Friday, October 10, 2014

And life goes on....I think....

So I have been getting a lot of messages about my blog lately, wondering how my hip is and where things are at, but I have been reluctant to update because life has thrown me a big curve ball.  Back in May, my husband passed away.  Obviously, life has changed dramatically for me over the last few months and not in anyways that have anything to do with my hip.  It seemed like for so long my life was so consumed with all this hip stuff.  I woke up to pain, I lived with pain and I slept with pain.  It was so exhausting and frustrating, I felt trapped in my life by pain.  But, obviously, when you have a major life event, it kind of throws a wrench into plans.  So, needless to say, I have not thought much about my hip in the past few months, nor have I really cared.  Frankly, if my hip fell off tomorrow, I probably would not care.  All the surgeries, all the pain, all the planning, all the physical therapy, etc. it all just seems to useless now.  My husband was so heartbroken every time I was in pain, it just tore him up inside to see me hurting.  I know that he would be so happy for how I feel now, which is actually fairly well hip wise!

Coming off crutches was a really hard thing.  It seemed like it took forever for my hip to gain strength back.  I walked with a slight limp for a long while and still to this day have to really think about how I walk so as to not walk oddly.  In June I had a check up appointment with Dr. Buly.  I stayed at a hotel about 10 blocks away and was able to walk up to the hospital and back, plus take my dog to the dog park a few times a day.  I did a lot of driving, up and down the east coast, from Maine to Maryland and back home to Michigan.  I did a lot of walking, both on beaches and in the city.  I rode my bike 5 miles and then swam in Lake Michigan.  I got my first full time job in 3 years!  I am able to walk a few blocks for lunch or to the bank.  I can work 9 hours a day and then take my dog to the dog park, without wanting to chop my leg off cause it aches so bad.  Later this month I am moving my horse to a barn with an indoor arena so that I can start working with her again and hopefully start riding as soon as next month!

Overall, given my increase in activity and complete disregard and lack of caring for any kind of physical therapy program, I feel like I am doing really well.  I have a non-union of the bottom most cut, which seems to be the biggest pain generator I still have.  I am still taking pain killers, but its minimal comparatively, so I am not worried about it.  I still have A LOT of strength to gain and am looking to start working with a personal trainer next month so that I can learn HOW to work out again without hurting myself.  I hope that the stronger I get, plus some weight loss, will really improve my situation even more.  It seems like there is finally a light at the end of the L-O-N-G tunnel that has been my hip issues.  My left hip (non-op) actually hurts more often than my right hip.  I have a labral tear and some issues with the left which will have to be looked at eventually, but for now, I am happy to just live life a little without (too much) pain and see where it takes me.

I appreciate everyone's messages and support over the past few years.  This has been a long road for me and I never thought that I would ever see the day where I could wake up and not have pain, but it is possible (even with 5 screws in a hip!).  I wish my husband was here to enjoy this with me, but for now, I will just try to enjoy it twice as much for the both of us.

Monday, April 14, 2014

How do you explain to people...

So today brought up some feelings I guess I had been having, but did not really recognize it because often with chronic pain, its easier to just deal with whats in front of you and enjoy the little moments pain free that you do have than to look deeper.  Today was very frustrating because even though I know how far I have come in recovery, it really does not feel all that far at all.  Just last week I was on my way home from babysitting for my parents when I came across a lady on the side of the road that ran out of gas.  So I (painful) got out of the car to try and help her.  I drove back to my parents house to see if my dad had any gas, which he only had 1/2 a gallon, which ended up not being enough to start her car, so I sat on the side of the road with her while we waited for her friends.  But this small thing (helping a stranded person on the side of the road) turned into me realizing how bad my hips still are.  Just getting in and out of the car is very difficult as I still cannot lift my leg very high.  Its devastating to try and help others but in the process I cannot even help myself.  I keep thinking, if I was just a little bit stronger I could do this, I could be off all my pain meds and live a normal life.  I feel bombarded with all kinds of information that could potentially make me better.  I should be resting more, eating better, resting less, doing acupuncture, eating less, pushing past the pain, doing physical therapy, just living my life, not doing physical therapy, go back to work (you will feel better!), go back to school (it will keep your mind off of it all).....and can get the picture.  Its always something else I should be doing and then I would magically get better, but all I can imagine is that I am not strong enough for this.

So how do you explain this all to people?  That you don't live life normally.  That life ticks in a different way for you.  People ask how are you?  But whats a real answer to that without being Debbie Downer about life?  I hate admitting to myself that this sucks, let alone other people.  And I never know where to begin explaining it all.  Half the time I cannot keep things straight, let alone telling other people.  This communication barrier I am beginning to find more and more frustrating.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Finally Spring is here....but the pain continues

I figured that instead of waiting a few weeks to write an update I would write one today even though I do not have much good new to report.  I ran into some insurance issues that have made it impossible for me to see Dr. Buly again, which is very frustrating.  Originally I had surgery with Aetna insurance which I got through my college, but since I had to drop my classes for surgery and then we moved (really unexpectedly) I had to change insurance companies to Blue Care Network through my husbands work.  Now, don't get me wrong, I am extremely grateful that we even have access to insurance at an affordable rate, but that does mean that I no longer have out of network benefits, thus I cannot see Dr. Buly anymore as his appointments will not be covered.  Luckily for me though, a very well respected surgeon (who Dr. Sink at HSS recommended originally), Dr. Zaltz, is in network and a lot closer to home, in Detroit.  So I made an appointment with him for the beginning of May to 1) follow up with a surgeon who does PAO surgeries and 2) get his opinion on my situation.

