|A collection of hippy emails about recovery and emotions are posted below|
How Fast Will I Recover by Patricia Walter
Everyone Recovers at a Different RateSurgery experiences and recovery rates will be different for each person having a hip resurfacing. Many of us were very fortunate to have good experiences in the hospital and have fairly quick recoveries. I guess we are the Rabbits.
There are people that have experienced very difficult recoveries and their return to a normal life has been very slow. I guess they are the Turtles.
Some are lucky and have an average recovery which puts them right in the middle of the Rabbits and Turtles – don’t really know what to call them but Average Joes.
There is really no way to predict what your surgery experience will be and what your rate of recovery will be. I do think that people who are younger and in very good physical shape often tend to recover faster, but that is not always the case. There was a person that ran a Full Marathon three months after their hip resurfacing and other people that have taken a year to completely recover to a normal life. It is important to understand that you may experience any one of these rates of recovery.
I personally think that your mental outlook and expectations also affect your recovery. I just knew in my heart, after reading all about the other De Smet Hippies, that I would have an easy surgery and a quick recovery even though I was 61 years old and not in good physical shape. I did indeed have a quick recovery being on one crutch in four days and no crutch at four months. People don’t often believe our stories when we tell them, but there are many of us with that type of easy recovery. For some reason I was not fearful of the surgery, maybe because I had never had any surgery in my life before the hip resurfacing. So mental outlook really does have an effect on your recovery.
I also know that having a very bad hip problem before surgery can affect your recovery process. Some people have had a short leg all of their lives and others had problems with the way their hips were not quite in the same position as other people’s. If your surgeon adds an inch to your leg, then your muscles have a long and tough job ahead of them to adjust to the new length. If a person has limped or walked in an odd way much of their lives, all of the muscles have to learn how to stretch and work when the limp is gone. I think that many of the longer recoveries are due to muscle problems and a person’s body trying to get use to a more normal gait and walking action. The new hip itself is ready to be pain free and working properly, but the muscles around the hip and leg have a lot of rehab ahead of them to adjust to a normal walking style.
Some people have required extensive Physical Therapy to get their muscles back to working normally without pain. Some people have not even taken any formal Physical Therapy and just started to lead as normal of a life as their new hip would allow. It seems that people taking PT and people not taking PT all end up in about the same place after one year. Again, if you have a physical problem before surgery, then I would think PT would be important to teach your body and muscles how to work. But if you did not have a large physical problem before surgery and only had a painful hip, you might not even need a lot of Physical Therapy. Each doctor has their own protocol for PT. Most people have very stiff muscles after surgery and find the stretches and even water therapy do help. Other people are able to just walk and eventually end up feeling normal after some time. The muscles have gone thru a lot during surgery and take time to heal and get back into shape. Some people just have more problems getting those muscles back to operating normally. There does not seem to be any way to predict a person’s recovery.
Many people recover at different rates because their bodies react differently to major surgery. Hip Resurfacing is definitely major surgery and your return to a normal physically active life will take some time. The anesthesia and trauma to your body causes exhaustion. Some people also have reactions such as itching, nausea, headaches and a very small number even have blood clot problems. Problems sleeping thru the night are most common. Many people also take naps during the day. Our soft recliner, lounge chairs often become our best friends after surgery. Patience is your best friend.
Family and friends often don’t understand why our recoveries are so slow and difficult. Sometimes it is hard for other people to understand. If you have questions be sure to ask your doctor. A short phone call can help you solve a problem and put your mind at ease. If you need support from other Surface Hippies, join the Hip Talk Discussion Group. There are over 3000 hippies willing to listen to your problems and offer you support.
So the best suggestion I can offer is to read the hip resurfacing stories to understand the Rabbits, the Turtles and the Average Joes. We all hope to be Rabbits, but unfortunately, there are many more Average Joes and even some Turtles. What really counts is that you have a new hip or hips and are going to be out of pain as your body heals. Your immediate internal hip pain will be gone when you wake from surgery, but your muscles still have a long recovery process ahead of them.
