July 26, 2015
The true first step was realizing I was too broken to hobble on as is and it was time to look into a more extensive fix. Surfing the internet, seeing repeated references to this site, I ended up here, reading the information and the forum posts.
I reached out to some of the surgeons listed and found out which ones were still operating on women. My timing to consider hip resurfacing was terrible—-right when the small BHRs were taken off the market. I sent X-rays to Dr Gross and while we have not yet spoken, I received a message that I was a candidate for resurfacing on both sides. (Our respective vacations have delayed our ability to talk to each other. Life goes on even when you need new hips!)
My husband has wrapped his mind around the need for me to have something done as well. I have been sucking it up for several years and just finally reached the point where I can’t. He sees it is time for more than PT and shots. Man of action that he is, when I started telling him what we would need to do to prepare the house, he took me to LazyBoy and bought a recliner. A love seat! I suspect he had been wanting his own recliner for a while. A custom model, it will come in two months. So surgery will have to wait on the recliner, eh?
I am a 53 year old woman, mother of two college aged kids, so a new empty nester, which also prompted the timing of my hip resurfacing. I have spent years being active and super active. I was a cheerleader and dancer in high school. A runner and aerobics fan in college and my early working years. Not long after my kids were born I became a marathon runner, something that complimented motherhood well, and ran forty races in ten years without a single injury.
What did me in was swimming, the safe sport. I started swimming about eight years ago. We have a great masters program here and I wanted to be a part of it. I had no swimming experience. In the course of a long fly set, I pulled my hip flexor and that led to a catastrophic wave of problems. I kept running when I should have taken time off.
In the five years since that happened, I have seen PTs and chiropractors, trained with a Green Beret trainer/medic, received PRP/stem cell shots. I was holding it all together until November, when I just couldn’t anymore. Heck, I was still running a little last summer and did a sprint tri in late May. Now I have more bad days than good ones and am ready to move on.
November 5, 2015
We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn because that is where H has points. It is about a quarter of a mile from the hospital on the opposite side of the street. Not far, but one those Marriotts is literally across the parking lot from the hospital. Even I could have walked that far. We are in a handicapped room. My husband thinks a very fat person slept in the bed and created a large trough in the center.
We had a hip class with Bruce in the morning. We learned of the three precautions for after surgery: 90 degree rule, no crossing legs or ankles, and no toeing in. We also got to see the sort of room we would be in. There is a couch that converts to a bed.Everyone we met was informed and welcoming and wanted us to be satisfied.
PreOp was in the Irmo office. The waiting room was pretty crowded but I didn’t wait long to be seen. I had more X-rays done, this time with a measuring device in the picture to figure out what size implant I would need. I met the people I had been talking to over the phone and exchanging emails with. Lee asked some questions and did the “can you do this?” tests. I am not the star I was on those tests even six weeks ago; my range of motion had shrunk. Dr Gross came in, and as mentioned in the earlier, shorter post, went over my X-rays and let me handle the implants (not mine). Again I have to say that meeting these folks made me even more confident of my decision to have HR in SC with Dr Gross. They know their stuff.
A few notable points: H asked if I would really be able to go home on Sunday. Lee and Dr Gross said yes. (of course, this assumes I can pass three tests: pee, walk up a few stairs, not be throwing up, and that I feel capable of traveling.) He asked about durability of the HR, would it last me the rest of my life. Dr Gross was careful in his answer saying that there isn’t enough data to know for sure, but he was optimistic. Finally, my H asked about running on the HR. (You can see he doesn’t read the material beforehand.) Dr Gross gave a careful and honest answer and said yes but that some people do not return to running. The new hip will be a pretty darn good hip, but it is not the original. I asked about swimming, and if I would need a dysplasia cup.
Got crutches, prescriptions to fill, ice machine. Sent H to fill prescriptions and he had a hang up with the narcotics. I still haven’t figured out if the issue was H not wanting to pay out of pocket, wanting insurance to pay, or if H looked like a seedy drug seeker. So we are waiting on the pain pills to take home. I sent him back and told him to just pay.
Oh! Where we ate: Blue Marlin the first night. I had shrimp and grits and calamari. Colas the second night. Mussels, a wonderful beet salad, Boulliabaise (sp), flour less chocolate cake. A glass of wine.
