Greetings from Day 9 following an anterior THR (uncemented ceramic/ceramic). Thanks to all of you who have posted about your own experiences, they gave me a much better idea of what to expect during my stay in the clinic.
Before I start posting updates I thought I’d first provide some history.
I’m 49. While I consider myself more of a cyclist, for most of the past decade running has been my unrequited love. I’ve had a lot of running injuries just training for measly sprint & olympic tri’s. It’s been rather embarrassing and extremely humbling, especially since I was a decent sprinter in my youth.
It wasn’t until my late 20s that I got over my fear of ‘distance’ (read: anything over 400m), but from then to my mid-30s I was able to run casually and do the occasional 10k and even a half marathon without much thought.
Then we moved to France, and for the first few years I all but stopped exercising. After hitting 40, I decided to lose the extra weight, then to get back in shape I joined an expat triathlon club. While I really enjoyed training regularly and taking part in tri’s, every season I’d get some sort of show-stopper injury and would end up DNS for most of my events.
The magic formula: strength + frequency
After 6 years of trying out the usual suggestions (cadence, core galore, a run coach, etc..) only to be hit with another season-ender, I suspected my problem might be that my back and hips are so darn mobile that I need extra muscle to stabilize them enough to withstand training, never mind competing!
So I changed two things starting Jan 2019.
- Learn how to lift ‘heavy ‘ in the gym (by end of year I got up to 65kg for deadlift & squats, slightly over my body weight)
- Run slower but more often to improve run economy (If curious, google ‘BarryP 3:2:1 running’)
Hallelujah! Instead of getting injured from running a measly 3x/week, I was able to run 4-6x/week and felt great. My run volume got up to 50km per week, which for me was a big freakin’ deal. And I was still able to get on the home trainer at least 2x/week and occasionally swim….plus have my best week of downhill skiing, like, ever.
Best of all, after years of sadly watching the Paris half marathon pass within 200m of our apartment, I was finally uninjured and in great shape to run the 2020 edition on March 1st!!!!
Then came the pandemic
On February 29 the Paris half was cancelled (sad as I was to miss this event once more, my overwhelming feeling was relief as I’d been following the Covid news pretty closely since January).
On March 17 France entered strict lockdown. We could only go out an hour per day and within a 1km radius of our home. Running was replaced by the indoor bike trainer, and strength went by the wayside as we had neither the equipment nor floorspace.
At the end of April I had a tiny fall that created a tiny fracture in my sacrum (yup, I also have low bone density). While it healed in a couple of weeks, over the spring & summer my back wasn’t happy, and my arthritic hip really started to make its presence felt.
Interestingly, cycling aggravated it far more than running. Not wanting to create dangerous new compensations, I stopped running and cycling altogether in mid-September and asked my sports Dr for a new diagnosis.
Since my MRIs showed a fair bit of cartilage, he thought I might have FAI rather than OA. Alas, a CT scan in October revealed not only FAI, but also a torn labrum and that the hip was bone on bone.
A lucky find
Fortunately, my sports doc referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who works exclusively on hips, particularly for “younger” (under 50), athletic types. He has great reviews, and encourages a full return to previous activity levels after recovering from surgery.
After examining me and my images, he initially suggested I simply take things easy this year and see how things are by next fall. Er, no thanks, that’s what I’d done already for the past 2 summers: while 1 month of rest + easy core work was enough to get me back on track in 2019, the same approach didn’t work in 2020.
After I explained that, and that my overriding concern was actually my wonky lower back and low bone density, both of which really benefit from weight-bearing exercise…but only if I have stable hips!
That seemed to persuade him, and I appreciated that he did not automatically push surgery, and that he listened to my concerns. So between that, his excellent reviews, and his focus on hips alone, I was comfortable signing up for surgery with him without seeking a second opinion.
Surgery was set for Jan 25, 2021, 3 months after getting the rather disastrous results of my CT scan.