New Year’s Resolution

So here I am 7  months post op and have the prospect of a new year ahead of me to think about where I want to be with my hip.

The dancing episode back in September, while great fun at the time, was a bit of a shock to the system and took over a month to recover from. I rang the orthopaedics department at the hospital and was told the post-op phone helpline no longer existed and that I should see my GP for a check up and, if necessary, a referral back to the hospital.  The GP gave it a waggle and decided the hip seemed to be intact and agreed that my choice to go back to the Diclofenac as an anti-inflammatory was a good decision.  Otherwise rest and careful rehab when it had settled down.

One concern was that I would get up in the morning and be unable to put weight on the leg and the hip hurt. It felt like damage to the joint but after a while it would be OK and I realised it was just massive tension in the thigh muscles which, when warmed up, wore off. The solution was to make sure I stretched every day. Cycling for 20 minutes on the exercise bike and then doing strength exercises, ballet exercises for rotation and lots of stretching once I was warm.  I also finally went back to hot yoga. The rehab over the summer paid off; it was good to be back and with every class I could feel my flexibility and strength improving. I could finally do a lot of the exercises again and even managed to get my nose on my knees. I’m a bit wobbly in the balances and the hip is still definitely weaker but these are all things that can be worked on.

I’ve been teaching and feeling that I’m pretty fully functional now but I’m still aware that I’m a work in progress to get back to where I used to be. So, my New Year’s resolution is to start doing yoga every day and not just do the twice weekly hot yoga class. Cycle first, some step to build up the strength and then yoga for all over strength and flexibility. I’m aiming to be able to do the splits by the time I get to my 1 year check up and I”m aspiring to do some of the more hard core yoga poses. I’m going from martial artist to yoga bunny.

So that’s it for 2015. I’ll do another post for my 1 year check up unless something dramatic happens before then. Happy New Year to anyone who has been following my blog and best wishes for 2016 and happy hips.

New Year’s Resolution

Holiday rehab

At 14 weeks I had my follow up with the nurse.  Filling out the form on whether I could or could not do things or how much pain I was in, the only two that came up as anything other than fine was putting my socks on – which all depends on how stiff I am in the morning – some days are better than others and sleeping at night which although hugely improved can still be a bit uncomfortable.  She was very pleased with my progress and my next check up will be at 1 year post op.  “In the meantime,” she said, “no running or jumping or lifting heavy things.”  I confessed to have done some small jumps in ballet class.  “Don’t,” she said, “It puts too much impact on the joint.”  OK.

So I’ve just come back from an amazing holiday on an island in Croatia.  The not lifting heavy things was a bit tricky as I was lugging a suitcase around but it wasn’t too bad.  Not being one to ignore my rehab it went something like this.  I went for a 5Km cycle ride which I confess a lot of was push bike up hill rather than actual riding but the glutes certainly got pushed into working a lot harder than they’ve done for a long time.  It was hard work but no major problems.  I need to increase the level on the exercise bike at home to build up the strength more.

I also lay on the beach and listened to music in my headphones.  Some people tap their toes or fingers in time to the music.  I twitch my bum.  I discovered that my right glute twitched easily but the operated side did not – it involved a lot more muscles so rehab was try and make just my left glutes twitch in time to the music.  Don’t know what it looked like to anyone passing by but they’ve improved.  I can now bi-laterally twitch.

I went swimming and snorkelling.  I swim breaststroke and I really focused on the turn out from the hip and bringing the feet together before kicking out smoothly.  The water was quite calm so it was possible to be quite zen about swimming and not rushing it or snapping the movement.  Again no problems there.

Finally, I went to the best wedding ever, at sunset in a castle on top of a hill with a view over islands and the harbour below.  And at weddings you dance.  And I love dancing, singly, in pairs, in groups.  So after about 3 hours of dancing we were all doing the can can, as you do, and it occurred to me that this probably constituted jumping – something I’m not supposed to be doing, and in fact a good chunk of the last 3 hours had probably constituted jumping as well.  So I sort of favoured the good leg for the rest of the evening because no hip was going to stop me dancing at this wedding.  And I have to confess it’s not happy.  The area feels a bit warm and it aches rather so I’m resting it and am back on the anti-inflammatories.  I’m planning going hill walking in a week or so, so we might have to see how that one goes.

