gonebionic

Adventures in hip surgery

Doing the (low-impact) happy dance

I have good news to report: my 6 week post-op appointment went well and I’m officially off my movement restrictions! Ok, most of them – I can’t run for a year, and I can’t jump (plyometrics, etc.) for 6 months – but I am free to twist and bend more than 90 degrees! Yay! Definitely worthy of a low-impact happy dance.

I celebrated my newfound lack of limits by bending….drum roll please…95 degrees. Yeah. That was a bit of a surprise – to me, anyway. My doctor said that was what he expected. I, however, was expecting to do a celebratory toe touch, so I was dismayed to find out that just because I’m allowed to bend any which way doesn’t mean I can. Apparently the doctor put me back together “pretty tight” in order to hold everything in place. Hence the big ole’ 95 degree bend. For now.

The doctor’s assistant, who I saw first, was completely unimpressed with The Saddlebag. Said it was just swelling, was totally normal and would probably go away. I’m not particularly thrilled with her use of the word “probably”, but I guess we’ll just wait and see (doh, that whole patience thing again! I hate that). And she said that the numbness in parts of my leg was normal too. Actually, her exact words were, “well we had to really torque your leg hard to dislocate it during surgery, so stuff like that happens.” This is the same woman who reminded me at my last appointment that they had beat the crap out of me during surgery. You can’t fault her honesty, ya gotta give her that.

The only thing that was at all problematic (and I use the word lightly because they didn’t seem too worried) was my difficulty doing front leg lifts and the fact that I still have a limp. So, I start physical therapy next week. I know it’s going to be unpleasant (read: painful), but I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll get the tools I need to get my flexibility and strength back, so the pain will be worth it. Remind me that I said that next week when I’m whining…

Today I went to my first spinning class since surgery and it felt great. I limped in there and limped out, but when I was on the bike I looked totally normal (well, as normal as I can get). It was awesome. And I discovered just how out of shape a person can get in 6 weeks. Normally I have to kill myself to get into an anaerobic zone, but today all I had to do was put my feet on the pedals and I was immediately red-faced, sweaty and breathing like Darth Vader. Humbling, yes, but just so lovely to be there again.

I had a teensy revelation today, too: as tempting as it is to get all boo hooey and start printing invitations to my very own pity party every time a race comes around that I can’t do, I can use these races as a chance to give back. Races need tons of volunteers or they couldn’t happen, and I have been helped and encouraged by so many wonderful race volunteers over the years. I’ve never once volunteered myself, just sucked off the goodwill of others. Well that changes now. I’ve run 29 marathons, so the way I see it, volunteering at 29 races is a good goal. Don’t know if it’s reasonable to get them all in this season, but I will absolutely do it. I can’t believe this only just now occurred to me. Giving back with a thankful heart instead of selfishly feeling sorry for myself. It’s just a better way to be.

So there you go, folks. That’s this week’s update. I’m thinking I’ll do another post in the future that’s a kind of “this is what I learned in my hip surgery experience” thing, and I’ll do a few random updates on my progress, but the posts will not be coming weekly from now on. Because my hip is just not that interesting anymore. And I have things to do.

Starting with that happy dance…

The good, the bad and the freaky

Hey there, just a quick update here 5 weeks post-op:

The good:
I am officially crutchless! (ok, you don’t even want to know what autocorrect just turned that word into…) Anyway, I ditched the crutch a few days ago and didn’t look back. I do have a definite limp, but I don’t feel like I’m going to tip over or anything. It’s nice having two free hands again.

The bad:
The bike thing didn’t work out. Jeannine and I tried, but there just wasn’t any way I could comfortably pedal AND reach the handle bars AND not break 90 degrees. So I will have to wait a little longer to rejoin my favorite spinning class. But we tried the various elliptical machines at the club and found one that’s comfortable. I’ve been doing that just about every other day and it’s going pretty well.

The freaky:
Still have The Saddlebag. Seriously???

I have my big 6 week checkup next week, so I’ll post after that to hopefully share the good news that I’m done with my movement restrictions. If I can also add that I was told The Saddlebag is totally normal and will go away soon that would be spiffy.