We arrived at 730am. Filled out a few simple forms. I was taken up maybe at 830. The nurse who prepped me was great.I was weighed, measured (my neck—have to ask why), took about six pills, got an IV started, got swiped with the red disinfectant, gowned up. Met the anesthesiologist and had a chance to ask questions. Lee came by to check on things and to write on left flank. I got versed before the blood for PRP type use was drawn and it made me very sleepy.
I remember being in the operating room, moving to the operating table, being told to sit up for the spinal…..then nothing. This is what the anesthesiologist had said would happen. I woke up in recovery. Alive! No pain! I was there drifting in and out of consciousness for a while. It was a sleepy kind of rest, like when you know you can stay in bed a little longer. The ice machine was on me. My legs and lower body were completely numb. I tried to move my toes, contract my quads, anything. Nada. The left, operative leg came back first oddly enough. First quads, then toes, then buttocks.Right leg woke up more slowly. I was dying to touch my toes, but couldn’t with that 90 degree rule. I did keep trying to contract muscles and to wiggle toes, though, until all my parts woke up.
I was patient number three for the day. I hear I went in about an hour late, so wasn’t in my room until 3:00ish. I didn’t see a clock before then. Nurses were all great. They love their jobs and bend over backwards to do things right and to answer questions.
H brought me some Starbucks coffee and an orange. (working on that constipation already!)
I couldn’t get up the first day because it took so long for my legs to wake up. I was still pretty numb on the nonop side at six.
Didn’t sleep too well the first night with all the traffic in and out. H didn’t stay and probably would have hated it. My resting heart rate is pretty low even now that I am not running like I used to. The under fifty bpm alarm kept going off at the nurse’s station. After we talked about it, they weren’t so concerned. However, when I went to sleep it dropped into the thirties a few times, and the night nurse came in to check that I was alive. Didn’t take the extra pain pill at night because I didn’t need it. I didn’t like being stuck in the same position all night and looked forward to morning and getting up.
I did take a pain pill before PT. Not because I was in pain, but I was afraid I might be and didn’t want the pain to get ahead of me. Showered, took a walk down the hall, peed on my own, brushed teeth and hair, dressed, not necessarily in that order. Looking forward to afternoon PT.
Dr Gross came by to check on me and brought my post surgical X-ray. I did end up with the dysplasia cup. No surprises, everything as predicted. Friday will be easy hip.
November 7, 2015
Two bionic hips and feeling great.
Spent yesterday sitting up, taking little walks on crutches, hip class, frequent tinkles. My concentration was not good, so more texts and internet than real reading and writing. I made a lot of progress figuring out how to move.
The night was more restful. In part because I wasn’t on the hr monitor and so when my hr dipped no alarms went off. However, I had a big waking up scare when I went to tinkle, brush hair and teeth and wash my right flank: I fainted in the bathroom. One minute feeling fine, then some nausea, me thinking I should have eaten more, then I am sitting on the floor and thinking wtf.
I was fine, completely fine. I scared the nurses more than I scared myself. I knew I wasn’t hurting and hadn’t hit my head. They didn’t. A quick X-ray showed nothing was broken or knocked askew. Surgery two went on as scheduled. Today more calories, more salt, and someone watching me pee. (I have children; pee privacy is not necessary.)
Future hippies, know that nausea can be a sign of impending lack of consciousness. And if you are coming to SC, know that you will quickly be x-rayed and Dr Gross will be there to read the results.
Second surgery was uneventful. This hip had no cartilage, but also no cysts and was less dysplastic. My legs came back to life faster and so I DID get to walk today. With a chair following behind me after that morning’s excitement!Right hip is sluggish, left hip has made great strides from the first day.
November 9, 2015
Sitting here in my fancy recliner,in my very own home, I will offer a few more details.
Dr Gross came by Saturday to check on me and brought the surgical report, which was pretty cool. H was terribly impressed; how often does that happen?!?!I was thoroughly briefed on what would happen when I was released, and everyone started working toward getting me out. I had PT and OT to show me how to manage, and got written and verbal instructions on what to take and what to do once released. One final standing X-ray.
The leaving parts were all the hardest parts. Getting in the car for example. How to duck low enough to fit in a sedan without breaking 90 degrees? Then getting out. H had set up a throne for me in the hotel and we expected I would watch football and chill for a few hours, then we would have one more nice dinner at Motor Supply and go to sleep. It was not to be. I was so exhausted, so drained from the whole experience, I couldn’t go out. I got dressed and ready, then at the last minute said I just couldn’t. So we had carry out sushi and watched football and SNL.
