6 week post-op appointment and my experience trying to get off of crutches (so far)

My 6 week appointment went really well! Dr. Schrader said my bone growth looked good and that my range of motion was still very good. He said I was cleared to start weaning off of crutches, and I could begin any strengthening exercises. I started on my protocol for weeks 8-12, which involves mini squats and straight leg raises. I have my first PT appointment in 5 days! Flexion is still a work in progress, but I can do a few straight leg raises. Dr. Schrader said I can start riding the bike when I feel stable. For now I am still riding the stationary bike. I included an image with my lateral center edge angle and tonnis angle so you can see the drastic increase in coverage. My angles are now in the normal range. Hopefully this increase in bony stability will help my symptoms and decrease further damage to the labrum. So far my hip feels great! All of the sitting pain, groin pain, and pain in the front of the hip has been basically nonexistent since surgery!

However, my SI joint has taken a hit. It was a little uncomfortable during the first part of recovery, but when I started putting more weight on my right leg the pain reached a new level. I was careful to gradually increase weight while still using 2 crutches, but it seems it was still too much too fast. My SI joint was (and still is a little bit) taking too much of the force from walking. As the muscles around my hip get stronger, my gait should become more even. I will also be sitting less which I think will help. For now, I am just resting more than usual and being very careful to not put too much weight on it too fast. It would be different if it was just a little sore, but at its worst my SI joint pain and stiffness made me dread even standing up a few days ago. I asked Dr. Schrader if I could take Naproxen for a few days, and he said that was fine. It is starting to feel much better than it did a few days ago, and I think I am almost ready to go down to one crutch! Today I might try one crutch around the house. If you want an update on how that goes, I provide much more frequent updates on Instagram @myhipjourney. Getting off of crutches is a tricky business, and it is different for everyone. Progressing too fast can lead to back and SI joint pain, but not pushing enough will make the process take much longer than it has to. Listeing to your body is crucial during this time. It is an exciting time as well. Walking for the first time without pain or a limp is an incredible feeling. I can’t wait to experience it again. After my last surgery I appreciated each step so much more than before.

While I am waiting on the ability to walk, the bike and pool have both been crucial components of recovery. I will still use the bike and pool throughout recovery, but I would say weeks 4-10 are the most important for these 2 activities (for me at least).

Oh and here’s a scar update: 2 days post-op versus 5.5 weeks post-op

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I will be 7 weeks post-op Friday, and I am moving back to Chapel Hill Saturday!

Less than a week until I can get in the pool!

I haven’t posted lately for a few reasons. 1) nothing too exciting happens during weeks 2 and 3. 2) I was very detailed last time. I will say that recovery has continued to be much easier than last time. The only pain I have is in my lower back if I stay out too long sitting in stranger positions to maintain 80 degrees of hip flexion. It goes away once I get home and prop. I am so much more independent this time. I can walk much farther. I made it to the entrance of the local park that borders my neighborhood 2 days ago. I could barely make it half that distance at this point last time.

The main difficult thing this time is all of the sitting around in the recliner. It is especially hard because it’s summer and because it is the second time in 5 months that I have had to do it. The good news is on Friday I can start riding the bike and doing aquatic therapy! I can also ditch the compression stockings and the hip flexion restrictions! Getting out basically every day has really helped. Yesterday my mom and I went shopping and to dinner. It was so fun, and everyone was so accommodating. My favorite place to go right now is to a cozy coffee shop with comfy seating! I am going to Virginia tomorrow with my mom for a change of scenery and to visit my grandparents!

I will update after my restrictions have been lifted! 🙂

Every recovery is different…

I am 10 days post-op today!!!! I am so relieved to be this far out. With this one I am even more relieved than the first time for 2 reasons. One reason is that I know this was my second and last hip that needed a PAO. The other reason is that nothing to come will be as physically challenging as that first week. I will have physical challenges during the next stages of recovery, but I know they will be in doses I can handle. So let’s talk about the physical challenges of the first week…but first I do want to say that the first week was not as hard for me the second time. I have definitely learned how different every recovery can be from the same surgery.

 

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Pre-op (6/15/17)

The day before surgery I had my left hip check-up and right hip pre-op. My left hip X-rays looked good, but my superior pubic ramus  cut was still healing so Dr. Schrader wanted to leave my screws in for now. If my right heals at the same rate we will look at getting screws out of both sides in December (6 months after right, same insurance year, break from PT school).

