Category Archives: Scar

Sleepy Saturday

It’s been 4 days since bilateral hardware removal and today I was finally allowed to remove my bandages and take a proper shower. I saw the new incisions on each hip for the first time and truthfully, they’re not as bad as I’d anticipated. At about 4″ long, they’re each approximately half the length of the incisions from the original surgeries. They are healing nicely (although they look a little gory with dried blood and steri-strips) – I decided not to post pictures of them until they look a little bit better (you’re welcome). I can’t yet tell if surgery fixed my remaining issues – it’s just too soon to tell. I probably won’t know for certain until the inflammation goes down which might take a while. That said, I am cautiously optimistic.

Earlier today I made the exact same mistake I’ve made after pretty much every surgery – I acted like I had not just had surgery and tried to do a couple things around the house. I paid for it with a serious bout of nausea and exhaustion. I know this was a “minor” surgery but it still involved somebody cutting into me and my body feels the need to remind me of that fact. In general I’m worn out most of the time and get so sleepy that I can doze off at the drop of a hat. I’m sure it’ll take me several weeks or even a month or two to really get back to feeling normal.

I’ve started to pull back on my pain meds since the pain has lightened a bit. I haven’t had leg cramps in the last day (a huge relief) and the itchiness has gone now that I’m off the Percs (a definite downside to opiate medication). That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to kick them up for a period of time since recovery is all ups and downs.

I’m hoping to try some PT exercises at home once I feel up to it, starting with mild things like bridges, clamshells, squats and the like. My next appointment with my surgeon is January 13 when he will clip the ends of the dissolvable sutures and will likely discuss formal PT and steps moving forward. For now, I’m falling asleep. Goodnight and sweet dreams.

(Mostly) Hardware Free 2014

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fantastic time celebrating the end of 2013/start of 2014.  I spent last evening at home, recovering from yesterday’s removal of 7 of the 8 screws that were installed during my PAO and Open surgeries. Here’s a (rather long) recap of how surgery went and how recovery has gone so far.

Before surgery...

Excited pre-op

Surgery was initially expected to take about an hour and a half; it ended up taking closer to two and a half hours. Anesthesia consisted of a spinal and sedation. Dr. S started by removing the 3 screws from the left side which had bursitis that he had to clean-up and then removed 4 of the 5 screws from my right side (1 of the screws was positioned too deep to be easily removed).

I woke up in the PACU in a lot of pain in my left side, a burning ache from my left hip down my left side into my knee and cramping my left calf, pain at about a 7 or 8/10. The pain in my right side was not nearly as bad, about 3/10.

...after surgery

Exhausted post-op

The nurse injected liquid Motrin into my IV (which basically had no effect) and then injected Dilauded which worked right away (thank goodness). Dr. S stopped by to check on me (I only vaguely remember that he was there, I was still drugged from surgery) and talked to my husband about how the procedure went. The nurses in pre-op and the PACU were very warm and helpful (another great experience at HSS).

I was in the PACU for 2-3 hours, had 1/2 a cheese sandwich and some ginger ale, and my first dose of Percocet. I got to the point where I felt ok enough (pain at about a 4/10) that I managed to dress myself and was released last evening.

The evening was uneventful and I faithfully took my Percocet every 4 hours, even through the night which was restless and insomnia filled. Unfortunately, this morning I made the mistake I tend to make the day after surgery – I felt so OK, pain wise, that I thought I could wait 5-6 hours to take my pain meds. Bad, bad idea. The pain in my left side, which had been at a steady 3 or 4 out of 10, spiked to 8/10, and I was suddenly in tears. Just then a nurse from HSS called to check-in with me (perfect timing) and reminded me that I MUST take my pain pills every 4 hours on the dot. So I’m on it, the pain’s down to about a 5 or 6/10, and we’ll see how the next few hours go.

Right hip

Screw removal -- Right hip (gauzed) (2)Here are some photos of the surgical coverings (and a peek at a few of my tattoos).  My left hip is on the left side, my right hip on the right.  I can’t take off the gauze or take a shower until Friday so I won’t know how long the incisions are until then. Bathing in the sink until then — Yippee!

My next appointment with Dr. S is Jan 13th when the stitches will be clipped and the steri-strips replaced.  For now and the next few weeks I plan to take my pills and take it very easy.

My Unscrew’d New Years

It’s that time again – time for New Years Champaign and celebrations another hip surgery!  Heck, I would barely know it was the holidays were it not for my annual surgery (in case you’re counting, this is year 3).

The good news is that this one’s supposed to be WAY easier than the last two.  As of 12:30pm tomorrow, New Years Eve, I am having all of the screws in my hips removed.  The procedure, expected to take less than an hour, will be bilateral (on both hips) and will involve my fantastic surgeon removing 5 screws from my right hip and 3 from my left greater trochanter.  Two big incisions to be sure (they will be reopening the incisions that were previously made and healed), but hopefully not TOO much pain.  If all goes perfectly, I could be home in time to see the ball drop.  Otherwise, I’ll see it from my bed at HSS.  I honestly hate New Years Eve so spending the day in the hospital didn’t sound like such a bad option.

The screws have been rubbing the soft tissue and causing a lot of pain and inflammation, especially on my left side where the pain shoots into my knee and all the way down to my ankle.  On the right side, I can feel the heads of the screws through my skin — CREEPY! On a positive note, the screws are no longer needed.  Since they were initially installed (in December 2012 and May 2013), new bone has grown in the spaces that the screws were holding in place and now they are superfluous.  The idea is that once the screws are all removed and I get back to physical therapy, there should be no impediment to my getting better — like all the way, walk without pain or a limp, do things like a normal person, better.

Until tomorrow!

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!

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

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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