The trip home was tough, I won’t lie. At the Columbia airport, people are very kind and helpful. A bell hop who is used to Dr Gross’ patients came to help me in and get me through security. He was very gentle. The TSA folks listened when I said I would rather not stand up and patted me down gently. Getting off the plane we were taking to Atlanta was another bilateral Gross patient. He was a young guy and his mom stopped to talk to me, to be reassured that this wasn’t a mission of madness. First flight was fine. The Atlanta airport was a challenge. I had a wheelchair and people did what they were supposed to do, but it is a big, crowded airport. I didn’t take enough pain pills and got behind, so there was a lot of lamaze breathing on that second flight.
Tips for future hippies: use the family bathrooms. They are big enough for a wheelchair and your partner. The side arm on the aisle seats on airplanes does raise. H knew how to lift the arm so I could slide in. Load yourself up with pain killers for the trip home. Elese, one of the Providence nurses who was very motherly and protective, gave us bags for ice for the airplane.
November 10, 2015
Yesterday was an excellent day. So happy to be home. I slept well and soundly and felt rested when I awoke. The first trip to tinkle was a bit of a challenge as my blood sugar was low and my legs were more swollen from not icing overnight. I crutched my way to the breakfast table and enjoyed coffee and oatmeal and then felt much better.
We have two cats. They were discombobulated from my being away and spent much of the first night just staring at me. Finally one felt brave enough to climb up next to me and sleep.
I was lucky enough to have a steady stream of visitors both in person and via text/email/phone. Maybe too much as I went to sleep pretty late and woke up more tired. H took a much needed break from me and went out a bit, leaving me with a series of babysitters. In a few days I think I will be confident enough not to need the help. I will have figured out how to manage and will feel stronger.
Okay, the nitty gritty details of recovery: left leg, the first and worst leg, feels great. It is the better leg now, the lead leg. Right leg is behind. A little achier, and I think my right knee collapses in too much because of a disparity in strength between adductors and abductors. Some of that may correct itself as I become less swollen. I am just being aware of it and trying not to encourage it.
November 11, 2015
Major breakthrough today: restoration of peristalsis! Aka I pooped.
Whew. That was the big worry yesterday. A friend brought me some Miralax (that is true friendship!) but it was working too slowly, so I took some MoM. I knew I needed to eat more, needed to take in more calories, to feel better, but my gut was full and eating made me nauseated. I would take half an hour to slowly consume a bowl of oatmeal. I drank lots of water, having to get up and pee in the middle of the night a few times (assisted by H; I was so sleepy I was afraid of falling). I didn’t have any appetite.
Everything fell into place this morning after the first cup of coffee. Great success. Soft stool, no straining, but not too soft. I had a week of no action. A few promising rumbles, but nothing.
As an aside for future hippies, my next line of defense was magnesium citrate. I had some at the ready, but didn’t take it. I was worried it would work too well, too abruptly. If you ever have time, there are some hilarious reviews of it on the internet.
I stopped the daytime Nuycenta today. I think I will feel okay with just Tylenol, Mobic, and ice. We will see how it goes. I will keep the nighttime narcotic at least one more day.
Other goals for the day: walk some circles in the house (again). I walked fifteen minutes yesterday, very slowly. I am getting up to eat at the table for meals.
I feel worse in the morning fwiw. That first trip to the bathroom/kitchen table is tough.
November 14, 2015
One week out. What a difference.
I woke up feeling pretty good for a change. Slept better since I didn’t nap. I had a late snack right before I went to sleep and I think that helped even out my blood sugar; it wasn’t so low when I woke up.
Yesterday was a good day. I did my exercises, crutched around, and spent even more time sitting up at the kitchen table and receiving guests. (haha! I had more company than I expected yesterday.)I am doing more small things myself, like getting up to let cats in and out, get a drink, get a snack, small stuff, but stuff I didn’t do the first few days at home. I think today will be pretty quiet since it is the weekend. I hope to watch a lot of football in the recliner.
A few recovery thoughts:
I am going to wear simple, over the head dresses. I can manage that by myself, and it is warm enough here to dress that way. I can put a sweatshirt on top if I get cool and wear slip on shoes—we don’t need socks here.
I am eating to heal. That means protein at every meal and lots of fruits and vegetables. With H here and lots of casseroles in the fridge, I can manage to eat pretty well. He works from home and has good control of his schedule which helps. He does leave me for big blocks of time, a few overnights coming up and daily for a few hours, though, which means I have to figure out how to manage on my own. My appetite is still pretty flat, but I am trying to eat more and more often to feel better. More even blood sugar throughout the day seems to help.
