Category Archives: Depression

Long Weekend

I love nights like tonight. When it’s a little drizzly out and seems darker than it should be, and you open the window so that a bit of cool air creeps in while you’re snuggled under the blanket with the cat and the dog and a book and tea. Today is one of those days where I really don’t mind my limited mobility; in fact, were I not immobilized I might feel a little guilty. As it is I feel happily calm.

I am 16 days post-op and had my two week follow-up with my surgeon this past Tuesday.

Two-week follow-ups are less about checking angles or taking x-rays and more about making sure your pain is under control and that you are doing OK. I had all of the Steri-Strips removed from the incision, had the incision cleaned, and had a few placed back on to make sure that the stitches hold permanently. I was happy to learn that I no longer had to wear my DVT compression socks 24/7 (i peeled them off 15 feet from the office door) and could send my CPM machine back as I am mobile enough not to need it anymore (it was picked up earlier today).

This recovery has been going extremely well, my pain managed by Tylenol, and my surgeon was pleasantly surprised at how well I was doing. I mentioned that when I stopped my narcotic medication and switched to OTC meds, I had some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms including extreme irritability, insomnia, and two days of crying for seemingly no reason (must remember for future reference to avoid this medication). I explained how the pain in my left side is more of a deep muscle ache that is always noticeable but not severe or excruciating. The pain on the right side, the side in which I had the PAO surgery in December, is actually where I noticed the more striking and alarming pains. We had previously discussed, before the second surgery, that this would likely be the case . The right side still has problems though the extent is not yet clear. My doctor noted there is always a chance, unfortunately, that once one problem is fixed, another may become unmasked. For example, it’s possible that once the dysplasia in my right side was fixed with the December PAO surgery, impingement may have been unmasked and that may be causing the pain I continue to have in the right side. Similarly, it is possible that, now that the impingement on my left side has been repaired with the SDD surgery, the dysplasia related to my acetabular retroversion may become more prominent.

That said, neither my surgeon nor I are of the opinion that we need to rush to make any decisions, one way or another, on the effectiveness of either of my surgeries to date. These decisions can wait several months, until I am well into my physical therapy and have a better idea of how I’m doing.

As you can imagine, I am hopeful that I am finished with surgeries and that physical therapy will help take me to the finish line in terms of recovery. My next follow-up appointment is scheduled for mid June, at which point my surgeon will take x-rays of my left leg and hip to determine if the trochanter osteotomy he performed is healed and whether I can stop using crutches.

I’m happy to be back working remotely from my home. I like the structure it provides, requiring me to get up at a particular hour and having tasks to complete. I also really enjoy what I do and so it was almost a relief to be able to get back to it. I’ve gone out to a couple meals and to my surprise had no trouble sitting on a booth or on an un-cushioned chair. This is dramatically different than the last surgery and a welcome change. I am hopeful that I’ll be able to get back to law school in the fall, though that will depend on my recovery, any further surgeries I may need, and making sure that I have a safe balance between my work/school/recovery and personal lives. I figure I’ll know more about my Master Plan in a few months.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a lovely long Memorial Day weekend, whether you are enjoying the outdoors or snuggled under a blanket next to a cool breeze

Pain

I am 8 days post-op and to my surprise, the severe pain that lasted weeks after my last surgery is already gone. I stopped all narcotic and prescription pain medications today and am only taking Tylenol for the more manageable pains and aches. I don’t have any idea why the pain is so much less severe this time around.

Pain is really kinda great for someone like me because it’s my protection. My natural instinct is to push until I break — either do everything or do nothing. I feel guilty if I don’t throw myself into things 110%. Throughout my hip drama, pain has been a fluctuating roadblock – a limit to my activity and energy that can literally stop me in my tracks and knock me flat on my ass. It’s not always in the same place and can change from day to minute. Pain has stopped me from doing more than I could or should have done; unlike every other barrier I try to artificially manufacture for myself, I have no control over pain. I listen to it and I abide.