It’s a bittersweet weekend for me as I bid bon voyage to all my friends who are running Grandma’s and Winnipeg marathons. Grandmas is a moving party, and I’m sad to be missing it. I have noticed over the last year that I tend to be just a little glum on the weekends of the big races that I used to run. At the same time, it’s because I know how much fun these are that I’m excited for my friends who get to do them. I’m looking forward to checking everyone’s progress online and hearing their stories afterwards. I’ll also be at Riley’s soccer tournament all weekend, so it’s not like I’ll be sitting around the house feeling sorry for myself.

And, my husband just walked in the door with chocolate. How I do love that man of mine!

Speaking of men, happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. I’m blessed to know and love some really awesome guys – my dad, my father-in-law, my brother and the aforementioned chocolate-bearing hottie, my husband – it’s nice to get to celebrate them this weekend. Hope you get to celebrate the great dads in your life as well!

Sing it, Tom…

The waiting is the hardest part…

Yeah. Waiting is hard.

4 weeks post-op today, and I’m reeeaally ready to be done with all of this. I knew that whole patience thing was going to be my biggest challenge, but sheesh already! I think this is the problem: for the first three weeks, recovery went pretty fast, and by that I mean that it was noticeable, measurable. Every day I could do something new, every day brought improvements we could see. This last week has been frustrating because it was a bit of a plateau (until yesterday, but I’ll get to that). And while I’m sure that I am indeed continuing to heal and get better, it’s just easier on morale when the recovery is more obvious.

And I’m starting to get antsy to do stuff. Like weed the yard (not something I enjoy, but if you saw my yard you’d understand). Or walk the dogs. Or do anything quickly.

Now I really do consider myself to be a positive person, so I’m hesitant to even dip my toe into anything that sounds like feeling sorry for myself. At the same time, I want to be honest about my experience with this. And honestly, sometimes it’s frustrating. I’m ready to be better now.

But yesterday I learned a new trick, and suddenly all was right with the world (it’s funny that’s all it takes). I can now do stairs without a crutch AND with alternating legs! A whole flight! Yay! In my humble opinion I even look normal doing it (well, on the down part anyway; up still looks a little strange). And once I could do that, I had the confidence to start walking around the house without my crutch. I tried that last week and it was an epic fail, but this time Tessa didn’t beg me to NEVER do that in public, so I must not look too ridiculous. In her defense, I will admit that last week when I tried it I looked like a cross between a toddler and an orangutan, so I do see her point. Friends who’ve seen me do it tell me I walk like an old person, or someone who has just run a marathon (which I understand is really the same walk, the second one just sounds better). I still use the crutch when I leave the house, so don’t worry about me. I’m not being stupid or overly ambitious. I always (ok most of the time) walk around the house close to things I could grab if I needed to (which I haven’t). I don’t really know how I’ll be able to tell when I’m ready to officially ditch the crutch. I’m kind of hoping it’ll be obvious.

I’ve had a few people ask about my pain, and the answer is that it’s pretty good. Mostly I just feel uncomfortable – not in pain, but not free of it either. There are certain movements that really hurt, and unfortunately those are motions required to get into the driver’s side of a car, lift my leg to the front, and roll onto my side when I’m sleeping, so I am periodically reminded to take a deep, cleansing breath. And we thought Lamaze breathing was just for childbirth. The thing about pain right now is that I can’t take anything for it. And this is nuts, really – I managed to successfully wean myself off of two powerful narcotic painkillers, only to be brought down by… Tylenol. Yep, you read that right. Every time I tried to go without the Tylenol I got a nasty headache. So yeah, some people get addicted to prescription painkillers, I get hooked on over the counter boring stuff. That’s me and the dangerous life I lead. I finally did successfully kick the Tylenol habit, but now I’m afraid to take it at all. ‘Cause I don’t want to go to rehab for Tylenol.

The cankle is now a fading memory, but now, in the category of “things I wish I wasn’t vain about, but there you have it,” we have The Saddlebag. Yes, yes, I know that when referring to bulges on the sides of women’s thighs it is customary to use the plural form of the word, but in this case that would not be accurate. Because I have only one. Just when I thought there was nothing freaky about my appearance (save for the big honking scar), I find that I have this weird bulge on the side of my leg next to the incision. And it’s noticeable when I wear anything that’s not sweatpants (true, that’s the current uniform, but a girl can dream, right?). I’m really hoping this sucker goes the way of the cankle, because as undesirable as two saddlebags are, one is just plain weird.