Left leg is still ahead. Less swollen, fewer niggles.
Bath time is pretty hilarious. We are lucky to have a very large walk in shower. We put stacked lawn chairs in it for me to sit on. (We fought about that. I wanted to go buy a super stable potty chair and use it as a shower chair. H wanted to MacGiver it.) H dons his “wife washing outfit”, basically some ratty running shorts, and acts as my spotter for the operation. He is super paranoid about my falling, and I wear one of his belts as a safety harness, an idea he got from watching the physical therapists. Not very romantic, but pretty funny. (He will be gone for a few days later on in my recovery and I think I will get my way and buy that stable potty chair…)
Thinking about how different I feel today compared to last week at this time. Off narcotics and don’t need them. GI issues resolved. Crutching confidently around. Getting up and down smoothly. Icing, but can go iceless. I need crutches to move, but can stand without them. I can take a few little steps without both of them—being wobbly in switching my weight from foot to foot is my issue. The first week was the hardest part.
For people traveling, after I had overcome the constipation and was weaning off narcotics, was the big turn around point. Should I have spent a few more days in Columbia? Maybe. It would have been easier to get home Wednesday than Sunday. However, being home also contributed to my feeling better and getting over my GI issues. I had my coffee, my food, my schedule.
November 17, 2015
Oh no! Those scabs better fall off faster than that. I guess I could heal more slowly due to being older and due to blood thinners?
So yesterday I walked without crutches. It was only a few steps and it was an accident, but I did it twice. I was up, had the crutches parked against the wall, and I just automatically took off. I got a few steps away, remembered I couldn’t walk yet, went back and got my crutches. Very encouraging.
No pain, no wobble, I felt completely normal and natural. My brain remembers how to walk!
In general yesterday was a good day for movement. I am up and out of chairs better and more often, move things around by myself (putting things away, picking things up), got up to pee in the middle of the night without calling for H to wake up and help.
My right hip feels much better. I can’t say the two are even, but I don’t notice such a pronounced difference.
I am obsessing about my incisions now that the bandages are off (okay not really obsessing, but they are getting more attention). They look fine, but there is some numbness and mostly I cannot stand for anything to rub them. I mean that in a relatively OCD way, like I may not be normal. (I do tend to worry little ouchies, like want to keep touching a mouth sore with my tongue.) I have been wearing large men’s boxers, cotton, well washed and worn. As the bigger ones got dirty, I was wearing the smaller ones, mediums, and discovered my intolerance for touch. Solution? (Well, besides frequent laundry to keep those favorite three pair of underwear in play) I next day ordered five pair of men’s silk boxers. I can’t wait!
Functionally I am doing very well. My hips are working better all the time. I will be curious to see how different I will look: the scars, my hip shape and size. I am sure I am still swollen, but I seem hippier than I used to be. I am not bothering to wear my own pants so I can’t tell how much bigger I am.
November 21, 2015
A physical inventory: right leg still swells more, but I clearly treat it as the lead leg. The swelling is better, it was never bad, like I didn’t notice much outside of the thigh area, and I never had any bruising, even on my hips. But I haven’t tried to wear my own pants so I don’t really know. (The benefits of living in a warm climate. No need for pants and no need for socks.) I notice the camber and grade of the road when I walk outside. That reminds me that my legs seem to be the same length as I don’t notice any difference at all indoors.
My arms aren’t sore at all. H pointed that out. That means 1) I am not using them for weight bearing much and/or 2) all that weight lifting I did preop paid off.
My scars look pretty good. The scabs are coming off (!) steadily. I bet I get to swim after Thanksgiving. (Though there will be all kinds of logistical challenges. How will I get to the pool? How will I change clothes? What suit can I put on by myself? Will it bother my incisions?) The numbness is lessening. I figure some of the numbness was from swelling. The tissue underneath feels hard and a little swollen. No issues with sitting, however. I do like to put the right leg up, and I do get tired of not being able to lean on the table.
Finished off the blood thinner. A milestone!
I think I mentioned I am taking joy in movement again. Walking outside in the sun, swinging on the crutches in some not approved ways, a playful pivot.
