Jo's Story - Part 1

Everyone has a story, its part of life. We have great times and we have hard times and very often it changes us in some way. My story is one I’ve been meaning to share this for a while, I’ve written and rewritten it.

I’ve been scared to share, I’ve questioned the value of what I want to say. But when I reflect on what I’ve gone through, I feel I have something worth sharing. I feel my experiences can help others - I don’t post picture perfect images by the beach that you see on facebook and instagram - what is the benefit in that? My story is about helping and encouraging others - and if I can inspire only one person to live a healthier life, practice yoga or take a positive approach to life then it is worth writing.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”   ― Brené Brown

Two major events in my life which I’ve worked hard to overcome was losing my mum at the age of 18 and then recently recovering from an injury which went undiagnosed for 6 years. I had surgery on my hip in September 2013 and I want to share my experience.

I had surgery for femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) in early 2013. I know what you're thinking . . .what the hell is that? It took me a while to pronounce it let alone get my head around what it meant for me and my physical ability; the basic explanation is that my femoro (ball of hip joint) and acetabulum (socket of hip joint) were abnormally shaped, this was pinching the labrum which is the cartilage of the hip joint. FAI or hip impingement is still fairly new, but it can be common in athletes and gives me one thing in common with Lady Gaga!! She went through similar surgery in 2013.


So my diagnosis took 6 years - I often wonder why it took so long. I've always been active taking part in swimming, cycling, boxing, running and yoga to name a few. I played football, took part in the athletics team at school and I’ve been going to the gym and classes since I was old enough to be allowed in the gym. I trained as a lifeguard and became a swimming teacher, and worked in various Health Clubs. I was always trying new activities, keeping fit and enjoyed every minute of it.

But I first experienced pain after a run, it didn’t occur during a specific incident but instead felt like an ache deep inside the hip joint and pain in my groin.  My hip would click and I could get some relief but that would be short-lived. Sitting for long periods then attempting to stand up would leave me limping...I felt like an old woman and knew something wasn’t right. I went to the Doctor and was sent for an X-ray, it came back clear so physio was the next port of call. A weakness was identified so I worked on strengthening my legs and stabilising my pelvis.

These efforts were in vain, rather than getting better it got to the point I couldn't run or take part in any physical activity. The pain was so bad, I gave up running altogether. I couldn’t enjoy it.  Not when a run would end up with my leg almost giving way - like it wasn't strong enough to support my weight with pain running from the front of my hip/groin area. It would take a few steps before I could walk properly and I would feel pinching in my hip - this gradually deteriorated over the 6 years to the point where I had to stick my fingers in my hip joint to walk without any pain.

Trips to the doctor continued and I was sent for an MRI and sports injury clinic, but still no explanation. I continued to try strengthen around the pelvis and carry on as normal. I paid to see a private physiotherapist and tried some different chiropractors but nothing worked long term and I became increasingly frustrated.

I felt hopeful after eventually being referred to an orthopediac surgeon. My first surgical appointment was the turning point, I finally felt like there was an explanation for the way I was feeling. My surgeon talked about FAI and possible surgery but wanted to explore all options - I liked that he was being thorough. There was concern I had a leg length difference and I was given an insole for my shoe, I was also given a support belt for around my hips but I found both of these very difficult to wear on a regular basis. The insoles wouldn’t fit into all shoes and the belt was very uncomfortable and didn’t feel like it was giving any support.

My diagnosis came about when I had a third MRI scan with dye injected into my hip, this showed signs of FAI. I then got an injection of anaesthetic injected into my hip which would last a few hours. I was told to test my hip by doing all the things that caused me pain. I went for a run - for the first time in years I felt no pain and could have ran forever, it was so liberating!

I discussed options with my surgeon and was put on the waiting list. He emphasised that this was the last resort and I almost felt like he didn’t want to perform the surgery. I know now how long and frustrating recovery is so was only making sure I was 100% confident it was the right thing to do.

It was a difficult decision - I was apprehensive and wanted to avoid surgery but what else could I do - at this point I had tried everything and after discussion with my husband I knew it was the right thing to do. Decision made and a huge sense of relief - just to look forward to my surgery date now.

See Part 2 here.

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