Dr. Schrader showed me my right angles. Tonnis and LCE were worse than on my left. The ACE was not as bad, but still about 10 degrees under the minimal sufficient coverage.  I had a small labral tear according to the MRI, but just as with the last one he decided to leave it alone. So far, so good on the left.

After my pre-op appointment I had a physical therapy appointment to get measurements for a research study Dr. Schrader is conducting! Usually that is also when you have crutch training, but after my last PAO I feel like a pro with my mobilegs. 😉  After that I had to get blood work done and some other registration business with Northside Hospital.

Finally after driving to Atlanta from NC early that morning and having all of those appointments my mom and I were tired and a little hangry. So we found a place to eat and relax then walked around for a while since I knew it was my last chance to for a couple months.

 

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The day of surgery!! We arrived at the hospital at 6 AM. Once I was prepped for surgery Dr. Schrader came by to say hi and answer any last minute questions. I was definitely nervous. Not because I was worried about the surgery. I knew I was in good hands with my medical team. I just knew the first few days would be hard, and I think it’s just natural to be nervous before surgery. So when Dr. Schrader left I was wheeled back to the operating room. When I got there, Dr. Schrader was already in there on his laptop so I said hi again. I had the same nurse as last time, and he was so so nice! We talked about the trip I took to Florida as my pre-surgery vacation. He definitely helped distract me from the fact that my arms and legs were being strapped down, and if I looked around I could see all of the tools that I guess they were about to use. Ahhh. Luckily, I had already been given the medicine to relax me so it didn’t stress me out that much, but I definitely remember it. It wasn’t long until I was out though!

 

When I woke up I was in the recovery room. Now don’t take whatever I say too seriously about this part of recovery. I was in and out and who knows if I am remembering correctly. I do remember my vital signs being pretty much perfect the whole time whereas last time my blood pressure was pretty low. I also remember having a super dry mouth, which was the same as last time and wanting ice chips. The difference is this time the nurse got them to me pretty fast! I think I was there for like 3 hours even though I did not need to because they were running behind. Overall, nothing too exciting to say about this part of the experience. Oh, apparently when I was waking up I told Dr. Schrader I was ready to do some physical therapy! Haha, can’t help it…it’s in my nature!

The rest of my day went like this:

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Even though to many people who follow my regular Instagram it was all smiles:

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I mean, don’t get me wrong, part of me was smiling. I was so happy knowing this was the second and last hip and I was on the other side. But the reality was more like the first picture for the first few days. I will try to summarize it as accurately as possible.

Day 1 post-op:

In my head I was like, I’ve got this because I have been through it before. I was so confident and ready to stand up and walk when my physical therapist, Perry came by.

Getting out of bed for the first time is probably one of the most painful parts of recovery. Ahh it just hurts, and there’s really no way around it. But for anyone pre-op reading this I promise it gets so much better with each try. So just moving my leg hurt. To get out of the bed I pulled up on the trapeze while my PT rotated my leg at the same rate that I rotated the rest of my body. Then once I got to the edge of the bed it was time to stand up. I stood up on my left leg, and immediately the room when almost black, I had pressure in my ears, and I was pretty close to vomiting. Even worse, when I tried to pick my foot up it just wouldn’t budge. This was not something I experienced the first time. It was hard to pick it up the first time, but it came off the ground. This time it didn’t matter how hard I tried, I just could not get it to move. It was scary, and I must say I cried a little. I got back in bed to rest. The next 4 hours I could not stop worrying about how my next PT session would go. So how did it go??

To warm up my muscles, Perry helped me with some heel slides then I stood up. It was extremely difficult, but I lifted my foot off the ground. I had to use momentum with each step to walk, but I made it down the hall. I was just so happy and relieved. I was still a little worried this recovery would be more difficult. This time I also had terrible nerve pain on the front of my thigh when I stood up. I did not think I could handle that kind of pain for the entire recovery period. Last time I had a patch of skin that was numb at first and eventually started burning a little when touched. However, this was another level of burn. It felt like someone was pouring rubbing alcohol. In a wound. That was my entire thigh. Luckily this only lasted for 2 days.

What else happened day 1?

I got my catheter out. This time instead of struggling hardcore on a bedpan immediately after, we waited like 2 hours then I tried on a bedside commode and it went so well. I definitely still had to consciously contract my pelvic floor muscles, but I went on the first try. That was a success in my book! After my physical therapy session that afternoon I started walking to the bathroom in my room!

