2 Year Update November 6, 2017
Two years today.
Everything is going well. I am training for a half marathon that will take place in early December and have run three eight mile runs toward that goal. No pain, no hip problems (I did have a Code Brown during my last run, so I can’t say “no problems…”) I will run ten miles tomorrow, which will be a new hips distance record.
To celebrate, I swam in a 3600 yd swim relay with three friends. We are all adult onset swimmers, so not very good divers and not very experienced in competitive swimming. Two of us swim for triathlons, two for fitness. We had a blast! We were nervous, giddy, proud, and finally triumphant. I could not have attempted a racing dive preop when my hips were so stiff and painful.
I have to set up my metal ion test, so I owe a report on that.
A few other highlights from the last year:
Ran two 10ks, the second one hilly.
Ran half a dozen 5ks, cherry picking (!) an easy one where I placed first in my AG—and yes there was more than one person in my AG.
Experimented with spin class, hip hip and Zumba classes, Cross Fit, and TRX.
Traveled like crazy. This is the reason I didn’t get to do a triathlon this year, I was just on the road too much. For the first six-seven months after my one year hip-iversary, I took a transoceanic trip every month. You read that right: every month. (Poor me.) With kids out of the house and new hips, we hit the road with a vengeance. It has settled down now so that I fly to NY every other weekend. During all this travel, I hiked, including at altitude, swam in open water, snorkeled (with sharks!), jumped off high places into waiting deep water. I took fifteen hour flights and managed my own luggage, all stuff I couldn’t have done pre op, if not athletic.
Okay, so I do have some niggles and small issues to work out; don’t think I’m superwoman. My right side still swells after a hard effort or too much lateral movement. I feel it in my knee, too. I think my right ankle is too stiff (not hip related) and my feet have become lazy. There are symmetry issues in how I use my back I have to figure out. To train for a longer event, I have forsaken some speed. But overall I still see improvement. My short runs are now four miles at a time, for example, easy peasy. I find myself sitting cross legged. I can walk my husband into the ground when we are in NY. Thirty K steps in a day is not unusual.
For the coming year? More travel, but probably not at the same frenetic pace. I will do at least two half marathons, maybe one in NY. (Joined the NYRR club.) I will finally do that triathlon, likely an Olympic distance. Having become better at finding pools when I am traveling, I hope to swim some long postal swims this year.
To Pat and all the posters who came before me, thank you.You showed me what I could hope to do.
1 1/2 Year Update May 8, 2017
The short version is that everything is going well. I am running every other day up to 10K. My paces are getting faster. I swim four times a week and my strokes feel more natural and fluid, including the undulation of breaststroke and fly. I walk, lift, bend, jump, leap, do all the things a person does in every day life without a thought about my hips. There are still niggles and weaknesses and I do warn security of my metal hips when I go through a metal detector.
The long version is that my running times have dropped from 12 mm to 10:20 mm. I have run two days in a row, but don’t think it is a good idea to do this consistently, at least not yet. I am about ready to see if I can increase my distance to ten miles over the course of the summer. My right knee is a weak point. It swells on the outside when I overdo things whether through too much running or too much lateral motion. It does better when I ice and when I take the time to lift weights to strengthen my quads, glutes, ab and adductors. I haven’t really worked on getting faster, it has just happened. As my glutes get stronger, I think I will continue to improve.
Swimming and spinning continue to be fine. As mentioned, I am more supple so I can undulate better in some strokes.
I have done some Zumba/dance classes and have taken some Boot Camp/CrossFit type classes with people half my age. Those classes have been eye opening because 1) I can do them, can keep up with the young folks and 2) I find some weaknesses. My first time in the fitness class, I struggled to do those mountain climbing exercises you do that work on lower abs. I couldn’t find my lower abs! (Rest assured I found them.) I was pleased at my ability to jump on one leg and to hop laterally, however.
I am nervous about riding my road bike. I ride the cruiser around town, but am afraid of falling on the other bike, which puts me in a more aggressive, aero position. To see if I can overcome this fear or if I need a new bike (!), I put my road bike on the trainer and am riding it in front of the TV. We will see.
I will confess that I haven’t been as focused on running/swimming etc. My kids have left home and my husband and I have the chance to travel. With new hips, there have been no limits on what we can do. We walk for miles in NYC, take trains to the airport because I can take the stairs and carry my luggage now. (The cheapskate in me loves to pay $12 for the train vs $70 for a cab/Uber) I have been hiking and snorkeling and have jumped off high points (high enough to think “why and I doing this?”) and hit the ocean below.
I have had a variety of experiences with airport security, including one screener who insisted I just take my hips out! (Her English wasn’t very good. She kept asking if they were sharp, too.)