This recovery, without the pain I feel rudderless. I know that my body needs to heal A LOT more before I start trying to get back to a normal routine, that I need to rest all the time because I just went through really major surgery. I should be sleeping constantly, taking large doses of meds and yes, I should hurt. But this time my body just doesn’t hurt so much. I’m missing the limit that tells me to stop, so I don’t. I can’t seem to justify a need to sit on the couch and get better, as much as I genuinely wish I could. I sleep a normal amount each night and I wheel myself most of the way to the Target (which was exhausting but didn’t hurt) and I try to tidy up around the house. In other words, I fail to take care of myself because pain isn’t there to remind me.

And so I feel agitated and sad and exhausted and crappy almost all of the things you normally feel like when you’re 8 days post major surgery. But I also feel guilty because I can’t blame the pain for preventing me from getting back to my life. I’m really struggling with this and it’s upsetting me a great deal. I expected to feel terrible – after all, someone sliced me open, broke and shaved bone, took my leg out of the socket, and on and on. I didn’t expect to feel ok (or the feelings that are going along with it).

I don’t know. It’s late and I’m tired. I have no insight or solution. And I don’t have to because this is a blog and I say so. Hey, I’m allowed to be difficult and irrational darn it – I am recovering from surgery, after all.

Flew the coop

I was released from the hospital on Saturday at 2pm and was home in Brooklyn by 3:15. I am allowed to put up to 30% of my body weight on my left leg and the balance on my right / crutches / walker. My stay at HSS was very successful and the pain seldom reached beyond a level 3 or 4 out of 10. However, even with the strong medications I was on, the pain did occasionally spike to an 8 or 9 out of 10.

My left hip and leg muscles feel very achy and sore, while at the incision site (which is approximately 9″ long and runs down the outside of my left thigh) I occasionally feel a stabbing, burning pain. The pain is also noticeable in my gluteus muscles, as spasms in my middle and lower back, and as a slow burn around the top of my knee. Not surprisingly, I continue to have some aches and spasms in my right (previously operated on) leg as it has become responsible for carrying the majority of my weight.

To minimize the pain and to keep my hip joint moving, I use my continuous passive motion (CPM) machine for 2 hour spurts, 4 times a day (I have no idea who the woman in this picture is but it gives you reference as to what a CPM looks like).

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Sometimes when I’m not looking, my cat Fawn Adelle uses it as a cat bed.

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While in the hospital and initially at home I was taking two pills of Hydrocodone and Tylenol every four hours plus Benadryl since the Hydrocodone made my tummy, back and arms very itchy. I also take aspirin (for blood thinning to prevent deep vein thrombosis), Protonx (which help prevents acid reflux as a result of all the medications), Valium (as needed, for muscle spasms), and a variety of other pills that I was taking prior to my surgery. Although many of the medications make me very sleepy I can’t seem to fall asleep and seem like a zombie a lot of the time. I get around 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Boris has been my constant recovery companion.

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I’m happy to report that pain is definitely not as bad as it was after the PAO. I spoke to my surgeon’s office today and told the PA as much. She confirmed that although the initial recovery pains following a PAO are much harder, the length of time and long-term pain associated with a SDD recovery is far more difficult. Fantastic!

One noticeable difference between this surgery and the last is that I have definitely felt more emotional. It may be the change in medication or the fact that this is my third surgery in a short time but I have definitely been more blue. Whatever the cause I am trying to maintain my positive attitude and believe that I may have (hopefully) turned a corner today.

I finally got it together and took a shower yesterday which was a welcome change since it had been 5 days since I’d been permitted to take a shower. Today I even went so far as to shower, put on blush and curl my hair – a look I call ‘recovery chic.’ For comparison, it took me weeks to get to this point following the PAO.

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Starting today I reduced my Hydrocodone/Tylenol to 1 pill every 6 hours as I try to eventually ween myself off the meds. So far so good but I would not be disappointed if I needed to up the dosage a bit if the pain became overwhelming. I seem to be a little less fuzzy-minded but that changes minute to minute.

