbalance.
He: (Shaking his head at my stupidity) Well, if you change your mind, let me know and I’ll give you the contact information …
Me: (Frostily) Thank you.

He didn’t make eye contact with me for the rest of the competition. Clearly he thought he was right and that I was a fool, because how could I ignore the obvious scientific evidence? Now I’m all for alternative medicine, and I don’t want to have surgery if I can help it. But I know there is no alternative. I am getting tired of helpful people who think they know what's best for me.

This includes the person who told me that her hip problem "went away" after awhile and she was sure mine would too. (What are people thinking? That nobody has a real medical problem, and all problems can disappear if you simply have a positive attitude? Not on my planet, honey.)

This also includes the person who implied, without even knowing the nature of my problem, that if I got in better shape I wouldn't need to take the elevator instead of the stairs. Right, if only I worked out more, I wouldn't need this darn cane! What do I look like, an idiot? And hey, I'm still in pretty good shape compared to the general populace.

Ah, then there was my return trip. There I was, minding my own business in the airport security line, when the TSA agent grabbed me and said I had to go into the "Express Lane." Now that was all well and fine with me since it saved me about 10 minutes of standing in line, but it was what she said next that got to me: "You'll just hold up the line and slow everyone down." Let's be real here. Not even OJ is running through airports any more. The line was crawling. I was keeping up just fine, and I wasn't carrying very much. There is no way that I was going to slow everyone down. Being an opportunist though, I suffered the insult and jumped to the front of the line. There has to be some benefit to being disabled.

Finally, as I was waiting to get off the plane at home, I noticed that the man in front of me had taken my cane down from the overhead compartment and was offering it to the sweet little old lady in front of him. She stared at him, obviously wondering why he was brandishing this cane at her. I tapped him on the shoulder and said, "can I have that please?" He looked at me with a frown, because I was obviously trying to interrupt his good deed for the day, and turned back to her. I tapped again. "That's mine," I said, pointing. This just did not compute for him. "The cane ... it's mine." Finally, with a sheepish look on his face, he handed it over to me. And away I went.


I did a little bit of surfing through the energy field websites today. Clearly I had a lot to learn. Now that I'm more educated, I can cancel my surgery (bold and italics added by me):

"1st The Base or Root Chakra – Colour is Red: It is created at conception and located at the base of the spine. It represents activity in general, such as movement, energy and survival as well as grounding. It connects with the base of the spine and also connects the liver and is associated with most illness. Red is also associated with pain, swelling and inflammation and all heat sensations. When this Chakra is working correctly, we have physical vitality and strength. We feel connected to nature with a deep understanding of nature’s rhythms and patterns.

When disturbed it affects the liver and all adrenal problems. Most major middle and upper back, hip and stability problems are caused by disturbances of the Base Chakra. Long term disturbances can cause chronic back and hip problems."

Glad I know this. I feel better already.

Monday, February 16, 2009

For once, I have nothing to say ...

Saying nothing

I could whine some more about how everything hurts, or talk about the nagging "fear of surgery" that I'm beginning to experience and the associated fight or flight response (I can cancel this damn surgery any time I want to, yeah!). I could talk about my decision to stop skating and my new hobby, sitting. I suppose I could talk about the daffodils coming up in the yard, or the weeds which I know I won't be able to deal with this year. I could shock everyone by talking politics on this President's Day, but I don't have the energy. So, I'll wish you all a happy Monday and leave it at that.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday is for whining

Exercise is important when you are heading into hip surgery. I know I need to keep my weight down as well as strengthen my leg muscles as much as possible. But it’s just gotten so damn depressing lately.

I’ve had to ramp down my eating, to the point where I’m pretty much existing on egg whites and veggies right now. Otherwise I’d balloon up, and then my compromised hips would have to carry around that extra weight, which would just hasten the breakdown of cartilage and hasten the time frame for arthritic changes. I’d rather starve myself than speed up that process.

I am a big eater and have always worked it off with exercise. I’m no good with diets – I just don’t do them. I have cut back drastically on my walking and for all intents and purposes stopped skating. I’ve gone from an activity level of “high” to “sedentary” in a few short months, and I know that my metabolism has changed. My weight has only crept up a couple of pounds but I know my percentage of lean muscle to fat has gone downhill. And there isn’t much I can do about it.