Back to normal life.  I might go to the local swimming pool for a bit more practice but it’s not going to be the same thing.  Ho hum.  I miss my holiday.

16 weeks post op.

Holiday rehab

Moving like a normal human being again

So, incredibly, it’s now 13 weeks and the last two have been a pretty good test of how the new hip is doing and, frankly, it’s doing pretty damn well.  The rehab prep at home has been worth it.

I’ve been on a two week trip down to London which included:

  • two 5 hour train journeys – no problem;
  • lugging a very heavy case up and down stairs – not good but that’s my fault for packing so much stuff;
  • teaching for 6+ hours/day.  I can demonstrate all the moves and still out run and chase down my students. Yes! If I have to stand for any length of time I “sit” against the wall – leaning my whole back against it for support but with my knees bent so it’s easy to stand up and my lower back doesn’t ache from standing for long periods
  • Walking from the National Theatre, along the South Bank to London Bridge, across the river and then to Farringdon Road and up to Islington Green- 4 miles by Google maps – a pleasant afternoon stroll.
  • Walking from Streatham to Brixton tube because the road was closed because of an accident and so there were no buses and then another mile at the other end of the Victoria Line as there was no train for half an hour – bloody painful but that was blisters on my feet from wearing shoes I hadn’t anticipated walking 2.5 miles in.
  • Ballet class – joy!

I am no ballerina but I loved my ballet classes.  I took it up as a form of rehab when I could no longer do martial arts because I’d trashed the hip doing that.  I loved the precision and discipline of the training and became increasingly frustrated that the hip was making it harder and harder for me to do the exercises.  I actually cried last year when I realised that it was too difficult and painful to do the class I was in and that would be my last class and I didn’t know when or if I could go back to them.  So I turned up on a Sunday morning to the Central School of Ballet a good 30 minutes before the absolute beginners class was due to start so I could do my warm up prep before class.  I’d been doing classes for 3 years before I stopped but decided that back to absolute basics was the best way to start out. The classes I went to are taught by the totally fabulous David Paul Kierce and are very well attended because he’s a) an amazingly good teacher and b) makes them huge fun.  He’s always been really supportive and encouraging when I’ve been struggling.  It was a little while before he noticed me and came up behind me while I was doing my tendus at the barre to ask how I was doing.  “11 weeks,” I said. “Wanna see my scar?” and flashed him a look at the neat 3″ scar on the top of my left thigh. “You’ve had it done!” he said and for the rest of the class was scrutinising my technique and made some minor adjustments to my position.

The most challenging parts of class were:

  • plies – I’d been practising these at home because I could bend my knees and squat down a little way but doing a full plie from first position and getting up again was really hard work on the leg muscles and I needed a lot of support from the barre.
  • ronde de jambes – extending the turned out leg forwards, to the side and to the back and then bringing it forwards through first position and then repeating it the other way.  This was real challenge because as I moved my leg around the movement was coming from the whole pelvis and not just the hip joint and I was really working hard to make just the hip move and keep everything else still and stable.
  • grande battements – ballet high kicks to the front, side and back.  I was a bit nervous of doing these as I didn’t want anything going click or twang but, as you do, you work through tendus and glisses which are smaller lower versions of the battements and I just went for it.  They were probably no more than 18 inches to 2 feet off the ground – less at the back as extension is still hard but David was amazed I could do them and I was so pleased.
  • waltzing – I must have done hundreds of these over the years and they’re not hard but as I was doing them David said “You’re moving like a normal human being again.”  One of the best things anyone’s ever said to me.

I came out of class stiff and tired and had to have a stretch and a hot bath but the next day I was fine and moving better and I did five more classes including a double class totalling 2.5 hours.  The result – I can bend down to pick things up without having to lunge; I can bend my knees and squat or kneel on the floor; I can hug my knee into my chest and put on socks like a normal person, although sitting and bending forwards is still more comfortable; I can move my leg around from the hip joint, not the waist and I’m so much more confident about moving.  The tightness at the top of the thigh is almost gone and my legs feel the same.