November 24, 2016
So yesterday was a tougher day. I am double crutching outside like a champ, faster and better all the time. Inside I am experimenting with going crutch less and that is the hard part. I am more sore (“sore” isn’t quite the right word) at the end of the day. Some unaided trips are great, with me walking pretty straight, others are more wobbly. I do love being able to use my hands and to carry things. On two crutches every trip requires so much planning.
Because I am a big show off, I had to let every visitor see that I could walk without crutches. Because I am impatient from feeling good, I didn’t use the crutches to get packed for this out of town trip. It was faster and easier to just get my own stuff by myself than to let H help. I paid by being more swollen and more tired yesterday.
We drove five hours in the car, taking a break in the middle. We brought ice. I moved my legs around, ankle pumping and bending my knees.I was surprised how much I use my hips to stabilize myself in the car while H drives. He is rather….aggressive…so it was rough until he got on the highway. Getting in and out of the car is a piece of cake now. I am strong enough to sit in chairs without arms; I can use my arms and legs to raise and lower myself without breaking 90 degrees. Just have to check that the table won’t flip from my weight.
A sad moment was seeing the Dallas skyline and remembering the last time I was here I was driving into town to run a marathon with a friend and son1. Here I am on crutches and wearing a funky independence outfit ( t shirt, men’s silky boxers, long dress, slip on shoes, son’s hoodie with front pocket for phone). I hope next year when we do this drive, I am the one driving, I look more stylish, and I have packed my swimsuit and running shoes.
December 1, 2015
The long crutch walk/short cane walk day was a success. I will continue on this path. Today the same thing exactly, tomorrow a little bit more. We have centralized mailboxes about a block away and that was my cane goal and it was plenty far.
Still have niggles, all kinds, but nothing bad. An example would be on my long walk running into someone I know, standing for a good period and chatting, then feeling stiff in the back of the foot (!) when I start up again. I am tempted to cross my ankles with my feet up now and have to stop myself.
I am pretending that doing dishes is beyond me. (Yes, I could wash them in the sink, but can’t bend over to put them in the bottom rack of the dishwasher.) H is relieved to have Son2 home to help him. Son2, however, will never just agree to do a chore. He always sets up a double or nothing sort of challenge that determines who does the task—-whoever wins a ping pong match does the dishes or whoever hits more baskets into the trash can is exempt from taking out the trash. It is lively at my house!
The future challenges: I will be feeling my inability to drive. Work stuff and holiday stuff coming up and I am going to need a ride to places. H leaves tomorrow so it will be me and Son2. He has gone back to his Thai food delivery job for the holiday break, so guess what I will be eating.
Son2 has been much more matter of fact and curious about the surgery. He asked to see my scars. I think the difference between him and his brother is that Son2 was home to watch my deterioration over the last year while his brother was away at school.
Eager for the incision to heal so I can swim! It is getting so close.
December 9, 2015
Five weeks out on left leg.
I think I should modify the daily walks so that I take two on the cane. Two half mile-ish walks. I will try that today and see how I feel. My movements are pretty even on the cane. Unassisted I am wobbly the majority of the time UNLESS I think about lifting my knees when I walk. Then I straighten out. Or if I touch something as I move, like the wall or the countertop.
This is swimming day. I should make it tomorrow as well. Friday not so sure. So exciting! It won’t be completely normal since I can’t flip turn or push off the wall hard. It will look like a series of 25m.
I have a swim goal for the first week in January: to swim an hour. My swim club has a big fundraiser the first weekend in January during which swimmers see how far they can swim in an hour. This year won’t be a record breaking event for me, but I would like to participate. Any amount of meters would be a victory. I have a newbie swimmer friend and we could team up as lane mates. Last year, OA throbbing, I swam next to a young guy who treated me like an old woman. He was telling me about his IM races, etc. I smoked him.
December 10, 2015
I swam! Eight hundred meters free very slowly. It was good. I felt different than expected: after all that pre op pulling, my arms went right to work. My legs dangled behind me at first, not doing very much. I got going kicking and the left leg, the one that used to hurt all the time, was pain free and strong. Right leg was awkward with mid thigh sore. My glutes need A LOT of work. I couldn’t kick fast. I can see kicking with a kick board will be a good exercise in a few weeks. No flip turns or pushing off walls.
Yay! What I learned from my swim outing:
Go when it isn’t crowded. I did because that was when Son2 could take me, and it was best. Easier to find a spot in the locker room and to get a lane alone. Also easier not to get held up talking to people (“you are on a cane? what happened?”)
