Tag Archives: HSS

Joy

It’s been seasons since I last posted.  The simple fact that I can say that would have made 2013 Me really happy.  2013 Me couldn’t even imagine getting to where I am today.  I haven’t written because I haven’t need to.  I don’t think about my hips all the time anymore.  Most of the time I don’t think about them at all.  They no longer rule my life, activities, thoughts and I am no longer in chronic pain.  I guess what I’m saying is that, cross my fingers and knock on wood, I’m better!

Sure, better is relative.  I am so much better than I was a year ago when I was being primed for the possibility of a hip replacement because of the persistent and exhausting pain.  I am better than I was after each of my four surgeries.  I can sit cross-legged on the floor and I am back to flying trapeze, aerial silks, the gym – everything but running (but I think I’ll get there). No – I’m not better than I was before all of this started. I do still have some pain, mostly aches if I sit too long or push myself too hard but at this point, who cares?  I sure as hell don’t.

I saw my surgeon Dr. Sink at HSS today for what was basically my 2 year follow-up from my PAO and my almost 2 year follow-up from my SDD.  EL with crests 3.5.15

To my surprise I was told that I don’t need to come back for three years, and then only if I want to.  We agreed that I’ll probably need a hip replacement (or two) sometime down the line but for now, I’m A-OK.  In fact, my x-ray weirdly looks like I never had a single surgery.  It took me twice as long as to heal as normal so yea, it was crazy how long it took – like molasses on a 10 degree incline slow – but I am pretty much there. I also know that Dr. Sink and everyone at HSS will be there if my hips falter, my stand-by support system.

IMG_2801

So as of now, the blog part of this site, as it is, is on indefinite hiatus. I’ve decided that I am going to maintain and improve the site so that people who are searching for information have a resource.  I still get between 50-100 hits a day, so clearly there are people out there who are looking for information and I’d like to help them.

For most of you it’s “until we meet again.” Thank you all, for the kindness you have shown me.  I was not alone through this – you were with me, reading along, and I am genuinely grateful.

 

Summer 2014

Holy macaroni has a been a while! 6 months since my last post is inexcusable so I have made a commitment that even if I do not have an impending surgery scheduled, that I will update my blog at least once per season. And this, dear readers, is summer.

Since I last posted, I completed the “plan of attack” I mentioned in my previous post — a combination of 2/week pilates, 1/week physical therapy, daily anti-inflammatories, and monthly meetings with my surgeon.  I still need to lose weight (for health reasons) but am hopeful that the regimented schedule required by part-time law school in the fall will help that along.

I am happy to say that my right hip, the PAO side, is doing really well.  In general, I have no pain unless I walk for a really long time and even then, the pain is mild (though I have to acknowledge that I haven’t pushed my hips beyond basic activities like walking).  Dr. Sink has been very happy with this recovery as well, although he did acknowledge that my recovery from the PAO was about 200% of the average.  I am the turtle of recovery but dammit, I think I pretty crossed the finish line.

The left hip continues to strengthen but unfortunately, the pain caused by activity – specifically any significant distance walking – has steadily increased.  As a result, my left hip is out of line and thus in pain.  Often, after sitting for a period of time, my left hip will ache just from standing up and I limp around for a while like a Weeble-Wobble.  I avoid stairs as much as possible because they cause the greatest pain.  On top of it all, I have maxed out of PT sessions because apparently I am ‘all better.’  All of that said, Dr. Sink and I agree that it seems possible that it will continue to improve, if slowly, so I am going to wait a bit longer see him around Christmas to discuss next steps and to have new MRI and X-Rays taken.  Based on my symptoms and the pain level, my guess is that I will have a total hip replacement within the next 9-15 months.

All of that said, I start back at my last semester in of law school in 2 weeks, followed by the Bar in late February, and then I’m DONE!  While it is unlikely I will ever run again, I’ve wrapped my head around that fact.  However, I continue to take pilates, bowl, golf, ride my bike (on occasion) and even take weekly trapeze classes — strangely, trapeze doesn’t bother my hips a stitch —  and here is video proof from my trapeze show on August 8th.    Onwards to Fall!