In general, recovering from surgery in May is a VERY different experience from recovering in December when the weather is dark and gloomy. However, like after my first surgery, my mom and husband have been incredibly helpful and I can’t thank them enough for doing basically everything for me. My first follow-up with my surgeon is scheduled for May 21st. I am hoping my wheelchair is delivered soon so I can get outside and enjoy the beautiful spring day. I hope you are all doing the same.

Heading home mañana

Significant improvements! Since yesterday’s post I have been moved to HSS’s 10th floor, and moved again once on the 10th. The numbness in my left (operated) leg is totally gone and 90% gone from my right leg. I have gotten up and walked down the hall with a walker and then crutches – both times incredibly slowly. I am able to get myself out of bed without too much difficulty and transitioned to a regular solid food diet. Best of all? Baring any traumas I get to go home tomorrow!

Unfortunately not all my news is quite so rosy. My pain continues to be well managed; however the drugs are making it difficult for me to focus and I notice that I’m easily distracted and frustrated (it has seriously taken me about 7 hours to write this little post). My right leg has started to spasm from lack of use. Historically, at about 3 days post-op (relative to when I receive anesthesia) I normally feel pretty depressed. This surgery is no exception and today I’ve been feeling quite blue. You’d think that with everything my body has gone thru in the last few days I would be asleep all the time but instead I can barely sleep an hour at a time and am not sleeping nearly enough – only a few hours a night. Also, I have apparently developed an allergy to the adhesive in medical tape + the oxygen that they put up your nose when you have an epidural makes my nose crazy itchy. Fun!

Guy is renting a car to pick me up at HSS and I hope to be home by 2 or 3pm on Saturday. I took a photo of my wrapped incision (with a pen for size reference) but won’t get to see its full gruesome beauty until they rewrap it tomorrow morning. I’m guessing that its about 10″ long but soon i’ll know for sure. I’m gonna try to get some shuteye. Hasta mañana!

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Recovery Lacks Pizzaz

It has been exactly one month since my PAO. I continue to gain strength in my operated leg.  Unfortunately, my not-yet-operated leg is deteriorating under the stress of bearing all of my weight.  I’m more tired than I thought I would be at this point and sleep around 10 hours a night. I seldom have any significant pain in my right hip joint. However, the muscles in my right thigh and around my right knee often ache, either from the surgery, the atrophy, or the fact that they are all stretched out because of the placement of the bone. I wake up every night because of the ache. My house is filled with equipment — multiple sets of crutches, a wheelchair, a walker, the list goes on. It’s more than three weeks until my next follow-up, more than three weeks until any of this changes. I live in pajamas, I have noticeable roots and I really need a haircut.

Now don’t get me wrong — I knew what I had signed up for. Recovery is a slow process and I need to let my body heal. But like so many things, knowing how things will be is a lot different than experiencing it. And now I know, and it has become ABUNDANTLY clear, that recovering from surgery is really freaking hard for me.

This may sound insane but surgery was exciting!  Pre-op appointments, learning where the cuts would be made, talking to the surgeon, blood draws, getting my bag packed, waking up early to make it to the hospital on time, checking in, getting myIV, being wheeled into the operating room?!? These adventures were WAY cool! And then I woke up and there are people everywhere and alarms going off and I realized I was stuck to 4 cables and, oh by the way, the surgery just happenend and possible complications and then there’s the days in the hospital and visitors and therapy and going home and being on drugs and follow-up appointments.  Novel! Excitement!!

Then, slowly, the excitement faded and there’s not much new and novel going on.  Life is getting back to normal, although slower and less shiny than before the surgery because, well, I’m recovering.  I’m back to work (from home, for which I am really thankful thankful since it permits me to have some interaction with the outside world, plus, it exercises my brain). I leave the apartment a few times a week with my husband but doing something as simple as going to dinner wears me out. I watch tv or draw. I am TOTALLY ready for my tax appointment. And I’m starting to research what my next surgery will be like, because even if it’s another PAO, it will be new and novel and a little bit exciting.

