The Winding Path of Recovery

The above photo embodies my feelings about heading back into the game of life. Wonder. Delight. Believing in magic. Meet Storey, my youngest granddaughter. She—and the other two—“twirl my world,” as my sister would say.


Before surgery I told myself (and my family) that if my minimally invasive sacroiliac joint fusion was successful, I was going to take my granddaughters to Disneyland. It was successful, and we went to Disneyland last week. It was exhausting but we had a blast, as I expected. What I didn’t expect was all the wailing kids. Seriously? There were so many meltdowns happening around me. I kept thinking,


“Wait! What?? These kids are at Disneyland! Why are they crying?”


I finally decided it’s because even at the self-proclaimed “Happiest Place on Earth” things aren’t perfect, or at least as perfect as we think they should be.


Life’s like that.


There is so much I want to write about, which may come as a surprise since I’ve been so incommunicado. Life has been busy. We recently bought a house. My stepson got married. We went to California (which isn’t so out of the ordinary, since my husband is from Los Angeles and a lot of his family still lives there.) I’ve not only been struggling to regain my equilibrium in the practical aspects of my life; I’m also wrestling with the physiological aspect of my recovery. I’m kinda like those kids at Disneyland: one minute I’m laughing hysterically as I’m spinning in a teacup, and the next I’m distraught because my recovery isn’t happening quite as fast, or as fully, as I want it to.


Listen, I wish like crazy that I could get on here and tell you that it’s been a bed of roses over here. And I’m afraid if I tell you that it hasn’t, you’re going to be disappointed and/or rush to judgment about the path I’ve chosen to take. So on both counts I want to lovingly say, “Stop it. Just stop.” It’s not as black and white as we all want it to be. But it’s all good.


Fact: 90% of my low back pain is gone. This is HUGE. My surgery fixed the low back problem that I’ve long suspected stemmed from a floppy SI joint. I was right when everyone else was telling me I was wrong in saying that my low back pain was more secondary than primary. Validation to the max. Plus, the pain is mostly gone. Winning!


Fact: I’m still having some groin pain. And that concerns me. If you’ve read through my other posts, you know at least two things. First, I knew I had multiple issues, and I wasn’t under any illusion that one surgery was going to fix everything, immediately, forever and ever, Amen. Second, I saw two hip doctors before my surgery, both of which said they didn’t think it was my hip. But I’m still not sure I don’t have FAI (femoral acetabular impingement) or a labral tear so I’m gonna ask for an MRI.


Why am I concerned about hip involvement? I often feel like my leg needs to pop where the ball meets the socket. No matter how much I do the releases my physical therapists taught me, the tension returns. And it will only “give” about 35% of the time. It’s a sore, nagging pain, not a sharp, screaming pain. On any given day, it’s uncomfortable, not debilitating. My therapist dug around in there a few days ago, and the ligament that lies squarely between my pelvis and my leg (where the elastic of my panties sits on the front) f-r-e-a-k-e-d out. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it hurt. Of course she immediately backed off, but suffice it to say we learned there’s some sort of problem down in there.


So here’s where we are: the wonderful physical therapy practice I’ve been going to is all about myofascial release. You’re going to hear a lot about that in the days to come, because I’m gonna investigate the hell out of it—not only intellectually, but practically. Both therapists I’m working with say that it’s possible that the fascia in my groin area and/or the scar tissue from my abdominal surgery (20 years ago) is pulling on my femur/hip/pelvis, and causing the top of my leg not to track properly. Thanks to Dr. Beck and two cannulated screws, my hips are pretty level. Now we’ve just gotta figure out what else is contributing to my pelvic disturbance.


One of my therapists, Katrina, who has been practicing PT for decades and specializes in pelvic floor work and myofascial release, has graciously agreed to let me interview her for my blog. So we are meeting tomorrow for our first chat session. Stay tuned for questions about recovering, strengthening, pelvic floor rehab and of course, fascia.


Interesting aside: some believe that myofascial release is bunk and quackery (sound familiar?) After the thimbleful I’ve learned about it over the last few weeks, something tells me it’s legit. Is it THE answer? Probably not. Is it a vital component of THE answer? I think it probably is, and it’s largely ignored in western medicine. It’s just like SIJD—it’s an up and coming field and more and more people are learning about and embracing it.


Other things I want to explore in the weeks to come: trusting our bodies. Being kind and patient with our bodies. The role our beliefs play in our healing (or lack thereof.) The neurological factor in pain science. Somatics. What else would you like to talk about?


I’ll close by telling on myself. Not only did I do an 11 hour day at Disneyland last week, I also hiked down to Corona del Mar (very steep hill up and back), walked and stood on the beach for an hour or so, and then later hiked to the top of Dodger Stadium. Think stairs, stairs and more stairs. [Pictures below.] We sat for a couple of hours in hard, cold, metal chairs, and then I hiked back down. When I was in a lot of pain the next day, I was bummed out about it, like, “Man, I hoped I’d be able to do all of this without much incident.” That’s when my son-in-law said, “Laura, Disneyland for 11 hours is hard on anyone, much less someone who had major surgery 12 weeks ago!”


Oh yeah. I forgot about that. Guess I should give myself a break.


I’m not going to let this hip thing eclipse the good that my surgery did. My low back pain is already becoming a dim memory. I’m not going to fret anymore about not getting better (and stronger) sooner. I was led every step of the way to my si joint solution, and now that that’s fixed I have to believe that I’ll be led to anything else that will help me heal.


DSC_7814b IMG_1375