The moment that I consider the start of feeling the deterioration of my right hip was in a workshop taught by Richard Freeman, in August 2008. One of his videos had ushered me into a regular Ashtanga Yoga practice in the late nineties. I was mesmerized by his calm, liquid way of speaking and the rather unorthodox language he used. In person, he is one of those teachers you learn from just by being in his presence, while 'riding the wings of the breath.'
The workshop was in a huge room in Montreal, and I had the dubious honour of being one of eight participants on stage with this great man. I could smell his sweat, I was so close.
We did the classic Ashtanga 'lift up', sitting crosslegged, pushing our hands down into the floor to pick up our hips. I lifted 'with enthusiasm' and felt a tear in my inner thigh. I left with a deeper understanding of Prana and Apana, (upward and downward moving energy), and the memory of Richard Freeman saying with gently raised eyebrows, 'Poo-ing is Apanic.' Along with what I thought was a torn adductor, that in retrospect I believe was actually an early sign of arthritis.
I sat on icepacks and did yoga to rehab the torn inner thigh muscle, but a year later it hadn't healed. My right foot wanted to turn out all the time. I tried to practice with a parallel right foot, but my hip hurt afterwards. So I started doing asana with it turned out a little. I also noticed in dancing that my hip flexors were tight, and for less range of motion in taking the leg to the back. There was a new stuck quality that I've become familiar with, different than muscles willing to eventually stretch.
In 2010 I moved back to BC, found a doctor, and went for X-Rays. I don't remember exactly what I thought I'd hear, but 'Hip Replacement' was not on the list. The doc talked me into taking painkillers. I had refused them so far, thinking it was better to accept what my body was giving me. Or maybe I was being tough. My doctor told me that by walking with a limp, I was creating referred pain in other parts of my body. She was right. At that point I had a lot of pain in my calf, along with the dull ache in my hip.
The first few days of 'Painkiller Yoga' were awesome. I'd been living with worsening pain for years, and it was a gift to move more freely. For the next year and a half, I took Tylenol Arthritis off and on. I popped them before dance or karate class. Before walking the dogs. It worked for awhile, but eventually the pain and diminishing range of motion nudged me to drop teaching weekly yoga classes, then going to dance class.
The last couple of months I've moved up to taking 3 at at time, and they were not longer working their magic. So I went back to the doctor and was prescribed Celebrex (http://www.celebrex.com/default.aspx). Hallelujah! My hips feel loose, almost fluid. I have more range of motion, and walk more easily. Karate the first day on Celebrex felt great.
But my joy was shortlived. A week later, I'm taking Tylenol again, with not much result. Maybe it was the crazy circling kicks we did in Karate last night.
I continue to practice searching for that elusive ease. This morning on the mat, I focused on Rooting and Elongation, and did Handstand, Pincha Mayurasana and Backbends with relative lightness. I still love being upside down!
And I had a lovely walk with the dogs in the woods, serenaded by spring birdsong. I was a bit more able to step over branches and bend down to pick up sticks to throw. The wild currants are blooming an improbable shade of pink, and I'm surrounded by love. Life is good.
“The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.”
-- Margaret Atwood
Not sure if I managed that, but I did succeed in sharing a webpage with Richard Freeman. Namaste.