I’ve tried the elliptical machine, and I’m lifting weights a few times per week, but I’ve never been a gym person either. I wasn’t seeing much impact from the machines, and so I started to work out harder, but that means the day after I work out my hips HURT, so I take a couple of days off … and so I’m really not getting anywhere. I’m not sure whether I should continue to work out when things hurt, or not. Then I have to keep cutting back on food, and then I’m always tired.

This is just not a healthy situation. I know that I have to keep it up until July, but by then I won’t be as buff as I had planned. At my advanced age, I know recovery is not going to be as easy as it would be for the younger generation, so the buffer the better. I can’t even ask my doctor about this, because his advice was just “don’t exercise” and “keep your weight down.” I’m finding that next to impossible.

I know I’m going to get at least one comment from a hip sister that urges me to “swim.” I hate swimming. Hate hate hate hate hate swimming. So yes, I know swimming may help me but I just can’t bring myself to take the plunge. I'm saving it for my post-surgical recovery, when I know I won't be able to do anything else.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I am not big on medication. I rarely pop a pain killer, cold medication, or headache remedy. I just don’t like putting chemicals in my body. I feel that pain is a signal from my body that I should listen to, not cover up.

But after Sunday’s skating debacle, I decided that perhaps it would be better to dull the pain a bit before taking to the ice. So with great trepidation, I loaded up on ONE 200 mg ibuprofen tablet and went to the rink.

I did skate better. I was able to put my weight on one foot without keeling over in pain or having to put my other foot down. I still couldn’t really bend my knees because that puts a lot of pressure on the hip joint, and I didn’t generate a lot of power. I tried some twizzles and they were way off balance. But it was quite a bit better than the last try.

Dr. Mayo originally said that the cause of my current pain was wear and tear on the labrum because my cartilage and joint space were both good. I felt something rip on the left when I was in Cleveland, and so I am guessing that I now have a definite labral tear. The right hurts too, but not as much. This is not an unusual problem with hip dysplasia and Dr. Mayo will patch it up during my surgery. I just have to live with it until then.

I hope I don’t start needing two ibuprofens, but I realize I might. Stay tuned to see how this little science experiment plays out.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Been there, done that ...

Got the t-shirt!

Excellent advice for anyone dealing with hip dysplasia or any other challenge in life. Thanks to Cass for the reminder that it's not about what others think of you. I will continue to wobble proudly onto the ice until I can no longer stay vertical! (However, I will avoid the high-level dance session from now on - don't want to be a hazard.)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Right this minute,

there are 25 teenage boys in my basement watching the super bowl. That's right, I said twenty-five. My stepson Aaron invited his entire youth group over to watch the game and Perry and I are playing the role of pizza server, soda pourer, and "chaperone." So far, so good, although we and the cat are already deafened by the yelling and cheering going on one floor below.

The testosterone is pretty thick in here.

Earlier today I went to the rink for the first time in 2 weeks. For the first time since my diagnosis, I noticed how my abilities had deteriorated. It was no longer just a question of skating through pain but still able to do most of what I could do before. I was unable to put my full weight on one side of my body and support it on one leg for any length of time. I was shaky and wobbly and couldn't bend my knees. I could not hold an edge. The pain was no longer something I could just ignore; it controlled what I could and could not do.

After the first lap around the rink I was ready to stop, but I forced myself to stay out there and "work through it." By the second hour I was seeing slight improvement, but that's really not saying much. I couldn't even do the preliminary dances. I "got through" a few dances during the second session but they were not on edges and had no speed. They were walked, well, stumbled. They were not danced. I couldn't get my body to do what I wanted it to, try as I might.

I know I shouldn't have an ego about this, but I skate in a mall rink and there's an audience there. I was on a high level dance session where everyone is a good skater, and then there was me ... stumbling around the ice as if I had never skated before. It was humbling. I felt out of place. I am sure the shoppers weren't pointing and saying, "what is that old lady doing out there with all those good skaters" ... but it sure felt like it.

Am I that much of a narcissist? I guess I can relax about it. I'm sure nobody was looking at me, they were watching the dancers who could skate.