Monthly Archives: October 2017

5.5 Weeks

It’s been an interesting week. I continue to have challenges standing on my right leg and I still limp when I walk, though it is better than it was last week. I expressed my frustration to my Physical Therapist and we added new strengthening exercises, which I probably overdid (no I would NEVER do that, would I?). This led to a sharp pain in the side of my right leg, which made my problem worse, especially the motion of stepping up (stairs, for example).

So, I decided to try something novel and accept where I was at and stop pushing. Well, it wasn’t actually that rational. What really happened is I tried stepping up stairs until I was in utter agony, at which point, I collapsed and cried for awhile. My thoughts went something like this: I’ll never be able to walk normally again. I’m in the same place I was before the surgery and everything I tried then only made it worse, just like now. I am a master of catastrophizing.

In the midst of my tears and despair, a calm voice within that I’ve come to call my Witness, suggested that I STOP. Breathe and let go, let it be, stop pushing, do what you can that doesn’t hurt. 

Since then, I’ve made the fun discovery that I am way more flexible this week and can do yoga poses that I’m technically not supposed to be doing, like standing forward bends and touching the floor.

I can do more Tai Chi than I’ve been able to do, but I can’t push any repetitive motion that involves bending the right knee and putting weight on it. I am not using the cane as much and walking around the block is easier, though I do bring the cane along for support. I’m not lurching to the right side as badly as I was before. (I’ll try to figure out how to add video to this blog next week, so you can see how I’m moving after the critical 6-week mark.)

My other exciting news is that now that I can touch my toes again, I was able to trim my gnarly toenails and shave my furry legs. Yay! The things we take for granted…

This week, I was able to return to my wonderful massage therapist, Stephanie. I had been massaging vitamin E oil into the incision and rubbing the muscles with salve twice a day since about 3.5 weeks. I told her to try working on the scar tissue and see what she could do. She was able to go deeper than she’d expected and I felt a release afterwards in a ball of tissue I’d been feeling under the incision that was affecting my muscles. The incision site and the muscles underneath are less tender to the touch. So, I was able to sleep on my right side this week for the first time! (This is exciting for me–a side sleeper.)

Today, the muscles on the side of my leg are less sore and I can spend more time on my right leg without pain. I even made it through the 24-posture, short form, Yang-style Tai Chi sequence this morning, with a lot of modifications. I’m sure you have seen 80 and 90-year-old people do this traditional sequence on some video or another over the years–I look a lot like them, but I can do it!

I’m encouraged on this end of the week with my recovery process. I am just having lessons in patience and surrender to my own unique healing path.

Moral of this week: Accept where you really are and go from there. Don’t push to be somewhere you are not.

Fun Story of the week: On Sunday afternoon, I walked in the Arboretum in the park behind our house. The fall colors were still beautiful and it was in the 70’s. Families were out enjoying the day and taking pictures. I saw a family playing in the leaves under a large tree. As I approached, the little boy started running towards me, “Nana!  Nana!” His mother said, “Honey, that isn’t your Grandma.” I bet she walks with a cane too. Later it struck me that it was the first public acknowledgment of my entrance into the Elder stage of my life, and who better to notice than a little tyke!

——————————————————————————————————————————————I am very excited to have finally figured out how to create this blog. (I actually started this blog this weekend, but will back fill it with previous events, so the timeline makes sense to new readers.) This is my first whole blog entry! It is amazing how far the blogging/website design software has come since I did my last one 10-20 years ago. I have lots to learn, but at least I’ve begun. For those of you who began with me emailing updates, I’ll add an archive of those as previous posts when I have time. Then, if you missed anything, it will be here.

Email Update #9 – Day 33

Dearly Beloved,

It’s the end of a busy, back-in-the-world kind of week and I must say it’s good to be back! Went to two awesome theater performances this week: Piaf and Beautiful (the Carole King story). Both were wonderful and the singers they chose to play the parts were spot on and had amazing voices and stage presences. I was happy to be able to sit through them and actually took the stairs out of Beautiful on Wednesday!

