Hip Replacement and Recovery

Theresa Conroy, Fri, 28 Dec, 2018

I was stunned to hear my surgeon—a true medical magician who replaced my entire right hip through a three-inch incision—proclaim that I was fine, just great, and didn’t need to see him again for an entire year.
Because, see, I wasn’t fine. Not fine at all.
My incision was healing beautifully. The muscle and nerve pain had subsided significantly. I had regained a good deal of strength and stability. I was back to sleeping in my own bed, was power walking two miles a day, and had even had returned to teaching Yoga full time.
But I was so not ready to be released from care.
The surgeon disagreed. He saw significant physical improvement. He watched me walk. He asked me to touch my toes. He examined my scar.

THE FOREIGN BODY WITHIN ME

In my view I was a bit of a wreck. Experiencing my recovery from the perspective of a Yogi, I classified the physical healing as just a small part of the whole—as, in fact, just one-fifth of my whole being.
What lagged dangerously behind were the other Koshas, or aspects of myself, that guided my energy, emotions, sense of self, sense of safety, and the intellectual acceptance of the hunk of titanium and ceramic that had been hammered into my body.
I was exhausted and anxious. I moved easily without a cane, but still felt a lack of grace, fluidity, freedom and connection to my body. I was constantly afraid of falling.
I also hadn’t made peace with my new joint, and had yet to decipher a method of communicating with it. As a mind-body practitioner, I had been talking—intimately and at length—with my body for many years. Now I struggled to find a common language to share with the foreign body inside me. It didn’t move the way my biological hip had. I didn’t know it’s signals and sensations.
Western medicine had failed to manage these other aspects of myself. It hadn’t even bothered to ask about the other parts because that’s not the usual way Western medicine works. Consequently, I had to find my own way back to a full, complete sense of well-being. I needed to locate practices that offered that kind of healing.

YOGA THERAPY AND BEYOND

First thing I did was dive head-first back into my Yoga Nidra practice. It had supported me through my pre-surgery anxiety and the early days of recovery. I tentatively moved back into a gentle asana that respected the limitations of my new joint. I sought a new dialogue with my body through my Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training of settling into a postures and asking, “What’s happening now?” I visited my massage therapist. I sought out the subtle wonders of Somatic Therapy, Reflexology, Acupuncture and Cranial-Sacral Therapy.
The soothing meditation of KIrtan Kriya came back into the fold. I leaned into visualization practices. I’d close my eyes and actually see my bone knit itself into the metal stem and ceramic head of my femur. I even created affirmations for my new joint: “You are welcomed to join this body. I embrace you. You are part of me now.”
Relying on ritual, I released and thanked my old, arthritic hip.
Even as finely tuned as I am to all things Yogic, I felt ridiculous talking to my new hip joint. But it worked. It all worked.
As my fog and exhaustion began to lift about four months after surgery, I realized that I felt whole again. The non-medical practices I used brought me to a place of complete well-being. I felt it in my physical self, and also in my energy body, mind, emotions, intellect and higher self.
Unlike the Western medical doctrine, I know that there is no, “See you in a year” contingency with this work. This deeper healing can only be maintained through consistent practice. Appointments with myself are daily.


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