Category Archives: Hip Adventures

4 Months Left Hip; 1 year Right

Wow, it’s hard to believe I’ve reached the one year mark with my right hip! Unfortunately, I am still struggling with that danged cerclage cable around the femur (aka The Zip Tie). I did a new video which demonstrates the problems I’m having functionally because of it. You can see it at this link:  Rhonda’s Hip Adventure Videos.

So, I went to see my surgeon for the one-year follow up appointment on September 18th. Both he and Davis watched me demonstrate for them what is on the video. Dr. Shukla had me stand next to him, so he could touch my thigh as I contracted my muscles. You can both hear and feel the snap of the muscles over the cable. I winced with the jolt this always gives me and he winced right along with me. I will always remember him looking up at me with his cherub face and telling me he was sorry, but he had to do it. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he understood how much pain and difficulty this cable has caused me over the year. I looked down and said, “I know you had to do it. We always agreed the structural integrity was the most important thing, and you nailed that. You told me the cable might bother me and if it did, we’d take it out. So, let’s just take it out.”

It was one of those sweet moments you never forget, when compassion shines through and you realize why you trust this man to help you function again with your legs under you and without pain. I know we are getting there. One last surgery to go. 

On October 31st (Halloween), they will take out the cable. It will be about a 20-minute operation. They will cut a 2-inch incision into the bottom of my current scar, part all the muscles to the bone, clip and remove the cable, and put me back together. I’ll have a different bandage this time that has a battery-operated catheter in it to remove fluids and help it heal faster. I’m looking forward to getting that thing out of there and seeing what I can do then!

Leftie is doing very well at four months, getting stronger and more flexible all the time. I occasionally get a little stiff and sore if I overdo, but mostly I can’t even tell I had a hip replacement on that side. I can’t wait to feel the same way on the right side!

3 Months Left Hip; 11 Months Right Hip

I am at that magic 90-day mark when they say you are over the biggest hump of your hip healing. It’s WAY BETTER with this hip and I continue to be very grateful for this. My walk is back to normal, though I am still working on the stamina to go longer distances and to stand longer. Here’s the latest video of my walk (the last one):   Rhonda’s Hip Adventure Videos.

As you can see I no longer have a limp or stiff hip. Yay! I can do a mile pretty easily now and 2 miles once a week. I did learn this month that doing 2 miles three times in one week was a bad idea and I set myself back and had more pain and stiffness as a result. It’s taken a couple of weeks to get over that. I was just so excited to get back on all my familiar trails and favorite places… But there is nothing like pain to encourage you to return to your Goldilocks Zone!

My new routine includes swimming three times a week, walking a mile once a week and 2 once a week, plus short walks around the neighborhood more frequently. I also do Tai Chi and Qigong every morning for 30 minutes to wake up and warm up. I do yoga 3-4 times a week in the afternoons to stretch, keep up my core and upper body strength and work on my one-legged balance poses which strengthen my legs and improve my balance. 

I tend to move from one activity to another (sitting, standing, moving) at least every hour. This seems to keep me from having too much pain and stiffness by overdoing any one activity.  I can sit for 2+ hours if necessary (e.g. to watch a movie or performance). I do some stretches and flex muscles around the hips in my seat when I sit that long. 

I am down to taking 1-2 ibuprofen at night and one dropper of CBD oil for sleep. This is working well. 

I continue to have problems with bearing weight and really contracting the muscles in my right leg. At this point, I am solid in my plan to request the cable be removed at the end of October. I see my surgeon to discuss this on September 18th, so I’ll include the result of that conversation and some video footage of the problems I’m having with the cable in my next monthly update. 

Until then, I’m cruising along, staying in my Goldilocks Zone and listening to what my body tells me. It’s amazing how smart it is! You would think by now I’d be better at listening to it instead of what my head’s agenda is. But, the tricky thing is I still don’t know when I’m overdoing it until I’ve done it and then it’s too late! My advice to my fellow hipsters is take it easy and slowly build up your stamina and strength, even if it feels like you could keep going.

2 Months Left Hip; 10 months Right Hip

I have some exciting new milestone moments to share! My healing continues in leaps and bounds these days, surprising even me. I AM SO GRATEFUL!