Things have not really improved very much at all for me in the past few weeks, if at all.  I am still limping around, my hip causes me pain pretty consistently at this point in time.  I have a lot of knee pain too.  My knee has also been giving way so I have been taping it with KT tape to help give it some stabilization.  I feel like I am at the point where I always am after surgery where I just know things are not right, somethings still wrong.  Obviously, I still have the femoral anteversion issue hanging over me, which is frustrating.  My whole lower body is just a twisted mess and with each subsequent surgery, I just seem to end up in more pain.  I worry that a femoral osteotomy will cause me to need a tibial osteotomy as well, and it will just be a never ending cycle.  On the other hand, I just cannot live like this anymore.  My entire life has been on hold for the past 3 years waiting to be fixed and every time I try to move on and do school or work, I have to pull out because of pain.

Luckily I have a strong family around me to help hold me together, but this is all wearing very thin on my psyche.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Coming off Crutches

So I have been hesitant to write an update these past few weeks because coming off crutches for me has been extremely difficult.  I have never had such issues getting off crutches with all of my scopes, but I have to keep reminding myself that this surgery is nothing like a scope surgery.  I have yet to be able to see my surgeon for a follow up because of life events as well as the weather (norther Michigan in the winter, not fun).  But hopefully in April that will happen.  I thought that my strength would easily come back to my hip within a week or so of walking with just one crutch, but it has taken about 3 weeks of walking with one crutch to finally get to a point where I can walk without any aid around the house.  Outside of the house I am still using one crutch though.  It does not help that with spring on its way, everything outside is a sheet of ice.  I cannot wait for summer though.  Swimming and walking I think will help improve my overall demeanor and spirits.

I am still participating in PT, although I am only doing about 2 times a week.  Its been very helpful though in making me feel like I can start doing things.  I was able to pick up our apartment and do some household chores that I had not previously been able to, so there is definitely improvement in my everyday life.  I still am struggling with pain and limited ROM though.  I get intense pain very deep in my glutes as well as my knee, which constantly feels swollen and stiff with acute pain that wakes me up most nights.  I also have intense hip flexor pain and still cannot lift my leg up without intense pain in the front of my hip.  The combination of these things has been very frustrating for me and I feel like its holding be back from a 'normal' recovery.  I still have the lingering issue of my femoral anteversion which I think is playing a large part in my knee pain and hip flexor pain.  I expect at my next appointment for Dr. Buly to talk about femoral osteotomy surgery, which is a big bummer considering this was suppose to be the end of the right hip surgeries.  But I also knew that this was a possibility, so I just have to keep moving forward.

The nice part about moving back "home" to be with family is that my husband and I have a lot of support to help me get to and from PT, doctor appointments and also help provide me with some entertainment at times.  On Friday I got to attend a talent show that my younger sisters school was hosting and tomorrow is my Grandpa's birthday so we are all getting together for dinner.  I don't think that I could have done this surgery without having moved back home, as hard as it was, I am very thankful for all of the help and support that me and my husband have here.

So I guess overall, not much of an update.  Things keep plugging along.  It seems that within the next week or so I should be able to get off crutches completely, which its certainly about time, seeing as this week I am 4 and a half months post op!!  I thought that at this point I would be much further along in my recovery, but all I can do is take things one day at a time and hope that spring is right around the corner :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Almost 12 weeks!

On Friday last week I got cleared for full weight bearing (obviously gradual) and all my other restrictions are lifted!!  I am so happy and excited to finally start feeling like a human again!  So around my apartment I have been walking without crutches and out and about I am just using one crutch.  I have a pretty good penguin walk going on without any crutches, but I know thats all just weak muscles and with time, it will get there.  I still have a lot of pain and trouble lifting my leg up when standing, my hip flexors just seem really slow to the party.  So far when walking I have a lot of pain deep in my glutes too, but I would imaging this is all just muscle weakness issues.  Tomorrow I have my first PT appointment since getting my restrictions lifted so I cannot wait to see what we get to do!  Below is my most recent xray:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Almost 10 weeks RPAO

So I am almost 10 weeks RPAO and I have to say, this recovery is hard.  Its really, really hard.  And long.  My scopes were a breeze compared to this recovery.  I am still on crutches as I have not been cleared for weight bearing yet.  There was a BIG mix up at my local hospital that delayed my xrays getting to Dr. Buly and I cannot start to weight bear until Dr. Buly looks at my xrays and clears me.  So in the mean time though I am struggling as my left hip has been causing me a lot of pain.  I know that this hip too has issues such as acetabular retroversion, a labral tear, FAI, and femoral anteversion which means sooner or later I will need surgery on it, but thats hard to imagine at this point giving how long this recovery is.