So, now I’m home I’m heading back to ballet class again to keep up with the rehab. I’ve got a pair of pointe shoes waiting to be worn again.

There are still things to work on – extending the leg back is still very tight, external rotation with the hip bent is still a bit uncomfortable and sometimes painful so I’m not quite ready to go back to hot yoga yet as there’s a number of moves that I can’t do yet – even sitting cross legged is hard so that’s the next phase and I’ve promised I’ll send David a photo when I can get back into the splits!

I go back at the end of next week for my follow up at the hospital.  I wonder what they’ll make of my rehab techniques.

Moving like a normal human being again

They didn’t make me go to rehab, I said “No? OK looks like I’m doing it myself.”

Considering that hip replacement surgery has a massive impact on how you walk and move it does seem very odd that the only physio I’ve had are the exercises I was shown in hospital which are only designed to get you through the initial weeks – getting in and out of bed, getting around with crutches or zimmer frame, up and down stairs and general mobilisation exercises.  Those and a general warning of “Thou shalt nots” without any real clarification as to whether these are just for the first 6 weeks, 3 months or never again.  Now at 9 weeks post-op I’m reasonably mobile but the hip is still seriously impacting on what I consider to be normal movement, and I’ve had no physio prescribed and I’m not scheduled to go back for a review until 3 months post op by which time it’s a bit late in the day to get things moving properly.  I’ll have seized up completely by then.

I hated sport as a child, still do, but in those pre-internet/video game days was just generally active. In my early 20s I discovered the Jane Fonda workout and was hooked on exercising for fitness and fun without having to worry about being part of a team or compete with someone else.  Over the years I’ve done aerobics, weights and circuit training, kettlebells, trapeze, riding, fencing, martial arts – which is what did for the hip, and more recently, Pilates, ballet and hot yoga.

In my 30s I qualified as fitness instructor and sports massage therapist.  I’ve not inflicted training or dug my elbows into anyone in a while now but the training has always been incredibly useful for keeping myself mobile and fit and it’s really coming into its own now:  I’m drawing on moves from practically every form of exercise I’ve ever done to try and get the hip moving properly.

I was warned by several doctors that I shouldn’t expect to have the range of movement that I once had and that there was a small risk of dislocation – lessened by having an anterior approach surgery and currently, 9 weeks post-op I’m in roughly the same state as I was immediately pre-op.  My mission now is to improve on that, whatever the medics say. I’ve got a colleague who had his hip done a while back who bounces around class with the energy of a Duracell bunny and my martial arts guru, who had two replacement hips, couldn’t do high kicks anymore but could fold himself in half doing yoga moves.  Those are my role models and in a couple of weeks time I shall be teaching for 8 hours a day for two weeks so I need to be fit for that and I’m planning to get back to my hot yoga class and even ballet soon.

So, what’s good at the moment? The big advantage is that my operated leg is now the same length as the good leg, not that it was every actually longer but the distortion in my hip and pelvis made it about 1cm longer which caused me to limp and hurt my knee and lower back. I can now cross my legs both ways – not very much but it’s at least possible and I can touch my toes with my legs straight. I can bring my left knee up enough to put on trousers but putting on shoes and socks still requires sitting and bending forwards.  The time of day makes a huge difference – first thing in the morning I’m really stiff and I gradually loosen up as the day goes on.  Once I’ve done my workout and I’m warm I’m really quite flexible considering.

On the down side the area in the front of the hip and top of thigh is still very tight and I get a certain amount of pain in the sciatic area in my left buttock and I’m not quite sure what’s causing that – I think it’s just muscular – groups of opposing muscles fighting each other.  I can now kneel and lie down on the ground, provided I do it carefully but getting up again is a struggle.  I’m still using my arms to steady myself and push myself up.  Thighs and glutes feel tight and weak – just not been used very much for a long time.  It’s noticeable because when I was very fit, particularly during the martial arts period, I bulked up dramatically – all of it muscle.  I could give Serena Williams a run for her money.  Now my thighs and bum are the smallest they’ve ever been, I’m not complaining but I miss their strength.