Pain-meds-I was given Percocet pills that morning and then when it was time for the next dose they took the PCA pump with Dilaudid away. I only used it a couple times during that time. Percocet controlled the pain well.

What I ate-well I kept trying to eat crackers, but my mouth was a little too dry for that. I had throat drops for that, and they helped a lot. I think I ate a bagel, chips, and some bunny grahams on day 1.

Other than all of that I just slept. I think I was more relaxed the second time around and slept much more than the first hospital stay.

Day 2: To go home or wait another day??

I was a little worried about going home because it was so much harder to walk than the first time. We had a 5 hour trip home, and I knew I would have to stop to use the bathroom multiple times. Everyone seemed to leave it up to me. If I felt ready then I could go. I was off all IV medications and my vitals were fine (slightly low blood pressure but that’s pretty normal after this)

Dr. Schrader’s fellow came by that morning to change my bandage. She put a tegaderm waterproof bandage on (10/10 would recommend for showers early-on). She also added a medication to wake my bowels up in addition to the stool softener I was on (Colace).

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In PT that morning I conquered the stairs!

Oh the one scary thing that happened on day 2 was that I could feel the side-effects of Percocet coming on strong like they did a few days later in the first recovery. I felt so so awful that morning before his fellow came by. I had a terrible headache and the room was spinning. I was given Toradol through an IV and instead of being given Percocet again I was given Dilaudid through an IV until I could get a different medication which ended up being Norco. Luckily it all worked out, but I simply refused to take more Percocet once I started feeling like that.

After PT, I rested for a while until Dr. Schrader came by. I wasn’t expecting him to come by because his fellow had come by earlier, and it was Father’s Day. However, he did, and it was very nice. He said it was up to me with going home, and I said I was ready so he discharged me! We talked a little bit before he left. He was heading to Norway and Germany for vacation and to visit family for the first 2 weeks of July, but as always he said I could email him with any questions. Luckily everything has gone smoothly so far and I haven’t needed to email him yet!

The ride home…

Lots of pillows, lots of bathroom stops (at places with easy access like Starbucks, and lots of pain.. So much pain. But I made it through.

Days 3 and 4:

I showered, watched Netflix, and slept. Day 3 was pretty painful. I iced a lot. However, I was already tired of the side-effects of pain meds. So on the morning of day 4 I switched to Naproxen. Now I am off all meds for pain even Naproxen (day 10).

Day 5:

 

I started walking outside! Without pain meds I just started feeling like a whole new person. It’s incredible how much my walking improved in 5 days. It was so much harder than the first time while in the hospital, but by day 5 I was doing 100x better than the first time. I was showering on my own daily, off pain meds, and going for walks. Showering daily didn’t happen for 2 weeks last time, got off pain meds on day 6 but was still in significant pain for another 5 days or so, and didn’t go for walks for the first 10 days or so. This time my pain was barely there on day 5, just a little stiffness that decreased every day. Ice helped numb any pain I had.

The only thing I was focused on day 5 was having a bowel movement because that’s the awful thing about pain meds and anesthesia. Luckily, peppermint and dandelion tea plus some lemon water did the trick.

 

Days 6-8:

Pain and stiffness decreased every day. I just started going a little stir crazy in the recliner. My kitty passed away, and it was very sad because she was by my side for my entire first recovery, and I have her since 2nd grade. It is just sad, and it’s not the same around here. That was day 7, and my sweet friends came by to visit that night. The next day my mom got me out of the house for coffee. It was nice to finally get out of the house.

Day 9:

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My dad took me out for brunch, and I sat up in a wooden chair (sat on a pillow) without pain! I just feel so much stronger this time. Like my core and back and support me so much better.

Day 10:

Today!! Yay so glad to be this far out. The first 10 days were tough, but they were not as bad as the first time around. I am so thankful for that. I do not think I am even as swollen as the first time. It’s just amazing.

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My mom and I made it out for lunch today. After lunch, we went by Whole Foods…it’s always fun to drive around in the motorized cart! Speaking of my mom,  I am so thankful for everything she has done during this recovery so far. From driving me down for my pre-op and surgery to being there all day in the hospital to bringing me ice and propping my leg and doing my laundry and bringing me food. If I write it all out it’s crazy what the caregiver has to do, and I am so thankful. Also thankful for my dad and brother for propping and bringing ice all the time and for helping with my exercises.