I do see improvement in things though, such as lifting my operated leg has become a lot easier for me and I finally feel like I could go down to one crutch and I could walk without falling!  I have been using the bone stimulator once a day as well as I have started taking an NSAID again as I am hoping that it will help me get off the pain meds sooner.  I still often have pain pretty consistently throughout my lower back, groin and down into my knee.  My PT is still going well, although its been hard to get to these last few weeks with the weather the way that it is (windchills well below zero, a lot of blizzard like conditions, etc.) so I have been lucky to make it even once a week.  When I do go, the pool feels amazing!  I am so happy that I was able to start pool therapy after my incision healed.

So it seems like there are always people asking about what to bring to the hospital when having a surgery like this where you will be staying for a few days.  I literally packed like I was going to the artic circle and used almost nothing, not to mention my experience was a little different in that I only stayed 2 days in the hospital (when the average is 3-5 days) but here is the list of things I found helpful at the hospital and at home:

  • Kindle (or any kind of tablet/e-reader)
  • Phone (at HSS I could not make any out of state phone calls so using the hospital phone was out)
  • Toothbrush (although if I had not brought my own, they provided one for me)
  • Some comfy clothes to go home in (I wore some big baggy sweats, sports bra, a baggy t-shit and hoody (cause it was Nov), and an oversized pair of unddies).
Other than that, everything else was provided for me.  Each morning I was given the chance to wash up and put on a new gown.  I thought that I would be able to change into my own clothes sooner than the after of leaving, but between all the things you are hooked up to, you don't really get much of a chance to be in your own clothes because the nurses need to be able to access things.

For home supplies I did not do much different this time than with my scopes, but here is a list of things that people find helpful for recovery at home:

  • raised toilet seat (I did not get one of these because I had my surgery out of state.  I did not go home after surgery right away and I had a 14 hour drive home and used about a million toilets between NY and MI that were not raised so I just go used to it.  I did not find it difficult, but I have heard that people loves these)
  • shower chair (another thing that I did not buy, but people have said is super helpful in recovery and I can see why, the first two weeks after surgery are super hard and moving around is not your best friend)
  • long grabber
  • crutches (this one seems obvious, but having to be on crutches for a long time can be difficult for some with other injuries, like shoulders, so they have found non traditional crutches like Mobilegs are a great buy.  Personally I was fine with my free traditional ones)
  • crutch pads (recommended if you are going to go with the traditional crutches)
  • Lots of baggy sweat pants, shorts, etc.  Most people are at least a little swollen after surgery requiring baggier pants and underwear
  • Make some meals before hand.  Even if you are not going to be alone much, its always nice to give the person who is caring for you a break by having stuff pre-made :)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

6 Weeks post op PAO

Hey Everyone, so this past Thursday I was 6 weeks post op.  It seems crazy that its been that long, but here was are!  Excuse me if this post is cynical, after 4 right hip surgeries and 6 weeks on crutches. my ability to stay positive all the time is waning a bit.  So, not much has changed in the past 2 weeks, I still have a good amount of pain, still taking pain meds regularly.  I got to stop taking my asprin for blood clots though, so thats good, one less thing to take.  I had an unplanned hiatus from PT because of the holidays and one day I was not feeling well, so it was about 2 weeks between appointments.  On Friday though I had a reevaluation and it made me realize that there are some things that have gotten a lot better since surgery.  On Tuesday I get to start in the pool. which I am super excited about!  I think that it will really help me with my confidence about getting off crutches.  I am not suppose to get off crutches until I am cleared by x-ray, which should happen later this week.  I am nervous about it though cause most of the time my leg does not feel ready to take on more weight as of yet, so I guess we will see what the xray says.  This is all so different than my scopes, but because bones were broken this time, obviously we have to make sure they are healed before adding weight.  It seems like by 12 weeks most people are off crutches so I am about halfway there!!  As much as I want to just be done with the crutches,. I know that my hip is just not ready yet.  I have been able to lay on my operated side again, which feels soooo good.  I am a side sleeper so this has made my nights much more bearable.

My left hip has been acting up more and more though which is frustrating.  I know that eventually I will need surgery to fix the impingement and labral tear, but its so hard to imagine needing more surgery at this point.  My other fear though it that this PAO has opened up the proverbial 'can of worms' regarding my malalignment issues and that eventually I will need a femoral osteotomy and a possible tibial osteotomy before things will be correct.  But at the same time, worrying about these things will do no good, so I just keep trying to concentrate on whats in front of me.  I hope that this PAO at least gives me the opportunity to start working again.  I miss it greatly.

So later this week I will know a little more about my weight bearing status.  On the personal front, my husband and I have moved into our new apartment in our home town (about 8 hours from where we were living).  I am enjoying having a smaller space to get around and clean!  We went from a 3 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom apartment!  As much as I loved our house up north, trying to clean and do housework in such a large place was just awful on my hips.  Its odd how these hips have effected so much of my life.  I am enjoying being close to my family though (yet not living with them haha).