Tag Archives: surgery

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.

Steri-Strip Free Me

Life is moving along quite well over the last few days and my recovery progresses.

On Saturday night, Guy and I went out to dinner for the first time since surgery. The restaurant, Aita, is really good and, lucky for us, located about 1/3 block from our apartment. Based on how long it took me to get there though, you might have assumed it was quite a distance away. Crutching is exhausting and slow, whether or not I use my snazzy Millenial crutches.

Dinner was tasty, although sitting was sorta rough. The whole structure of my pelvis is a little different and the muscles in my right side have atrophied a bit due to lack of use. As a result, sitting on seats that have insufficient padding causes soreness and general discomfort. By the end of our hour long dinner I was looking forward to my cushy recliner.

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Sunday we headed out for another wheelchair adventure and though I thought that the sidewalks in my neighborhood were already a wheelchair nightmare, ice managed to make it that much more unpleasant. Aside from my transport frustration, it was ice cold waiting outside for our sandwiches but Boris helped to make sure I was toasty warm (and I returned the favor by cuddling him under my coat and hood).

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New Years found Guy and I performing our annual tradition of scrambling to make our year-end charitable contributions. What once started as an error in timing has turned into an actual tradition. As you can tell, we would rather hide in our apartment than venture out on New Years (and my limited mobility would have made it impossible either way). I had a few visitors on New Years day which was LOVELY. I absolutely enjoy the company and appreciate their willingness to come over to the house.

I’m also back to work, starting today. I’m working from home but I anticipate that it will go pretty well. I have a good set-up at home and am able to focus without any problems. The key is to take enough breaks throughout the day so that my hip doesnt’ get too sore. I also started to teach myself a tiny bit of HTML, to hopefully make the site a bit snazzier (for example, the photos have colored frames and some of the words are colored). Like my recovery, my learning curve will undoubtedly be slow.

Heads Up – Scar Photo Ahead

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Finally, I am very pleased to report that the steri-strips on my scar have all gone away and I can now see it in its full gory glory. It’s actually not that bad looking and at 8″ is on the shorter side of what I had anticipated. I am sure it will continue to fade over time but since it has been less than 3 weeks since my surgery (3 weeks as of January 3rd) I am really totally OK.

Oh, and Happy Belated New Year!!

Rockin’ the Follow-up

I just want to start by saying that I had very good last couple of days.

On Wednesday afternoon, my husband Guy came home from visiting his family in Toronto over Christmas. It was really great to see him as he’d been for six days. It also meant my mom was going to be leaving the following day and that Guy would need to take over all of the responsibilities of caring for me that my mother had been dealing with since I’d come home from the hospital. As one might imagine, my mom had done a lot to help because of my limited mobility but I was sure Guy was up for the task.

On Thursday, my mom packed her bags, put on her babushka, and headed for the airport and home.

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We realized there were a couple things needed around the house and decided to take a track out to Target. At somewhere around 15 blocks from our house, the trip took quite a while and was the farthest that I have been out of the house since my surgery. My hip was quite sore because of all the bumps in the sidewalk and I iced for a while once I got home. Although it was windy and cold, it was sunny outside outside and Guy and I had lots of laughs.

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Today was my two-week follow-up from my surgery so we rented a car and made our way to HSS for my 10 AM appointment. At the appointment, the PA removed my stitches and all of the icky Steri-Strips. My incision is mostly healed though they put a few more strips on to make sure that it is set. Here I am, hanging out on the exam table.

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My surgeon, Dr. S., came in and reviewed my x-rays with me and talked about what would happen over the next month as well as what to expect at my six-week follow-up. He felt things were going really well so far but said he would have a better idea of where things stood once they do x-rays late in January. I genuinely cannot say enough wonderful things about my surgeon in terms of his expertise and his demeanor, both at the hospital and at every appointment i’ve had with him. He is so professional yet incredibly kind and I feel very lucky.

We stopped at Whole Foods on the way home from the appointment. I’m surprised how tired I was, having been out only for a couple hours — I’m probably heading to bed early tonight. Guy’s been really amazing in helping me out and cooking my food and taking care of the animals and just about everything. I do wonder though if Fawn (our kitty) may be taking advantage of his kindness…

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In any event, it’s been a really nice couple of days. I have mostly minor aches which is far better than I expected. We may go to out to dinner tomorrow and see a movie on Sunday and I’m actually looking forward to getting back to work (from home) next week. With all the TV I’ve watched its a surprise my mind has not turned to mush! Boris doesn’t seem to mind either way.

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Merry Vegan Christmas

It was a pretty mellow Christmas here in Brooklyn. My mom made a really fantastic vegan dinner complete with mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegan gravy, brussels sprouts and a surprisingly tasty Field Roast Hazelnut Cranberry roll.

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Lots of protein (extremely important for healing) and lots of grapes and pears for dessert. Here is a photo of my mom joyfully displaying the feast (note the cotton candy pink tree in the background) as well as a photo of my plate (and elevated toes and walker as a backdrop).

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We took another trip in the wheelchair and I am really shocked by how un-wheelchair friendly my building and the local streets are. I am going to write some strongly worded letters, that’s for sure. Aside from the obstacles I am starting to get a tiny bit better with the chair but it is physically exhausting!

Only other bit of news is that I lowered my med dosages again to 3x/day (from 4x/day) and am off all narcotics. I have my first follow-up with my surgeon on the 28th. This first appointment is really just so he can see how I’m doing and how my scar is healing. I won’t have an X-ray of the bone until my 6-week check-up, sometime in late January. That will be a defining appointment where my surgeon will tell me whether my pelvis has grown back together or if there are any complications.

