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    Hip Pain: From Denial to Diagnosis

    By Cinder Ernst–

    I am sharing part of the journey that led to my hip replacement. I’ve been dealing with pretty yucky left hip pain and dysfunction for a number of years. Denial (of a more advanced condition) and lots of rehab helped me to stay strong, mobile and thinking, “I’ve got this.” Denial served me well, until it didn’t.

    The hip drama started with my right hip in the early 1990s, but the left hip has been the squeaky wheel in recent history. In July 2016 I happily moved from San Francisco to Napa. The move happened quite quickly. The physical stress of all that lifting and packing collapsed the delicate balance of denial and rehab that I had going on my left hip.

    Once the move was complete, I could barely move. I saw an orthopedist and got a diagnosis. My left hip was bone on bone. I wasn’t surprised. I knew the bone on bone situation was inevitable. I was always looking for another way to carry on, other than getting on the hip replacement trail. The time had come to go from denial to diagnosis.

    I say, “Don’t let a diagnosis ruin your day; it’s only someone else’s opinion.” Here’s why: Often when you diagnose something, denial collapses and you can get caught up in a negative momentum about your condition. Sometimes the diagnosis can be a relief, like justification for your suffering. I felt that way for a minute, saying to myself, “No wonder I couldn’t walk.”

    I knew, however, that my best outcome would be focusing my thoughts on what I wanted (a good feeling body), and not on what I was in the middle of (the absence of a good feeling body).

    I believe it is important to separate yourself from medical information/diagnoses. Here’s what I mean. I listen to my doctor. I follow directions. I learn what I can medically. Then I compartmentalize that medical aspect. I think of it as a column. The thought column lives in a narrow part of my thinking. For some reason, it’s always on the right side of my peripheral vision.

    After the diagnoses I follow directions, but I focus my thoughts in a different way. I separate the medical actions from my thoughts and feelings. How I think and how I speak about the diagnoses are all under my control. I learned this when I had cancer in 2015. It was a brutal diagnosis, and I was in surgery within a week. I only told two people to start.

    Once I realized that I was going to need more help, I told a few more people. I was very clear that I wanted to approach this diagnosis on my own terms. People are funny about cancer and I did not want anyone’s sympathy or worry on me. The rendezvous with cancer helped me to become better at controlling my focus and creating my experience.

    Cancer made it easier for me to manage the run up to my hip replacement. The point of compartmentalizing the medical aspect (including pain and discomfort, when you can) is that I can create my experience on purpose. I start each day with meditation, which gives me a stable platform to approach my day. I choose my thoughts purposefully, preferring to be hopeful and optimistic despite pain and discomfort. From there I can dart in to the medical column and dart out to stability as I need to.

    Having a predominantly neutral, satisfying or positive focus will help you to create an easier and more fruitful outcome from your diagnoses. As I entered pre-op for my hip replacement, I was relaxed and confident. As I write this, I am appreciating and bonding with my shiny new hip joint.

    Cinder Ernst, Medical Exercise Specialist and Life Coach Extraordinaire, helps reluctant exercisers get moving with safe, effective and fun programs. Her book, “Easy Fitness for the Reluctant Exerciser” ( ), is available in paperback and E-book. She specializes in fitness and rehab for plus-size clients, but her stress-free approach is suitable for all. Find out more at