Things Fall Apart

Sunday I had an MRI on my hips. The technician couldn’t say anything, of course, but I had a feeling she knew something about what she was seeing from her comment as I left: “Did you have some kind of…injury?”

Yesterday I read the radiologist’s report. On the right side, the cartilage is almost completely worn away on both the ball and the socket. Cysts pocket the space between the remaining cartilage and the bone. The cartilage rim around the socket, called the labrum, isn’t torn; instead it shows “degenerative maceration [softening] and fraying throughout.”

Lefty is following suit, with thinning cartilage and cysts behind it.


I was in denial despite the x-rays I’d already seen that told the same story. I guess I was still was holding out hope that there was some mistake, something that would allow me to go back to my previous activities, my previous self. Maybe arthritis itself isn’t the problem; maybe weight loss and a little scope are all I need. This was a definitive “no.”

Yesterday I started bargaining with the past, in the form of regret. If only I’d stayed at an ideal weight. If only I’d noticed there was something wrong sooner. If only I hadn’t insisted on running so much. If only I’d known that my super flexibility meant that I was genetically susceptible to early onset arthritis.

I went to my partner, hoping for solace, and found little. He listened, but he’s drowning in his own swirling vortex of despair around the cataclysmic state of everything: our dying planet, our hopeless youth, our concentration camps, our decadent rich and our lawless “far right.” (Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, /The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere /The ceremony of innocence is drowned)

My self-pity is its own useless bog, though, so I’m going to try to re-frame it as grief and acknowledge what is being lost here, so I can start to move on to something hopeful.

Let’s get real: I don’t have cancer and I’m not dying yet. I’m just not going to run again, and for the time being, I shouldn’t really even be walking for my exercise. I’m going to miss it so very much. I already do.

I’m going to miss that wonderful heart-pounding feeling of making it up a hill. The almost-falling feeling of running back down. The chatter of friends at the start of a run that falls away as legs loosen, breaths become deeper, and minds focus. The silent night-time run through soft snow in the winter when nobody else is out, or the first run in the fall when the air is finally, finally cool. Absurdly early runs and even more absurd pit-stops in the grass. I miss being the woman who was able to do that, or even to walk a full stride.

I love to ride a bike and in time maybe I can learn to like swimming. I’ll learn what strength training exercises I can do. All of that will take time, time away from my partner and my family, and that worries me.

I live with constant stress about whether I’m making the right priorities, whether everyone else is getting enough of me, whether I’m nurturing my relationships correctly. Always looming over me is the threat of the next text that says, “I feel unimportant to you. This isn’t working for me.” I’m trying so hard and getting it wrong so often.

I have a rich life full of love and I’ve been very lucky, but I’m also falling apart. I’m a little lost right now and that’s just how it is. Things will come together in a new way, I just don’t know what that way is yet. Surely some revelation is at hand.

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