Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Onward to 2011 ...

For me, 2010 started on crutches and has ended with a hydroblade (well, half a hydroblade - I can get down and hold it but can't get back up ... yet).

2009 was a year of surgery; 2010 was a year of recovery. I hope that 2011 will be a year in which I think about my hips less and less, and eventually not at all.

For 2011 I am not planning any surgeries or trying to fit my life in around physical therapy and crutches. I don't have any looming doctor appointments. My x-rays are in storage.

I am looking forward to a front-row seat at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, NC next month. I am on the panel for all of the dance events from Novice to Championship. This will be the last competition I judge this season after a very full schedule. I am grateful that I am able to sit in the cold through an entire event without hip pain. (Some of the events at Junior Nationals went on for hours, with just one potty -- uh, Zamboni -- break.)

For those recovering from PAOs or preparing for surgery in 2011: it's going to be a long year, but when it's over you will have your own story to tell.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A holiday gift

This morning the rink was almost empty, so I decided to try some things I normally don't do on crowded sessions. I've been trying to do a hydroblade on my (stronger) right leg; something I used to do pre-PAO. I just haven't had the strength to go all the way down and usually get stuck half-way down. Today I just went for it and was able to get down and hold it for about half a circle. I could not get up (no surprise, that takes a lot of quad strength) but was already practically sitting on the ice so just fell.

I have been trying to get all the way down for several months. Now that I can do it, I will work on getting back up. Perhaps that will be my birthday present in March!

If you are a skater with hip problems (FAI, dysplasia, arthritis, traumatic injury, THR, PAO, arthroscopy, resurf ... you name it) and want to connect with other Hip Skaters, I have started a Yahoo Group called, believe it or not, Hip Skaters. I have met so many people who referred others to me, and I put them in touch with other skaters with their same problem. I wanted to build a forum where everyone could connect with each other without me in the middle. Skaters have special rehabilitation needs and desires. Please join our group if you can lend your expertise or if you need support.

Hippy Holidays to All! Terri

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Learning to Cheat

Now that I'm done whining about the claw, here are some of the things I've done on the ice this past week for those skaters who are curious. I have started to compensate more with my upper body to overcome the lack of turnout and have found some new ways to cheat which are even more wonderful than what I used to do pre-PAO. I am also still compensating for some strength deficits.

Yesterday I did some hard stuff:
~FO and FI triple twizzles
~Twizzle from our old free dance (with arm overhead)
~Inside and outside rockers from Jr. MIF (RFO rocker is still the tough one as the left free leg doesn't want to come through correctly yet)
~Starlight Waltz solo (first time I have gotten through the entire thing solo; still no flair on the closed MO - thank you claw - but I was able to do the 3 turns into the MO and then the mohawks down the ice on the back end - the stepforward from LBO to RFI has been impossible until last week and now I've learned to cheat it)
~Rhumba choctaw at glacial speed
~Cha Cha Congelado solo
~Ravensburger waltz solo at slow but not glacial speed with all twizzles

And also the stuff that is easy for everyone else but hard for me:
~Alternating FO 3 turns (The 3 turns are easy, the stepforward has been difficult but I've finally learned to use timing and momentum to cheat it - still scratchy though)
~Back crossovers then stepping forward from the back inside edge onto a forward outside edge (a choctaw but one of the most basic moves in skating and something that has taken me a very long time to learn how to cheat - can now do these at about half speed)
~The three turn move from the adult pre-bronze moves test (I can finally do this; had major issues with the LFI 3 turn for a while until the strength came back in my left leg. Now the 3 turns are easy and I can now finally step forward from BI to FI with a lot of compensation in the upper body for lack of turnout)
~Blues choctaw now up to about 1/2 speed (I don't have the strength in my left leg yet to really bend the knee at the start of the LFI lobe, so it's difficult to come up from that and rebend into the turn. Instead I tend to stay down and then can't stop the rotation very well, especially with speed)
~Power pulls (getting stronger but still shows exactly where my muscles are weak)
~Stopping (almost don't have to think about it which is amazing considering I couldn't even do a snowplow stop from a crawl a few months ago)

And that's today's report.