So the exercise regime now includes a variety of: 20 mins to half an hour on my exercise bike, doing step, kettlebell swings, ab crunches, hip bridges, abductor and adductor lifts, squats, ballet plies in first and second position, tendus and rondes de jambes from first position, yoga standing bow pose, standing separate leg stretching pose, head to knee stretching pose and general stretching exercises.  I round it off with about 10 minutes on a Rumble Roller – a particularly evil bit of kit that’s brilliant at getting knots and tension out of muscles.  Depending on how fit I feel I’m averaging 1 – 1.5 hours every day which was pretty normal for me before the hip got really bad and I love being able to get back to that.  Afterwards I’m hot, sweaty but moving again.  I can see the progress; the tightness going, the mobility and flexibility improving.  I may not ever get back into front splits again but I’m going to give it a damn good try.

So, I’ve got the motivation to really try and improve my strength and range of movement and I’m in the lucky position that I’ve got the knowledge to be able to come up with a personal workout to help me achieve that.  What happens if you don’t have that knowledge?  If you’re interested in getting as much movement back as possible, and who isn’t, I seriously recommend that before you leave hospital you ask about post-op physiotherapy and exercise and get yourself scheduled to have some because it’s not just going to sort itself out on its own.  Later on, when you’re moving well, you could see about getting some personal training at your local gym or go to Pilates but make sure that your trainer has a rehab qualification and experience so that the exercises are appropriate.

They didn’t make me go to rehab, I said “No? OK looks like I’m doing it myself.”

Hello toes! Did you miss me?

7 weeks post op and, provided I am sitting down and leaning forwards, I can put shoes with laces on and socks on.  The socks are still a bit tricky but the sock gadget is no longer an absolute necessity.  I also managed to clip my toenails though it’s going to be a while before I can manage a full pedicure I think. I can’t yet do the hug your knee bit.

The muscles at the hip were aching a lot but a lot of massage and a lot of Voltarol gel massaged into the hip area twice a day seems to have made a big difference. I can lift the hip beyond the right angle but the quads are still tight and lifting the knee up to be able to put socks or knickers on easily while standing is not there yet but there’s definitely progress.

Yesterday I was gardening – digging with a fork and bending over and pulling  out weeds with no problems.   I probably favoured the good side a bit and supported my weight with the fork stuck into the ground but I was bending right over with no complaints from the hip.  It was a bit achey afterwards but then it was hard work.  I can also squat down, carefully and bend forward and touch my toes. The strength is coming back into the hip flexors – I even managed to climb stairs two at a time.  I also find I’m climbing into bed knee first and rolling onto my hip to sit instead of the sit and swivel legs round.  I’m doing things that I wouldn’t have even considered a couple of weeks ago,

I’ve been driving around quite happily and getting in and out of the car without any Ow!s unless I’ve been driving for a couple of hours and have got a bit stiff.

Today, I’m travelling again – 3 train journeys of varying lengths – a bit stiff when I get up but walking around carrying two bags and I really don’t notice the hip as a problem.

Sleeping is still not great but general movement is a big improvement from last week,  I’ve done no rehab type exercises, just been getting on with stuff and doing it without really thinking about it figuring that if the hip doesn’t like it iit’ll let me know and so far it seems pretty happy.

As a final statement of my flexibility I dismantled my booster toilet seat so I’m back to a normal seat now.

I’m starting to feel mostly normal.  😀

Hello toes! Did you miss me?

Crossing the barrier

Today I am officially at the magic 6 weeks line.  The “don’t do this till after 6 weeks” magic date and I am working it for all its worth.

I can drive – yippee!  Ok the first journey was driving to my Mum’s which meant left, left, left and right and I was there but I’ve done to friends, shops and today to work –  a half hour drive and I feel fine.  The first hoiking the bad leg in is still a bit of a strain but actually driving is no problem.

Today I taught for 3.5 hours – standing around, moving, demonstrating and I was fine.  Afterwards I thought “**** me I’m knackered” and I’m going to hit the non co-codamol painkillers and have a lie down on the couch tonight and probably an early night but at least I can do it.

