I get nostalgic around this time of year and then realize that it's almost time for my hippiversary. These milestones are positive for me because I see how far I've come and can share that with other hip chicks out there in hip land.
I'll give a full three-year update on my actual 'versary; bottom line is that I'm doing very well. Not much will be new from my two-year report in the hip department. Any progress after two years is very incremental, as expected.
Good news for me, there continues to be progress in my skating if not my hip, so for my skating peeps I can say that during my two years back on the ice post-hip surgery I have been able to make up about two-thirds of my prior skill level. This doesn't count freestyle since I'm not allowed to jump, but I'm talking dance and moves.
I've had some epiphanies that made it easier. Two key points that I've learned about skating -- things I used to do naturally as a kid the first time I learned to skate and then just incorporated before my surgery, which I had to re-learn in my adult brain and body after coming back -- have allowed me to describe to myself what it is I am supposed to be doing to stay upright.
These key points are (1) using my blade on the ice to initiate and check rotation, and (2) using my upper body correctly so I don't have to overuse my lower body. I have had to come up with ways to describe these to myself to make them happen since I didn't have the muscle memory to do them automatically. I focused on key point #1 first and then added key point #2 as my edgework became more automatic. Many thanks to my coaches John (who I only get to work with occasionally but who gave me the first "aha moment" that made #1 possible) and Ruth (who has worked with me tirelessly on both #1 and #2 and provided so many aha moments over the past two years). Lots of repetition helped me refine them and put them back into my body's vocabulary.
In some ways I am now a better skater than I was, technically, because I am now aware of what I'm doing -- I am trained vs. being on auto-pilot. I can intentionally make these things happen vs. relying on muscle memory to kick in when it should. However, I no longer have the muscle strength, stamina and coordination to execute consistently. I no longer have the flexibility and posture to make it look beautiful and effortless. My posture will always be terrible because of where my hips sit in their sockets. I am armed with the knowledge of "how" even if I can't always "do" and that can be frustrating.
Goal for the coming year is to stretch more and see if I can impact that flexibility that has become a barrier to progress. It will be a long, slow painful process and I may not see results but I know it can't hurt.
I know all of the hippies have stopped reading at this point ... not sure if the skaters are still with me either. My next post will avoid skating and focus on describing what three years post PAO for an "older" PAO patient is like.