I know who I am, that I thrive when I am busy, that the busier I am the more I can get done and the happier I feel.  I grasp on to exciting new things, always looking for something I can do next.  Recovery has forced me to slow down, a lot, to stay in the moment and to let my body heal. There is no glitz, no glitter or sequins. Nothing new to target my sites on, nothing special, just more of the same but less… It is me, slowly getting better, without the shine or sparkle, the new or the novel. In this way, for me, recovery is way harder than the surgery was.

What a difference!

I think it is fair to say that yesterday was the hardest day of my recovery so far. Everything I did, from lowering my pain meds to maintaining the level of Valium I was taking, resulted in me being either completely exhausted or in excruciating pain. It also didn’t help that yesterday was the first day I tried to use my walker for a brief trip down the hallway. The end result was a lot of tears and 11 hours of sleep last night, capped off by cookies.

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Happily, however, today is very much a different day. I woke up well rested, and managed to get through a couple of Tasks that, pre-surgery would’ve seemed like nothing but now that I am limited to only one leg and in a decent amount of pain, seem like insurmountable goals. It’s still apparent that I need someone here with me at almost all times to help me eat, prepare my meds, bathe, and prevent me from falling over. To my surprise, taking a shower is actually one of the easier things I have to do because I have the benefit of the shower chair and a lot of stabilizing equipment to keep me from falling over. My mom has been amazing in terms of keeping me on schedule with my meds and keeping me entertained and well fed. I don’t know what I would do without her. My next appointment with my doctor isn’t until the 28th and I would not be surprised if I continue to need help through at least at that time and probably a lot longer since I don’t get to bear weight on my right leg for 6 weeks.

My scar continues to be covered mostly by Steri-Strips and there’s really not nearly as much bruising as I’d anticipated. The incision feels sort of lumpy right now (sorry- that may sound gross) and I am very anxious for the stupid Steri-Strips to fall off so I can see what the whole thing looks like.

20121222-191604.jpg The exterior edge if my right leg is still numb – I figure it will take quite some time until I get the feeling back.

I’m hoping that the weather tomorrow is a little bit nicer because I’d love to go out in my wheelchair and tool around the neighborhood. I’m not exactly claustrophobic but I have been in the house for days and wouldn’t mind a little variety. Almost any activity wears me out these days but I feel like I need to start somewhere.

For the heck of it, here is a video of my cat attacking wrapping paper.

Home

I am happy to report that I made it home from the hospital yesterday and arrived at our apartment around 2pm. The house was super walker/crutch sound effects, I have a recliner I sit in during the day (and a rolling overbed table), and for night i sleep on a chaise (I would sleep in our bedroom with the dog and cat except for my severe allergies.

Things started off really good – not a lot of pain and a lot of people around to support me. My husband set-up an app on my iPhone called PILBOXIE which reminds me exactly what pills to take, how many of each, what they look like, dosage etc. It’s also great because it keeps track of the pills you have taken in the past so that when I go to my 2 week follow-up appointment I can say exactly what I had been taking.

Things continued on a good track through part of today, to the point where i thought that I would be ready to get back to work sooner than anticipated. I quickly realized that rushing back to work too soon would probably mean that my recovery overall will take far longer. That realization, coupled with an increased amount pain on both my operated and yet-to-be-operated-on plus the fact that the back of my throat is red/swollen/with possible strep blisters implies that rushing back and wearing down my immune system is not a good plan,

On the red sore throat (strep?), I called my physicians office to ask what to do and am waiting
hear back. Otherwise I’m ok aside from totally lacking coordination and the fact the drugs really make me loopy to the point that i don’t know where i am and I literally fall asleep if I close my eyes for 3 seconds.

On a surgical note, the incision is 8″ and the SteriStrips are starting to come off – creepy incision photos coming soon I hope!

Fading fast – more details tomorrow!!