The Claw

By the way, that thing hanging down between my two hips that looks like a penis is actually a tampon. So much for modesty! Aren't x-rays fascinating?

Answer to Matt - My HO is much smaller and more localized than yours. I know yours prevented you from doing everyday things like driving so it was much more important to get it out. In my case it aches with exertion and keeps me from moving past about 70 degrees of flexion unassisted (although I can force it to 110 with my hands). I don't think mine impacts rotation per Dr. Mayo (and I have better rotation on the left, where the HO is, than on the right).

So I am not as anxious to have it removed as you were! But I have a feeling I will do it eventually. Just can't stand the thought right now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Depressed after a visit with Dr. Mayo

I am not sure whether to be upbeat about my one-year appointment or a bit less so. All is healed, all is well, all looks very good on x-ray, and I have exceeded my surgeon's expectations as an old-fart bilateral PAO'er. However, it has taken me a week to write this update because I haven't felt much like doing so. I saw him on December 6th and the x-rays show that the ectopic bone has solidified into a lovely one-inch long "claw" that hangs down right in front of my acetabulum. I will post x-rays here as soon as I have time.

This piece of bone is now causing impingement and pain with flexion past a certain point. That point isn't considered significant to a normal person, but it is to an ice dancer because it keeps me from "looking good": I can't do a nice forward flair (something that, if I do say so myself, I used to be really good at). Unfortunately most forward flairs in ice dancing occur with the left leg (think of the flairs after the rocker foxtrot mohawk, the starlight mohawk, the foxtrot mohawk, the 4-beat edge on the quickstep, the 4-beat edge on the blues, etc. All impossible. The answer? "If it hurts, don't do it."

I am tired of the assholes who tell me I can "still enjoy" skating without doing anything to make it look good. Yep, I can still skate, meaning my blades are connected to and moving on the ice. But anyone who finds doing an activity with only about 1/2 of their prior skill level and 1/3 of their prior flexibility "enjoyable" is far more jovial and accepting than I am.

My external rotation is still zero on both sides, although left is just a bit more than right ("zero plus a fraction"). Normal external rotation is about 20 degrees, and those who use their body for dancing tend to have more than normal not only due to self selection (people without natural turnout don't choose to dance because it's just too difficult and frustrating) but because over time, normal non-dysplastic/non-anteverted hips will turn out more based on stretching and activities that utilize turnout.

Anteverted post-PAO hips, not so much. Really, not at all in my case. I stretch and stretch and stretch some more and that just keeps me at parity - doesn't increase my flexibility at all. Plus I am always in pain because my body doesn't want to be stretched in these directions. However, if I didn't stretch at all my tight connective tissues would probably cause my body to collapse in on itself like a black hole.

So why didn't I self select myself into a sport that didn't require turnout way back in the dark ages? Something I could excel at like Competitive Pigeon Toed Walking? Why did I ignore all that pain for so long and assume that everyone felt as crappy as I did? What kind of a stubborn fool spends such a huge portion of their life beating their head against a wall?

I hope you all understand these questions are rhetorical.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Health Care (in response to FB)

The following may be out of context as it's a continuation of a discussion on Facebook that I wanted to take off that forum.


I'm not sure why some people feel that insurance companies shouldn't behave rationally, mitigate their risks, and attempt to earn a fair profit just like any other business. I think it's because people feel entitled to health care because without it, you might die. The same could be said of food, but I haven't heard many people saying that grocery stores should give food away for free because we're all entitled to eat. Obviously if they did, they'd go out of business, and then nobody would eat.

Insurance companies are in the business of taking on risk. That's what insurance is for. If health insurers didn't exist, and government didn't serve in that capacity (mostly the case in the U.S. except for medicare/medicaid and similar programs until the recent reform legislation), people would have to self insure, meaning that you'd pay a full fee for service every time you went to the doctor and most would not be able to afford anything other than basic services. So in that regard, insurance companies have a very important function. Those of you who don't have insurance probably know what I mean.

