The day that changed everything

Twenty three years ago, give or take a few months, I stood on a stage with a group of other dancers as we rehearsed the same dance routine for the umpteenth time. We would be dressed as scarecrows on the night of the show and I can still remember the music blaring in the empty theatre.

What happened that afternoon would affect the rest of my life. I don’t know why it happened, but as I slowly lowered my right leg from a battement developpe (I had to look it up, in case you thought I remembered the terminology), my hip didn’t follow the rest of my leg. Basically, it felt like my hip had remained pointing upwards, unlike the rest of my leg. I don’t remember whether I continued to dance that day or how I got home, but I clearly remember not being able to walk for a few days. Unfortunately, my parents were away at the time and for reasons I won’t go into here, I didn’t see a doctor. The pain changed over time, limiting my range of movement and causing me to visit countless doctors and clinics.

The doctors I saw, most of them bone specialists, all had a different theory. Some said it was bursitis, others were sure I had just strained some ligaments and others thought I was just imagining things. All of them ordered X-rays to be taken and suggested physiotherapy (which I duly did for a number of months at a time) and told me it would get better. Except it never did, so I learned to live with it. My whole body adjusted the way I walked, ran, carried loads, slept and stood. The pain became a part of me and I stopped trying to find a solution. Then Maia came along and with her came months of carrying a growing baby, first inside me and then in my arms. When she was a few months old, the pain in my hip had intensified enough for me to seek medical help again. This time, an MRI was done but the answer was the same I had heard countless times: nothing is wrong with your hip. After that, I decided paracetamol would be my best friend and that was that.

Except it wasn’t. This summer, the pain became worse than ever. If I walked, I was in pain. If I sat too long, I was in pain. If I swam, I could barely walk the following couple of days. The last straw came a few weeks ago during a yoga class. The instructor noticed my wincing and asked me if I was ok. Since I happened to be the only student in her class that morning, I told her about the whole hip saga. She then tailored the whole class around my aching hip (she’s the best) and gave me the number of an osteopath.

Yesterday I had my second appointment with him and, for the first time in my life, I feel like there could be hope. He’s already gone beyond what any other doctor has done. Not only did he provide instant relief by ‘clicking’ several vertebrae and every bone in my feet, but he’s been working on increasing circulation in my hip through manipulation and acupuncture and I already feel better. I know that there’s a long way to go before the problem is actually diagnosed and surgery might be in my future, but I know there’s no way I can procrastinate any longer. I don’t want to end up with a walking stick before I’m forty. I cannot even imagine not having a painful hip, but apparently this guy is hopeful and wants me to be hopeful too.

What I need now is to believe that I can do this. And if a solution is ever found and my hip is healed, you’d better believe I’ll start dancing again. I might even join Maia’s jazz lessons…

For those of you who are curious to know what a battement developpe’ is, this is what it looks like:

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3 thoughts on “The day that changed everything

  1. Maureen, I’m so sorry that your hip is causing such physical and emotional distress.. I myself had a similar though much milder problem, which was eventually linked to spinal scoliosis – I had leg length discrepancy with the compensatory ‘shorter leg’ causing abnormal weight-bearing pressures -it was the contralateral hip that actually had problems. All symptoms resolved once I started using a small heel-raise in the shorter leg. A physiotherapist had clinched the diagnosis. I am a doctor myself, and especially because of that, I know through personal experience that doctors rarely have all the answers. Telling you that ‘nothing is wrong with your hip’ should be better and more respectfully
    phrased as ‘we do not know what is wrong with your hip, but there must
    be something wrong if you are in such pain.’ Learning to live with the pain was a good coping mechanism that helped you get along with your life, but having faith in solving your problem (despite probable medical advice that nothing’s wrong – there are limits to what xrays and MRIs can tell you..) is what will push you forward. Most probably it is a mechanical problem which is often harder to diagnose, simply because noone is with you to assess your movements and symptoms 24/7. May your quest towards a truthful diagnosis and successful management finally bear fruit. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Xx
    On a brighter note, congratulations on the positive outcome of your book drive!! You have raised awareness re reading and access to books :) And on our islands, that’s a massive achievement. I hope that your future projects as regards books will be enjoyable and just as successful. Also, I really enjoyed your ‘choral singing’ post.. and no, it was not boring!! It is great that you managed to go back to it after a few years. Motherhood does tend to isolate you from your previous pasttimes… I am a pianist and my husband a violinist, and it’s been more than 2 years since we played something together!! I played some Bach after reading your post though :). It felt like coming back home after a long journey.. May you and Maia, hopefully Robin too, continue singing together for many years to come!!

    • Sonia, thank you so much for your comment. I had no idea you were a doctor! :-) Whatever is wrong with my hip is obviously not visible on X-ray or MRI, so I don’t blame the doctors. What I was disappointed with was those doctors (one of them in particular) who dismissed my complaints as the whining of a teenager. The pain was and still is very real and it has affected my quality of life over the years. It has now reached a point where a solution just needs to be found. It might involve going abroad for tests/treatment and it will be a long journey for sure, but I’m ready for it. About the piano, I totally understand your feeling of coming home. We’re so lucky to have music in our lives!

      • Of course your pain is real! It must have been devastating to have specialists ‘hint’ that you were just whining or imaging things :( It’s good though that you are also exploring possibilities re treatment abroad… it’s a brave yet probably necessary next step – you have a right to wish for a pain-free life and even if this involves seeking solutions elsewhere, go for it. You will regret not exploring all avenues otherwise. May you be blessed with the courage to face any hardships on your personal road to recovery. Xx

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