Monday, August 3, 2015

Osteoarthritis & Other Sucky Things

Photo Credit: pinkcigarette via Compfight cc

Last week I realized my life needs to change in a big way. It has been a long time coming, but it's still hard to process. Here's the story.

For the past couple of years, I've had hip pain that makes it difficult to walk. I've had issues with my hip on & off for about fifteen years, but it wasn't until Bronte was a newborn that it became really debilitating. However, dealing with it was lower on the priority list than our breastfeeding challenges, her health concerns & all the other the usual parenting two little kids stuff.

I eventually went to the doctor & then to physiotherapy, but didn't keep up with the daily exercises. The problem & the pain worsened, so I avoided standing & walking as much as possible. I biked everywhere instead--even a block or two--because cycling is very low impact & doesn't put as much strain on my hip as walking.

After talking to the orthopedist at Children's about Bronte's hips--she was born with dysplasia like I was--I started to realize that I really needed to deal with this. I finally went back to my family doctor & I had an X-ray.

When I went in to discuss the results, I was prepared for bad news. She said she'd only call if there was anything of concern & I already knew from the pain I've been dealing with means there's a problem. The X-ray shows that my left hip is okay, but not great. My right hip is showing signs of damage, wear caused by the irregular formation of the bones due to the hip dysplasia that I was born with. Hearing all the medical anatomy terminology in the X-ray report, it all seemed so abstract.

When the doctor said she was referring me to OASIS, the Osteoarthritis Service Integration System program at Vancouver General Hospital, it really started to hit home. She joked that I'd probably be the youngest person in the room at the various classes they offer.

Being told, before I even turned 40, that I have osteoarthritis in my hip & that surgery is not an if but a when, was a bit of a blow. But what she said next hit me hard. I need to lose weight, as much as I can. I am still carrying around about 20 pounds of 'baby weight' since Bronte was born.

I love food & I don't believe in dieting. I have always just eaten what I feel like & used active transportation--walking & cycling, plus some fitness classes here & there over the years--to stay fit & healthy. That formula doesn't work when I can't walk because of my hip. I was sort of in denial the last couple of years, thinking that when my hip got better I'd be able to exercise more & the weight would come off.

So I'm going to have to change how I eat permanently to lose weight. In the past, I always tried to focus on being healthy & fit, not my weight. But now that number on the scale, my actual weight, really does matter. Every extra pound on my body puts more force on my joints. More pain, more damage to the cartilage.

The other thing I'm struggling with is that I may have to quit stilting permanently. I've only performed a handful of times in the past few years. I paid dearly for it each time, with a flare up of pain for days afterward. I've been in denial about this, thinking that my hip might get better & I could return to stilting, pain free. However, even if I can consistently stick to my physio exercises & strengthen my core muscles to help hold my joints in position better, I'm not going to 'fix' the arthritis.

I may be able to reduce pain & improve function somewhat, but the damage to my hip joints isn't ever going away. Well, until I get hip replacement surgery. But I'm trying not to think about that. I'm focussing on what I can do right now: how to change my diet & what supplements are shown to help.

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  1. i am so sorry Lisa - dealing with physical betrayal, as when your body doesn't follow what you superwoman think you are capable of is one of the cruelest blows in ageing. FWIW, from my recent research (and being ten years ahead of you), the losing weight thing is a positive step for more than just joint health - the insulin resistance that some women experience with peri/menopause can also be lessened. yup - lightening the load is something i need to embark on too. all the best

    1. Thanks, Amanda. You've summed it up better than I could--I do feel like my body's betrayed me. I'm trying to look at the weight loss as a positive thing. It would be nice not to always be straddling the line between L/XL & the plus sizes when I'm shopping, plus diabetes runs in my family, so curbing my sweet tooth won't hurt in putting that off. Ultimately I'm doing this to feel better now & hopefully buy myself more time before hip replacement surgery.

  2. Sorry to hear your news. What a pain to have to start dealing with this when you are so busy with family life. I have no advice about combatting that sweet tooth - I'm more of a savoury fan. I hope that you find it an enjoyable challenge - got to put a positive spin on things eh :-)


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