Yesterday, our neighbors, Bill and Marybeth King hosted the annual Oktoberfest party and we had over 30 people come to share good food, beer, wine and conversation. It was a wonderful gathering. Big thanks to the Kings for hosting so we could have this special event this year! Thanks to all of you who were present for being there and your tasty contributions. We missed those of you who couldn’t make it, but you know, there is always next year!

It felt like a “coming out” party for my hip. Everyone was curious about how I was doing. It was so great to hear everyone say they were surprised by how well I was doing at 4 ½ weeks after surgery. Especially because this week has been one of my hardest. My progress on my walk slowed considerably and I am still using a cane and limping due to a lack of strength in my gluteal muscles on my right side. I’m working hard to strengthen them, but it is slow and painful. I also know that it is getting better, just in slower increments and this is pushing my impatience buttons! I also think that I’m subconsciously afraid of hitting a wall like I have in the past. I remind myself that this is new territory and to just keep patiently and steadily doing my rehab exercises.

I did see some improvement in my flexibility that was encouraging, like I can now touch my toes again both when standing and sitting! Next week I should be able to trim my gnarly toenails-yay! (The simple joys of life I used to take for granted.) Maybe I’ll get really crazy and shave my legs…

I didn’t get my website/blog set up, but maybe by next week.

I hope this finds all of you well and enjoying a great weekend.

Love to you all!

Rhonda

Update #8 – Day 26

Dearly Beloved,

Wow, has a lot changed this week! I hope all of you had a wonderful week. Here the colors continue to change and the leaves are falling more rapidly. Scott harvested the last of the tomatoes and the plants are withering with frost now. Old man winter is knocking on the door.

My hip is improving daily now, which is really exciting! I seem to require less and less down time to recover and can stand and walk and exercise for longer periods. They really pushed me in PT this week and my therapist said it was time for me to start testing some limits and see what my body could do. So, I did…

I figured out how to get back on my yoga mat on the floor and do part of my salutation sequence! I am so unbelievably excited by this! I didn’t think I’d be able to do this until the 6-week mark, but I did it on my 3-week anniversary! I included a video my friend Marta took when she first saw me do it. It’s the one with me on the yoga mat. I’m also walking more and more without a cane and my walk improves continuously now. I included a video Scott took yesterday, after the yoga mat video. I can put more weight on the leg, but I can only hold it about 1-2 seconds. I’m still working on strengthening it. I’m happy to say I made it all the way around the block a couple of days ago! A feat I have not managed in a couple of months.

Rhonda’s Hip Adventure Videos  You can always click on the “i” in the circle to find out what a video is about and when it was taken.

I’m also resuming my Qigong when I get up in the morning. Great way to loosen everything up and get moving. I’m going to try some easy Tai Chi this afternoon. Tai Chi is an awesome way to work with weight shifting and balance without too much strain.

I had my first outing—dinner at Scott’s dad’s place with my mom and Scott and Jim’s old neighbor, Kitty. It was great to get out and be able to sit through a whole meal!

Tonight, we are going to see an Edith Piaf performance at the theater downtown. I’m really looking forward to it. It will be the first time I experience the elevator.

I tested out driving around the block yesterday and it was a cinch, so I’m back in the saddle again and Scott is done “Driving Miss Daisy” on her Princess Pillow. Thank you, Scott for all your patient chauffeuring and errand running these last few weeks!

The pain is now minimal and I’m only taking a couple of ibuprofen at bedtime and a Benadryl. Sleep is much better and more restful.

Oh, other big exciting event of the week was being able to put on socks and underwear without having to use tongs or my grabber tool! The flexibility in my hip is greatly improved and that makes life so much easier.

It feels like I am rejoining life and the world now after a more reclusive, introspective time. I’m happy to be back! I look forward to connecting with each of you when the time is right.

As part of my rejoining the world, I’ve decided to reinvent rhondaashurst.com. I’d like to use it as a blogging platform, and also a repository of my writing and favorite resources. I was inspired by the many bloggers who helped me with their stories about their own hip surgeries and recovery. I’d like to add to the growing database out there by posting my own Hip Adventures. But, I also have a lot of other topics I’d like to explore and this feels like a good way to do it.

