“I am stronger than this challenge, and this challenge is making me stronger."
“Focus on what you can do, NOT what you can’t. Small steps turn into miles.”
These were two of Jenna’s look in the mirror quotes. She repeated them to herself and she believed them!
Jenna’s hip problems started a very long time – 2007 to be exact. She had been a personal trainer and had always dealt with her hip bothering her – from catching to popping to weakness and aching. She wrote it off though to her activity levels, intense workout schedule and a generalized ligamentous laxity problem. She ignored it like many of us until her life got slammed – literally by another car. She was in a car accident. It was at that point that her right hip caused much more pain and grief. She still ignored it even through two pregnancies. It was not until 2017, after running four half marathons, that reality slapped her in the face.
She ended up finally listening to her body, sought out a medical opinion and was told she needed hip arthroscopy to fix cam and pincer lesions as well as a labral tear. She recovered fairly easily until she moved wrong while throwing a football. While she does not know if this was the cause of more problems, it is a possibility. She ended up with another surgery -this time labral reconstruction was on the table. She struggled through the rehab. “Being in [her] hip brace, toe touch weight bearing, not being able to drive of take care of [her] kids for the 8 weeks, was mentally and physically challenging. Months of physical therapy and [she] still wasn’t feeling better.”
She was worse, but kept pushing her medical team to find the answer. She was a great advocate. She went through more testing including spinal imaging and EMG testing to rule out spine issues. She then implore her doctor to do an exploratory hip scope. She felt crazy at the time for even requesting it. The doctor got in there and there were still problems. She ended up with another labral tear, scar tissue cleaned up and a microfracture.
She continued struggling, but all the while singing her song, “This is my fight song, take back my life song, prove I’m alright song!” Sometimes she sung this song with hope and other times she sang it with flowing tears knowing she would ultimately get her life back and that she was still fighting!
She continued to look for answers. She saw a specialist and then two more. Hip replacement was on the table. She went to Mayo Clinic as well as a doctor in Denver. She was told that she had borderline hip dysplasia which was not diagnosed early on and was the cause of her failed hip scopes (all three of them). She had developed such a trust of her doctor and he had seen her emotional struggles that she agreed to have him do the hip replacement. She grieved, but she new it was the right decision for her at the time.
Like this Hopeful Hippie, she struggled with being limited. She was a “doer, and not being able to walk around, walk upstairs and put [her] kids to bed, read them books, clean or cook or drive was very challenging.” Her kids who were only two and four at the time did not understand why mommy could not take a simple walk down the street with them.
She struggled. She did not feel that she was enough for them. But you know what, Jenna, you were enough. You loved your kids and they loved you in spite of your hip flaws! You struggled. You overcame.
All the struggles – four surgeries in 13 months melted in the background as Jenna and her husband competed in their first Tough Mudder race. She was frightened, but excited. She “trucked through the mud, climbed over obstacles, scaled walls and climbed up a giant rope ladder!”
Her tears flowed down her face as she crossed the finish line. She was thankful that her body, mind and her new hip carried her through as she heard the words to her Fight Song!
She also realized that she was extremely proud of her recovery and had empathy for others and wanted those experiences to translate into a career as a PT. She now works at her surgeon and PT’s office that she spent so much time at. She is working as a PT tech, gaining experience while taking pre-requisites to apply to PT school. She is back at the place that feels like home.
Her recipe for hope throughout this long, painful journey is perseverance. She defines it as “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving that said success.” She was persistent in getting answers for her hip problems and persistent with her recoveries and getting the results that she wanted and knew were within her grasp. Although “It took a lot of time and prayer and hope, but no matter what, [she] always persisted. [She] always pushed through.” She strongly believes that “perseverance can get you to the places that you want to go.”
She is hoping to inspire others by her example of her recovery. She wants to be able to one day share her story with her patients after she has her Doctor of Physical Therapy. She wants to use her experience, her empathy and knowledge to provide hope to others. She will teach her patients about their bodies and recovery. She strongly believes that having that knowledge of how your body moves and works allows each of us to make better choices.
Above all, she wants to inspire hope for others. She wants them to be able to find their own “fight song” and to achieve success. Jenna will be their model of hope!