I’m completely off the co-codamol now and hitting either diclofenac or simple ibuprofen.  Also means I’m also off the lactulose. 🙂

Sleeping is still uncomfortable.  However, courtesy my super mattress I can now lie reasonably comfortably for short periods on both operated and unoperated sides. The thigh muscles rather than relaxing seem to tense up overnight but getting up in the morning and moving around is fine.  I’m spending around half an hour each night watching tv and massaging my thigh muscles and hip flexors to try and soften them and loosen them up.  Then a hefty dose of Voltarol gel over the hip area which does seem to be helping.

I’ve gone back to the exercise bike.  It has toe straps so I did try cycling with just the operated leg to strengthen the hip flexors by pulling up but that was way too painful so just cycling for about 20 minutes with about 4 bars resistance to get it used to being flexed to almost a right angle and movement.

I’m doing ballet barre exercises again – demi plies in first, second and even fifth and slow tendus to front back and side both legs to build up the glute strength which is way down.  Haven’t tried full plies yet but I can kneel down on the operated side provided I keep the leg at right angles at the knee and the good leg up.  Can’t go further down yet – the muscles don’t like it but the hip is tolerating less than 90 degree bends now.

I actually managed to a) wash my foot on the operated side today by sitting down in the shower and carefully leaning forward and b) to put a sock on.  That was hard but baby steps building up that flexibility.

It’s all about the muscles – getting them stretched and moving.  Today because I was standing for 3.5 hours the joint was aching a bit but it’s the muscles that I have to get sorted.

Finally, tomorrow, we’re having a family get together.  My sister and nephew are coming over from Australia and brother will be coming up to stay so we will be going out to eat and drink and I am really looking forward to drinking alcohol again.  I’ve been dry for 8 weeks figuring that drugs and alcohol probably weren’t a good combination and I’m remembering the registrar’s warning that the easiest way to screw up your new hip is to do something stupid when you’re drunk but I am really looking forward to a beer or a glass of wine.  I figure I deserve a celebration.

I’m feeling really positive about the next month and that I’m now allowed to do more stuff.  I keep reminding myself of the other people I have known who’ve had their hips done and have pushed the flexibility and strength beyond what’s normally expected.  My martial arts guru did yoga and could fold himself in half with his head below his knees and another teacher could bounce around like a Duracell bunny.  It might not happen straight away but I’m not going to accept having been through all this and being as bad or worse than I was before.  Onwards and upwards!

Crossing the barrier

Captain’s Log – progress report

So here we are, 5 weeks to the day from the op and how are we doing?  Pretty good generally.

1  I’m home.  Well I’ve been coming home every day to do stuff, watch tv and not use up my Mum’s broadband allowance but I’ve been going back to hers to eat in the evening and sleep there.  The walk between the two has been part of my daily exercise plus I’ve been fed and had my laundry done and it’s been great to spend time with my Mum but there’s one huge benefit to my coming home – my bed.  My mattress here is £800 worth of medical grade memory foam (Mammoth Mattresses if you’re interested) and when I got into bed last night it welcomed me like we were made for each other, conforming to my shape in any position I slept in whilst supporting me. I even tried sleeping on my operated side – not ready yet but not awful.  My duvet tucked between my knees for cushioning but no faffing around with pillows.  I just slept.  The spare bed at my Mum’s practically needs a step ladder to get into it – I have to push myself up to get in, the whole frame creaks and it’s really firm requiring assorted pillows under my knees or feet to avoid pressure on bits on me.  I would wake up stiff and aching and managed to do something the other night while getting out of bed which made me yelp.  Here I just bend my knees, roll out and my feet are on the floor and I’m ready to go; no aches or pains.

The second benefit is my shower.  It has a seat in it so I actually managed to bend forward sufficiently to wash both feet without recourse to a wedge of foam on a stick. My flexibility of hip angle not being less than 90 degrees is gradually being increased, provided I do it gently.  I can get my knickers on without needing to use my picker upper by bending my knee so my foot comes up the back of my calf, but I still need my sock gadget and shoe horn to get socks and shoes on.

