Category Archives: Complications

1 Year post-PAO

1 year ago at this hour I was in the PACU (Hospital for Special Surgery’s post-surgical ICU), newly broken hip held together with screws, drugged to the nines and unable to move my right foot (because, as we later learned, the epidural was in a bit too deep). I was just at the beginning of this latest stage in my hip journey. I was hopeful that my right hip would be in pretty good shape by this past May and had not even started to realize how hard my recovery would be.

There’s no new news today but I felt that this is a day I needed to acknowledge, like a birthday for my sorta-new right hip. In less than 3 weeks the 5 screws will be gone – they will be removed along with the 3 screws in my left femur (the remnants of my May surgery). My right hip scar is healed to the point that it’s hard to see, in some places, where the incision was. That will all be reopened soon enough but for now, it seems like such a long time since I really even thought about it.

People ask me if my right hip feels better than before the surgery. The thing is I think it does but I don’t really know. Before the surgery I had pain when I would do certain strenuous activities. Now, I have some level of pain anytime I’m not sitting or lying flat on my back. I don’t do strenuous activities because the pain makes it impossible. I feel confident that once the screws are out and the soft tissue stops getting rubbed the wrong way I will be able to give a better ‘status report’. Like the one year ago version of me I am hopeful.

Before my surgery I had posted a very personal message to those of you who have followed my surgeries and recoveries. I promised to update my site and all of you, to push myself out of my shell and write even when I wanted to hide. And I asked you to stick by me so that I would not have to go through this alone. Please know how incredibly thankful I am for all of you.  It has been a rough year and I cannot thank you enough for sticking by me, and continuing to do so.  I have also been happy to learn that my site has been a resource for other ‘hipsters,’ with over 12,000 views from people in 65 countries.  I am certainly not alone.

As an aside, some holiday carolers we’re wandering down my Brooklyn street and for the first time this year, it felt a little bit like Christmas. Since I likely won’t post again until closer to the New Year and my next surgery, let me wish you all a lovely and joyful holiday season full of love, happiness, and a whole lot of hope.

Lurching Into Month 2

Today is my one-month anniversary of my left hip SDD surgery. Although I’ve been reluctant to give an update since not much has been going on, I thought that the anniversary warranted a new post.

The first month of this recovery was easier in general than the first month following my PAO. I have been able to sit in a restaurant chair, go to the movies, work on my computer, ride in a car, and generally move myself. My scar looks good, though a bit lumpy – I will try to get a photo soon although it’s placement makes photo taking quite difficult. AbductionThat said, it’s not exactly cotton candy and unicorns. I cannot abduct my left leg AT ALL (see drawing) since even the most minor movement causes a pain that takes my breath away. My pain tends to center around the greater trochanter (the part of my femur [leg bone] that was broken and screwed back together), in my glute muscles, and in the joint where the surgeon repaired the labrum. The inflammation is still pretty bad, even a month out. I have discomfort in my hips legs and knees when lying on my right side and cannot lie on my left at all. I can’t bend over, or sit at a 90 degree angle, or put 50% of my weight on my left side, or cross my legs. I’m tired all the time and I absolutely cannot walk (crutches being my main form of transport).

Lurch Instead, I sort-of lurch around the apartment, hobbling and trying to keep my left leg facing straight ahead. Not an attractive look I can assure you. My physical therapy has consisted mostly of leg extensions, stretches, foot flexes and the like. Something about the pain makes me feel like the more intense PT (that I will likely do at HSS) is going to be a lot more difficult and time consuming on this left side. I’ll have a better idea at my 6 week follow-up in a week and a half.

I’ve been using my bone growth stimulator 24/7 — in the day time it’s attached to electrodes on my right hip, at night to my left. Bone Growth StimulatorIt doesn’t feel like anything is happening, no buzzing or vibrations as I had anticipated; however, it looks like I am permanently wearing an AM/FM radio clipped to my waistband (see photo). Hopefully it is working — I’ll know more at my next appointment.

I continue to use Access-A-Ride (the MTA’s paratransport system for individuals with disabilities) to get to my appointments. I can’t say enough positive things about the program – it is truly a life saver and saves me from having to take a cab every-time I need to leave the house.

In other news, I have been busily working from home (full time for a few weeks) and I started back at law school where I am taking two summer courses (one of which is almost entirely online — an incredible boon with my limited mobility). There is even a chance that I will be able to participate in graduation ceremonies in May 2014 (!!!). I’ve been in school for so long that the idea that I could eventually be done at some point literally never crossed my mind. I have to admit — I’m really excited!