So, I’m still doing my walking and my pt exercises. Tomorrow I will hopefully add….drumroll please… stationary biking! Ooh, aah, yes I know, it’s very exciting. Actually I can’t even be sarcastic about it because I really am extremely pumped to do something that might qualify as “real” exercise. And before you warn me about pushing it I will tell you that I don’t think it’s possible. It’s either going to work or it isn’t. If nothing else it will be amusing, trying to get on a bike and pedal without breaking the almighty 90 degree rule. Heck, I can’t even buckle my cycling shoes myself, so Jeannine and I will be high fiving each other if we can even get that accomplished. Yes, my faithful friend and workout buddy Jeannine will be with me for my maiden voyage on the good ship spin bike. Mostly because I enjoy her company, but also because she won’t let me do anything stupid or dangerous. Wish us luck.

Ah yes, my girlfriends. They have been tremendous and wonderful throughout all this. I won’t try to name them all because I don’t want to accidentally miss one. They have all been incredible. Since my parents left I’ve been receiving a steady stream of what my friend Jami calls “Meals on Heels.” As much as I love to cook, I’m still not moving at a fast enough pace to get a meal on the table in a timely fashion (read: before soccer or dance), so these meals have been a huge gift to my family. The other night, as Riley was devouring a second helping of Steph’s tetrazzini he remarked that I should really have surgery more often. “And you can tell she’s your friend, Mom,” he added, “She brought wine.” True story. My friends are so good to me. Karen secretly schemed with Riley before my surgery to get a playlist of “hip” songs on my iPod. Everyone who came to visit me in the hospital even though I kept falling asleep midsentence, and all the lovely ladies who visited me at home that first week when I was under house arrest in my bedroom – they are a huge reason why I’m (sort of) sane now. If any of you are reading this, you know who you are. I love you.

So, looking ahead… I’m hoping to tell you in next week’s post that I’m done with the crutch for good. Who knows? It could happen. I’m also hoping to tell you that the Saddlebag is gone (dream big, right?) and that stationary biking was a huge success. I have two more weeks until I get to say a hearty adios to the 90 degree rule and other restrictions. In the meantime, I’ll keep on keeping on, patiently (I hope).

But the waiting really is the hardest part.

And that’s not just the Tylenol talking.

RIP, Jen’s cankle

Ahhhhhh…..it’s been a darn fine weekend, friends. Darn. Fine. I’m sitting at the pool, feeling the breeze in my hair while I type. Tessa’s blissfully swimming with a pal. Rich is at the grocery getting stuff to grill, Riley’s doing homework. It’s all so very normal.

I’ve missed normal.

No, I’m not even close to being “back” in the sense of being as able-bodied as I was before, but it feels so good to be on my way. Just being able to care for myself is empowering – although I’m still getting used to not having my parents around to rescue me when I forget to have one of my adaptive tools at the ready. This morning I was alone when I got out of the shower and tried to get dressed. Of course it was then that I realized I had brought my clothes into the bathroom, but not my grabber tool (which is the only way you can get undies and pants on without breaking the sacred 90 degree rule). So, I just crossed my fingers and hoped that no one walking by our house could see the naked lady on one crutch ransacking the place in search of an adaptive device.

Yes, with the exception of occasionally flashing the neighbors, things are coming along well. The swelling is finally starting to go down. My left hip has shrunk enough that for church yesterday I was able to wear shorts that weren’t from my yoga clothes drawer (yes, I have a drawer for yoga clothes. Because if I can’t be a good yogini, I can at least be a cute one). And, while my ankle is most definitely still very puffy, it does not qualify as a cankle anymore (I have sources. I checked.) So RIP, dear cankle. Thank you for bringing horror and amusement to so many.

I’m up to walking a mile and a half, twice a day, and doing well on all of my pt exercises that don’t involve lifting my leg to the front. Obviously something involved with that movement got cut, because as hard as I stare at my foot and try to will it to lift, the most I can get is about 4 inches off the floor. But last week it was 2 inches, so we’re at least going in the right direction. I’m sure it will just take time. And patience (I’m reeeeeally working on that, honest). In my pre-op class they talked about how important it was to get out and walk as much as possible after surgery, because it helps the ligaments that get stretched out during surgery clamp back down on the joint. At the time I thought that was weird, but now that I’ve been out walking more, I get it. When I first got the ok to put more weight on my leg I was tentative, but I found very quickly that stepping down actually felt pretty secure. However, picking my foot up after stepping down was another story – it felt like my leg was just dangling in the socket. It didn’t hurt, but it totally creeped me out. So I’ve been a very good girl about my walking, and it’s getting better. Which is good, because I just don’t handle the heebie jeebies very well.

