Category Archives: Freaking out

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.

Maybe Actually Good News!?!

Quick update.  I had my MRI yesterday at HSS.  If you haven’t had an MRI, imagine laying on a too-narrow super firm bed, having your hips locked into place with a brace, your feet taped together, under a sheet with a light breeze blowing over you, while you slide into giant, thumping, magnetic sardine can.  Some people freak out — I’ve had so many done I literally fell asleep.

So, I got a preliminary “heads-up” from my dr’s office that there are no significant areas of concern in my right hip, that the labrum looks good, but that I have tendonosis in my abductors and iliopsoas muscle.  This may be caused by use or may be related to the fact that I previously had an arthrscopic procedure and my hip may just need extra time and TLC to bounce back.

The reason I am cheerfully optimistic is that 1) the protocol for getting over tendonosis is typically RICE (Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation) — and once I have my surgery on my left side all I am going to be DOING is resting!, and 2) physical therapy.  Know what’s missing from that list?  Surgery!  I may be able to get away with not having another surgery on my right side!  I didn’t realize how much the fear of another surgery was getting me down until I felt the stress literally float off my body since I got the news.

Again, all of this is preliminary and I still need to meet with my Dr. on Monday to go through the full MRI results.  BUT, it looks like I will be under the knife on my LEFT side come May 8th — and maybe, just maybe, that will be it for a while.  Yea!!!

Here we go again

Nuts. I’m anxious. I’m also 9 days away from surgery which makes sense that I would be anxious but last time, I was utterly zen. Totally calm. You’d have thought I didn’t care that I was about to be broken and put back together. Admittedly, before my last surgery I only became zen in the final 2 weeks leading up to my surgery — prior to which time I was a paniced freak. This time, though, I have totally ignored the impending surgery so I never had a chance to panic. Apparently now’s the time.

As I type, I am at HSS in the midst of my surgical pre-clearance, including a physical exam, blood work, EKG, chest x-ray, and a meeting with the hospital GP that is assigned to me for the surgery. The day started at 9am and should be done by 2pm. I’ve been through this before so unlike last time, I knew what to expect (and to bring something to read – there’s a decent amount of down time between appointments).

Most importantly, I already had my appointment with my surgeon. We briefly discussed my impending surgery (the Open SDD) but the majority of the appointment focused on my (still crabby) right hip. I still have pain in the joint and around the greater trochanter but the majority of the pinchy pain is in the area between the hip and my groin – likely caused by the psoas tendon and break in the pubis. So, I am scheduled for an MRI tomorrow, an Active Release Therapy session on my tendon on Thursday, and a follow-up with my surgeon next Monday to see if the pain is caused by a torn labrum, nonunion or seething else. My surgeon has never had to go back in to repair a torn labrum after a PAO so, lucky me, i’d be the first. As of today, we are still moving forward with the left hip but the final decision will be made next Monday – 2 days before my surgery on my left. Apparently it is gonna be a busy week.

Photos from pre-surgical screening – I like to get dressed up for my HSS appointments!

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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.

One more day

…one day more. So my surgery is tomorrow, as in the day after today, as in I’ll get up tomorrow and have my surgery. I thought I’d be freaking out by now, spastic like. In reality I am cool as a cucumber. Totally calm, not nearly as concerned about the people around me who seem understandably worried. It is, after all, a big surgery. This isn’t any out patient surgery. No, this is a kick you in the teeth, knock you down, full on drag out surgery. After all, they are breaking my pelvis 3 times and moving bones and screwing me back together. So why am I not concerned?

I had my pre-op appointment and surgical pre-clearance last week. They drew blood and took X-rays. I met with my doctor who pointed out where they would be doing the cuts and what tools they will use (a saw for 2 cuts and a chisel for 1). We discussed the physical therapy I would have to do (super mild) and that I won’t be walking for a while (at least 6 weeks non weight bearing on crutches + tbd). The doctor said I’d be in the hospital for 4-5 days. And yet, I am totally unconcerned.

I am more concerned about the fact that I’m NOT concerned than I am about the surgery. I have been busy and have had a lot to do so maybe I’m just distracted. Maybe. I think I’m just ok with it all. We’ll see once I wake up tomorrow how chill I am.

Finally, I think I’ll be updating this a lot more starting tomorrow. You know, the day of my surgery.

T-minus 73 Days

Today, as I was riding on the subway, I realized for the first time that I am having PAO surgery.  Not “Hey, yea, sometime in the future someone is, like, hypothetically going to break my hip and I am gonna have surgery, no big deal” but more like, holy shit, someone is going to break my hip in the foreseeable future.  And they’re gonna do it three times.  And I’m gonna be in the hospital.  And totally immobilized.  And it’s gonna suck, a whole lot.  Oh, and I can look at a calendar and it’s 73 days away.

Not sure why it never really struck me.  It’s not like I don’t know its coming.  It’s more like I can’t believe that it’s coming…for me!

I’m sure it’s gonna get a lot more real soon, like when I have to buy my raised toilet seat or shower chair or grabber.  Or when I kick myself for not doing a better job of losing weight and have to KILL myself to drop 10 pounds asap (that is basically now).  But for right now, 73 days seems still far enough away that it has the veneer of ‘not so soon’ yet the reality of ‘not far enough away to ignore anymore.’