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I thought I should include a scar pic and X-ray!

 

I want to go back to the title before I conclude this post. Every recovery is different. My RPAO has led to a totally different experience than my LPAO. It was more difficult at first, but now it is so so so much easier because I have so much less pain. I think it also helps that I know what helps and what doesn’t now. Either way, other people with the exact same surgery are going to have a different experience. It is really helpful if you are pre-op to look at blogs and accounts documenting someone’s journey, but ultimately you just have to take it day by day and listen to your body!

Last minute preparations

Packing for the hospital:

  1. Ginger chews-for an upset stomach that is almost inevitable with the pain meds
  2. Throat drops-I woke up from surgery last time with a very sore throat/dry mouth because with general anesthesia they have to stick a tube down your throat.
  3. Wipes-I was at the hospital 2 days last time, and I didn’t shower there so wipes saved me. I have some body and face wipes packed.
  4. Basic personal care-toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, deodorant, hair bands, moisturizer, and chapstick
  5. Sports bras, comfy nightgowns, and shorts and a t-shirt to wear home
  6. My iPad, headphones, and charger
  7. All of my snacks-because my stomach cannot handle much hospital food. Although if it’s anything like last time I will probably only eat the crackers and bunny grahams !

I get asked what things are important to buy to make life easier at home after surgery. To keep it simple, here’s my list of essentials:

  1. Shower chair
  2. Long shower brush
  3. Rasied toilet seat
  4. Ice and heat packs (heat for everything but your op hip)
  5. A lot of propping pillows! (I had a blue foam wedge last time my PT in the hospital gave me, which I am sure will appear in future pictures)
  6. Wipes for days when a shower just isn’t going to happen
  7. Tegaderm waterproof bandages!!! This is how I could shower day 4 post-op last time!

Other helpful things-sock aid and a grabber.

It is also super helpful to have some meals/snacks prepped in advance!

I have had a fun week of moving my body to the best of my ability before I am restricted to 30 to 80 degrees of hip flexion for a month. It has been full of bike rides, walks with friends, and modified kettlebell workouts. Plus some physical therapy, aquatic therapy, and stretching! 🙂 My advice to anyone pre-op is to appreciate every way your body can move and take advantage of it.

Last week I had a little pre-op anxiety, but today I have felt strong and ready to take on this surgery and recovery. I know it will be hard at first, but it will be so worth it!!

1 week until surgery # 2

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I know what to expect (assuming my body reacts similarly this time). Honestly, I do not think I am stressed about the surgery itself. I have been through it before, and I know after the first 2 weeks it just takes hard work and patience. The first 2 weeks were pretty awful, especially the first week. However, I know what worked and what didn’t. I am not stressed about the what ifs and if whether or not this surgery is worth it. There will always be risks, but I trust my surgeon. I trust my body to recover from this. I know I need this. For one example, on my way to Atlanta for my MRI last week my right hip was driving me crazy. I could barely focus on driving. It felt like there was a brick sitting on my upper thigh and a knife going into my groin. That’s an exaggeration of course; however, the pains as very intense and distracting. Some days it just aches, but other days it feels like a constant spasm. On the good days I take advantage and do all the active things I can. On the bad days, I just suck it up and try to change positions a lot. On the drive to Atlanta it was so weird because it was almost like my left hip didnt exist. Like when I was sitting I wasn’t constantly aware of it like I used to be. However, my right was definitely on my mind the entire way.

So I am not nervous about the need for surgery, the surgery itself, or the recovery. So why does my body feel like it is shutting down? I find myself needing more rest, and I am having trouble focusing. This just started like 2 days ago. Today my chest was feeling very tight. So I went for a walk and bike ride. Then I spent an hour stretching. I also spent some time with one of my good friends. Exercise helps me so much when dealing with stress so when my chest gets tight right now I go for a walk. To get through the next week I will be doing some more meal prep, going for lots of walks and bike rides, and spending time with friends and family. I will also try to get ahead on summer assignments for PT school. We have like 5 or 6 summer reading books. I have already started, but want to get as many read as possible. I also have a few packets of study material for anatomy!! I am excited to get a head start on that! I know I will have plenty of time after surgery too, though. Another thing I plan to do to stay busy one day is pack my room up. I will move the first week of August, so I’ll be 6 weeks post-op and on crutches. I will need so much help unpacking that I don’t want to also ask for help packing. I think I am stressed because I know I will lose control for a few weeks and be dependent on others again. My parents are amazing and took great care of me last time. I have just appreciated my independence so much more after losing it after the last one. I am keeping my anxiety under control though!