Think about how you will get dressed beforehand. Is there a place to sit in the locker room? Is it high enough? What if you drop your clothing? I brought the grabber and needed it but was pleased to find I could dress standing up, standing on one leg then the other.
Think about how to get in and out of the pool. This pool is a treat. Heated, 25 m outdoor pool with eight lanes and an attached kiddie pool. The kid area has lots of shallow steps and a rail plus a beach like graduated entry. I walked in from the kid side.
Beautiful sunny weather in the mid seventies. To put a cherry on top, I walked across the street to Starbucks and drank cold coffee outside under the pergola until Son2 finished tennis.
The two cane walks also went well. I was falling asleep in the recliner at 8:00pm.
December 17, 2015
Fun parts of trip: boarding first with a cane, but also being quick enough to get off first (!) and out walk everyone else.
Being nervous about traveling without the grabber even though I can bend over more, I rubber banded the grabber to the cane to make it easier to carry. I look like a big dork! (To put my own nerdiness in perspective, a friend who sews offered to make me a quiver in which to place my grabber and to attach it to the cane.
The check up went fine. All is well. No surprises. I can do more within the well known six month precautions (no running, no lifting over 50 lbs, no deep squatting), but should increase my activities gradually. No firm guidelines given, but advised to add about 10% at a time.
So I will be adding details of my recovery less frequently now, just when I do something new and amazing. Hmm…..I hope that means I will still be adding something pretty often.
The “yikes”: getting on the floor and doing the side lifts on the left side. I can’t squat down yet, which is the way I would have gone down before. I can go down knee, knee or (easier) lower myself with my legs and triceps. I bend okay, but I don’t like putting my weight on my side, either side, when on the floor. That makes doing the side lifts tough without a mat or something under my butt. But the lifts on the left, my more damaged side, are just plain hard to do because I am weak on that side. It doesn’t hurt (this for the the wuss guy) I just can’t do it. My son had to start me on the first lift so my body would know what to do. (Lee had to start me on the first front lift for the same reason, but then I could do the rest.
The Dr Gross exercises are going fine. The left side raise is still the toughest. The stretches are fine, too. I am tight but not necessarily in the areas those stretches reach.
Figuring out what to do with bike and elliptical. I just need to have a pattern.
Swimming! Okay, so I participated in an hour swim/fundraiser today. My goal was….to swim an hour. I still have to do a series of 25s in order not to push off too hard: swim to the wall, stop, turn around, swim another 25, being careful not to twist, too. Pretty funny. I shared a lane with a friend who isn’t much of a swimmer but wanted to try the hour for the first time. I told her I had no goal but to stay in motion so we would be perfect lane mates. On the other side was a wounded warrior, a young woman who is a below the knee amputee on one leg. In the swimming itself, the WW and I were the same pace, maybe me a little faster, but at the walls she had me every time because she could push off and dolphin kick to start. Her presence did put my situation in perspective. This year we both had our devices poolside, my cane and her prosthesis. Next year my cane will be at home and I will be rocketing off the walls. (But she might still beat me!)
I managed to swim 2600 yds without pushing off. Not the best I have done by far, but I will take it as a New Hips Record.
So going forward I think I can swim 2k at a time a few times a week.
Still feeling better all the time, but also experiencing niggles. I am sure there will be some tomorrow. I can sleep on the left side but not the right and would prefer to just sleep in the recliner. Rolling over wakes me up and sleeping flat on my back wakes my husband up because I snore.
Speaking of my husband, I will throw out that he is eager for us to take trips, lots of trips. For example, we are going to NYC at the end of the month. I know I will be fine to go, and I have been traveling, but I am more reluctant than he is. I just want to be in one place for a while. Meanwhile, he is protective in other ways I don’t need, like driving or grocery shopping. Maybe he enjoyed these chores when I couldn’t do them? He wants me to do PT and I tell him not yet. I want to wait until six months out and see where I am. So we have an interesting dance going on right now, a push and pull of what I can and can’t do. Not unique, I am sure every couple has this, but I will put it out there that we have different goals for me. He is very eager to show people what I can do fwiw and enjoys having a part in putting me back together again. I don’t mean this in a bad way: he was delighted I did the swim and I really wanted to do it, for example.
I am taking a trip this coming weekend and was debating whether or not to take the cane. Would I need it? The cane is a nuisance when I need to use two hands. If I brought the cane, I could board the airplane first (!) and the cane would protect me from being bumped or hurried in a crowd. Now I know I should take it. No qualms.
