In October, Dan’s Mum came over from the UK to help and of course meet her granddaughter. Once she had settled in, she asked me who was in charge of my health. I shook my head thinking ‘Geez, I dunno!’. I’d been so focussed on Ava, that the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind to go back to my GP. At her suggestion I did exactly that and my GP was horrified to see that I was still on the walking frame. She referred me for an immediate x-ray.
The next morning we went to radiology and after the x-ray, I had to wait in the room for almost 15 minutes. I knew at that point that something was really wrong and the radiographer informed me that after consultation with my GP, I was to go directly to hospital.
After months of trying absolutely every avenue of treatment, ie. seeing a sports medicine GP, four different physiotherapists, a chiropractor and an acupuncturist – I finally had an answer!
The radiographer delivered the devastating news that I had fractured both of my hips.
They told me that I would more than likely need to have a hip replacement and possibly two. Again – what the? I was only 38.
We went straight to the emergency unit at one of the best private hospitals in Melbourne, and on the way I called my Mum, my Dad and Dan’s Mum to break the news. They were all in shock and Mum, her partner and Dad headed to the hospital to meet us. Dan’s Mum looked after Ava while we were there and waited nervously for an update.
From the minute we arrived, the staff at the hospital were brilliant. They rushed me in to see the Director of Emergency and because my case was so unique, I was seen by one of the country’s top orthopaedic surgeons. After viewing the x-rays it was clear that my left hip was completely shot to pieces. Effectively the femoral head (the ball joint) had eroded and had become about as useful as having butter for bones. Basically my leg was swinging in the wind with an 11mm gap between it and the hip joint.
My right hip had fractured but had re-set itself incorrectly, which meant that this leg had become 2.5cm shorter than the other. Looking back at the x-rays is frightening and it’s hard to believe that it’s my body I’m looking at.
So what happened next? I was whisked off to a public hospital (as I couldn’t afford the $33K private hospital fees) to meet another well respected orthopaedic surgeon. I was taken straight to a ward where the nursing staff had been fully briefed during the short drive it took to get there. The head nurse was amazing and got me settled in very quickly.
I was informed that I needed a total hip replacement on my left hip and the right hip would have to wait. I stayed in hospital for a few days while they did some more tests and the replacement operation was scheduled for two weeks time.
At that point, I saw a mental health expert who referred me for therapy to help deal with my overwhelming signs of depression. During the evaluation, I can remember saying that I wanted ‘to crawl into a deep dark hole and didn’t want to come out’. It sounds like a cliche and by no means was I having suicidal thoughts, but I wasn’t in good shape.
Soon after that, I started seeing a very kind, gentle and supportive therapist. It was so good to have someone independent to talk to who just let me fall in a heap if I needed to. It was OK to cry for the whole session or get angry at the world for letting this happen to me. I had no idea how much I needed to talk it all out, and it was such a huge relief to be able to share.
I suffered a severe reactive depression because of what had happened to me, but I didn’t face this until much later on. It’s still hard to admit it now. I’m that person who never wants anyone to think I’m being a whinger. Through all of it, I just kept sticking to my ‘I’ll be OK’ and ‘I’m not dying’ party lines, but in truth I was only just pulling through. I still see that same therapist for general wellbeing sessions, as I truly believe I haven’t completely dealt with the grief of it all.
Skip forward two weeks and I was back in hospital for a total hip replacement operation on my left hip. I can’t recall how long I was in there but I certainly remember it wasn’t much fun. Although the operation was a success, I lost a lot of blood and needed a transfusion. I was weak and struggled to keep any food down.
So finally I got to come home and the day I arrived, was the day I met our new nanny. We were lucky to be part of a government program which provided support and care for people in extreme circumstances like ours. The nanny was there full time, 5 days a week, to help me look after Ava, as I was unable to care for her on my own.
I was a little uneasy about having a stranger I had never met, in our house and there to look after my girl. It was so hard for me to imagine how I would cope watching someone else do what I should have been able to do myself. But from day one, Kiera put me right at ease. She had a wealth of experience, a very caring soul and she fell in love with Ava from the minute she laid eyes on her.
Kiera was with us on and off for the better part of two and a half years and we remain friends to this day. She was such a great role model for Ava and she cared about my wellbeing too. Meeting her was one huge positive out of a whole lot of madness. In amongst all the pain and struggling, we had a lot of fun and Ava still has a very special bond with Kiera.
But wait, there’s more, I haven’t even got to the part about my right hip yet. All of that and beyond will be posted next week.
Thanks for reading