No one wants to fall, but by far the hard part of the fall is not the falling itself, it’s what comes afterward. A few months ago, I slipped on a wet spot on my wood living room floor. Gyrating off-balance around my hip, I felt so much strain in my hip-joint going down, that long before I hit the floor in a jumbled heap, I expected my hip would be broken.
The good news after the spill was that my expectation while falling was wrong. The x-rays and doctor exam confirmed there were no broken bones. There was no sign of fractures. I was grateful, but very sore with a bad strain from waist to knee wrapping around and through my left hip and thigh.
The bonus? The x-rays, and later MRIs revealed that my bone density was great, with no sign of osteoporosis. Even after a couple of decades of low dose steroids for my lupus, my bones looked absolutely great.
The rest of the story, however took a little longer to figure out.
About a week after the fall, I went sliding “banana peel” style on a dryer sheet doing laundry. My sore leg stretched forward into an awkward, excruciating “splits,” leaving me writhing on the floor and seeing proverbial “stars.” To the same degree that the first fall hurt, the second was pure torture as I grimaced in the abuse of pain on pain.
A few weeks went by and I was feeling a lot better, and started to think about resuming a little gentle yoga , and even started suiting up to begin cycling again. Five minutes seemed like a gentle start with the bike in first gear. By the end of a few minutes of cycling, it was obvious my hip was still not ready for exercise.
My disappointment grew as I gained about a pound every couple of weeks, but waited it out a few more weeks before trying the cycle again. The next attempt was no better, and perhaps even worse than the first. Cycling hurt too much to repeat the next day. Weeks were turning into months, and my body was getting softer and wider by the day.
A few weeks ago, I had the dreaded “I’m not exercising” conversation with my rheumatologist. He was anything but thrilled about my sedentary change, and wanted to know why. After explaining about the fall that happened right after my last visit, he quickly had me up on the examining table to complete a clinical exam of my hurting hip.
As he asked me questions and moved my legs around, he explained to a young resident shadowing him that when most people complaint about hip pain, it is not really the hip itself that is hurting. He spoke to him about how most people describing hip pain actually were experiencing discomfort in soft tissue, tendons, muscles, etc.
By the time he completed the hip checkup, he marveled out-loud to both of us about my “true hip pain.” He seemed surprised. He explained I needed an MRI to show if there were hidden fractures or soft tissue damage that could not be visible in the x-rays. If not broken or fractured, he was considering physical therapy to get my hip back in shape.
Immediately, I set out to get the MRI and a new bone density check completed.
In the middle of a meeting at work today, my cell phone rang and it was my doctor, himself.
He never calls me out of the blue, usually it is his assistant. So, making quick apologies to my colleague, I excused myself to take the call. After a little polite conversation my doctor explained that my hip bones looked very good. There were no fractures.
Next, was the rest of the story, and not the chapter ending either of us were anticipating when we turned the MRI page. My doctor explained the reason for my pain is torn cartilage and cartilage loss in my hip.
The next chapter will start with a visit to an orthopedic surgeon for assessment, and possible therapy and/or arthroscopic hip surgery.
Jotting down the names of a couple of doctors my rheumatologist recommended, I spent a few minutes after work chasing them down and confirming both were on my insurance plan.
Tomorrow, my doctor’s first choice referral will get my call.
I have a feeling there will be a couple of more interesting chapters in this lupus adventure – it should be a “hip” story.