Clinical Pearl #15: Be Nice to Yourself Through This Process
As you can see through reading all these clinical pearls, there is a lot which takes you to the point of whether or not surgery is a “right” thing for you. There is time spent researching and educating oneself about the entity. There are consultations with various physicians and surgeons and weighing the options of conservative care versus surgery, and what is best practice and recommended. Time and energy spent with nonoperative interventions including physical therapy, massage, rolfing, chiropractic, and acupuncture to name a few. There are multiple sublevels of specific approaches or interventions within these categories. Really, the list can go on and on. While some of these approaches work well for some individuals and other approaches work well for others, there is no one answer across the boards for every person looking at hip dysfunction or pain. Discovering what is best for you and your body will be the answer.
There are great resources on Facebook and other social media sites to help within the “hip community”, especially related to surgery and recovery. Whether your search is in person, on the internet, or looking into blogs or Facebook groups, one thing I encourage anyone to do is take a break from it all. It is very easy to get caught up in things when you are studying anything which concerns you and your body. It can be overwhelming, confusing and frustrating just as easily as it can be very gratifying. Many times I see patients who finally were referred to a hip specialist and they return home that night and search the internet with all the buzz words learned from the doctor's appointment. When someone reads something online which sounds like symptoms experienced it can be relieving to that person. Diagnosing issues at the hip is not an easy task. All too common patients are told there appears to be nothing wrong. Emotions are extremely intertwined with this whole process as proper diagnosis can take a while and be quite frustrating getting to that point.
It is not unusual for people to seek others in the “same boat”, and want to compare numbers of what is used to identify dysplasia, retroversion, anteversion and such. Over time, I have heard where comparing these numbers can almost be a competition of “mine were much worse than yours” and “I was told mine is the worst he's seen” as examples. It is interesting to be an outsider looking in with stories shared about some of these Facebook support group settings. These groups were born from a necessity to share information, create a comradery, if you will, in helping a community through a specific process. Because there is such variety of information shared, from basic suggestions to large volumes of diary-like comments and interactions, it can be very engulfing. These sites have both positive and negative feedback throughout, and I encourage you to sift through what it is you are looking for and how this information pertains to you.
KINDNESS AND GRACE:
Once you have had an opportunity to see these sites, be graceful. It is important to be kind to yourself, and to others. This is a process and a journey. What works for someone else may not work for you, and that’s ok. Yes, there are a lot of expectations should you undergo surgery of what your responsibility is on the backside of surgery. Yes, you need to be involved. Correct, no one person can do your rehab for you. Yes, there will be pain after, but understanding what is acceptable pain and not is huge in the process. Taking time to slow down through this process to help with identifying activities including what makes symptoms worse, better, contributes to stiffness, or what affects me more emotionally. All of these are involved in rehab, and my opinion is that after surgery is even more important in identifying these things. When you know triggers, and can accept and contain them, this will help you be kinder to yourself. If you find yourself overwhelmed, frustrated, on the brink of tears and you have yet to do your rehab, take time for yourself first. The exercises will be there. But, if your mind is elsewhere, and you push and push, your body will likely talk back at you, or yell at you. When can you think of a time you responded well when someone yelled at you? Your body yelling at you can present itself in different ways from pain and inability to do certain things, to fatiguing sooner than you anticipated or sleep worsening. If you haven’t taken time to be kind to yourself prior to this, you may not realize your body is screaming at you for help.
Many people come from an athletic background with competition, pushing through pain, looking at challenges and adversity as a competitor and treating them as such. While this mentality can be good, especially in trying times, it can sometimes come back and bite you in the backside through the process. Everyone can use a little kindness, compassion, and self reflection. This doesn’t make you weak as a competitive person, it can make you sharper, more engaged, and more prepared. So, during your rehab, be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Vent when you need to and let it go so you can move on to bigger and better things. Those things are in front of you, and balance with kindness will help you see more clearly.