The troublesome right hip: it still swells. Not a lot, I think I am the only one who notices, but it does. The right side is still the dominant, harder working side. I carry the cane in the right hand. The right side kills the Dr Gross exercises, while the left side just does okay. My right knee collapses inwards sometimes. I think this is because 1) maybe an adductor/abductor issue but more likely 2) right side wants to splint left side, to help it out. This means right side works harder, and also that the right side ligaments get stretched more.
Coming up on eleven weeks post op. Walking 3 miles a day, 2 in the am, one in the pm, swimming 2k three/four times a week. Lazy about the biking and ellip.
The theme continues to be how much is too much. I have those great days, including today, when I feel normal, and the less than great days, including yesterday, when I am crooked and achey. It took two days to recover from the four days of being away. I did test the new hips: very quick walking in the airport to make connections after delayed flights (successful!), ill advised but irresistible walk from Penn Station to the hotel pre snow (I won’t confess how many blocks, but straight down Broadway and glad I did it given the snow), two days spent wandering in the snow with one day slippery and one not. When I was doing those things, no pain and well functioning hips. But once I got home, I had to dial it back. Time to ice and sit still. I had some aches and weaknesses due to fatigue and carried that dang cane. Today I set out to walk and didn’t need the cane. Yay!
So for the next month no trips or challenges planned. I plan on building the long walk to three miles and the swim to 3K. Reviewing Dr Gross’ restrictions, it looks like at three months I am free to walk as much as I want (oops—-jumped the gun on that somewhat; but I can truthfully say I didn’t walk as much as I wanted, not yet).
The prescribed strength and stretching exercises are going well. Even the slow left hip is making some gains, though it remains behind the right hip. I am searching for a few exercises to add, simple ones like clamshells or targeted glute exercises. Thinking about squats, but I think I will be happier indoor cycling.
Speaking of squats. One movement we Dr Gross patients are not allowed to do is deep squatting. Well, I did that movement accidentally. Twice. We have a new kitchen, last year we gutted it and remodeled. We have cats. One cat has been staring and pawing at a corner of the baseboards. IDK why. A mouse? A lizard? A large cockroach? Anyway, right before I was to leave town, that little stinker managed to dislodge a section of baseboard and began to dart under the cabinets after whatever it is she has been stalking. Eeek! Without thinking I squatted down to stop her. It was a deep squat. I froze. OMG! What had I done? It didn’t hurt and I felt okay, so I put myself in a more appropriate position, pulled the cat out, and then duct taped the baseboard back in place. Whew. No long term damage to me, the cat, or the kitchen.
I can swim 2K plus with no problems, but struggle to finish 100m of kicking without fins. My hamstrings threatened to cramp and I barely move. I guess it shows how upper body intensive my freestyle has become.
My right hip gets tight and swollen making it difficult to really stretch my inner thighs (one of the Dr Gross stretches). However, when I do the straight legged lifts and then attempt the stretch, all is well. Some muscle must be tightening up protectively and then it relaxes when I do those lifts.
Those straight legged lifts. I have been taking my time with them after hearing that some people find them counterproductive. Six weeks after having the exercise assigned, I can do thirty. The good news is that lazy left side is doing almost as well as dominant right side. I am ready to drop the number and start doing them with weights. (Just one pound weights, as suggested.)
Fatigue. Because my hips feel better and I can move more without pain, I do more and wear myself out. Like in the old days, I can come home from a trip and immediately unpack, do laundry, etc. But then a few days later, I will be pooped. I suspect it is a side effect of two big surgeries as well. Coming back, but not fully back. Sleeping is generally good, I can sleep on either side, but I do have nights when I can’t get comfortable and flee to the recliner.
Walking 2.5 miles a day. I used a cane for the first two days, then carried it, now can go without. Another week of walking this distance, and I will bump it up to 3 miles.
Biking maybe four times a week. Twenty minutes or so while watching TV. Meh. I am sure it helps but I’d rather be outside.
Swimming. I didn’t increase my yardage as hoped. Not due to a physical reason, just time and weather. But I am still doing some hip hap in the water on warmer days, sideways movements primarily, and can now swim 25 m of fly at a time. It isn’t aggressive fly, but it is fly. So now I do a few 100s alternating fly and free. AND I can do a little breaststroke! Not yet a 25, but my leg strength and flexibility is back enough to do about half a dozen strokes.
Those leg lifts. Added the one pound weight and survived.