Speaking of things that gross me out, my incision is also doing very well. I know this because people who don’t mind looking at it have told me so, not because I’ve looked at it myself. And I have found, by the way, that when it comes to seeing my incision, people fall squarely into one of two camps: they either really want to see it, or they really don’t. There is no ambivalence. Personally, I’m grateful for the first camp, because without them to tell me it’s looking ok, I’d have to take a peek. And I’d rather not.

Someone remarked to me the other day that I haven’t written about successfully having the hip resurfacing instead of the total hip replacement. With all of the build up and “oh I hope I get to have the resurfacing”, they were a little surprised that I wasn’t joyfully sharing the happy news that I had indeed had the procedure I wanted and would be running again in a year. Well I can’t yet. Not for a few more weeks anyway. Because when I saw my doctor after my surgery I started to thank him, and he totally cut me off. You need to know that my doctor is the nicest, sweetest man, with the greatest bedside manner, but he was very serious. “Nope. Don’t thank me for 6 weeks,” he said, and began to list off all the complications that could happen in that time. So I guess I’m kind of holding off on being happy about it until then, too. So no happy dance for a few more weeks.

Not that there isn’t plenty to be happy about right now. We are beyond blessed. Our families and friends have been, and continue to be, amazingly loving, helpful and supportive. I’m getting better every day. And have I mentioned that my husband has been a rock star through all of this? Yeah, and he’s cute too. I’m a lucky girl.

Life is pretty doggone good.

2 weeks post-op

Today feels almost like a graduation of sorts. I’m exactly 2 weeks post-op, which has me reflecting a lot about just how far I’ve come in such a relatively short time. I mean, 2 weeks ago at about this time, I woke up in a hospital bed with my legs immobilized by a strange pillow-with-straps contraption (oh yeah, and a spinal block), with a zillion tubes coming out of various places on my body and surrounded by beeping machines. I could do nothing. Today, I walked 1 1/2 loops of the mall (it’s raining) with just one crutch, and then watched as my parents loaded up their car and aimed it back towards Pittsburg. Later today, since I’ve been off the narcs since Tuesday, I’ll drive. All this in two weeks! Quite the journey…

Not that the journey is done, I know that, but I feel strong enough and capable enough to continue. I’m sad that my parents have left, but not terrified. I can do this.

Oh, my parents… I’m getting all kinds of verklempt just thinking about them right now. They just dropped everything, left their lives for 3 weeks and came here to help. For me. For my family. I had asked them to come because I knew we’d need some help, but I don’t think any of us really realized just how much help we’d need. We certainly didn’t have a full understanding of just how incapacitated I’d be initially. But because of my parents (and, of course, our super awesome village), everything got done. I never anticipated being so much work, that’s for sure, but they jumped right in, managing my arsenal of meds, helping me with my pt, reminding me to use my hookah (sorry, my incentive spirometer. It looks like a hookah, so that’s what we call it. You have to use it every 2 hours to keep your lungs clear). And then there’s the “little” stuff, the things that don’t seem like a big deal but really are: getting me on and off the bed countless times, helping me dress and shower, going to the store, changing my ice packs, cooking, doing laundry, driving the kids around, helping them with homework. My mom brought me coffee in bed every morning and made sure my bedside water bottle was always full. My dad walked the dogs every morning and made sure I didn’t miss a single pill. Stuff like that. And, it just doesn’t matter how old you are; when you hurt, you want your mommy and daddy. Mine are pretty awesome.

Speaking of awesome, being on only one crutch is amazing. Seriously, it sounds stupid, but think about it: one crutch means you have the other hand free. Free to carry a drink from the fridge to the table. Free to scratch your nose or push hair out of your eyes without having to stop waking. It sounds so small, but it is huge.

I’ll be needing that free hand to tackle my desk – otherwise known as “that place we put things for Jen to take care of when she’s feeling better.” Good thing I’m starting to feel better, because the pile is very large.