I’m hopeful I’ll be able to get it up and running within the next couple of weeks and then I’ll shift my updates to that platform and email out a link to all of you. I think it is amazing what we can do on the Internet! It is a great way to share information and learn about how others have come through similar challenges. Like my dear friend Mary says, “When we tell each other our stories, we help each other heal.”

So, I don’t know if I will be sending out another group email update. We will see how it goes.

I want to express my gratitude to my amazing partner, Scott, who has attended lovingly to my every need with patience, steadiness, and lots of positive energy. I could never have done this without you and I am continually amazed by you. Thank you for loving me and for teaching me to be a better person, every day.

Thanks also to all of you who have held me in your thoughts and prayers, sent me your good wishes and gifted me sweet comforts, delicious food and beautiful flowers along the way. You are the treasures of my life.

Special thanks to my mom, who provided so many delicious meals these last few weeks!

My blessings to you all!

With much love and a big hug,

Rhonda

 

Update # 7 – Day 19

Dearly Beloved,

Happy Sunday to all of you! Hope you are having a fun and relaxing day. I am chilling out after doing too much yesterday… Still trying to figure out balance of rest and activity, which is a challenge, because it seems to change by leaps and bounds now.

Something major shifted on Day 15 (Wednesday). The best way I can describe it is that my body stopped fighting the implant and began to embrace it. My muscles began to release and the pain levels decreased significantly. It was like my body said, “Wow! There’s a super strong hip here! Let’s see what we can do with it!” Since then, I get stronger and stronger each day. I walk around often without the cane, picking it up when I get fatigued or my form falls apart. (I will get some video footage for the next update of my walk.)

At physical therapy this week, I had the therapist show me how to get on my hands and knees and stomach so I could do more of my yoga. That felt soooo good! I also started walking more—did a whole block and a half yesterday. I’m trying to find the right mix, day-by-day, of exercise, stretching, standing, sitting, reclining, resting. Some days I do better than others.

The pain has been much better since Day 15. Since then I’ve been using about 5 ibuprofen every 24 hours, a glass of wine at night, and Benadryl to sleep. If I have a rough night, I take a Valium. This works great. I also have a magical marijuana salve that does wonders for all my sore muscles and feels great. I love that stuff, because it has no side effects and is great for my skin too (also smells nice). It takes effect instantly and lasts for a few hours.

The exciting part of the week, was my post-op appointment on Friday where I had my bandage removed and got to see the incision for the first time. It is 6 inches long and all the stitches are dissolvable. The bandage stayed on since the surgery and it pulled off so much more easily than I’d expected. I was told not to touch it until the one month mark, or put anything on it, except to protect it if necessary. I can shower normally and just let the soap and water run over it, but don’t scrub it. Yay! No more Glad Press n’ Sealing my butt before showers!

They also took more xrays (below). Just for fun, I also included the before xray. The surgeon’s assistant showed me that they got my leg length spot on! (Bottom of the pelvis now lines up evenly.) He also showed me where the cinch (knot) is in the zip-tie (wire) around my femur. It is in the front and off to the side of my thigh. Neither one of us could feel it, which is good and I hope it stays that way. It would require another surgery to remove it. Like he said, “You don’t want to do that unless it is REALLY bothering you.”

Bi-lateral Front View of Right Hip Post-Op ROC

He also explained that they had wanted to go deeper into my pelvis so they could get more coverage over the cup and get that second screw (one on the outside) deeper into my pelvis, but my pelvis was so thin, they were afraid they would punch through the back wall, so they stopped. I think they did an amazing job, considering the narrow margins they had to work with!

He encouraged me to lose the cane as soon as I can and said they will see me in a month. Then I should be cleared to do most things (or at least begin trying). I have two more weeks of physical therapy. Hopefully after that, I can drive.

