October 13, 2014

3 a.m. Moments

I had a venti Starbucks at seven that evening. I knew I'd be wide awake for awhile--just didn't realize it'd be till three. I wrote a bit, shifted my position, changed Pandora stations, winced from the pain too much sitting and then walking had done to my left hip. The pain wasn't anything out of the ordinary, but I was laying down and still could not find rest. This happens living with chronic pain in the form of dysplasia in both my hips. 

BackgroundI've been living with this all my life, but I was diagnosed about ten years ago and after many xrays, consultations with many doctors including one top in the world pediatric ortho, the best option was to wait till I'm much older for both hips to be totally replaced. If I got hip replacements too early, I could only have a certain number of them due to bone and cartilage loss. I've embraced and lived with this for ten years. The diagnosis, the limitations, the pain--and by God's grace, nothing has gotten horribly worse over the course of ten years.

Back to the other night: I Googled, weight loss and hip dysplasia, and while I was brought to the same conclusions that core and upper body strengthening with low impact cardio and a healthy diet were my ticket, I also came across a lot of research about a fairly new type of surgery. Page after page I read, the numbers of statistics threw me and I had to muddle through the medical terms, but what my eyes constantly found was that it was a good alternative for younger patients who wanted to regain their quality of life. 

What was so sobering to read were the testimonies of others with hip dysplasia. So many were mis-diagnosed and subsequently mistreated, still others dealt with botched surgeries from decades ago. One woman even wrote how living with this specific chronic pain was like living in a cocoon, you just had to be careful and mindful of how you walked, how you moved, lest a sharp pain shot up through your hip and the limitations hurt sometimes worse than the pain itself. It was at that point tears of total understanding sprang to my eyes, and I shut my laptop.

I laid there, still in pain, and just cried. Part of me doesn't want to get my hopes up at even pursuing an ortho's knowledgeable opinion on this hip re-surfacing surgery. A huge part of me grasped at the chance to regain quality of life--something I never thought possible for many more years until I could have both hips replaced. I just have no idea how to proceed from here, and I'm scared out of my mind, to be wholly honest.

I literally cried out to God, the other night. He alone has carried me thus far, and He will see me through whatever surgery He has planned for me in the future. I have no doubt of that. In the meantime though, I have moments alone where the burden of living with chronic pain brings tears to my eyes. Most days I try and ignore my visible limp, I wear good shoes around our house and that helps, and my part-time hours at work are the perfect amount and aren't too hard on my hips. I'm almost too good at putting on a chipper smile and replying to well-meaning, caring friends' concern, "I'm fine."

This hip condition does not define me as I once thought it did. It's a huge part of me but it is my physical cross to bear. I am so grateful to God for His sustaining power in my life. After reading so many testimonies of others with this condition, I thanked Him that my case was a fairly basic one, even as I wiped my tears. Yes, my hip condition was caught later in life after my growth plates were in, making surgery not a great option at that time. Because of when my hips were caught, my little brother's were caught at an earlier age and two surgeries when he was six years old completely fixed his hips and he won't ever have to live with this chronic pain. 

I've been asked once before if I ever resent the fact that Ronnie's hips were caught and subsequently corrected so early, and mine weren't. I can answer that with a pure, honest heart: Not at all. And that is the Lord. Growing me and changing me even though my hips are unchanged and cause me daily pain, stiffness and limitations. He is so good, and He met me that night at three a.m., and it was one of those times I could feel Him so near, holding me tight.