2  I’m now walking without crutches both outside and inside.  Inside is fine.  I’m climbing stairs normally lifting my operated leg and putting weight on it but for some things I still need to pick up my leg – getting into a car for instance.  It’s easier to pick it up when standing than sitting. The thigh muscles are still very tight and hip flexors and glutes seem very weak.  They do seem finally to be responding to massage though. Walking around outside makes the hip and surrounding muscles ache.  There’s been quite a bit of muscle wastage.  I definitely used to have a shakeable booty from years of riding, fencing, cycling. No more.  It’s completely flat and on both sides.  Just lack of exercise.  And walking for any distance without crutches is hard work.  I weighed myself today for the first time since before the op – 55.8 Kg.  I’m the same weight and I’ve been stuffing my face.  I’m permanently hungry.  Healing and effort obviously burns calories. I did quite a long walk today doing shopping including climbing hills and stairs and definitely needed a sit down afterwards.  I haven’t been on the exercise bike for a while – I think it’s time i got back on and started building some muscle up again.

Pain wise I’m really only feeling it after I’ve done a long walk.  I’ve ditched the 30/500mg co-codamol and got a prescription for my old 8/500 dosage and just taking one or two as needed.  The senna is long gone and I’m still using  the lactulose just as a precaution while I’m still on the co-codamol – makes things easy.  On this dosage I should be able to come off the co-codamol completely without the unpleasant side effects that I had coming off the 30/500.  I’ve been taking a bone supplement for a few months now as I figured my femur needed all the help it can get and for the first time in my life I have fingernails that don’t just split and break.  I did my toenails just before the op – I may have to get a pedicure or go to a chiropodist to get them tidied soon as I can’t bend forward enough yet to do them myself.

3  Finally, I no longer have to stab myself in the stomach everyday.  Hallelujah! No more blood thinners injections.  I am not fat but I’ve been grateful of every bit of belly flab I have to give me somewhere to stick the damn needle in but I was running out of space.  The injections have to be below the navel and no closer than 5cm to it.  After 5 weeks of them I am covered in small bruises and blood blisters from where I’ve hit a blood vessel on the way in.  Initially I wasn’t bothered by them but by the end was getting increasingly reluctant.  What must it be like if you’re really skinny? And if you have to do this every day because you’re diabetic I take my hat off to you.  I really didn’t like doing it by the end.  Only funny thing about it was the sharps boxes.  I’d been going to my local pharmacy to get a sharps box to put the disposable syringes in after I’d used them.  A box only holds about 6 syringes so I had to change them about once a week.  I went in to the pharmacy to take back two full boxes and the young assistant directed me to a small door which led into a small private counter area.  “What’s your code number?” she asked.  “I haven’t got a code number,” I said, “I’m just using these for my Clexane syringes.”  She burst out laughing.  The closed off area is so the local drug addicts can discretely hand in their needle exchange boxes. She was obviously puzzled why I was brazenly waving my boxes around in the shop and asking for a new one.

On a side note, it doesn’t say anything about it in the information sheet that comes with the Clexane, but I’d be careful of getting sunburned while you’re taking them.  My skin type is go red then tan within a couple of days.  After a spell in the sun I stupidly got burned and have stayed red for almost two weeks. It is now vaguely tanning but also has a bruised quality to it which I hope disappears now I’m off the injections.  So whack up the SPF and be careful in the sun.

So the plan for this week is get used to doing my own cooking, shopping and laundry again and do bits in the garden.  I’ve got a shopping trolley so can walk down to the local supermarket with that for my grocery shopping.  My windows need washing but I’m not ready to go up a step ladder just yet.  I need to work on the strength and flexibility some more and make my first attempts to get back in the car – try an emergency stop in the driveway and take it for a spin around the block.  I have some work next week and need to drive there so I need to be able to operate the clutch with my operated leg – snag of not driving an automatic.  I’m back to work properly in August so I need to be as functional as I can so July is going to be largely rehab.

Log ends.

