Sunday, June 8, 2008

Grrr...

I abhor Osteonecrosis, the bane of my existence for the past 13 1/2 years. I became a corporeal old woman at age 30. I was never to have a 'normal' pregnancy. I don't even know what that is like. When I hear women complaining about the aches and pains of pregnancy, it is hard not to get a little bit envious. I would have liked to have experienced 'routine'.

My experience makes me a little less apt to be benevolent toward whining. I don't like that about myself. I can usually be sympathetic and empathetic to almost anyone in almost any circumstance, but when I hear people yammering about the normal twinges and soreness they are experiencing, I want to wail! "Don't you know how lucky you are!" I want to scream! "You want to know what pain is, sister? Just walk in my place for one day. Believe me you will have a new appreciation for pain."

I have not had a pain free day since 1994. I remember it well. October 1994. I was just beginning my second trimester of my first pregnancy. Everything seemed to be fine with the baby; I really hadn't even had much morning sickness. A normal pregnancy. I had longed to be a mommy since I was a little girl. I couldn't wait for the little one to arrive. Just coast through the fall, make it through Christmas and New Year's and before Valentine's Day my deepest desire would be fulfilled.

My pie in the sky plans came to a screeching halt around Halloween when I began to feel a painful popping sensation in my hip whenever I sat in a low chair. Not to worry said the Obstetrician; women often experience stretching in their ligaments in anticipation for birth. The pain worsened to the point where it became almost unbearable to sit for very long. Then when I would try to stand up my bones felt as if the were rubbing together. I had to catch my breath and hold on to the side of my cubicle for a few seconds as a wave of nausea overwhelmed me. I did this about once every 30 minutes for the next 2 months. The OB was still adamant that it was nothing to be concerned about; just normal pregnancy aches and pains.

In his defense he was more concerned about my preeclampcia at that time. My blood pressure was high. I had severe edema; my feet looked like two large water balloons on the end of a couple of tree trunks. I had to quit my job earlier than expected because of these complications. We didn't want the baby to come early. So right after the new year, I took a leave of absence and went home on a modified bed rest. I was allowed to get up and move around but was supposed to take it easy. My hip pain did ease up some at that point so I figured the OB must have been right; it was nothing more than ligament pain.

My little baby girl was born on January 30, 1995. The labor was long and arduous, as a lot of first labors are, but she was healthy and I was over the moon. I took my girl home and began my life as a mom.

The niggling, okay, intense pain in my hip continued throughout the next few months. Finally when my daughter was four months old, in May of 1995, I took a trip to the family doctor. He listened intently and sent me to an Orthopedist. The Orthopedist took X-Rays and an MRI and immediately diagnosed avascular (osteo) necrosis. My right hip was already advance to a stage 4. My left hip at that time was barely showing signs of the disease. I got the weighty news that there really was but one cure for the disease. Total hip replacement. My right hip was too far advanced for any joint sparing procedures that they could offer. My left hip, which had no pain in it, was given a 40% chance of remediation from a coring operation. Their advice was to not have any more kids, hold off a couple of years to have the right hip replaced while waiting to see how fast the disease in the left hip progressed. Whoa! I was only 30 years old. I had just had my first child. I wanted more children. This was a lot to digest.

I went on to have three more kids in the next four years. I was going to write , that I decided to have three more kids, but I didn't consciously decide to have more kids. They just kind of decided to come to me. My second pregnancy wasn't that dreadful, he was born in May of 1996 after a fairly short labor. My third pregnancy was a little more arduous. My hip became very painful toward the end of term. I went in to have him on August 28th. Nothing happened. He was born nine days later on September 7, 1997. The labor was long and he was my biggest baby at 8lb 6 0z. I vowed to never be pregnant again in the summer in Texas. Lo and behold, twenty three months later in August of 1999, I had my third little boy, my fourth child. The pregnancy with him was pretty easy as far as my hip pain was concerned, but due to some other complications he was delivered via c-section. The recovery was a lot worse than the recovery with my other babies. Having had both c-section and vaginally delivered babies, I'll tell you -- vaginal is preferable.

My babies were all healthy and I fared well, all things considered. I was never able to sit on the floor and play with my little ones though. Sitting cross legged was a thing of the past. I wish I had known that the last time I sat on the floor that way -- I would have savored the moment a tad. I was able to do all the typical things with them, just with the constant pain that would never go away.

Pain is such a silent affliction. If you don't say anything, then no one knows. Which on the one hand is good; you can assimilate. On the other hand it makes it hard for other people to understand that the disease is real. Most of the time I would just go on about my business and do what needed to be done and disregard the pain. What else could I do after all? I had four small kids to take care of; no time for rest.

In September of 2002, I began to see that I couldn't put off that right hip replacement much longer. I found a competent Orthopaedic surgeon and prepared to have the operation when school was out in the spring. I made plans for people to take care of the kids (who were 8, 7, 5 & 3) while I was in the hospital and to take care of me while I recovered. On June 3, 2003, I went in and had the right hip replaced. I was surprised at how much pain I was in when I woke up after the surgery. It was absolutely, hands down the worst pain I could possibly have imagined. Sawing your bone off, reaming out your hip socket and hammering a titanium steel rod into your femur tends to smart a bit. I stayed in the hospital for six days. I went home to recuperate. It was a long, painful process that took about three months.

It wasn't long after the right hip replacement that my left hip began giving me grief. I have tried alternate treatments like chiropractic care, aromatherapy, supplements, homeopathy and diet changes to alleviate the pain. It has worked for the worst of the pain, but I still must face the inevitable. It is time to get the left hip replaced. Within the next year it will have to happen. There are days that I am in such misery that I can't do things the way that I should. I miss out on things because walking across large parking lots, to the other side of huge stadiums, is simply too much. This summer my kids are going to want to go to the local theme and water parks and go camping. That will wipe me out. I'll do it. Just like I always do, but it will be at great personal expense; an expense that my family doesn't realize.

I just wanted to have a normal life. I wanted a family. I wanted to be active in their lives, to be involved with their education. I wanted to be an integral part of their lives. I got all of that. I don't remember what it was like to not be in pain any more than I can recall what it was like to be single and childless. I have a vague memory of it, but that is about it. It would be really fantastic to be pain free. I would love to be able to run and play with my kids like they want me to. I have tremendous guilt about not being able to. I hope they don't have to go to too much therapy over that when they grow up. When it's all said and done though, I have done the best that I could with the hand that I was dealt. Kids are going to complain about their moms no matter what. So I press on.