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Hope Personified - Natalie’s Story

Dancer, actress, hippie and pursuer of positivity.

As many of you know June is Healthy Hip Awareness Month and what a great way to remind us all that our hips can go from hateful and hurting to healthy and hopeful. And I will be honest, I got a little choked up as I was seeing Natalie’s incredibly painful moments as she stood up for the first time in the hospital after her PAO. I did not get teary eyed because of the obvious pain that she was in. I got teary eyed because of the sense of accomplishment that was visibly obvious as she stood up for that first time. I got teary eyed because I have felt that same sense of accomplishment. It is the achievement through adversity. It is that achievement through pain. It is that achievement fed by hope.

Natalie is a dancer and she noticed while growing up her “hips wouldn’t move like everyone else’s all the time, but to [her] that was just ‘[her] body.’” About 5 years ago, Natalie lived in Alaska where she was able to experience the great outdoors. She loved hiking and kickboxing. but she soon noticed those first pains in her right hip which signaled the beginning of her hip journey. She was able to manage the pain for a few years, but it soon crept back up on her. She “was cast as a dancer in a musical” and, at that time, she also did not know she had been cast in her most challenging role - that of being a hip patient. She struggled with decreasing strength, back spasms and reduced balance. She then began walking the walk of a hobbling hippie and those damn tears were not part of any acting gig. The unrelenting pain was the director of those tears. Every night.

Her body was talking to her and reminding her that she had other lines that she would need to memorize. The lines that belong to a hippie and pursuer of positivity.

The x-rays confirmed her pain - an avulsion fracture of her AIIS (anterior inferior iliac spine). But, that was not the only problem. After an MRI, 3D CT scan and more x rays, she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and a torn labrum. Her hip was beaten. And her body followed suit. She was shocked at the “rapid rate at which [her] body became disabled.” She went from running miles daily and squatting 185 pounds to barely able to walk. Because of her hip problems, she would have moments of complete hip failure which landed her on the ground in tears. But, in spite of the ego bruising and the hip pain, she felt grateful that she had gotten through her first 30 years of life without problems.

Her surgeon told her that her chance of success was 70% and that her recovery would be “brutal”. As she began to recover, she also struggled with comparing her recovery to others which she realized was not at all productive. And, when she began taking those first steps at 8 weeks, she knew she looked “wobbly and silly” but her tears flowed as she took one baby step into the next scene of her recovery. And, that next scene is what gives this Hopeful Hippie goosebumps! Natalie auditioned (of course, with her doctor’s blessing) to be part of a Beachbody test group. She explained, at the audition, why her body looked the way it did. She had gained 20 pounds on her 5 foot 2 inch frame and had lost lots of muscle. And, there was skepticism and lots of it. In spite of the skepticism, Natalie was cast as part of a Beachbody test group. Natalie completed the 9 week challenge with pride and hope. She was able to overcome the fear that had been holding her back and every day she saw improvements.

Fast forward to now! Natalie is hiking in the hills of Los Angeles, running and knowing that she is a “stronger version” of herself! She is back in the game of life. Her mantra through this hip experience really has been all about "hope". She was “terrified to have this surgery, but [her] quality of life was so diminished and [she] knew that even if this surgery gave [her] the ability to walk and nothing else that it would be a better life than the one [she] was living.” She always talked to herself during this recovery also. Positive self-talk. “It is difficult now, but I will do it in time."

She wants you to know that you need to find a way to encourage and appreciate yourself. Give yourself grace. Her recipe for success and hope is to encourage and appreciate yourself by giving yourself grace. “This has been a humbling experience and there have been bad days but finding hope for a better day even in dark times is reassuring.” She hopes that her fellow hopeful hippies can look at her and “say to themselves ‘oh my gosh, if she is so active and thriving after this life changing surgery, then I can be one day too!’ [Natalie] knows all bodies are different, but the mindset is everything and if you set your mind on a positive recovery and outcome it can be a world of difference."

Even if you have not auditioned for this hippie role, strive to find the hopeful attitude that Natalie has cultivated. Be that Hopeful Hippie. Even if you have to act it until you achieve it, cultivate positivity.

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