Tag Archives: recovery

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!

Dramatic Improvements

Just under 3 weeks post screw removal and I did something today that I had honestly believed I’d likely never do again. I ran!

I decided to try to go for a walk to see how my hips are really doing by testing them out. I’ll admit that and it was rough at first – the bursitis in both hips (especially in my left) is definitely still there and both psoas were a little crabby – but felt a little better after a while (or maybe I was just numb – it was pretty cold outside). So after I’d been out about 20 minutes and was feeling a little cocky, I figured what the heck and just jogged/ran a block. It didn’t hurt any more or less than walking and felt so incredibly freeing that it was like I was dreaming. I proceeded to walk/run for the next 40 minutes, mostly walking but taking breaks to jog a block or two. I smiled the entire way.

I’m gonna ask my physical therapist if there is any reason I really shouldn’t run a bit but I think that as long as I’m careful and take time to strengthen and stretch they’ll be on board. I was never a very good or fast runner but I really loved it. I am so happy to imagine that it could someday be a real part of my life again!

Oh, and I had my 2 week post-op last Monday and all went well. Dr. S. was really happy with my progress and pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t using any sort of walking aid, either a cane or crutch. My scars are healing quickly and I’m not due for another follow-up until April. I got my operative report which did note that they’d had to repair my bursa when they removed the screws and that I’d had a lot of bursitis in my left hip, a fact that came as no surprise to me based on my previous levels of discomfort. I am meeting with PT before that so they can give me guidance on what I should focus on.

Onward and upward!

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.

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.

Surgeries and Surprises

First, Happy slightly belated St. Patrick’s Day! Hope you were out drinking green beer and eating corned beef and cabbage!

It’s been a little while since my last post and I have lots to report. For those who don’t want to / have time to read the full post, here are the bullet points:

1. One of the bones in my right pelvis that was broken during the PAO surgery (the pubis bone) did not grow back together. Dr has prescribed a bone stimulator / increase protein to make it grow. If it doesn’t work I may have to have ANOTHER hip surgery on my right side to bridge the gap.
2. We are a go for my Open SDD surgery on my Left Hip on May 8th (pre-op April 30th).
3. Sinus surgery is set for THIS week (Thursday, March 21st). Basically, Dr is creating a straight shot out of my sinuses / removing bone and tissue / fixing my deviated septum. Same day surgery, home Thursday evening, around a week of recovery.

THE LONG VERSION
I met my hip surgeon for my 3 month RPAO follow-up / 2 month pre- Left hip Open SDD appointment on March 15th. The appointment started with x-rays. I met with my Dr. and mentioned that although PT (physical therapy) was going well and even though I am able to walk unaided, I was concerned about a new sort of pinchy/burning feeling that I’ve been noticing in the front of my hip. It also sometimes feels like the tendon is rolling over the joint, almost like it’s catching.

During my hip evaluation, my Dr. had me sit at the end of the table and try to lift my leg up off the table (really hard to do) while he pushed down. It was excruciating and I squealed in pain, not a normal reaction at 12 weeks post surgery. The Dr. then pulled up my x-rays. The x-ray showed that one my the bones had not grown together, possibly at all. The two sections of bone appeared to be about a centimeter apart, not even touching. This is called nonunion (when the bone does not grow back together following the surgical break) or slow union. It is one of the complications that can result from PAO surgery, normally only in about 1% of cases. Oh, lucky me. Even when it does happen, is typically asymptomatic and therefore does not require further medical intervention. Unfortunately for me, it may be the reason that I’m having pain in the front of my hip and, it’s possible that the tendon is getting stuck in the break. Gruesome.

The Dr prescribed me a bone stimulator which is a machine I will have to wear every day at home and will hopefully stimulate the bone to regrow. His staff also recommended I increase my daily intake of protein and calcium as much as possible so unfortunately for the animals, my efforts toward vegetarianism are taking a break. Hopefully the bone stimulator + increase in protein works. If it doesn’t, and if I continue to have problems, I may have to have a further surgery on my right hip after my SDD surgery in May. I should know more after my next appointment. In any event, it doesn’t sound like it will prevent me from moving forward on my left hip surgery which is good.

