The Hipstress

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October 8, 2009 by David Gillaspie




Guests at DG’s B&B arrive in all shapes and sizes.  The regulars share more of their lives because of the familiar surroundings.  One woman has been coming for years.  At first she had a horrible limp and struggled to walk; a year later she glided up the stairway like a ballerina. 

What happened?

“A while back I got rear ended at a stop light.  I had my foot on the brake with a car in front of me.  Some jackass zoomed off the freeway exit and bashed into my trunk, which sent me bashing into the car in front.

I got snapped pretty good, but the real problem was my foot on the brake.  After the first hit I stiffened up; hitting the car in front with my hips uneven yanked them out of balance.  One foot on the brake and one on the floorboard made one leg shorter than the other for the impact.

Nothing seemed wrong at first.  I got checked out and signed off on the insurance stuff and carried on with my life.  The muscle tightness went away, but I started feeling something else, a slow burning in my hip. 

Have you ever cooked bacon and been splattered by grease?  If you get popped and leave it on your skin because it really didn’t hurt that much, then bacon isn’t the only thing cooking.  You’ll get a blister, a second degree burn, but if you don’t cool the area the burn damage sinks into your tissue. 

My hip took enough of a jolt to throw it off.  My body adapted to this new alignment.  I started favoring one side over the other.  The knee on my other leg started hurting.  Pain started creeping up my bad hip side.  It was awful.  I took pain pills, then anti-inflammatories, then both in a stack. 

Nothing changed.

By the time I decided to do something about it, I could barely get into a car.  Ducking my head and lifting a leg to sit down was almost more than I could do.  Getting out was worse.  I ripped two handholds loose from friends’ cars doing it.  They said I ought to get looked at.

I gimped into a doctor’s office.  He took x-rays and referred me to an orthopedic surgeon for hip replacement.  I saw another doctor instead, a chiropractor.

This man looked at my x-rays, measured my legs, and laid a heat pack on my hip.  Then he started talking about yoga.

He explained how yoga unwinds the muscles that wrap around an injury to protect our body from moving.  If you don’t move, you can’t get hurt.  But I hurt moving and staying still.

He said if it takes three years for the muscle to wind around my hip, it might take three years to unwind it.  When I asked about hip replacement, he said there’s no hurry, that surgery is a quick fix.  It sounded like just the fire hose I needed sometimes. 

I liked this guy, but yoga?  I saw myself in a leotard laying on a skinny mat in a dance studio surrounded by spiritually evolved hummers panting out yoga breaths.  That vision ended when the doctor got on the floor of his office and demonstrated the positions he wanted me to do.  They were easy.  At least he made them look easy.  No leotard.  No mat.

Before we were done I got on the floor and did half an hour of yoga with him talking me through it from his chair.  I closed my eyes and did what he told me to do.  I could feel the muscles stretching, the sweat beading on my forehead.  One of the benefits of the session was my red face from breathing through the pain.  Discomfort exits through my face?

It’s been a year of yoga and stretching and core workouts and sauna and weightlifting.  I’ve got an outfit and a mat and I’ve joined the ladies in the dance studio.  They are amazing.  We push each other to improve. 

Would you call this alternative medicine?  It doesn’t come from a pharmacy.  Alternative therapy?  I can do it on my own.  It is an alternative to surgery, but that’s the last choice, not the first.

Eating less, losing weight, and moving your body is the real alternative.”  

Find a way.


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