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!

10+ week status — Open Surgical Dislocation (SDD)

I started this blog with two purposes: 1) to inform the world of how I’m doing, and 2) as a record I can look back on to remind myself how I was doing at certain points in my recovery (really helpful when I’m coming up on a follow-up with my surgeon, as is the case this Wednesday).  This post serves the latter purpose (i.e., it’s probably gonna be boring and you might wanna skip reading it).  I warned you!

I am 10.5 weeks post-op on my left hip SDD (a little more than 7 months post-op RPAO).  I have had several sessions of PT (one/week) and one session of hydrotherapy (PT in the H2O).

PT Exercises — status:  

  • Most of my PT sessions are about determining my current level of ability to perform existing exercises and introducing new exercises into my routine.  The therapists also massage and stretch some of the tendons and muscles that are tight or sore so as to improve range of motion.
  • My limp has definitely improved since my first session, but it is still there and gets worse the more exercises I perform.
  • I continue to perform my PT exercises at home including PT Phase I post-op PT exercises (i.e., seated leg extensions, cow pose to child’s pose, core/glute tightening, and quad stretches) and SOME of Phase II post-op PT exercises (including bridging with red elastic band abduction, bent knee fall-out with red elastic band resistance, standing abduction on the affected side, core stability with hip extension + abduction, balance and proprioception, and upright bicycle).
  • I am unable to perform standing abduction on the unaffected side (where I have to stand on my left leg and extend my right), posterior gluteus medius strengthening (where I have to extend my left leg to the back/side at 45 degrees with a red band) or contralateral elastic band for stability (again, standing on the left [affected] side and extending the rights side with a colored band.
  • Hydrotherapy is great because, when you are in the water, your body doesn’t hurt as bad so you can do more than if you were doing therapy on land.  It’s also terrible because, since you don’t hurt as bad, you don’t realize that you are overexerting yourself until you get out of the water.  That’s what happened with me, and I will be avoiding further hydrotherapy sessions until I am stronger.

Non-PT activities — status:

  • I use one right forearm crutch (Millenial) whenever I walk to off-set the limp and because it’s painful otherwise.
  • To date, the most I have walked in the course of a day is approximately 15 blocks, and I was extremely sore/in pain and exhausted at the end of it.  In average, I walk no more than 2-3 blocks in a day.  I use Access-a-Ride almost exclusively for traveling in the city as my local subway station does not have an elevator and I have a terrible time going up and down stairs.
  • I AM able to ride a bike, which I do on occasion when it’s not a million degrees outside.
  • I am still unable to sleep on my operated side.
  • When sitting my left leg needs to be extended at least 75% of the time.  Otherwise my knee becomes progressively more painful.

Pain levels — status:

  • My pain seems to have increased in the last few weeks, from very little pain at 6 weeks post-op to some level of almost constant pain in my hip, back and knee.
  • I have constant pain in my left side of my left hip.  I would not say it is in the joint itself.  Rather, I would say that that it’s in the trochanter or in the muscles between the trochanter and my lower back (the gluteus muscles).  The pain is relatively mild (around a 2/3 out of 10)  most of the time but can spike to a 7/8 out of 10 depending on my level of activity.  I cannot abduct my left leg at all when lying down (i.e., no “clam shells” — a PT activity for abduction).
  • My Sacroiliac Joint (SI) on my left side has been hurting a lot since my hydrotherapy session.  Note that until recently, I have not had any significant pain in my back and SI joint since prior to my RPAO in December.
  • My left knee started hurting about 2-3 weeks ago, in the area behind and just below my patella.  I am guessing it has something to do with tight tendons / IT band but honestly I have no idea.  It looks swollen — I have tried ice and Voltaren anti-inflammatory ointment on it but without much luck.
  • I manage my pain through a combination of rest, elevation, ice, Tylenol and, on occasion and if needed, stronger pain medication (as was needed as few times in the last week).

Next post will be more interesting — promise!

6 week follow-up – NEWS!