I do think I am still improving and look forward to updating you all in another six months. For example, we are back in NYC. A month ago after walking as much as we were walking (30k steps, according to H’s device), I was happy to put my legs up. My right knee needed a rest due to those weak rotators. Now it isn’t an issue.
One Year Report November 11, 2016
One year and a few days later – I flew to SC for my one year check up with Dr Gross. No problems, just wanted him and Lee to look at my X-rays and manipulate my hips. Well, and I wanted to take a victory lap, show them how well I was doing and then go celebrate.
The X-rays looked great and Lee was excited by my range of motion, strength, and the fact I am back to running again. Dr Gross came in to answer a few questions and give me the okay to go out and live my life.
I asked about my right knee falling in and what might be causing that. Dr Gross said probably the rotators that were detached during surgery, that it takes a while for them to come back, and they might not return to 100%. He took the time to do a bunch of testing on my movements and strength and told me to work with bands to get stronger. (I think the issue is pretty subtle, one of those things I am aware of and know could be a long term limiter for me, but well within normal range). I asked about going forward, what to watch out for, infection, etc. No surprises there, to take antibiotics before invasive procedures.
I let my husband ask the big question: should I limit my activity, especially running, to have the hips last longer. Dr Gross said no. He said in his data the very active and the less active have similar results ten years out, so to go for it. Music to my ears! (Of course, we will see what I am truly capable of. Just because I am allowed to run as much as I want doesn’t mean I will be able to. My other parts are aging as well.)
So where I stand now: running every other day 3-4 miles, looking to build to six at a time. Swimming all strokes four times a week. Riding my cruiser bike on errands, spin class as able to make it. And Zumba once a week! I decided to see what my lateral motion was like, not to mention pivoting and jumping on one leg at a time. I should confess that one of my ongoing issues is that as soon as I feel completely good and normal, I feel like it is time to test the hips a little bit more….run further or try a new activity.
Then we flew to Barbados to celebrate. Where I swam, walked, climbed, treaded water, and felt completely normal!
June 4, 2016
Seven months out.
Took almost two weeks off running. I had travel and family stuff going on, so I just let it happen and didn’t try to do more than walk. I returned to running….and it feels great. I ran twenty broken minutes today, so more like a real runner. My it bands felt fine. Yay! Looking ahead, pretty soon I will run 30 broken minutes. That seems so normal!
To help with my weak glutes and quads, and to manage the crazy rainy weather we have had, I returned to spinning. I have only been twice, but so far so good. I can stand on the bike no problem. I worried about this, wondered if it would hurt and wondered if my core strength would allow it. Boy, it is clear I have lost strength, though. I have about thirty good minutes in me, then limp to the end of class. (A side benefit is my husband is going with me. He is very fit and healthy, but is an all or nothing guy—worse than me. We can do this together and it will help him ease back into outdoor cycling. I am not so all or nothing. I don’t mind failing or looking foolish or trying something new and being slow or bad at it.) If we can do this twice a week, that would be great.
Swimming is going well, except for all the rain and storms. Missed because of travel and then weather. Ugh. I can report that my fly feels better all the time. My core/hips feel both more supple and stronger. The breaststroke is still slow, but becoming less robotic and forced.
PT is also going well. I can see progress, doing things I couldn’t do. We are beginning to focus on the little muscles that are weak. It is fair to ask how much of that is due to exercise and how much is due to time and healing. Probably a mix. It is worthwhile for me to know which muscles aren’t firing.
So overall progress! Slowed down by IT bands and weather, but generally moving forwards.
Oh! My weight: stable. Going down would be better, but stable is okay after a week of eating pie.
July 4, 2016
Eight month update.
The theme is the same as it was back at six weeks: how much is too much. I was hoping to report I had figured it out, but no such luck—but I am getting better at it.
Running: Still following the schedule. I am running better, faster, more evenly, moving through the whole foot. I feel less beat up the day after which is a big plus. Getting in the water later that day or the next helps with my recovery. I did have to take a few days off, but not due to running. The biggest issue is the heat right now. If I get out mid morning it is already in the upper 80s. Ugh. That means getting up early—double ugh. The benefit of running so slowly is that I don’t overheat.
Spinning. This is what got me in trouble. I am still going twice a week to a spin class, scheming how to fit in a third day, but fighting for a car with my son and somehow I always lose (if it weren’t so hot, I would bike to places). One evening, running late due to our car sharing, I jumped on a bike and didn’t adjust it carefully. Sitting on a slightly too high seat tweaked my left glute and knocked me out for a few days. Back to normal now. I can tell I am still pretty weak pushing those pedals, though, a long way to go.