This week I made it out to the Hemlock Grove for the first time in over a year. This is a very sacred place for me and it has been so hard to be unable to get there for so long. When I entered the grove, I started to cry and couldn’t stop for some time. It was like seeing a long lost friend. I could  feel all the special energy filling me up, restoring me at some deep level, like a drink of cool water for a parched soul. I laid back on the bare trunk of the old fallen Hemlock and stared up into the canopy. Evans Creek chuckled through the little meadow in the center. When my tears finally stopped, I knelt beside it and rinsed my face. I stayed until I felt complete, then wandered home slowly, stopping along the way to stretch my hips and legs. It’s about a 2-mile hike round trip, so I got stiff and had to loosen up and rest before continuing on. I was pretty sore the next day.

Today, I went out again with Scott and his family who are visiting. Luckily, one of them had a phone and took these photos:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I swam 1000 meters again for the first time since my second surgery! It felt effortless with no ill effects today. I didn’t think I could make it back out to the Hemlock Grove after doing that, but I did and I didn’t even have to stop this time! I guess we’ll see if I can still walk tonight…

I’ve been able to resume most of my yoga, but still struggle with one-legged balances, particularly the extensions out over my right leg (first hip). I am aware that I am favoring that leg all the time and it is weaker than my left. I’ll do the best I can with it until the cable can be removed in October. Then, we’ll see what I can do!

Hip #2, 6-Week Anniversary

This morning I had my 6-week follow up with Davis. He was in one of his vintage suits with a very cool pair of shoes–such a dapper guy! I showed him my one-legged balances and demonstrated the difference between my right and left legs. I can easily hold a balance in any direction on my left leg (Hip #2), but I can’t stand on my right leg (Hip #1) and extend my left leg behind me. As soon as I try to extend out, my IT band hits the cerclage cable (zip tie) and gives out. I told him the PT’s and I discovered that when I do one-legged strength exercises, I’m stronger on Hip #2 and Hip #1 is atrophying. I asked to have the cable removed, if at my annual follow up in September, I am still having the same problems and cannot restore the strength and balance in my right leg. He agreed and said he would document it. He said, “If it really bothers you over the summer, let us know and we can schedule you for surgery to remove it.”

I am relieved that this didn’t require a fight, but wonder what the insurance company will say? Most of it will be on me, due to our high-deductible plan, so hopefully they won’t object. I’m certain at this point that if this doesn’t improve significantly by September, I want that cable out!

Overall, I told Davis, I am so thrilled with what they have done! I feel like I am structurally strong and balanced and I am having no other issues. This recovery is so much faster than the last one, and I’m very grateful for that.  They did an awesome job! I made sure he knew that I have never questioned the need for the cable and I’m glad they made the call they did, it has just been a sucky recovery because my muscles don’t like it. Fortunately, that is fixable.

This week I continued to make progress. I was able to walk a mile a few times, and I got up to 750 meters in the pool! My usual is 1000, so I’m pretty darn close already! My next goal is to work up to 2 miles and get back out to my favorite Hemlock Grove. My yoga and Tai Chi practices are getting back on track, except for those one-legged holds and strength moves on the right side. My flexibility is returning quickly, including being able to cross the left leg over my midline into a supine twist. Yay! That always helps my back release tension and it feels so good!

At this point, my restrictions are all officially lifted, so I can play at will and see what my body tells me. This is always a fun day! Last time I was still limping and experiencing pain, especially with walking very far and trying to go up stairs. This time, I have none of these issues. This is what I’d expected at this point last time. I remember Davis telling me it would come in 7-12 months and not to worry. I’m so grateful to be this good already, to not have to go through 7 months of painful frustration.

My annual follow-up is scheduled for September 18th. At that appointment, we will decide on the cable removal. If we decide to do it, I think I’ll aim for later October, before the holidays and after camping season. I don’t want to miss another summer and I’m good enough to get out there now! So, onwards and outwards into the world!

I will continue to do at least a monthly post for the next year, so my hip readers can see how things evolve over time.

Hip #2, 5-Week Anniversary

Big highlight of the week: I was able to walk about 2/3 of a mile in the forest at Lake Tahoe! I didn’t think I could make it that far, but it was not a problem and I was just sore afterwards. Nothing a couple of ibuprofen couldn’t take care of. I am so stoked! Yesterday, I went down to Idlewild Park and walked along the Truckee River. This is one of my favorite places to walk. I haven’t been there in a year. I was able to say hi to the huge Cottonwood tree who feels like a long-lost, old friend. Again, I was able to go 2/3 of a mile. This is as far as I’ve been able to go without dying for the last year. I’ll bet I can make a mile next week and just keep slowly increasing it from there. It feels so good to walk again!