So much to report! This is going to be fact / text heavy but I want to make sure I get thru all the details.

On Thursday, I met with Dr. Sink at HSS (full disclosure, I asked – he was cool using his last name on the blog) for my 6 week follow-up, although it had been exactly 7 weeks since my surgery. I took a cab to the appointment since I was not yet comfortable with the idea of taking the subway (and would have been exhausted since HSS is about the length of 7 avenue blocks from the subway).

When I first got there, I had 2 x-rays taken and was immediately whisked into an exam room. Dr. S’s nurse and PA came in to talk to me initially, to see how I was feeling and how recovery had been going. I was in a really good mood — in fact, I’ve been in a really good mood for most of my recovery (which likely has more to do with not being as hyper-stressed [from trying to juggle school / work / social life] than with recovering from an invasive operation). In any event, we had a good chat and they seemed pleased with how I was doing.

Dr. S. came in a few minutes later and we started talking about how my healing was going. I told him that I felt really good, that I was using the crutches when I went short distances and a wheelchair for long distances (walker when at home). He looked at the x-rays and confirmed that 1) the bone was filling in really nicely along all of the breaks, 2) that the head of my right femur is now sufficiently covered by my right acetabulum, and 3) that the angles (between the center of the head of the femur / hip) created the perfect 90% angle that he was looking for. He seemed really psyched about that and I was pleased to know that the surgery appears to have turned out really well. He also confirmed that I have 5 screws (I had only noted 4) and that I was ready to move onto physical therapy 1/2 x week x 8 weeks. More on that later.

We then started talking about my left hip, what type of surgery we would be looking at, especially since the surgery is scheduled for May 8th. As a reminder, although my right hip had dysplasia (which can only really be solved by a PAO), my left hip has acetabular retroversion, mild femoral retroversion, cam and pincer impingement, the neck of my femur (between the ball and trochanter) is too short, multiple labral tears, a hairline fracture of the acetabulum and what appears to be a hypertrophic (overdeveloped) labrum. We had always discussed an SDD for the left hip but at my last few appointments, Dr. S suggested that the left hip might need a reverse PAO so I was curious what he would say, having now reconfigured my right hip. After some discussion about the coverage of my femur (which looks good, side to side), he feels that an SDD is the best way to go. What this will mean is that the incision will be on the rear side of my left thigh, 8″-10″ long, and during the procedure Dr. S. will literally remove my femur from the socket, shave down the impingements on the femur and acetabulum, repair the labrum, break the trochanter and either move or remove a part of it, remove and reattach muscles, and I don’t know what else, but not necessarily in that order. As much of an invasive procedure the PAO was, this actually sounds worse. But strangely, I am totally not concerned.

The plan is that I will meet him in 6 weeks, after my PT, to see how I’m doing. Things may change and the surgical plan is fluid but at this point, an SDD is the plan. Dr. S was great, explaining all of the reasonings for doing this procedure and showing me the x-rays and MRI scans. I was at his office for about and hour and fifteen minutes and he was in the room talking to me and my husband for the majority of the time.

After my appointment I met with a physical therapist who gave me some initial exercises to perform at home. I was shocked to be told I could be full weight bearing on my crutches (and am permitted to use only 1 crutch or a cane when at home). Some of my exercises require that I stand on only one leg – the operated leg – and I was really surprised that I was able to do all of it with no pain (although my muscles are way weak). I’ll start PT in Brooklyn next week.

Finally and un-hip related, I went and had a CT scan of my sinuses / maxillofacial bones to see if there is any reason I am permanently congested / have terrible allergies in spite of allergy shots + major pills. My ENT thinks it might have more to do with the fact that I have a very small nose and that the sinuses are so small that there’s simply no space to move around. There has been suggestion of sinus surgery to see if there is some space to be opened up. I seriously need a break from surgery, not more! We’ll see what shows up those reports.

I feel like you seriously deserve a prize if you got all the way to this point in the post. I hope my honest to goodness gratitude is prize enough, but seriously, thanks so much for reading. Onward and upward (or, actually, downward since I need to do my PT exercises before bed). G’night!