 

I’ve been able to get my hands on kettlebells again (very light and on good hip days, but still a wonderful feeling).

I haven’t had any hamstring issues lately, and my left feels really good 98% of the time!

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I have been starting to do a little yoga. I am really enjoying it. I am hoping after my next PAO to get back to things like tennis and kettlebells. However, I plan to start off by building a strong foundation with yoga, biking, walking/jogging, and body weight exercises. Then I will move into high-level activities I used to love. I will do a quick post about what I am packing/doing to prep for surgery. Then after that stay tuned for updates after surgery!

Almost 16 weeks post-op!

Hi everyone! I am so sorry it has been so long since I have posted. I do have an Instagram account @myhipjourney. I give very frequent updates on there!

I am doing really well at almost 4 months post-op! I just went to Florida for 2 weeks. We drove to St. Augustine, the Florida Keys, Everglades National Park, and then settled in at Siesta Key for a week. I was getting a little worried because my hip was really bothering me during the big drive to Key West. However, last week in Siesta Key it really felt good. I rented a bike to ride around and had plenty of time to stretch and do physical therapy exercises. Yesterday I hiked at Hanging Rock State Park. I made it to the top of the mountain to take in the views (see picture below). This was an important accomplishment for me and really made me feel ready to take on surgery number 2! I have my MRI this Friday in Atlanta. Now that I am home I will be posting more. I will try to provide some tips for getting ready for surgery. If you want more details about how I am doing plus recovery tips and advice feel free to follow my Instagram. Also please feel free to email me at any time or message me on Instagram! 🙂

 

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Turning a corner…

Remember the hamstring issues I was having?? Well fingers crossed I think that is no longer a major issue! I scaled back the amount of walking I was doing significantly, and I think that helped. My hip also gets stronger every day, which I am sure helps. I have heard it could be a problem with the glutes not firing. I have been doing a lot of glute activation in PT so I am sure that has helped too. I’ve also been foam rolling and stretching religiously. Recovery is a full-time job sometimes haha.

^^I found a way to modify the pigeon pose^^ It is great for me right now. If you are super tight use a foam roller under your thigh to support you. It will allow you to keep your leg at the right angle, and if you are tight you will still feel a great stretch.

 

IMG_3808 Last weekend I went to one of my favorite trails around (Salem Lake). I walked a mile  and had to take a break so I found this lovely spot to rest. I walked a mile back to my car, but I was in pain the whole time from tight hamstrings. It was at this point I realized I was overdoing it and needed to listen to my body.

 

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This weekend I went to a food truck festival and walked around for 3 hours (total of 3 miles at the end according to my iPhone). I had 0 pain under my butt!!!! My hamstrings didn’t tighten up and “freak out.” I said it’s amazing what a week of more rest can do. My friend said it was amazing what my body could do when food is involved! Hahaha. She might have a point.

 

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Sorry this post is a bit scattered, but I haven’t posted in a while and have a lot of different things to share. In the picture above I am at the top of Cape Henry lighthouse in Virginia Beach. I drove 4.5 hours to visit friends and family there last week and decided to climb to the top of the lighthouse to celebrate 3 months post-op. It felt great, and I got to enjoy a beautiful view!! I am looking forward to seeing a few more lighthouses next week on my pre-surgery vacation!! We are going to St. Augustine, Key West, Key Biscayne, the Everglades, Sanibel Island, and Siesta Key to name a few. When I get back I have to go straight to Atlanta for an MRI and then only 2 weeks until my next surgery.  I am going to make the most of the time I have now!

With my right hip feeling like this ^^^ almost every day now I am ready to get the surgery out of the way and move on with my life. Hip dysplasia has NO place in my life.

 

In other news, I can ride a bike!! Dr. Schrader said he thought it would be great to ride a bike outside now. I tested it out a few days ago and it felt AMAZING. And it clearly put a big smile on my face! I want to go today, but it’s raining! Oh well, I have aquatic therapy this afternoon which is always a good workout.

 

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^^^ I had so much fun helping coach these kids! It was so fun to watch them learn the game I love. Definitely a highlight of my last few months.

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And I am going to end this post with this quote.^^^ My left hip already feels so much better than my right hip. I know once I am fully recovered I will be better off. I will not give up until that time!!