I realize that walking is an important part of the way I connect with myself and nature, and I’ve missed it more than I knew. I can’t wait to get back into the forest and be able to do hikes again. I’m content for them to be shorter and less strenuous than they once were. I booked our first summer camping trip in July, which is very exciting! We will go out in our cute little teardrop, Pearl. I’ll add a new category to the blog and start chronicling our fun adventures in her.

Pearl in the Redwoods, May, 2017

I also returned to my meditation cushion for morning practice:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After my last post I was able to shave my legs and do a pedicure. Oh, the simple things in life that make all the difference!

This is the point where the hip settles in to my body and the muscles begin to loosen up and strengthen. I can bend down and reach the floor now. I no longer have anxiety about dislocating the implant. However, I continue to move slowly and mindfully and to be very careful not to overdo it. That, my friends, is the golden trick. I have to thank my right hip for all the instruction it gave me on that subject!

This morning, I decided it was time to take all the PT props out of the guest bedroom now that I can get on my yoga mat on the floor in the back room. That is always a big moment, signaling a return to normal. It’s all happening so fast, I’m having a little trouble keeping up. But, I’m not complaining!

This afternoon, I returned to the pool again for the first time in 5 weeks. It was glorious to be back in the water! I oozed into it and stayed until I was pruney. I was able to do about 13 laps, so about 650 meters, which isn’t bad for my first day back! I also did 2 laps of walking front and sideways. Again, I am amazed at the difference between the hips, how much easier this one is than the last. I was so unsteady when I first started going to the pool last time, and I didn’t do that until 3 1/2 months after the surgery! I spent time in the warm water therapy pool, lollynoodling around luxuriously. (Lollynoodling is my word for when I float aimlessly around the pool, whirling and swirling, suspended on a noodle.)

Special Note: I made a video of my favorite stretches after a hip replacement (posterior approach) and added it to Rhonda’s Hip Adventure Videos. If you are one of my hip readers, you might want to check that out.

One month left hip; Nine months right hip

I’ve been doing well with not overdoing things for the last week. No major setbacks. I can walk about 1/2 mile now, with a couple of stops along the way. I do this about every other day. I’m still doing morning Qigong and Tai Chi. In the afternoons I add some strengthening exercises from physical therapy and also do yoga on my mat on the floor, now that I can get up and down off the floor safely.

I’m able to drive, go to the store and manage carts and grocery bags. I can stand long enough to prepare meals, clean up and do some light chores around the house. I can shower without the grab bar and long-handled brush, since I can easily reach my feet now. I think I’ll try a pedicure this week and see how it goes–shave my hairy legs! The raised toilet seat came off this morning.

I’m off the Celebrex and using ibuprofen occasionally for pain. Some days I don’t use anything but the ice/compression machine and stretching. I do continue to use the CBD salve and sublingual oil at night and I’m happy to say that I’m sleeping like a baby!

I’ve massaging vitamin E oil into my scar morning and night. It is laying down nicely and closing up now. It is important to work with scar tissue starting in the third week so it doesn’t set in. Use gentle circular motions. When it is healed enough, you can hold the center of the scar with one finger and then use a finger on the opposite hand to gently stroke and pull the scar out towards the ends. This is a helpful technique for smoothing out scar tissue.

I graduated from physical therapy yesterday. Last time that didn’t happen until week 7. Lori said she had never graduated someone this quickly, “But, I can’t give you anything that you don’t already have and that you can’t do for yourself.” And I know this is true. It is up to me now to work out my own therapy and healing process, staying in that precious Goldilocks Zone.

I came home from the appointment and cried. I am relieved that this rehab is so easy compared to the last one. But I also feel disoriented. Suddenly, so much is behind me already! I’m trying to catch up to that emotionally. I also realize fully how hard it was for me last time–frustrating and disappointing. I struggled so hard to get better (just like I did all those years I had pain and thought it was a soft tissue injury/problem). This is an old pattern of mine. Beating my head against a brick wall, because somehow that is going to get me where I want to go. I hope that I have learned from this experience to stop when I catch myself doing that and examine what I’m trying to force. I’m learning that acceptance and surrender, while working persistently and gently at one’s edge, is a much better approach!

Hopefully, I can remember this wisdom as I move into the summer and all the things I want to do that I haven’t been able to for so long. Pacing and patience, Rhonda. Be gentle and kind with yourself. (I think that message is for all of us.)

