I am the husband to a wonderful woman who was living in pain. I marvel at her persistence to find out what was wrong.
We are in this together. I married the woman 12 years ago that makes me laugh, makes her own money and loves roller coasters (the advice I give our three little boys on their future girlfriends/wives).
This is my side of the story as a spouse of a double recipient of a Periacetabular Osteotomy (PAO). I do not remember when she first started talking about the pain. I do remember when the pain really began. In December 2013 she started complaining about pain in the groin and I, like the doctors, wrote it off as a pulled muscle. The doctors doubted her, and at times I doubted her too. I kept iterating to her that it takes time to heal. By spring, the pain did not get much better. I began to wonder if there wasn’t more to her issues. Maybe time was not going to heal her. I noticed she had more doctors’ appointments. I noticed she began to see more specialists. I attended more appointments to provide support.
I distinctly remember when she finally had an answer. A brilliant orthopedic about 30 minutes from the house looked at her x-rays and watched her walk and said, “You have bi-lateral hip dysplasia.” The drive home was quiet. I was happy for her that she finally had an answer. The next few months went quickly. I know the 3.5-hour drive to Duke Medical Center very well. I joke with her that “I love spending all my vacation time in Durham, NC,” but I would not have it any other way.
I know the feeling, in my thirties, to sleep in a hospital chair while the woman you love is in so much pain. I know what it feels like having to dress a grown woman. I saw the difficulty to do the simple activities us normal folks take for granted. I lived through taking care of my significant other when she was not capable of taking care of herself. I truly felt at times I was taking care of a grown infant. I know what it feels like to be considered an afterthought.
Having dysplasia is not cheap. I have spent enough money to start my own massage business on anatomy books, foam rollers, massage balls, heating pads, ice packs, and one Bio Mat. I feel like I have put a chiropractic doctor and dry needle specialist’s children through a year of college. There are hotel rooms, gas mileage, and car maintenance. I would do it again without skipping a beat.
Through all of this I am a stronger person. I have spent an enormous amount of time trying to remain positive and encouraging. There are days I do it better than others. As a spouse, I can only take in so much.
There are days I feel the family rests on my shoulders. Some days I cannot keep up, and that is okay. There is always tomorrow. I am either the little train that could: “I think I can, I think I can.” Or, I am Dory: “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”
What have I learned through all this?
You cannot do this by yourself. You need a list of professionals to help you and your significant other through this. Be conservative with your healing, and error on the side of caution.
You need to have an open dialog. You need to have a code word that can be used when you or your significant other can use to be heard. You need to be open with any children. They are a lot smarter than we take them for.
Sometimes the only people you can count on are those in your household. Most people do not understand the complexity of the procedure or the healing process. Most people will isolate you. You will find out who your true friends are.
You must truly evaluate what is important to you. Work-Life balance is tricky. Even more tricky if you need the work to pay for the procedure.
You must understand insurance and not just medical insurance but disability insurance as well.
All said in done, I want us to have a life together with her free of pain. I want us to cross off some of the items on our bucket list but if we can’t that is OK because I married the woman that makes me laugh.
About Gregory Lammers
Gregory Lammers, husband to Colleen Lammers and father to three little boy clowns….
Read his wife’s (Colleen Lammers) PAO story at this link here.