Wednesday, April 15, 2009


So I found out this past february that i have a problem in my right hip. i've had pain in my hips for several years now, associated with activities like running, yoga, horse back riding, climbing, skiing- pretty much everything i do. i finally went to a sports medicine doc after one particularly painful run in january and a few visits and an MRI later we discover that i have torn the cartilage in my right hip. the reason why i torn the cartilage is that my right hips is 3 degrees off in alignment. that mal-alignment is causing the front of my femur to hit against the rim of my acetabulum (hip socket) and causes pain and damage to the soft tissue (cartilage). the fancy name for this is Femoral-Acetabular Impingment (FAI). FAI only occurs in active individuals, and i was told i wouldn't even know i had this problem if i wasn't as active as i am. where it comes from is still under research- possibly it is congenital, possibly it develops in young children who spend any amount of time with deep flexion and internal rotation of their hips (think hocky goalie stance or, in my case, long hours horse back riding). all of this results in needing a fix to that damaged cartilage. i would have said no thanks i'll be just fine except that with the initial damage done and continuing to worsen basically every day and every activity, i will eventually progress through all of the soft tissue protecting my hip socket and start to wear bone on bone (osteoarthritis). at this point the pain is usually so bad the only option is a total hip replacement. I thought that was fine too b/c many older people have these. but i was told that my progression would actaully happen so quickly i would have the total hip replacement by the time i am 40. now that's a different story. i still want to be climbing and skiing and hiking and hopefully running when i am 40- not recovering with artificial hips! so surgery has become my reality. on june 8 i will have an open dislocation and debridement of my right hip. basically they cut a 6-8 inch incision on my hip, physically dislocate the hip joint, suture/sew the torn cartilage back in place, shave down the rim of my acetabulum, and shave down part of the femur. a pretty gnarly surgery. i'll be staying in the hopsital 1-3 days to recover. crutches for 6 weeks. cane until i stop limping and full recovery expected in 3-6 months. PER HIP. i have the exact same symptoms/pain/problems with the left hip as well but we have not imaged that side yet so we can't say what's going on. but 99% sure that i have the same problem and possibly worse on the left side. sooo, i'm looking at taking a full 12 months off from my almost daily life activites. sad. i've spent a lot of time processing this and preparing my mind for the change in lifestyle. i've never been so active before in my life as when we moved to utah. i love, absolutely love, climbing and the acitivity and exercise it brings me. but i am looking at this surgery as taking 1 year off now to save 40 years later on. this surgery will hopefully stave off having a total hip replacement, perhaps permanently. i may be able to ride a bike and maybe do some easier climbing and light hiking somewhere in that 3-6 month range. i'm hoping to have the second hip operated on in january. i've tried a few things to possibly avoid the surgery- namely some body work called Structural Integration or "rolfing". it is similar to deep tissue massage except that it focuses soley on the fascia(the connective tissue encasing every muscle) in hopes that i might be able to correct the 3 degrees and losen the hip socket to stop grinding away my cartilage. i'm half way through this rolfing process and i've still committed to having the surgery done. unfortuantely cartilage will never heal itself and that torn cartilage needs to be tied down so it will stop causing damage within the hip socket. so i recommend structural integration to anyone and everyone- we could all use some re-aligning and releasing within our bodies and i am seeing many positive changes from the rolfing. but i don't believe it can change the damaging process going on in my hips.

my mom is coming out for the month of june to help out as i am taking a full 5 weeks off of work to recover. it'd be hard to adequately work in the ER on crutches so i'm hoping to be off of them in the 5 weeks and return to our 23 hour short stay unit with a cane and then back to the full ER as soon as i can limp without assistance. the summer has drastically changed in light of my recovery. Eric and i changed our vacation plans and went to Red Rocks last week as a grand finale. i've got one more climbing trip planned to a nearby area in southern idaho and then i won't be climbing for a few months. lots of things will change, but hopefully it will be for the better. hopefully my hips won't hurt anymore. hopefully i'll be able to high step while rock climbing. hopefully i will run again (although the surgeon wasn't very positive about that. i guess running is just a pretty rough activity on our bodies). hopefully my hips won't hurt while ski touring. i'm hoping a lot of good will come of this- both short term and long term.

this is a fairly new diagnosis in the medical world. as in within the last 10 years. there aren't a lot of doctors familiar with this pathology or where it comes from. the surgery itself is still being pioneered. in fact, most insurances won't pay for the surgery at all. so i guess i am being a bit of a guinea pig with this, however, my particular surgeon has been studying on this very thing (FAI) for the full 10 years and i believe he can do a perfect job. i'm thankful i even have the option for the surgery.

so i will let all know how the surgery goes, recovery, physical therapy and the like. and if you have any hip pain at all you should get it checked out!

Spring Holiday

Eric and I spent a week climbing in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. Nelson joined us for a day of multipitch climbing. The weather looked so great on the forecast- temps in the 60s or low 70s but i missed the wind forecast. it was WINDY! and the wind dropped the temps about 15 degrees. i was cold and annoyed at the wind 90% of the time. but i still had a good trip climbing and hanging out with eric. one night the wind was probably gusting around 50 mph b/c it was slamming the side of the tent into our faces and we had a bent tent pole the next morning. we're lucky we didnt' blow away. but i guess the proximity to the desert with the cool nights and warm days creates a perfect environment for wind. it's a beautiful place with thousands of climbs. we'll be back!

weather moving in

summit pic

climbing to the anchor

where should we climb next? AND avoiding the wind inside the tent!

My first Dim Sum experience. I'd like to rate this as 5.12 Dim Sum (on a climbing scale) Dim Sum is where they bring the chinese food by your table on little carts and you pic what you want. mostly it is composed of dumplings and the like, but the waiters were yelling about what they had and what you should choose in complete chinese and i had absolutely no clue what i was eating. i ate about 10% of it- i had a strong aversion to the texture of most. eric ate more.

nice weather setting in. of course it was probably extremely windy at the taking of this picture, but you can't see that.

first pitch of Dark Shadows

Last pitch of Birdland

Nelson, Eric and I on summit of Cat and the Hat

Eric and I on summit of Cat and the Hat

Nelson and I on summit of Cat and the Hat

Belaying on Cat and the Hat

Monday, April 13, 2009

blooms and spring!!

We left on a spring holiday for a week and came back to a bursting of color around our house. it was a lovely thing to return to. These are the pictures of the weeping cherry tree in our front yard. it only has these white blooms on it for about 2 weeks in the early spring, and the rest of the summer has only green leaves. the daffodils are going crazy, the tulips are just barely opening, and the hyacinths are still coloring the lawn too. i planted my peas, onions, and lettuce in the vegetable garden and started organizing my drip system for watering. it's so much fun to see what has popped open every other day.

Eric and I spent a week climbing outside of Las Vegas, Nevada at a place called Red Rock Canyon. my brother Nelson joined us for 1 day of climbing, other than that it was just the 2 of us. it was a great week and pictures will follow later. the weather was a tad cold and a lot more windy than i wanted, but at least there was sunshine to go around.

the weeping cherry

More photos here