There are many emails and posts with this kind of comment:
…today I am REALLY discouraged and need advice. Here I am at 4 weeks post-op and I still spend most of my time down. My leg is hurting more at the incision site, although it looks great. I get up and it’s stiff and sore, and I expected to be so much better by now! I thought I’d be pretty much back to normal…able to get out and about, and maybe just using a cane…..
….I didn’t think I’d get the post-op blues, but now I’m just so frustrated that I cry easily. AND, I seem to have very little energy. What am I doing wrong?
***All posts are made with permission of the author
January 1, 2009
Dear Ladies and Gents,
It’s with a heavy heart that needs to be unburdened that I write this post. I am now at 6wks approx. post-op and feeling rather blue and frustrated today and many days it’s like this. I read all the positive posts and before my surgery I read them all and of course hoped they too would be my story but alas they aren’t… I am almost ashamed but mostly hesitant to put my own “bad vibe” out there. Here it is, only because for purely selfish reasons I am struggling and want to unburden myself… I am unable to let go of my cane and walk unassisted at all without a severe limp. Something occurred to me during the surgery that has left me with the numbness down the interior of my leg on the New Hip leg. The front portion of my thigh, especially at night feels like it’s on fire. I am unable to lift my foot off of the ground if I am seated or my leg from a prone position at all those muscles/nerves are just not responding at all. I run out of energy most days and have to sleep or go to bed early and my zest for lift just isn’t really what it was. I have three children at home, four total and I am still breastfeeding one of them so I am being depleted physically on that front as well and we also sleep with the little tyke so it makes for a disturbing sleeping pattern for me. I’m not looking for answers or solutions to my life choices and I’m not wanting anything really. Although, to tell the truth if I could trade this constant pain and numbness in I would and had I known this would happen and how little answers anyone has about it I might not have done the surgery, I don’t know. Right now I am just really down and feeling like I’m not doing enough and if I did such and such like ALL OF YOU (my head not your words) I would be better, different, not in this situation, etc. Right now I go to the gym and recumbent bicycle for 30mins. I just added in the treadmill for 15 with the concentration solely on walking properly. I also get into the pool and walk and do the exercises I have been given, read about and looked up. I know there is MORE I could do but I just am tired and maybe lazy and sick of trying to make my leg work. It’s also very hard not to take on the negativity when I am like this… I also must say my surgeon knows and has pretty much signed off on it by telling me it’s obvious something happened, it’s no big deal and it will come back in time and don’t worry about it.
All very well and nice but hard to put into action when I’m down… It feels like the “old me” is dead and this “new me” I am having trouble accepting. I want the old me back who could go and go and go and was in pain but only when I walked and tried to tie my shoes or put on socks not CONSTANT PAIN and discomfort that I spend all day trying to avoid or face or deal with or ignore or, or, or… I’ve given up having my icky hip for almost a worse condition of life and when I read about everybody and how good and grateful they have it I feel ashamed and frustrated that I don’t have it that way and it isn’t really getting any different. I have no more hip pain, I am able to lift my leg to put my sock on but I physically have to lift it I can’t do it on my own, I can rest my foot on my knee but I have to put it there and I have no pain in the hip anymore that is wonderful! What I do have is pain all the time and I am not in pain to walk but I am too tired to do so for long periods or stand for long periods or even have enthusiasm and energy or desire to live my life fully, yet. I pray it will come in time but I really wanted to be honest and share what my experience is because this is the hardest thing I have ever gone through and it doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. Casey, RHR Conserve+, Amstutz 11/20/08
February 18, 2006 Subject: discouraged
I bet there are a lot of us who totally understand your discouragement. I do. I’m at week 14 today. I, too, thought I should be up and running much quicker than I was. I was using 2 canes for a few weeks after surgery. At 4 weeks I was trying to only use 1 cane but found myself back with the 2 for a bit longer. Eventually I was only using one. When I went back for my check up I was at week 11 and still using a cane. I have been without a cane now since week 13 but still limp on some days. You read about those people who are out skiing a couple of months post surgery, or walking 5 km at week 4. I couldn’t do that. I didn’t do a lot of walking post surgery because of the weather here and that may have slowed my progress. It seems to me that the more you do (without over doing it) the quicker you heal and strengthen. You will get there when you get there. A person I have talked to here, who is a PT and had 2 hips done by Dr. Bose in India, said he knew exactly what to do to strengthen the muscles quickly but decided not to do it. He wanted to see how long it would take to recover if he was a person, like most of us, who didn’t know what to do. Like you said, am I doing too much? too little? He knew how much to do but didn’t do it. And he still got there. Slower, for sure, but he got there. He was good with me by telling me that what I do will get me there. Whatever I do will get me there. I can work out like crazy or go slower. And I’ve been slower. You will make it. Don’t be discouraged.
