It was November 2010, only a few short months since Ava was born, and there had been so much had pain in that time. I felt like I had been to hell and back and it wasn’t over yet.
The recovery from the total hip replacement surgery was a long and hard road. I had wounds that needed to be dressed every couple of days, I was in shocking pain and every day was a struggle. But I had to tough it out and be as strong as I could for Ava. Although we had Kiera (our nanny) to help, I was not out of the woods.
I was on the walking frame for a couple of weeks and then moved on to crutches. It was hard work and I still needed round the clock care. I had follow up appointments and was on super strong medication, which made me feel out of it.
About six months passed and things were improving, I was walking with only one crutch and was feeling a lot more optimistic. The first time I walked across the room carrying Ava, was when she 10 months old. I still remember that day, walking with her for the first time – still a bit wonky on my feet, but determined to carry on and hold her in my arms. It felt like such a huge achievement.
I realise you may be wondering why the broken hips? As it turns out, I had transient osteoporosis brought on by the pregnancy. I didn’t know I had issues with my bones, but during pregnancy and particularly through breastfeeding, Ava was taking in my calcium and my bones couldn’t cope. I still don’t know whether it was the fall (at 30 weeks) that kicked it all off, or if it happened over time.
After the replacement, I discovered that my bone density was much lower than the average person my age. I made regular visits to the Endocrinology team at the hospital where I had the hip replacement, and I learned that I had osteopenia (which some doctors believe is the precursor to osteoporosis). I started taking vitamin D and calcium to help prevent any further damage to my bones, and thankfully my condition has remained the same.
During this period, I continued my regular therapy sessions and also started on antidepressants. It seemed to help with my state of mind but I put on weight and I hated it. I tried to not let it bother me but it did. I already felt like crap about myself and feeling heavier didn’t help.
I was approached by one of the doctors from the Endocrinology team for permission to include my story in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ANZJOG). I agreed and was sent a copy soon after. It was (and still is) so surreal reading about myself in such a clinical report and the title of the article ‘A Missed Diagnosis’ said everything to me. How had so many health professionals missed this?
So what of my right hip? It had fractured and reset itself incorrectly, which meant I had a 2.5cm discrepancy in leg length. This meant that once I started walking again, I walked with a limp because that leg was shorter than the other. During my rehab from the replacement operation this became a real issue and I had to be fitted for a built up shoe for my right foot. For me, this was a nightmare. All I wanted was to get back to normal and I couldn’t even wear any of my shoes. We ended up having one pair of trainers and one pair of boots built up and that’s pretty much all I could wear. Just another blow in amongst a whole pile of shit I had been dealt.
So in April 2012, I went into hospital again. I had an operation on my right hip called an osteotomy, where they cut the bone, straighten you up, correct the discrepancy and put you back together with a huge metal plate with pins drilled into your leg. Yep, ouch! I think the rehab after this op was much worse than the replacement. I couldn’t sleep on my right side for months afterwards and the pain was full on. I had just started getting back on track and this op just put me right back to relying on someone to look after me again. Argh! I was so frustrated and although I knew it had to be done, it didn’t make it any easier.
A couple of weeks after the op, I got pneumonia and fell in a heap. I just wanted it all to stop and it hit me hard. I was exhausted and so sick of being sick, and having to recover from one thing or another.
Through all of this, I couldn’t work and that was really hard for me. It’s not like I was planning to rush back but I didn’t have a choice in the matter. All of these decisions had been taken away from me and the last few years had really taken their toll.
Late in 2012 (two and a half years after Ava was born), I finally went back to work, just two days a week to ease back in. Even then, it was far from easy, as there were stairs at the office. Stairs were my worst nightmare but the exercise did me good. I gradually built up to three days and now I work four days a week and have Fridays off with Ava.
In January of 2014, I had another operation to remove the metal pins that held me together after the osteotomy. Here I was again, in pain and on crutches. Thankfully the recovery was a lot faster and I was so relieved that it was the last hospital visit for a while.
After four operations in four years, this was not exactly how I thought the first four years of motherhood would play out. To say it was tough is an understatement, but I got through it.
Although what happened has changed me forever and was an extremely difficult time, there have also been a lot of positives to come out of this craziness. I’ve met some incredibly lovely and supportive people along the way, and some who have become friends for life. I’m also a lot more relaxed when life throws me curveballs, and whatever happens, I know I can get pretty much get through anything.
One of the biggest positives was starting this blog. At the time I desperately needed to build a place to celebrate the good stuff, to have a happy place filled with sunshine and lollipops. It’s funny when I look back on content from those first few months, it all looks so rosy. From the outside in, you would never have known what was really going on. And that’s exactly how I needed it to be.
So here I am today sharing some of the most challenging and darkest hours of my life, and I can’t thank you enough for being a part of my healing process. I thought writing this would bring back a whole lot of emotions and I expected tears to come while I poured my heart out. But they didn’t. I’m not sure why but I know that I’m discovering new things about myself every day.
Now it’s time to close the book on this little story. Thanks again for caring.