No company that is fiscally responsible would take on risk without being adequately compensated. Paying for insurance doesn't seem to be an issue for things like automobiles, but for health people see it as unfair, because we've come to expect that our health care system will take care of us no matter what. I pay my car insurance premium and I don't see that as paying money for nothing, even though I haven't filed a claim. Similarly with health insurance, I pay my premiums and I try to stay healthy and I have peace of mind knowing it's there if I need it.

Nobody in their right mind would go into business to take on other people's risk unless they had a method of limiting their exposure and unless they were adequately compensated. I don't care how altruistic you are, any other business plan would be a bad idea. If you try this experiment and take on too much risk you will soon be out of business, because your pockets aren't infinitely deep. Neither are the insurance company's. Know also that the amount of profit they are allowed to generate is regulated closely by the state departments of insurance.

By contrast, the government's pockets are "infinitely" deep. So if you replace private insurance companies with government, the risk simply gets spread to ... you. If you pay taxes you will be footing the bill in some form, or your children will.

I personally don't want to pay taxes into a system that uses my money to take care of people who ride motorcycles without helmets and smoke and eat McDonalds 3 times per day. I would be happy to pay taxes into a system that uses my money to care for people who contract a serious ailment through no fault of their own, get injured in an accident that doesn't involve their own drug or alcohol abuse or stupidity, or are born with a disability. Unfortunately I don't get to choose who benefits from my tax dollars with a government system, nor do you. It is still unclear how much our taxes will increase to fund the new health care system and whether the government will be able to administer the system as efficiently as private companies. Premiums vs. taxes - we'll still be paying for health care one way or another.

This is a very basic explanation, and of course it's not really this simple. But people like to reduce the argument to its most basic terms. Many also expect that "someone" will pay for health care. They generally don't want that "someone" to be themselves.

Full disclosure: I work for an insurance company (disability and life, not health). I have had two hip surgeries costing over $200,000 and I am not in love with my own health insurer; I have bitched about Aetna on this very blog. I am damn happy that I had insurance coverage when I needed it. BTW, I am a socially liberal and fiscally conservative democrat and that is how I vote most of the time, but not always. There are tradeoffs in every decision. I value the opinion of those who educate themselves about the issues and don't simply repeat the party line.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Beware the Big Bag

It’s holiday time once again, meaning that pretty much everyone in the Portland metro area is carrying a deadly weapon. The weapon of choice during the month of December is the Big Bag. This can be a shopping bag (or a multitude of same), a bulging briefcase, a humongous purse, or all of the above.

Oh yeah, and since it’s raining, people are juggling umbrellas in addition to their bags, boxes, briefcases, backpacks, and ever-present liter of Starbucks.

Some of the bags are so big they impact the carrier’s vision, so they don’t even seem to notice the other pedestrians who must either dive out of the way or risk being impaled on an umbrella/bumped by a box/blasted by a bag. Other bags seem to temporarily disable the “courtesy gene.” The December shopping frenzy has only just begun, and twice I’ve been banged in the pelvis in an enclosed space from which I cannot escape; the elevator in my parking garage at work. I don’t know what these people are carrying around, but their bags are HEAVY.

The truly dangerous shopper is sporting a backpack. The danger comes when the person slings the backpack off their back and its full weight is launched directly at my hip. I’ve had several near misses as people stand on the street corner just inches from my body and decide for no apparent reason that it’s time to sling their luggage in my direction.

It’s gotten to the point that I’m about to start carrying my cane again, just through the month of December, so I can use it fend off the morons who are determined to bang into my still healing self with nary an apology.

Better yet, I think I’ll just take the stairs at work and bring my lunch.

In other news, a shout out to DH who is undergoing knee surgery today. Here's hoping for total success, an easy recovery and quick return to the ice!