The incision is starting to toughen up a bit, which is making sitting a little easier, but I still have a ways to go before it will be actually comfortable. It’s weird because I don’t sit on it – the incision is on my side – so I don’t know what that’s all about. I get to start putting vitamin E on it in a week and I suppose that will help. Not really sure how that’s going to go, however, since I’ve declared a moratorium on looking at it. Maybe it won’t be quite so nausea-inducing to look at next week.

My leg is still really tender all along the side of my thigh. I mentioned this to my surgeon’s assistant at my appointment the other day. “It feels like it’s bruised,” I said. “Well it is,” she replied matter of factly. She looked up and stared at me, incredulously, “You do know we beat the crap out of you, right?” Right. Forgot that.

And yes, I still have the cankle. I sleep with my feet propped up and the swelling goes down a little, but as soon as I get up and start moving around it’s back to having the foot of a 400 lb woman. Good thing it’s warm out because I can only wear flip flops. Not that this is a problem, because it’s probably what I would wear anyway. I’m just ready to lose the freaky foot.

But really, things are going so well I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. Now that I can put more weight on my leg and use only one crutch AND be done with the psychedelic painkillers, I’m feeling more and more confident that I’ll be rejoining the human race very soon. I promise I’ll continue to try to be patient with myself and with the healing process. I know there can be setbacks and down days, but today is a good day. And I’m gonna celebrate that 🙂

Darn you, gravity

Hey there, just a quick update – and if you saw the position I’m attempting to contort myself into in order to type you’d know why, but I’ll get to that in a second. I’m happy to report that my doctor’s appointment today went really well! I was a big girl and I didn’t cry when they removed my bandage and my staples (ok, I may have said a curse word or two, but I didn’t cry). My X-rays looked good so I’m cleared to go to weight bearing as tolerated, which is huge.

Speaking of huge, since my last post bemoaning the swelling in my leg, it’s been a case of “careful what you wish for.” Yes, I was hoping to see my kneecap, but I got that at the expense of seeing my ankle. Seriously, my foot is enormous. Like, this-is-what-Jen’s-foot-would-look-like-if-she-weighed-400 lbs enormous. My surgeon was out of town so I saw his assistant, who is about the most matter-of-fact person I’ve ever met. I asked if the swelling was normal. “Well when you have swelling in your hip, where’s it going to go? Gravity says down.” Oh. She told me I needed to periodically get my feet higher than my heart (without breaking 90 degrees, of course). So now I am trying to balance my iPad on my stomach while lying flat on my back in bed with my feet elevated. Oh, and I’m also trying to keep most of my weight on my right side because my incision is tender. They took the staples out, put steri-strips on, and…that’s it. Just a naked incision with no bandage to cushion it. Now, I have been told by people who aren’t squeamish that my incision looks really good, and that it’s closing up nicely. I’ve tried twice to look at it and I’ve wanted to barf both times. So I’m just going to take their word for it and stop looking. And that’s all I’m going to say about it because it just grosses me out thinking about it. But it’s part of why I’m typing in this awkward position.

So today I went out and tried this whole “weight bearing as tolerated” and it turns out I tolerate it much better than I expected. As soon as I get a little more confidence (and stability) I’m supposed to ditch one of the crutches, which will be awesome.

I’d love to elaborate but this contortionist thing has me beat. Hope my incision toughens up and my foot swelling goes down quickly. But really, hard to complain when things are going so well.

I got an X-ray today, so I’ll leave you with that. It’s kind of hard to see that there are two parts to the prosthesis but it’s pretty cool. And weird to think that there’s this doorknob-shaped thingie that’s a permanent part of me now. So much for getting through airport security quickly…

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Patience, grasshopper

One week in bed is really nice. More than that though, and a person can start getting stir crazy. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good nap. But when I’m not napping, I really do want to get out and conquer the world.

This is not in the least surprising to those who know me well (and probably those who only know me a little, too). I am not known for my patience. I never have been. But healing requires patience – no, it demands it. I found that out yesterday when I pushed it a bit too much and had to come home for a date with some pain meds and ice packs. It was totally not on purpose, I swear – I really did think I was operating within legal parameters movement-wise, but alas, discovered that I only have bionic parts, not bionic speed (yet). I don’t like being slow. But I think I need to get used to it, because when it comes to the whole healing game, if you push your body too far, it pushes back. And the retaliation isn’t equal, either – it pushes back even farther, like an irrational, overreacting middle school girl. Not that I would know anything about that right now.