My next appointment on April 30 is my pre-op for my Open SDD surgery scheduled for May 8. It’s so strange to think of going through all of this again when I feel like I’m not even through the first surgery but I have to just keep moving forward, partly because I don’t really have any other choice.

In other news, my sinus surgery is scheduled for this Thursday, March 21. It’s a same-day surgery so assuming that the surgery requires that I get there at 7am, I expect to be home by 3pm or 4pm. The doctor is performing a septoplasty, turbinectomy, balloon sinuplasty and I don’t even know what else. The goal is to create more space in my sinuses so that when I have allergy problems, my sinuses don’t get so inflamed that they completely block and get infected. I also started back to allergy shots, 4 shots 1-2x week.

This year is already wearing me out and it’s only March. It feels absurd to me that my hip problems have so taken over my life. I am really looking forward to getting though the next 9 months and getting back to my life (surgery free!). Until then, the saga continues.

(Mostly) Crutch Free + 12 week Status Update

It’s been 11.5 weeks since my PAO and I am crutch free (mostly)! I say mostly because I am not willing to put away the crutches quite yet, and will definitely have them with me for longer trips (and I will absolutely continue to use the motorized scooter when I shop at Target). But this weekend, when I went out to dinner with my husband and when I walked 23 (23!) blocks over Sunday afternoon I did it only with a cane. I admit, by the end of the walk both of my legs were aching something fierce but I surprised myself by going as far as I did. I don’t seem to have a limp (as far as I can tell) and my surgery’d side hurts less than my yet-to-be-surgery’d side so I am really pleased.

Recovery was tough for the last week or two – I was doing more because of PT and my hips were not happy about it, very sore and achy and my muscles always quivering. But something seemed to turn a corner this Thursday because when I went to PT it was as if my muscles all decided to start trying to work again and I felt stronger and more capable. My therapist even approved my not using crutches. I’m know that the rest of PT will not be a cake walk and that I have a ways to go to be ‘normal’ but it was nice to feel like I was improving.

For reference, here are some answers about the status of my recovery to date (as of March 9th — 12 weeks and 1 day post-op):

  • When did I feel significantly better?  My pain was well managed but I was exhausted for the first 2 months. It literally took until 11 weeks until I felt significantly better.
  • How long was I on pain meds?  Narcotics (oxy) – 11 days following surgery; non-narcotic but strong – thru Jan 10th (about 1 month following surgery); Tylenol/Aleve – consistently thru 2 months post surgery; still occasionally
  • When was I able to completely take care of myself? My mom and husband were willing to help a lot so I let them. It was until mid Jan (about 1month post surgery) that I started to really take care of myself completely. If I had needed to I could have taken care of myself completely at between 2-3 weeks.
  • How long was I on crutches/walker? Non weight bearing crutches or walker – thru 5 weeks; weight bearing crutches – thru 10 weeks.  I continue to use a cane.
  • When was I able to wear anything but sweatpants? 2-3 weeks
  • When was I pain free? Too early to answer – still have some pain and lots of soreness
  • When was I able to lay on the operated side? 4 weeks
  • When was I able to drive? Don’t drive (live in NYC)
  • How long before I had a day that I didn’t need to lay in bed most of the day? I started working from home at 3 weeks – that was when I stopped laying in my recliner as much but I continue to rest and sleep a lot more than I used to.

I passed the half-way point between my 2 hip surgeries on February 24th and I am 9.5 weeks out from the SDD surgery. The 24th was an emotionally difficult day because I realized that I am actually going to have to go through this (or something like this) again and although I have handled the physical components of recovery well, the emotional has been harder than anticipated. I am scheduled for my next follow-up with my surgeon on March 15th so we will have lots to discuss. I’m really curious to hear if he thinks that I will need another scope on my right side (please, I really hope not). Also, following my unsuccessful balloon surgery attempt, I am scheduled for full sinus surgery (fix the deviated septum, turbinectomy, balloon sinuplasty, who knows what else but ALL performed under general anesthesia) on March 21st. Good news is that recovery for that should just be the weekend, plenty of time for the May 8th SDD.

20130303-224343.jpg