Hip #2, 3-Week Anniversary

This always feels like an important date in my hip recoveries. It’s the point where I feel like the new hip becomes part of me and a lot of the tightness and guarding of the muscles releases. I definitely feel that today. Again, I am back on my yoga mat on the floor. But this time, I am walking around the block without a cane or limp (see the last video in: Rhonda’s Hip Adventure Videos), can do stairs already and 24-short form Tai Chi! This hip is much stronger and more flexible, with much less pain than my right hip at this point. I can already stand on the leg and balance in all directions. I can do side leg lifts from a prone position, and the clam shell exercise. These were agonizing for months on the right hip and totally impossible at 3 weeks. I absolutely know now that it was the result of the cable, especially the tightening mechanism (the knot on the side of my leg in the xrays). As my muscles snap across that cable, it causes pain, weakness and a tightening of the muscles. Now I can feel the difference so clearly.

I went to physical therapy last week and both Lori and her assistant, Jessie, were amazed at the difference between my two recoveries. We all agree that it is the cable. Already, there is a marked difference in the muscle mass between my right and left legs and glutes. My right side is atrophying. This is not a good sign. If it continues and I cannot get used to the cable and fire my muscles normally, the cable will have to come out. I anticipate we will make that call at my September, 2018 annual checkup on the right hip. Until then, I’ll keep trying to get used to it and strengthen the leg. We will see what happens…

My body is feeling good and my energy level is coming back. I’m able to resume much of my normal activities, in moderation. I do poop out more easily than normal and have been taking afternoon naps. Still loving my ice/compression machine a couple of times a day. I’m only using about one Tylenol a day now and my Celebrex. I think I’ll try stopping the Celebrex and Tylenol this week and go back to ibuprofen as needed, see how that goes.

Reading through my 3-6 week journey on my right hip, I realize that this is the point where I started to push beyond my edge and really set myself back last time. I am determined not to repeat that mistake this time. And, really there is no need. I am already where I was fighting myself to be last time. But, I couldn’t get there because of the cable! At least I know why now.  When I am effortlessly able to do something like lift my leg to the side, I still cry when I remember how difficult and painful it was last time.

I am so very grateful for this miraculous difference!

 

Hip #2, Day 15 Post-Op Checkup Day

This is always a big day, the post-op appointment where my bandage comes off and they take the xrays! This means I have some show and tell today and that involves bandages and scars, so if you don’t want to see, don’t scroll down!

First I’ll tell you about the appointment… Danielle brought us into the office and pulled off my bandage. The incision looks really good! Then, Scott and I met with Davis, Dr. Shukla’s assistant. He wanted to know how I was doing. I got up and walked around the office for him, showed him that I could do Tree pose and then told him to breathe while I bent into a forward fold and touched the floor. He wasn’t particularly thrilled about that last part and made me promise I wouldn’t show Dr. Shukla :-). NOTE: If you are 2 weeks post-surgery, you should never do this unless you’ve been practicing yoga for a very long time and have already successfully rehabbed a hip replacement and know exactly where your safe range of motion is!! Keep your 90 degree precaution until week 6.

Then I asked Davis what happened surgically to account for the HUGE difference between my right hip and this left hip? He said that the most likely culprit was the ziptie (or cerclage cable in medical lingo). In the right hip (#1), they had tried one size implant and it didn’t fit properly, so it had to be pulled and another one inserted into the femur. The femur was already showing signs of stress (bone spurs), so they decided to cable it for safety and support until my bone could grow around the implant. On my left hip (#2), they inserted one implant and the femur and bone integrity was better so they could drill further into the pelvis for the cup and only use one screw to secure it (there are 2 screws in the right hip), and they didn’t have to use the cable. Basically, #2 sustained less surgical trauma than #1 and the muscles are clearly impacted by the cable, which made my recovery slower on #1.

We all agreed that we would give my rehab a year, and if at that point, I still cannot walk over a mile without the muscles in my right leg seizing up, they will remove the cable. This is about a 20-minute procedure, using the same incision (but smaller) and I should be out same day with no restrictions and a very fast rehab. I am satisfied with this decision. So, I’ll work on my rehab on leftie and see what rightie decides as we go along. My experience at this point is that the right hip feels more stable and has less pain than before the surgery, probably because I am finally balanced out for the first time in my life.

I am officially no longer dysplastic (though I will make no promises about no longer being dysfunctional :-)…

After May 31, 2018                               Before July 6, 2017

Here’s a picture of the cool silver, antibacterial bandage. This is worn after surgery until the post-op. This is what gets covered with Glad Press n Seal for showering.