Swimming. I am getting to do a lot of swimming and it is going well. Upped to four-five times a week. It is the best outdoor activity to do in this South Texas heat. Some days I am slow and have niggles and hang out in lane one, other days I feel great and move over to lane three and push it. I am going to do a 5k pool swim in a few weeks, really just to have a goal to train towards. Also added a little open water swimming on weekends. Now that got me trouble, for an unexpected reason. About a dozen people meet to swim in a nearby lake early in the morning. All levels, all degrees of comfort with open water, different people all the time. Because of that, we swim across the lake, then wait, count heads, assess how everyone is doing, swim back. Repeat. That count heads period can take a while. Turned out it was too long for me to comfortably tread water. My hips weren’t ready for that movement performed so long. I had some new niggles and had to take a few days off. (But I did come up with a solution until I am strong enough: I tie a noodle to my ankle so I can rest on the noodle instead of treading water while we get organized.)
PT. Also going well. Glutes and rotators still weak, especially rotators. I need more core work, too.
The niggle report: tweaked left glute that was alarming mostly because it was new. Right glute is lazy as is right rotator. That right knee wants to fall in. This was true pre op as well. My PT can make them fire, though.
Overall feeling great. I really don’t think about my hips except when I over do it. Even then I can still walk and swim and get through the day doing what I have to do. Being more active and feeling more normal is putting my weight back in line, too. Yay!
August 4, 2016
Nine month update.
So I managed to miss only one running day this month! It wasn’t because I was any smarter or more careful, as you will see, I think it was because I am further along and more healed. We are away from home for a few weeks which has slowed me down in some ways.
Running: following the schedule and finally at the point where my runs feel like real runs (10 minutes of running, three of walking, repeated 3 times). It all feels fine, but I cannot run two days in a row yet, however, without feeling beat up. Currently running on brick sidewalks which are tougher, so I hope I don’t blow up.
Spinning: I have been riding a cruiser bike around to run errands and for fun. I did a crazy amount of spin classes before going out of town and hips held up. I explored a boutique spin place and was twice as old as the other exercisers (!) but managed to hold my own.
Swimming: I got to swim a lot before we left town, and my swim summer culminated in a 5K pool swim. It will be hit and miss for me getting to the pool until September.
Misc: ah, this is where I get in trouble. 1) We went to a wedding and I danced too much. It started with some vigorous folk dancing. Fun, but not too fast and not high impact. After dinner was dancing to pop music and that is where I went too far. People knew I had both my hips replaced and were commenting on how well I was doing. A born show off, I had to show them how well, so before long I was jumping up and down and twisting and shouting. That took the place of run #3 for the week, and yes, I did have to ice my hips the next day.
2) I tried stand up paddling. It isn’t that hard, not with a wide board and a still lake, so I recommend it. You will use those little balance muscles and your quads. But I didn’t do it in a lake or on a wide board, at least not at first. I tried it in the sea, so had to work with the waves, and the young man handing out the boards gave me a light but narrow board to start with. (He saw my husband, who is very fit and coordinated, but was dressed like a nerd, and gave him the easy board.) Nonetheless I managed to get up a few times on the narrow board before switching with my husband to get the wider board. The worst part was falling. Let’s just say I was thrown abruptly into more extreme positions than I am normally in…It made me nervous, but didn’t hurt. I will be icing my hips tonight. (More work on the bosu ball before the next time I do this.)
Hey, this is a pretty good report! To be fair, I do have niggles and my right side rotators are pretty weak. Those rotators felt stretched and tweaked after the dancing and again after the SUP.
October 5, 2016
I will offer my eleven month report:
Running. Two 5ks under my belt now. The second was a little faster, averaging 10:55mm. Subjectively, it felt much better, whether due to better pacing or just being further along I can’t say. No aches or pains whatsoever. I have settled into a three miles every other day pattern, with a long run of four miles on the weekend (3-3-4 or 3-3-3-4). I think I should stay here awhile and let my body get comfortable with this—and work on getting faster. In December I’d like to bump up my distances a bit. We will see if I am ready to run two days in a row or not.
Swimming. Real life has interfered with my ability to get in the pool as much as I would like, but I am averaging four swims a week. Everything is improving. I am more supple when undulating for breast or fly, for example.
Biking. Okay this element has been neglected. I was riding my bike to run errands and attending spin class pretty regularly at the start of the month, but have fallen off in class attendance. (I still ride my bike on errands)
My right hip still swells and feels weaker. It is pretty subtle and it happens when I put a new stress on the hips, like running a new, longer distance or doing a long kick set with fins. I am going to bring this up with Dr Gross in November when I go for the one year check up, but I am not very concerned. Ice and pulling back on the activities seems to make it go away. I think time is the cure. Well, and reinstating some of the strengthening exercises. I feel like my glutes and quads are doing pretty well, but those external rotators have been left behind. They need a chance to catch up.
Lots of small things I can do now that are pretty cool: deep squatting, getting up from deep squatting (!), getting down on the floor to play with cats and babies. I carry heavy things, I take long car trips, I walk on slippery surfaces. Such a big change from this time last year!