And with that, Merry Christmas and on to Boxing Day!

What a difference!

I think it is fair to say that yesterday was the hardest day of my recovery so far. Everything I did, from lowering my pain meds to maintaining the level of Valium I was taking, resulted in me being either completely exhausted or in excruciating pain. It also didn’t help that yesterday was the first day I tried to use my walker for a brief trip down the hallway. The end result was a lot of tears and 11 hours of sleep last night, capped off by cookies.

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Happily, however, today is very much a different day. I woke up well rested, and managed to get through a couple of Tasks that, pre-surgery would’ve seemed like nothing but now that I am limited to only one leg and in a decent amount of pain, seem like insurmountable goals. It’s still apparent that I need someone here with me at almost all times to help me eat, prepare my meds, bathe, and prevent me from falling over. To my surprise, taking a shower is actually one of the easier things I have to do because I have the benefit of the shower chair and a lot of stabilizing equipment to keep me from falling over. My mom has been amazing in terms of keeping me on schedule with my meds and keeping me entertained and well fed. I don’t know what I would do without her. My next appointment with my doctor isn’t until the 28th and I would not be surprised if I continue to need help through at least at that time and probably a lot longer since I don’t get to bear weight on my right leg for 6 weeks.

My scar continues to be covered mostly by Steri-Strips and there’s really not nearly as much bruising as I’d anticipated. The incision feels sort of lumpy right now (sorry- that may sound gross) and I am very anxious for the stupid Steri-Strips to fall off so I can see what the whole thing looks like.

20121222-191604.jpg The exterior edge if my right leg is still numb – I figure it will take quite some time until I get the feeling back.

I’m hoping that the weather tomorrow is a little bit nicer because I’d love to go out in my wheelchair and tool around the neighborhood. I’m not exactly claustrophobic but I have been in the house for days and wouldn’t mind a little variety. Almost any activity wears me out these days but I feel like I need to start somewhere.

For the heck of it, here is a video of my cat attacking wrapping paper.

Maybe I Overestimated

I has been 1 week since my surgery and a little over 1 week until my first follow-up appointment (December 28th).

I’m starting to think that how I was feeling on Tuesday was just a tease, a day when I didn’t feel so bad that I was lulled into believing the worst was over and I was on the way to getting back to normal. It may have been the fact that I was finally allowed to take a shower or that the hospital meds were still in my system. In any event, I cannot emphasize enough how wrong I was.

Wednesday was a rough day that made me believe that I haven’t even experienced the worst of the pain less than the idea that am recovering. My hip, hip joint, incision site, my thigh, my lower back, core muscles, backside, and un-operated leg are so incredibly tight and sore. It aches to simply lay down and can be frightening when I move about the apartment on my walker because I feel genuinely afraid of falling down when my left leg starts to shake. Falling down would be a disaster because it could mean that the screws which are holding my acetabulum in place could break or bend — and would therefore require more surgery. Today is a little better but I am shockingly exhausted and my legs seem to shake all the time.

I have been doing my PT exercises, as much as I can. They are really basic — flex/extend ankles; press thigh into the bed, raise a can over my head while lying over my back — and from what I understand these will be the basic exercises I will be doing for several weeks. This part of the process is less about strengthening than rebuilding, letting my pelvic bones grow mesh back together into one cohesive unit.The hope is that meshing will be done by the 6 week follow-up (late January) at which time I can I can start weight-bearing on both legs and eventually be off crutches in February or March 2013.

By way of a reminder and as I previously noted (and as is probably evinced by my bizzaro writing), I am on a lot of pain and focusing is not my greatest skill. Sometimes I just start writing and get distracted but keep writing and then look down and it’s like my fingers have a mind of their own. I have also taken to falling asleep while people are talking to me on the phone or in person, like i blink and in that single second I fall asleep and start dreaming and simply forget to reopen my eyes. Also, as I try to type late and night I repeatedly just about drop my iPad or iPhone when I start to drift off to sleep. I thought that was a late night problem but I am revising my note this morning and the problem is just as bad.

One note of thanks to those who kindly sent flowers and treats from Zabars They are really beautiful and yummy — here is post them.

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Home

I am happy to report that I made it home from the hospital yesterday and arrived at our apartment around 2pm. The house was super walker/crutch sound effects, I have a recliner I sit in during the day (and a rolling overbed table), and for night i sleep on a chaise (I would sleep in our bedroom with the dog and cat except for my severe allergies.

Things started off really good – not a lot of pain and a lot of people around to support me. My husband set-up an app on my iPhone called PILBOXIE which reminds me exactly what pills to take, how many of each, what they look like, dosage etc. It’s also great because it keeps track of the pills you have taken in the past so that when I go to my 2 week follow-up appointment I can say exactly what I had been taking.

Things continued on a good track through part of today, to the point where i thought that I would be ready to get back to work sooner than anticipated. I quickly realized that rushing back to work too soon would probably mean that my recovery overall will take far longer. That realization, coupled with an increased amount pain on both my operated and yet-to-be-operated-on plus the fact that the back of my throat is red/swollen/with possible strep blisters implies that rushing back and wearing down my immune system is not a good plan,

On the red sore throat (strep?), I called my physicians office to ask what to do and am waiting
hear back. Otherwise I’m ok aside from totally lacking coordination and the fact the drugs really make me loopy to the point that i don’t know where i am and I literally fall asleep if I close my eyes for 3 seconds.

On a surgical note, the incision is 8″ and the SteriStrips are starting to come off – creepy incision photos coming soon I hope!

Fading fast – more details tomorrow!!