Juanita (R ASR 05/27/05 L ASR 11/11/05 Dr. Antoniou)
February 18, 2006 Subject: discouraged
Lets take the last part first. The emotional reaction, tendency toward tears and depression are part of the deal. Almost everyone has them to some degree or another, EVEN WHEN THEY HEAL FAST. It is not just exclusive to women. Plenty of the men have had these intense down periods or periods when they felt very tired and had no motivation. When you have concerns that you are not healing fast enough, it just adds to the intensity of these episodes. Hang tough – they will pass. If you need to, phone or e-mail another hippy. They have been through it and will try to help.
Re: the healing rate. You say that your incision is hurting more at the incision site. Do you mean that the pain has increased from your operation date until now? Some stiffness and soreness is normal, but if the pain has increased since the operation you should talk to your surgeon. Who is your surgeon and the operating date etc.? Have you had any physiotherapy? I don’t mean violent exercise, but supervised prescribed exercises where a professional measures your progress? Have you had any professional medical person looked at your incision? Perhaps you should consult a nurse or your local GP if it is not possible to contact the surgeon. Sitting in fear is the worst thing for you. Try to get some answers so that you can concentrate your attention on getting better.
Keep in touch. We are all here for you.
Chris De Smet RBHR June 23,2004 Antoniou LASR May 27,2005
February 17, 2006
I think the feeling of discouragement as you call it , or sadness, or depression at the point where you are post op is not uncommon if that’s any consolation and is not necessarily connected to what you perceive as your progress or lack of it.
Granted the external circumstances seem like a logical “cause” but the feeling may be there no matter the circumstances…I felt similar feelings and yet for the most part, except for some setbacks primarily manifesting as sciatica, except for those several incidents I was really quite zipping along in my “progress”. Even the idea of progress may cause grief in your case…it doesn’t do to compare to anyone else as everyone tells us and yet it is both true and somehow almost unavoidable. I’ve only just now, at about 11 weeks post op begun to emerge from a total hip-ocentric mindset, and what a relief! As if the sky has cleared. So, my experience is just ride with it, be where ever you are, just really be there and soon enough you’ll just be riding along to wherever you need to go Best of trips…
Flame Ure R C+ 12/02/05
Hi Recent Surfacehippy,
The only thing I can add to the posts from others is to say that maybe this is the true initiation to be a “card carrying Surfacehippy”. I think EVERYONE, to some degree or another, has been where you are now and come out the other side. I relate it to the postpartum blues–that letdown you feel afew weeks after the baby is born and everything is just “off”. You also have had a son move out of the house–traumatic in itself. No wonder you are down. Forget about not being where you thought you’d be at this point in your recovery. I used to call myself “the slowest hip in the east”– actually another hippy and I shared the nickname for a while. This place is GREAT, but has a side effect of making us compare our progress to others, whether favorably or not. I used to get very upset at my lack of progress (or my perception of it) but it didn’t stop my body from healing anyway. I had a different surgery a year earlier and still wasn’t prepared for these feelings. But at least I had the perspective to realize that it all ends up fine WITH TIME. And everyone’s body has its own idea of time. I think you get the idea from all these posts that you are not alone in your feelings and that they will pass. But don’t be afraid to vent or discuss how you feel here. I think the most valuable thing about this site is the ability to hear from others who have already been where you are now, either pre or post-op. Which is also why this site will around even after the procedure becomes commonplace. This time next year you will be the one to give this very same advice to another, just as I am now. Hang in there–we are all rooting for you!
Allison LeftC+ Mont 1/5/05