Here I am, resting my hip and trying to make research about my injury only to come to the conclusion there is hardly anybody else out there having it or writing about it! There are some medical articles, mostly outdated, but not too much from real people with real experiences.
For me that was a good reason to start writing this blog.
The sentence I read over and over again is “in general this kind of fracture is very uncommon in young people, except in cases of “high-enery/ high-speed trauma” as in car accidents.” Grand!
Let’s start with some background … I am 44, married to my best friend; reasonably athletic and had just recovered from two previous hip surgeries!
I was diagnosed with FAI (femoral acetabular impingement) and labral tears in both hips at 39, underwent arthroscopic hip surgery in both hips, seven months apart, and just to spice things up a bit, I added two stress fractures in my acetabulums as well, at the same time. The combination made for a very interesting recovery.
The recoveries were not just slow but tedious with many ups and downs, speed bumps and set backs but also very time consuming.
Just a short recap of what my last three years were like…
A combined 16 months of physical therapy with 8 different PT’s, 7 months of aqua training, 6.5 months on crutches, daily home exercises ever since (!), months of ART (active release therapy), Chiropracter visits; countless Xrays, CT’s, MRI’s, cortisone injections and visits at my orthopedic surgeons office etc. etc.
It kept me on my toes.
For my first recovery it took me four months to walk a mile, for the second recovery half a year. In the end it took me over three years to make a comeback and to feel like myself again.
And this was exactly when it happened.
New years eve 2017 on ski vacation. First morning – 2.5 hours in.
The recipe for a complete hip fracture is simple.
All you need is a “slip & fall” on your hip on hard packed snow. That’s it.
(Sarcastically enough my husband and I just had our skis waxed the same morning. One thing is for sure, that guy did a HECK of a waxing job!!)
Snow conditions were poor but I skied just fine. I fell when we wanted to take the skis off. (This doesn’t even make for a cool story. Would have sounded much better if I could say “I was shredding up the mountain ”…)
I hit a slippery spot and both skis were pulled away right under my feet to my left and I fell super fast and yes, SUPER hard, on my right hip & shoulder and the pain was excruciating . My whole right side, hip and thigh, was so hurting, it was incredible. It really took pain to a whole new level!
I could not move my leg, laid in the snow and just cried in sheer agony.
To speed up the story a bit, I was brought down the mountain with mountain patrol, in a toboggan (another dream of mine come true, to go super fast down hill, head FIRST, all bundled in, and every bump we went over felt like an earthquake going through my hip!)…
… and to the ER in which Xrays were taken. At this point we all thought it was just a super nasty bone bruise but the Xray came back with a complete subcapital femoral neck fracture. Wow.
Everybody was shocked.
This is not an injury common in young people at all and to manage that from just a fall takes real talent. (Puts a whole new meaning to “ going out with a bang”, doesn’t it?)
Not only was the diagnosis hard to believe but it also meant emergency surgery, aka “hip pinning”.
It is an understatement to say I was “not happy” to hear this.
To get this kind of news after working my butt off for three years, just to start at square one again, was devestating.
I am not sure what was worse, to lay in my ski clothes in the ER , “not” knowing the diagnosis or knowing it. My mind was racing 1000 m/h and my husband was by my side, worried sick.
It was an emotional whirlwind of being scared, dealing with a lot of pain and being unable to move, going through all different kind of “what if…?” scenarios, thinking back of all the hard work I put in with the previous recoveries and thinking ahead of what’s to come in the near future, to “how the hell do we get home again??” This situation I don’t wish upon anybody.
I just kept thinking “I really, really don’t want to be here.”
The ambulance came and finally I was given strong pain meds. The more time had passed the stronger the pain became and it was the sweetest feeling to get almost instant relief.
In the hospital I got immediate attention, since the ER had contacted them already about my case, I can’t remember how many people came in and wanted something of me.
The day was very unreal and traumatic and I was thankful when they finally pushed me in the OR and got started.
This was my third time going through hip surgery and my third time dealing with anesthesia and the anesthesiologist was absolutly brilliant! I told him of my previous bad experiences with nausea for many days afterwards and he gave me a nerve block in a major nerve in my leg, this way he needed to use less anesthesia.
And since I don’t do well in high altitude and it takes me days to adjust, he mixed something for headaches in as well. I could kiss him for the recipe! No nausea and no headaches.
Surgery took 2 hours and my femoral neck and head were stabilized by three big screws, which are staying in. (Walking through TSA should be interesting from now on…)
I stayed for three days in the hospital with my husband by my side and really received excellent care. I was not treated as a patient but as a person, made all the difference. They were really good about pain management too.
It was really hard mentally on me though. For my previous surgeries I was in chronic pain and it was scheduled surgery. I knew when it would happen and I could prepare for it. This time it came out of nowhere.
I was fine, fit and healthy, going skiing and living life and the next day I needed assistance with everything. I went from walking 7 miles/ 11 km a day and working out on a daily basis to barely being able to crutch 10 yards/ 10 m in 24 hours.
I feel really sorry for older people going through this. It is a very common fracture in older people and I don’t know how they can do it. Recovery is TOUGH.
Since it happened on vacation, we had to fly back home two days after I was released from the hospital.
Another one for the bucket list, flying cross country with a fresh operated hip 4 days PO but I did surprisingly well. United upgraded us to first class on one flight which helped.
That’s the beginning of my story.
I am pretty knowledgeable, for somebody who has not studied medicine, in terms of FAI, labral tear and its recovery but to deal with a hip fracture is new for me too. I could have skipped this experience but it is what it is and I will make the best of it. ⭐