And here are my matching pinstripes:

Left hip: Surgery 5-16-2018                        Right hip: Surgery 9-20-2017

I was impressed with how good even the scar looks already! Yay!!! This feels like the day it becomes official.  IT IS DONE AND I NO LONGER HAVE HIP DYSPLASIA!!!!!

I want to thank my amazing surgical team Dr. Shukla and Davis Ayers for their excellent work. You guys are the best! Words can never express my gratitude at getting my life and my mobility back.

I also want to thank all of you who have been by my side supporting me, in person or at a distance, through my hip adventures. I will continue to post regularly through the rehab process, so keep checking the blog for updates.

Hip #2, Day 10

What a day for me and my new left hip! We started out with qigong and I was able to do Monkey, which requires a lot of balance and I’ve never done without wobbling on my ankles. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I could do it steady and even for the first time! That inspired me to try Tree Pose.

How cool is that? And I can hold it! That took about 3 months last time, due to the problems in my gluteus medius which couldn’t stabilize me on my right leg.

Marta, Larry and Ray came to visit this morning and couldn’t believe the difference in me this time vs. last time. We drank mimosas to celebrate and watched as the old Chevys paraded by, going into the park for the annual Chevy Classic Car Show.

Then I was inspired to try walking around the block without my hiking poles. I couldn’t do that last time until the 4th week! And then it hurt a lot and I wasn’t sure if I’d make it back. I had to sit and rest along the way. Today, I cruised right around slowly without pain and then marched up the stairs at the end! Last time stairs were the bane of my existence for MONTHS. I did everything I could to avoid them.

I walked in the house, sat down and immediately began to sob tears of joy and relief. I had a moment of compassion for myself, fully realizing how very hard it was last time. Theo hopped up on the table and looked at me with concern. I patted his head and told him not to worry, “These are happy tears.”

Hip #2, Day 8

I continue to be blown away by this experience, which is so different from the last! I just finished walking down to the end of the block and back! It took a long time before I could do that last time. Today is beautiful with fluffy, white clouds dotting the sky and it is wonderfully warm. The neighbors are all working on their yards and the flowers are blooming. It feels outside like I feel inside.

Yesterday I had my first physical therapy appointment with Lori. I walked in with my hiking poles, but just left them by the lockers in case I needed them. She watched me walk up to her, unassisted, in amazement. “Look at you!” she exclaimed. She had me get up on a table and checked my range of motion. “Unbelievable, I’ve never seen this at one week post-op.” I showed her all the things I could already do, including getting up on my hands and knees and alternately lifting my opposite arm and leg. She observed that I was already able to safely pass the 90-degree angle limitation, but cautioned me against crossing the leg against my body. “Don’t do that until 6 weeks, even if you feel like you can.”

I really enjoy working with her, because she can so readily assess where I am and not try to fit me into a “standard protocol.” I told her I’d been doing the exercises she’d given me last time, since Day 4. I also demonstrated that I could stand and balance on the leg and weight shift, which I could not do on the right leg until some time after our last appointment. She decided that meant I could work on the balance board right off! I never even made it to the balance board after 6 weeks of therapy on the right side! But, today I’m sore and stiff, of course. Not nearly as bad as last time, though.

I showed her how my muscles snap over the cable surrounding my femur on the right leg, and told her that hurt until the 7-month mark and that I still can’t walk over a mile without the leg muscles seizing up. She winced. I said I thought that was the difference between this time and last time, that and not waiting as long. I also showed her how I still can’t stand on my right leg and extend my left leg back very far without it buckling. She wondered if I could have the cable removed? I said, that my agreement with Dr. Shukla was that we’d give it a year and if it was still seriously giving me trouble, like keeping me from walking over a mile, he would do it. I’m hoping my muscles will continue to get used to it and I won’t have to have another surgery.

The statement she made that really stuck with me was, “The first one was atypical (bad) and this one is better than I’ve seen at one week from surgery.”

I decided that means the whole thing averages out, and I’m just happy the golden girl was my second one and not my first. Imagine how depressed I would be if it had been the other way around?

When I got home, I cried with relief. I realized that I didn’t know if I could make it through another agonizing, long rehab. I am so very grateful to have this miraculous post-op experience instead! I wept tears of gratitude and thanked God, all my angels, and my great team at Reno Orthopedic Clinic!

I had this knowing deep down: It Is Done. Now, I move forward with steady, balanced devotion to healing and rehabbing, while being kind and gentle, yet persistently determined.