Op day + 5 weeks

Captain’s Log – progress report

All an illusion

So there I am thinking how well I’m doing and today I feel absolutely crap. Did I do something stupid? No. I thought I was doing the sensible thing. I’ve stopped taking my 30/500  cocodamol unless I needed it during the day but was still taking it at night so in the last week or so was averaging 30 – 90mg per day. Yesterday I had none during the day and decided I could do without the night time one too so intake was zero. Today by mid morning I was shivering and shaking and feeling a bit spaced out. My bowels were also in overdrive requiring close proximity to the loo. i’ve seen Trainspotting – I’m in cold turkey from codeine withdrawal. When I left hospital they didn’t give me my old stash of 8/500 cocodamol fearing I would OD so had nothing to drop down to from the 30s. I went to the pharmacy to ask for a new prescription for those. Then I needed to go to the shops and by the time I walked home everything hurt so I took a cocodamol and crashed out on the couch to watch TV as I  could do nothing else. An hour later and I’m feeling somewhat better. And that my dears is how you get addicted to painkillers.

So I’ve been doing all this stuff on a baseline of codeine which has affected me far more than I realised. Now I have to wean myself off it and try and keep moving. This could be tougher than I thought. At least with a lower prescription I can taper off a bit more. Progress in the next couple of weeks will be interesting.

All an illusion

Daily progress

It’s not exactly an evangelical “Hallelujah!” and throw your crutches away instant improvement but things are now improving on a daily basis.

On Monday I was using one stick to get around and took the bus into the city to do some shopping.  After a couple of hours walking around up and down hills I was really tired and sore and needed a sit down with a cup of coffee and and a co-codamol and a further recovery watching a film but was fine by the time I got home.

Yesterday I mowed the lawn without any problems or needing any additional support. True, I needed a bit of a lie down afterwards to recover but my strength and flexibility is definitely improving.

Today I’m pottering around the house without any crutches at all although I’m still using one for my daily walks outside but I’m walking at a normal pace.  The crutch is there for support for hills.  I think I’m going to go from 1 crutch to nothing at all; I can forget the stick stage.

I’m also going around the house barefoot which seems to make me more stable and having moments of standing unsupported in demi-pointe to see how strong my feet and legs are.  I’d love to be able to go back to ballet class so having tentative goes at tendus, glisses and battements but I think that’s going to be a while yet.

I’m working on climbing the stairs with both legs.  The operated leg needs more support from the banister or stick but I can feel it being stronger and more load bearing.

I’m using my grabber less and less.  If I need to pick up something up off the floor then my reverse lunge drop works fine – extend the operated leg back in a straight line while you bend the opposite knee to get down low and I can pretty much dress myself without need for the grabber to hold knickers and trousers to get into them.  The weather has improved so socks are not an issue at the moment.

Today I forgot and bent both knees to get down and had a brief nasty moment but not from the hip joint but from my incredibly tight quads.  I think I need to do some massage on them to try and loosen them up.  They were really tight before the op so I don’t think that’s changed much.

Sitting for any length of time in any chair still leaves me really stiff on getting up.  Catching some rays today in a garden lounger was lovely until I tried to walk back into the house. I did consider whether it would be possible for me to sunbathe on my front – something that was previously agonisingly impossible and decided that I couldn’t figure out a way to get down and back up again – certainly not to the ground and even a flat sun lounger was going to be pushing it.  The hip needs to be a lot more flexible first.

Sleeping is still not exactly a comfy experience.  The worst part of the day is getting up in the morning until I’ve loosened up but I don’t need to grab a crutch if I need to go to the loo in the night.

The big thing is that I’ve dropped the painkillers to an “as required” basis.  If I’ve done a lot and am really feeling it I take one and have a lie down but otherwise no more.  Even in the mornings I let myself loosen up naturally rather than automatically going for the pills and I’m not relying on them to get me to sleep.

Considering where I was 10 days ago it’s a huge difference. Just doing that little bit extra, seeing what I’m capable of is really helping my progress.

Hip op + 23 days

Daily progress

Doing more

The dressing, ie the piece of clear plastic covering the wound, was duly ripped off by the practice nurse this week and the wound pronounced excellent.  There is still blood mixed in with the superglue that is holding it together but the bruising has gone.  I am now dutifully rubbing in Bio Oil which helps soften the scar and doing bits of myofascial release techniques around the scar so it doesn’t stick.  The oil also helps to get rid of the glue.