I am not niggle free. I do pivot or twist or curl up and get reminded that I just had surgery. But it is better.
Okay, at five months I am still trying to see what I can do and trying to see how much I can do. I settled in swimming with my masters group three times a week. At first it was a challenge, now I am ready to add day four. I can do all strokes, even breast. That one felt weird for a long time. I could move my legs correctly, but not flex my feet. Then I struggled with the timing of the arms and legs. Now it feels okay, but not powerful.
Walking is still the foundation of my rehab. I walk at least three miles a day every day. Sometimes I get to walk more than three miles, sometimes I can fit in two long walks. I look forward to getting out every day. One highlight has been that my neighbors have noticed my progression from two crutches to cane to nothing and are cheering for me. The other highlight has been exploring some of the new trails that have been built here since my OA got bad. When we first moved here I missed the great system of metroparks in Ohio. I hated having to run on the highway access roads but that is what people did. Now we have a burgeoning, new trail system away from the roads.
I am also doing hip hab in the pool, mostly just walking sideways. Lateral movement was the first thing I lost with OA and has been the toughest thing to get back. Moving in the pool is an easy way to get stronger and regain range of motion. The days I do hip hab I use the Stairmaster and have built my time there to about half an hour. At first that exercise was all about strength and ROM; now most of the time is spent moving quickly and sweating. I hope it will be good training for running.
So what’s on tap for the last month until restrictions are lifted? First, to swim that extra day, maybe even go to an IM practice. Second, to add to the stair climbing, building to forty/forty-five minutes. Third, to continue the walking. I like it and it saves space for the coming run workouts. I am still doing some P90x abs and those Phase II leg lifts—-I have maxed out on them at last. We are traveling again this month and have some out of town company, so I can’t add too much.
Speaking of traveling, I write from Minneapolis. I was last here in October to visit Son2 in college. Back then I was walking with a cane and moving slowly. Kids were opening doors for the old lady and in the airport the motorized carts always stopped and asked f I needed a lift (I said no and waddled on.) Now I move normally and am able to fully explore the campus on foot.
The niggle update. Yes, I do still have some. I feel like I need to mention them in the spirit of full disclosure. My left upper back and neck are stiff after I swim. I suspect this is left over from compensating for the bad left hip. I had trouble rolling and kicking symmetrically and so I threw one arm to balance out. I have to unlearn this habit. The days the coach watches me and I don’t throw my arm, I don’t have any stiffness so there is hope. Very few niggles in the hips themselves.
The more sobering news is…I have a long way to go.
It felt like my first swim really: strange, like body and brain had to learn how to talk to each other again. I felt like I was jogging in place the first interval, just bouncing lightly, forefoot striking, quick quick turn over, but barely moving. Each run interval got better and faster though, as my body remembered what to do. My turn over slowed down, but I had more forward motion each time. I didn’t measure it, just noted how far I got and saw it was further each time. I wasn’t at all out of breath which shows how slowly I was moving. My glutes and quads need to wake up more and I have to unlearn all that bad compensation I have been doing the last few years. My gait was crooked the first run period as I was falling into the habit of protecting my left side. It was straightening out a little more each time.
To prepare I staked out a flat piece of road in my neighborhood with some good shade. I went at a quiet time of day. I figured if it hurt, I could go run at the nearby high school track. That is still an option; I need to email the xcountry coach and ask her what times to avoid being there. (One of my kids ran xcountry at that high school, the other should have.)
What I did wrong, though, was 1) go to swimming first and 2) didn’t practice using my watch.
Catfriend, I have the best swim coach. Seriously! She isn’t a yeller, but she is very creative with work outs. Like on holidays. Twelve days of Xmas, Halloween. I thought today would be the SINK o de mayo work out (get it? Sinko? ) but had my days wrong. It was the Derby work out. The infamous Derby work out: 200 fly, 400 IM and then 1500 free to finish. Ugh. So instead of a high spirited, novelty work out I got a hard workout. (I did feel how out of shape I am during that work out.) But I survived. Left hip clunks after IM, but for a shorter and shorter period of time.
My watch. It is an old Timex Ironman watch, cheap and fairly simple. I haven’t used it for anything but to tell time in years, though, and I didn’t remember how to use the stopwatch and split features. It came back to me, but I probably had a longer walk period than I needed after that first run period as I stood there pushing buttons and cursing.
Next run: Sunday, Mother’s Day! We will see if I can do the 5 x 3 minute run.