I saved the $9 cup of beer. Time to see the doctor.
PT on it and an unrelated IT band issue didn't make it better. An MRI and X-ray revealed osteoarthritis that had damaged the hip cartilage (from the inner to the outer, not the usual thing), and it was only going to get worse. After several futile regimens of ever-stronger anti-inflammatories, the local orthopedist recommended I consider thinking about considering hip replacement.
I flipped out. Freaked out. Went hysterical. Five stages of acceptance? I slid through denial and anger, went straight from bargaining to miserable self-pity. The Hospital for Special Surgery surgeon (recommended by a friend) validated everything I already knew: my hip was messing up, wouldn't get better, and surgery was the only option (relief from a cortisone shot lasted about a month) . Crap. More hysteria. More freaking out.
But now I had a surgery date: March 18, 2013.