Friday, March 2, 2012

One month -- approaching normal

I'm sneaking up on normal. I'm still feeling constrained. But, at least "normal" is in sight.

Lumbering along without a cane, I'm picking up speed, but still slow by my own standards. Everyone seems amazed that I manage stairs pretty easily. Friends comment that they'd think I was "normal" if they didn't know I'd just had major surgery. Hmmm -- a marginal compliment. 

My exercise routine is picking up, too. That really helps. I can't do stretches yet, but I'm almost working up to a sweat. The calorie burn lets me eat nearly normally and moves my energy level closer to usual.

I've been able to ditch most of my "aids" and equipment. Cane and walker are packed away. I'm ready to return that ridiculous raised commode. Blood thinner medication is finally done. I can sit in most chairs (carefully -- though I still avoid deep slouchy couches) and use most bathrooms. Still need the goofy cushions in the car to keep my hips higher than my knees when I'm driving.

I still have positional restrictions to avoid (the remote possibility of) dislocation -- for another two weeks (hips higher than knees. keep a 90 degree angle between torso and thighs). So, I'm still having trouble putting on my sock and toenail polish is out of the question. From experience, I also know that when this restriction is finally lifted, I'll still be too stiff to actually reach my toes or do stretches effectively. This becomes another comedy for a few weeks while I try to regain flexibility.

Exercises are boring, but fruitful. A diligent icing regimen has finally reduced most of my oversized backside. I can wear blue jeans again! These seem like small accomplishments but significantly help lifestyle.

It will probably be another six weeks before I feel comfortable getting on a real bike or powerwalking for exercise. I'm grateful not to have suffered any setbacks so far. And the slowdown in activity has prompted a closer look at life and priorities as well as an appreciation for the love and support of friends and family. Yet another chapter of life interrupted.... and appreciated....

Monday, February 20, 2012

2 1/2 weeks -- freedom and limitations

New found freedom: driving again! Even the clutch isn't giving me trouble. While I enjoyed the companionship of my friends/chauffeurs, this is more pragmatic.

Also had a weekend of outings: my family took me to the Badger hockey game, dinners and lunches at interesting places. I was actually starting to feel pretty normal, if a little slow still. 

When you carry a cane, people pay attention. You get  the first seat on the bar bus to the hockey game. The security guys at the gate don't care about what's in your bag. People in the grocery store give you a wide berth. I used to be self conscious, but I'm past all that personal esteem/concern.

The outings were great. But, I had forgotten some of the challenges. Finding an appropriate chair to sit on in restaurants and at friends' houses is sometimes interesting. Bar stools have to have a footrest that supports the required 90 degree angle of my hip. And, hard stools aren't great on the sore caboose. Deep, comfy couches are out. 

Then there's bathrooms. Most public places have a handicapped rest room -- usually this works OK, but can get interesting depending on where they place the safety rails. Then, at our lake house, all the commodes are ancient -- and low; the only one I could use was in the remodeled basement (a long trip at night).

I'm hoping in another week my backside won't be so sore and I'll begin to work through some of these restrictions for more practical applications. Beginning a return to my exercise program -- stationary bike-- is helping. But two miles in 30 minutes is no record.

While my concentration and ability to begin to get back to work are gaining, progress is still slow. This is the greatest frustration. I'm trying to bite off small, finite projects, in an effort to get going again. Some mornings, though, my eyes just glaze over when I sit down at the computer....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Two weeks -- Still on track

Had my two week check-in with my doc. Progress is on schedule. Though I continue to be impatient to get on with "normal" activities, I can now shower (a blessing to everyone around me) and begin to get back into an exercise routine (slowly), driving (maybe next week) and just picking up my pace a little.

I find this to be an interesting period of "healing." Most days are better than the day before, but not always. Patience is a virtue I struggle with. My prosthesis is porous ingrowth -- instead of being cemented to my bones, it's supposed to "grow" into my bones. This can take many months. While I'm feeling securely put together, there are occasionally some adjustments and some setbacks with discomfort, which account for some of the bumps in my road to recovery. So far, so good.

I'm grateful to have pretty much kicked the walker good-bye. Such a clumsy mode of ambulation. However, now I'm always leaving my cane somewhere behind and forgetting where it is. This is mostly happy progress.