I have discarded one crutch, for two reasons: the first is I don’t feel I actually need two any more and secondly, the other one just gets in the way.  With one crutch you can at least carry your cup of tea in the other hand.  It all comes down to load bearing – with two crutches you are splitting the load on the operated leg into two thirds crutches and one third leg.  With one it’s half and half.  I think the leg can take it although it still doesn’t feel that stable with none and I need furniture support.  However, I reckon another week or so and I can approach my local council occupational therapist and ask for a stick.

Had a big achievement yesterday: I spent 2 hours 40 minutes on a bus to get across the country to get to a work appointment I made several months ago. Driving is still not an option.  I was so glad to walk to the venue to loosen up afterwards – so stiff from sitting all that time.  I then spent 3 hours standing, walking, using my stick to demonstrate how to do things and even gave it to someone else to hold while I moved around unaided to demonstrate things where I needed two hands and didn’t even notice that not having the crutch was a problem.  Before the op I always found if I had to focus on doing and teaching movement then the hip wasn’t a problem – seems the same thing is still happening.  After the session I walked back to the bus station, admittedly aching a bit, and then another 2 hrs 40 minutes journey, got into my local bus station with 4 minutes to spare to catch my local bus and crutch walked as fast as I could around 3 sides of the station and made the connection.  By the time I got home, mind, I was knackered but then I’d been up since 6am and didn’t get back till 6pm.  Co-codamol and a 2 hour snooze required to recover.

Today I am stiff – always am in the morning but feeling stronger. Sleeping like a corpse – dead still and flat on my back is good in that I can sleep with my operated leg straight; previously I always had to have a pillow under my leg as the thigh muscles were so tight I couldn’t straighten it.  However, not changing position all night means that even a very light duvet presses down on the leg so my heel aches from being pressed into the mattress and my foot is gently being pushed “en pointe”.  Maybe I’ll be able to go back to ballet.  Trying to sleep on my good side with a pillow between my legs, running the full length of my legs and another pillow next to my stomach so I can’t roll over is getting more comfortable.

I had a look at the Royal College of Surgeons website where the have a “recovery schedule” – a list of things you should be able to do post-op.  in the 2 – 4 week category is walk, static cycle and swimming.  I thought “You’re having a laugh!”  But today I very carefully got on my exercise bike and with minimal tension slowly cycled for 5 minutes with no pain, no ill effects and felt fine afterwards and indeed the hip felt a bit more flexible.  Maybe I’m underselling myself.  I’ve got so used to people saying “Don’t overdo it, be careful.” that I”m not doing as much as I could and could be doing more so I think a daily cycle should be on the rehab plan from now on.  It’s going to be a while before I can do timed distances but a bit of movement seems like a good thing.  Also, as we seem to be no closer to summer though it’s now 6 June, going out in howling wind and rain isn’t very appealing so it’ll be a warmer dryer alternative to sitting at the computer or lounging on the sofa.  I’m planning walks to do – shopping and errands that I need to do.  Whereas previously I’d have automatically gone by car I’m now thinking, “No, you can do this – you need the exercise.”

My co-codamol intake is now 1 in the morning because that’s when I’m sore and stiff after sleeping so still and 2 at night – more to help me sleep.  The other day ones I’ve dropped completely and don’t miss unless I’ve done a lot – as per yesterday.  Again, keep focused on something else and you don’t think about it.

On a side note, I’ve still got about two weeks supply of Clexane blood thinners to inject myself with.  When I went to see the practice nurse to get the wound checked out I asked if I could have a sharps container to replace the one the hospital gave me so I could safely get rid of the disposable syringes.  She said they didn’t do them.  Her recommendation was to put them in a Lenor bottle or other wide mouthed plastic bottle and bin them!  Hardly good hazardous waste practice.  Do they go into the recycling bin or landfill?  I checked at Boots – they said “Talk to your GP”, as they didn’t do them either.  My local pharmacy happily provided me with small sharps disposal boxes as part of their drug needle exchange programme.  So a thank you to my local heroin users – didn’t think I’d be putting that in my blog.

Op day + 19 days

Doing more