Before I forget, as my body returns to normal, I want to make sure I note some of the changes I’m observing now that I have my right leg back under me:
- When I wake up in the mornings, I no longer have the achy, arthritic stiffness I’ve grown accustomed to. I thought I’d have to live with that for the rest of my life. Since my right hip replacement, I’ve felt like I was 80+ when I got out of bed in the morning. I did 30 minutes of Qigong and Tai Chi to be able to move and dissipate the pain. Now I don’t have pain anymore. (I even removed the ever-present bottle of ibuprofen from my night stand!) The really odd thing is that pain affected most of my body: legs, glutes, back, shoulders, neck. Now it is suddenly gone and I feel my old self again! Could it be possible that my whole body was reacting to that cable? Maybe it was just a lot of muscular contraction and holding of tension? I don’t know, but it’s a very welcome relief!
- The soreness from the surgery is already mostly gone. I actually have less pain now than I before the surgery! It’s Day 5 and I can hardly tell it ever happened.
- I can do lunges and squats, and hinge from my hips. The pain which caused me to favor the right side and shift my weight to the left, is gone. As a result, I am much more balanced and stable when doing these movements. As of Day 5, I can squat all the way down to the floor, sit on my heels, and come back up. I would have screamed doing this before the surgery, or collapsed on the floor.
- Because of the increased balanced stability in my legs, when I bend down to pick something up, the familiar twinge going up the right side of my back (QL) is gone. I no longer fear throwing my back into spasm every time I reach for the floor. I didn’t realize the contortions I was going through trying to avoid engaging the right leg and hitting the cable. As a result, my back is looser and I feel much more confident using it. I can effortlessly touch my palms on the floor again.
- This morning, I reached over the right arm of my recliner for something on the floor. I didn’t even think about it. I could never do this without a lot of pain before, so I avoided it. This motion requires me to shift my weight onto the outside edge of my right thigh and it always caused so much pain once my flesh hit the sharp edge of the cable that I stopped. I’d get out of the chair and bend over my left leg instead.
- I can lift my leg to put on and pull off pants without needing additional support. I trust my balance and can control the right leg.
- It is much easier to get up from a sitting position.
- I can tighten my glutes and not feel an aching pain in my right hip and outer thigh.
- I vacuumed yesterday and caught myself extending the right leg and pushing from there. I’ve been doing left-leg-leading vacuuming for probably 2 years!
- I’ve stopped continuously massaging the outside of my right thigh.
- I am no longer constantly aware of having a foreign object in my leg. Now both my implants feel like an integral part of my body and I cannot even tell they are there. It was like this on my left side by about 6-weeks. But the right has always bothered me until now.
- From my first walk on Day 4: My full, even stride is back! I can walk uphill and step up stairs and onto rocks without pain and with confidence. I was able to lift my leg over a fence, which I couldn’t do before. Uneven ground is no longer a scary negotiation. Hey, maybe I won’t need to always use hiking poles on a trail! My back isn’t stiff and my legs don’t ache when I get home.
- From my second walk on Day 5: I expected to be sore, because I did a lot yesterday! I was having too much fun exploring what I could do! I figured I’d pay for it today, which is what usually happens, but instead I am only a little sore. I was able to come back home and do some yoga without feeling wobbly on my legs and having a tight back and achy legs.
- I can do belly dance moves which have been impossible since the replacement, these moves require me to shift all my weight onto the right leg and engage the gluteus medius. For example, I can now do hip drops, figure 8’s and the 3/4 shimmy. I can also push the right hip out to the right side, as if I were bumping a car door closed, and not get bit by the cable. I might actually dance again! This is one of the great joys of my life and I realize I haven’t even put the music on to tempt me, because I simply couldn’t do it without a lot of pain and awkwardness.
- I can do the high kick in Tai Chi 24-short form and control, extend and straighten the leg. In Snake Creeps Through Grass, I can step onto the right leg (which is extended out in a lunge) and pull the rest of my body and my left leg up to join it. Before I had to sort of hop my left leg up, using it more than my weakened right leg.
- From the yoga mat: Poses that engage the right leg no longer hurt, e.g. Warrior I and II. I still can’t do Warrior III or Dancer, which require full extension over the right leg, while extending the left leg back. But, I am finally able to begin tentatively shifting weight onto the right leg and extending the left leg back while leaning forward. I was totally unable to do this before. While lying on my left side, I can lift, circle and hold the right leg with control and without pain which I have not been able to do, particularly holding the leg up and forward while scissoring my left leg up to meet it. I can do a supine twist to the left without the catch in my right side and back. All poses which open the right side are easier and my range of motion is back. It honestly felt like my whole right side froze up every time I asked the muscles to stretch over and rake that cable. And I can certainly see why! It was like pulling them over a piece of barbed wire. I’d say that most of my practice (and daily life) has been affected by the cable and my body struggling to work around it and avoid pain.
Last night I realized I’ve been depressed. I feel like my life has been on pause and now I’m back! Scott told me last night that he can tell I’m happy again. I feel so sad for him–he’s had to live with my pain, disability and depression all this time. I’m sure he felt like he’d lost his partner, and he did.
Scott and I were trying to pinpoint when the depression started. He thought it was two years ago. That’s when I started aggressively working with physical therapists and body workers in a vain attempt to heal my hip pain. This, of course, only aggravated my condition and increased my pain and disability. Then, I was diagnosed with dysplasia in July, 2017. My right hip was replaced in September, 2017 and the cable was installed to support my femur. It took me 3 months to walk without a limp and walking was never easy or pleasurable again. Then my left hip went and it was replaced in May, 2018. No cable was required. I could walk without aids in 4 days and had no limp within 2 weeks. It was then that I knew my problems on the right were caused by the cable and it had to go. Turns out, it was true!
But it wasn’t just the leg that was affected. Now it seems my whole body was affected with all the aches and pains I suddenly had. And I was depressed. Life had lost its luster. I no longer had the strong body I’d always counted on. Now I feel like my old self again on all levels. I’m 40 instead of 80!
There is no way to express how wonderful it feels to be able to do all the things I love to do with my body without pain. I am indebted to the miracles of modern medicine which have allowed me to walk again, and to my awesome surgeon, Dr. Shukla and his equally awesome assistant, Davis. They are truly masters of minimally invasive hip replacement and surgery. I can hardly tell they were in my leg to the bone 5 days ago. I will be forever grateful to them for my ability to walk, dance, do yoga and Tai Chi, and live my life again. The only thing that could have been better would have been a kinder, less invasive cerclage cable system. Hopefully, that can be corrected in the future, so others don’t have to go through what I have for these last 13 months.