My current challenge continues to be avoiding the pain meds. Finally down to my three doses of Tylenol daily, I'm starting to feel more alert and focused and my stomach has settled down. But, I'm left noticing the stiffness and discomfort in moving around and settling down to sleep remains an interesting exercise some nights. Recovery presents its own demands.

Tomorrow, therapy discharges me, too. We've fashioned an ongoing exercise program that should promote continued strength and range of motion. The only "care" that continues through the next month is weekly blood work to monitor risk of blood clots. Yet another medication to manage. 

This is also the point in recovery where I'll do my best if I listen to my body. Unfortunately, my body does not stay on a linear progress model -- just as I'm struggling to get back to a working agenda. I'm fortunate, my colleagues and family are exceedingly understanding. But, I need to be careful to allow myself extra "cushions" in deadlines and commitments. It's disappointing to get up some mornings and confess that I just can't do some things and have to get out the cane again.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 8 -- picking up speed

Two steps forward, one step back....

Had to take a step back to pain meds at night. I'm so sensitive -- a quarter of a typical dose snows me. However, getting reasonable sleep was becoming a factor. The pain is not significant -- I just can't get comfortable enough to drop off to sleep. Wearing a knee immobilizer is not a comfortable way to sleep to begin with. I'm getting along on plain Tylenol during the day just fine -- the little twinges typical of healing are welcome.

Happily, I'm moving a little faster and with more confidence. I'm attached to my walker for a while yet. I've been explaining that my moving around is like a toddler's -- I can "cruise" around the furniture, counters, etc. and use the walker for moving out over open carpet. I'm expecting release myself to a cane over the weekend -- feeling like I can stand and pivot on the "new" hip with greater confidence. Whew!

I still have a gi-normous backside, despite frequent icing. Since I have to wear the silly TED hose (those white, up-the thigh, compression sox designed to minimize clots), this presents a hugely obvious bulge in my oversize athletic pants. My latest lesson in humility. Progress, at a cost.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day 4

I'm settling in for a boring two weeks. I need to count myself lucky that my recovery seems to be on track and I'm moving forward, if slowly. Last go 'round, it was all new and surprising and I was able to find a little joy in being able to care for myself, move around  on my own, etc.This time, I know what's (probably) coming -- another two weeks of stumping around on a cane and an oversize caboose. (Even my oversize athletic pants are bulging!) I'm trying to remind myself that these things mark a good recovery!

So, let's count the positives. I'm mobile with my walker, can navigate the stairs, but can't handle many household chores (clearly a positive -- the orthopedic surgeon around the house has been a cheerful caregiver). I'm weaning off pain meds and hope to be back to just Tylenol tomorrow -- have a little bit of achiness, probably just the healing process, that creeps in occasionally and I don't want this to get ahead of me. 

While I don't trust myself to address business projects in my current, slightly loopy state, I'm hoping to get around to some personal projects -- organizing photo files, re-naming and  -categorizing business electronic files -- all those things I've been meaning to do for so long. These would give me great personal satisfaction! 

I'm reminded of how difficult it is for us to just "rest." Introspection, contemplation -- we should be carving out more  time for these in our lives.  So much for constant  busy-ness! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Not so cheerfully onward

It's interesting what you remember (or don't) from prior surgeries. I can't remember how I washed my hair (since I'm not supposed to bend over to less than a 90 degree angle torso to hips). Will have to do a little tutorial with the therapist this afternoon.

Also forgot how frustrating it is to be so slow --- clunk, clunk, clunk with my walker. 

As my daughter would say, look on the bright side. Here I am safely at home, using my computer, catching up on my reading, watching old movies -- and taking some time off work! (Sort of.) 

I'd been accumulating a (long, LONG) list of activities to complete while convalescing. Have to start that with some fruitful projects. Maybe tomorrow. Still having a little trouble  returning to some semblance of a normal waking-sleeping schedule.

As always, the support of friends and family has been a critical factor. Thank you, everyone!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When a hip starts to go....

I don't know how people wait months to have their surgery.

Five or six weeks ago, I thought I'd be planning this procedure next fall or winter. Three weeks ago, my symptoms took a major step up -- significant pain and mobility issues, I knew there was an increased problem, but I could manage with Tylenol. The past couple days, symptoms have become difficult to control. I can't keep people from noticing that I'm hobbling. I'm careful where I kneel or squat down because I know I'll need support to get up.

So, I'm forced to say: I'm glad I'm having surgery tomorrow. Sure wish I could skip the next 6 weeks, though.