When I broke the femoral neck of my right hip in a slow-motion bike crash in May 2013 the ER surgeon asked me if I wanted a total hip replacement or pins. I could see no reason for the more drastic surgery, especially with no time to do research and Spencer still teaching therefore not around to assist me. So I went with pins. They’ve served me well but the geometry of my hip joint was compromised and I was getting arthritic in the joint. I was told it was not yet bone on bone so I could wait. But with COVID restrictions it seemed like as good a time as any to schedule some down time. My logic was that by heading into the procedure strong and active, the recovery should be somewhat easier.Time will tell.
I was given Wednesday January 6* as my surgery date. There’s a bunch of ramp up activities. I saw a PT who gave me pre-op strengtheners. I saw my PCP, had blood work including an EKG, had a COVID test two days in advance, my first face-to-face with my surgeon and x-rays for measurements. Then finally on the day before surgery I was assigned my check-in time. I got lucky, with the first slot, 5:45 AM. That meant waking up at 3:30 AM to drink the required pre-op drink and take my second antiseptic shower. The Kaiser team was EXCELLENT. When I arrived I got put into a curtained bay where I used a Bear Hugger blanket which continuously had warm air pumped through it. It was lovely. I quickly met many of my surgical team. They were able to give a spinal block instead of general which takes longer to clear you system. It was iffy due to my scoliosis. They gave me a 3-day anti-nausea patch which worked well. No nausea at all. Once I moved to Recovery 2. Spencer finally was able to join me. There I met with a post-op nurse, the OT and the PT going over all the necessary DLS (Daily Life Skills). The PT taught me how to use the walker and go to the bathroom and climb stars. Fortunately we have an elevator. And don’t forget the IceMan – an ingenious device provided to assure easy and frequent icing with no fuss and no muss.
The pain has been pretty manageable from the beginning. I never took any narcotics, beyond what they pumped into me during/post surgery. I’m only taking Extra Strength Tylenol and the baby aspirin needed to prevent clotting. They had me walking with the walker before I left the hospital. The initial instructions included 15 minutes of walking with the walker every two hours followed by 20 minutes of icing and alternating with the assigned PT and deep breathing. In order to keep track we created a spreadsheet. I had an in-home PT the day after surgery who did an assessment. He’s coming twice a week. At one week, he’s already simplified the complexities of my assignments and given me more challenging exercises. He’s also advanced me to using a cane instead of a walker 50% of the time. It feels like I’m progressing quickly. AND I’m aware that there’s still a long road ahead. It can take up to a year to feel like the surgery is behind you.
When we arrived home to our cohousing community I was greeted with this lovely poster on our door, signed by everyone. Stay tuned for updates as the rehab continues.
A note about sleep. The week of the surgery I got poor sleep for several nights in a row. You can see my FitBit Sleep Scores that week compared to the week following when I reached my goal every day. Clearly my body needs a lot of sleep to heal and it seems to be working. I’ve progressed from the walker to a cane and get progressively more challenging PT assignments on a regular basis.
One Month Update
Last Thursday I told my PT that I was discouraged that I have some pain pretty much all the time (4ish) and he suggested that I remember I’m only at 3 weeks and my body needs to heal before I work it so hard. He suggested I take a day off now and then and alternate my walking days with my PT days which I’ve been doing since then.
I think the combination of having backed off on the walking and PT for the last week, and celebrating my one month anniversary with a massage plus the support on the BoneSmart forum has finally helped me turn a corner. I’m on the brink of walking without my cane. I had just said to Spencer that it seems like any day now I’m going to just leave the cane behind without realizing it and then I read that’s exactly how it often is for people. I’m not going to rush it. But it’s the first time it’s even felt likely or possible. Yesterday my in-home PT came and did a one month assessment. He was very pleased with my progress and said I was not a fall risk and my glute medius is much stronger. I can stand on my operated side foot and balance for a minute. So that means I can put pants on without sitting down! PROGRESS.
Three Month Update
When I saw my surgeon at 2 weeks I set a goal of walking to his office for the next checkup at 7 weeks. I achieved that goal. It’s a mere 3 blocks up hill and another 1.5 blocks flat. It took under 10 minutes. No cane. YAY! After that I continued to progressively add both some steps and hills over the ensuing weeks, At my highest step count I was doing 5-6,000 steps every other day and only doing PT on the non-walking days. This seemed reasonable and felt good. UNTIL…I developed shin splints! Likely from walking up the hills.
While I continue to be doing mostly very well it is clearly a matter of two steps forward and one back, a normal part of the healing process. So I’ve spent the last 3 weeks not walking and doing the icing/moist heat rotation 3xday. I’m doing my daily PT which includes a lot of stretching via OneStep. And I’ve been getting massage and acupuncture and wearing compression stockings . I think the shin splints are quite a bit better but not yet gone. My plan is to continue resting for another week and then start very gently walking on April 1. I figure I’ll start with brief 10 minute walks and only up it by 5 minutes every few days. And specifically no hills which is challenging where I live and possibly the precipitating cause of the shin issue. My lump under my scar is still there but shrinking with time and massage with vitamin E oil.
Overall I feel quite positive and optimistic. I am walking without a limp and sleeping very well. I’ve actually been able to fall asleep on my preferred surgical side. I was able to sit cross-legged to meditate, with usual props, for 10 minutes. Will work back up to 30 minutes. I’m noticing new minor aches & pains which I suspect were there all along but are now noticeable because others have receded. So my groin and upper thigh for instance and the point of my hip bone feels bruised. I’m guessing these are all leftover aches from the “manhandling” necessary for the surgery. I’m confident these too will recede over time. An my BIG news is that yesterday we took our maiden voyage on Tess! She’s named after the Tesla we’ll never own! This was a quick shake down cruise, only 4 miles along Lake Washington. It felt so great… Our happy place.