Life is beginning to normalize slowly and I feel so much better and more inspired than I did as of my last update. The hip doesn’t feel so strange anymore. Scott is happy to have more help around the house and in the kitchen, even if I sometimes suddenly announce that I have to go sit down in the middle of something… Now shorter rests will quickly get me back on my feet again.

So, it’s up and out from here!!

The weather is beautiful and all the trees are changing. Here’s a picture of the view out the living room window, where I spend a lot of time.

Fun observation of last few days: It appears that I am also going through the final stages of peri-menopause alongside my hip adventure. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to involve a lot of unpleasant symptoms for me, except the occasional mild hot flash. The upside of doing these two things simultaneously is 1) you get it all over with at once and 2) there’s always an ice pack around when you have a hot flash!

On that note, enjoy your Sunday evening. Know I love you and am thinking about you. I’m starting to find the energy and time to respond individually, so will probably move to weekly updates now. Looking forward to connecting with each of you when the time is right. I am so thankful for your presence in my life, know that I love you.

Blessings,

Rhonda

Email Update #6 – Day 14

Dearly Beloved,

I can’t believe it’s been 5 days since my last update! It’s been a challenging several days of dealing with reactions to the narcotic medication (terrible headaches), then deciding to stop it, and then dealing with the withdrawal symptoms! I haven’t felt normal or had decent energy until today. I can understand how people get hooked on drugs and cannot get off them. Then you take other drugs to deal with the withdrawal symptoms! For example, I take Valium to sleep now that I don’t have the narcotic at night. Fortunately, Valium doesn’t have bad side effects, but it is highly addictive. I try to use only one pill every other night or less. I will be very glad when I don’t have to take medications anymore! Right now, I control the pain with an alternating mix of Tylenol and ibuprofen. It works most of the time and the rest of the time I use ice and pain meditations until it calms down.

I had my second PT appointment yesterday and paced myself much better. It’s amazing what a difference that makes! Still a little sore in my butt and this causes pain and restriction when I try to lift, extend, shift weight onto, and kick back my right leg.  My PT works on stretching and massaging the leg to release and break down scar tissue in the traumatized muscles. I can tell that is helping and I’m getting better.

I am now walking with a cane, see 3rd video at this link: Rhonda’s Hip Adventure Videos. Here’s one of me doing the cup obstacle course, created by my sweet Scott, see 2nd video at this link: Rhonda’s Hip Adventure Videos.  In it, you can hear Theo cheering me on in the background and Scott chuckling at him. I continue to do my home PT and then collapse on ice in my recliner:

This recliner is a life saver. It really helps to elevate my legs and take pressure off the hip. I also use this Princess Pillow Pile in bed to get my feet above my heart, which helps with reducing bruising and possible clotting.

I feel like I’m over the biggest hump of my recovery now and am thrilled to be off the pain meds. They really do a number on both my body and my head. I took copious notes on how to do this whole process better next time. Though, honestly, it is hard to even think about having to do this again right now… I hope it’s like child birth—I’ll be so excited about the result, I’ll forget about the hard parts and be ready when Leftie says it’s time. Tomorrow is the two-week mark! They will remove my bandage on Friday. I’m excited to see what the incision looks like.

I continue to be grateful and moved by all of your support, both physical and virtual. We can hardly keep up with the food and the flowers are filling the coffee table…

The cards and care packages are inspirational, thoughtful and comforting. Thank you and bless you all. I hope this finds you and yours well and happy.

I wanted to share one of my insights of the last few days: When the pain or discomfort gets bad, I’ve discovered it never lasts long before it shifts into another state. If I relax, breathe, and watch it, without resistance or unnecessary holding, it is constantly shifting, moving, changing. This gentle acknowledgement and allowing seems to facilitate it moving through me and releasing. And then I can feel pain free and relaxed in a shorter time. If I resist or become afraid or think I shouldn’t feel the way I do, it will persist longer and become more intense. Fascinating! I am grateful to my dear friend, Theresa, who taught me this way of being with pain. Now I understand what she was talking about!

Remember all hard and painful things pass like clouds in the sky if we simply allow them to move through us.

My love and big hugs to you all,

Rhonda