20130608-234156.jpg
My next appointment with my surgeon, my 6 week follow-up, is scheduled for a week from next Monday. Until then, I lurch along.

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

The Final Countdown

With approximately 36 hours until I have to be at Hospital for Special Surgery, I am truly in the final stretch leading up to my Open SDD surgery. I will receive final confirmation tomorrow on the time but am anticipating that the surgery will be at 2pm on Wednesday the 8th and I should be in until at the earliest the 10th and more likely the 11th.

I met with my surgeon today to discuss the results of last week’s MRI exam. As I had previously been told, I have tendonitis in my iliopsoas and abductor muscles/tendons and it’s likely a labral tear in my right side. I might eventually need an arthroscopic procedure on my right side to fix the labrum / shave down some more bone if the pain persists at 9-12 months post-op, but again, that’s all hypothetical and not the main attraction of this week.

Ideally, I would be pain free and fully healed before moving onto the left. Honestly, if time were not an issue, I might consider waiting to move forward with the SDD surgery (as was encouraged by my surgeon and his PA to consider doing). As my surgeon pointed out, at less than 5 months following my PAO my right hip is still in pain and although the pubis bone appears to actually be growing together (YEA!!), it’s not fused. While it is safe to do the left side and while it’s not clear what impact the left surgery will have on my right hip (good, bad, or indifferent), waiting would be the ideal course of action.

However, time is an issue because I have to get back to law school (I took the spring semester off expressly to focus on healing). As it stands, I am hopeful (though not totally confident) to be back for the fall semester, though only time — and my healing — will tell. I also believe (and my surgeon thinks it is possible) that my right hip will benefit from all of the rest I will get from sitting on my butt for 8+ weeks. In any event, I am in pain and my mobility is dramatically reduced so it doesn’t make much sense to wait.

One cool thing that did happen at today’s appointment is that my Dr. helped to set me up with a bone growth stimulator! It’s kinda crazy because it’s a little machine about 2/3 the size of an iPhone that you can clip onto your clothes, and that connects through two wires to electrodes that are stuck on either side of my (slowly healing) pubis bone. I wear it 24 hours/day, every day (except while i’m in the hospital), and the wires (though not the machine) stay on even when I take a shower. It feels like NOTHING — no buzzing, no electrical stim feeling. I have basically no idea what it’s doing but I really hope it works.

So that’s it until the big day. Tomorrow will be filled with a liquid diet and final preparations. I’m pleased to report that I am not a bit nervous (a pleasant surprise). I’ll be sure to update from the hospital as much as I can — as always, wish me luck!

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!

20130430-111101.jpg

20130430-111116.jpg

Hey May, whatduyasay?

I canNOT believe that it’s almost May! OK, it’s 9 days until May, but those 9 days plus the following 7 days and suddenly it’s May 8th and my next surgery! Even before we get to May, I have my last sinus surgery follow-up on May 1st (10 days away), surgical pre-clearance day on April 30th (9 days away), and two medical massages.  Add that to all of the fun things that are upcoming — three (3!) Broadway opening nights; pre-surgery highlights + spa necessities; my dad coming to do the 5-Boro Bike Tour; last minute “see you after your surgery” lunches and dinners; bowling (hopefully); and, if the weather is accommodating, bike rides.

20130421-143008.jpg

20130421-143109.jpgIncredibly, bike riding is one of the few physical activities that I can do that doesn’t hurt my hip so last week I was able to go to two FANTASTIC 4-year-olds’ birthday party and a brunch (and wear as many patterns as I could find) — all on my coaster bike.

I am pleased to report that the cortisone injection into the psoas and rectus femoris tendons definitely helped a lot, and for the most part, the pain is significantly decreased.  However, it’s not gone.  I still have pain whenever I go up stairs, I cannot lift my right leg more than about 30 degrees without noticing pain in my joint, and the more I walk the more I hurt.  On Friday, I visited fellow Hip Chick Lauren (who just had a total knee replacement at HSS) and decided to really see what my hip could do.  I walked (with a cane) about the distance I used to walk before the surgeries — and since HSS is about a million blocks from the subway, it meant a lot of walking.  Anyway, I was a bit disappointed to realize that by the end of the night, the pain in my right hip (the hip that had the PAO) was definitely worse than the left, yet untreated hip.  I am positive that my right hip will need another surgery but for now, with rest and intensive massages, I am confident that I will make it through the May 8th surgery.

Not much else to report but here are a few cute photos I thought I’d share.  Hope all are well!

20130421-142943.jpg

Guy (my husband) and I, post Easter brunch.

20130421-143213.jpg

Bagels at the playground — Boris REALLY wants a bite