Also related to patience, I’m trying to wean myself off my pain meds. I really don’t like the side effects, and I figured that a little pain would keep me honest with my activity (see above paragraph regarding pushing it). At first it was awesome – a clear head, some more energy, and not a lot of discomfort. But then I had a little “incident” on Friday involving the couch falling off its risers while I was on it (yeah, ouch), and then the aforementioned speeding violation yesterday, and now I’m back on the meds. And I realized that I’ve got some pride issues here – I really liked the idea of being Superwoman, of not needing pain meds because I have super healing powers, or super strength or something. It’s a little disappointing to find out that I’m not that bionic. That I can’t rush healing. It’s just going to take time.

And patience.

So, in the spirit of embracing my need for meds, I give you the following…

Random thoughts I’ve had while on painkillers:
1. Why does something “hurt like a mother?” What is so painful about moms?
2. There is seriously a color called “drab”? I thought that was a word used to describe other colors.
3. If two wrongs don’t make a right, how do you fight fire with fire?
4. I wonder if the interpreter for the guy in the hospital room next to me sometimes just makes stuff up for fun. Like if the nurse asks if he needs to go to the bathroom the interpreter says “are you ready for your pedicure?”. Stuff like that.
5. It would be so cool if I never had to pluck my eyebrows ever again.
6. If you’re in an exit only lane, do you still have to put your turn signal on?
7. Does the ceiling fan in my bedroom change speeds, or are my eyes just getting funky from staring at it?
8. I wonder if anyone actually named their puppy “Wego” after the beer commercial. That would be really unoriginal and stupid, but I bet someone’s done it.
9. People seriously get addicted to these things? Who would want to be like this all the time??
10. Oh look, a unicorn…

And lastly, the answer to last post’s quiz was C, buttock squeezes. Because as Karen pointed out, it’s just fun to say.

I’ll check in again after my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday. Till then, I’ll be here resting and healing. Patiently.

(ha!)

Life at 50% and 90 degrees

This was last night’s post. I fell asleep before I could publish it, so feel free to have a laugh at my expense when you get to part where I brag about not napping…

1 week post surgery today! It does feel like it’s been longer than that, despite the fact that I’ve probably been asleep more than I’ve been awake for most of the week. Not to sound too much like an old Virginia Slims ad, but I have come a long way, baby. And today, I didn’t take a nap. For real! I’m walking about 20 minutes at a time (about half of that time is taken up just getting up and down my very steep driveway, but still), doing my exercises like a good girl, and using less pain meds (which is probably directly related to the no nap thing). Things are going well.

I have definitely encountered a few unexpected challenges along the way, however. The movement restrictions have proven to be more, well, restricting than I had thought. No twisting or rotating the operated leg, only 50% weight bearing on that leg, and no bending more than 90 degrees. I knew about the 90 degrees thing ahead of time, and kind of the rotation thing too, but I just didn’t anticipate how tricky they would be to obey. To review, the 90 degree rule says that you aren’t supposed to bend your hip more than 90 degrees when sitting or standing, which sounds merely like you can’t bend over. In reality though, it means you also can’t sit up straight unless your hips are higher than your knees, and if you do sit up straight you can’t lean forward. So I’m doing everything from a slightly reclined position, which is totally ticking off my back (aka one of the body parts that was actually working fine). It means that your leg has to always be squarely in front of you, so getting on and off the bed is a tricky maneuver that, as of now, still requires another person to hold my leg while I use my arms to lift and pivot my body to face the edge of the bed. I have this nifty tool that looks like one of those invisible dog leashes that I’m supposed to use to haul my leg up and down, and I’m getting close to being able to use it, but our bed is a little too high up and I’m still a little too sore to have any success with it. But when I can get that mastered it’ll be a big step toward self sufficiency, because I can do all my bathroom stuff by myself now. “Can somebody get me off the bed?” is something I would like to stop calling out. I’m guessing my royal subjects would like to stop hearing it as well.

Another thing I wasn’t prepared for was the swelling. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not such an idiot as to think that there wouldn’t be any swelling at all, I just thought it would be limited to the area around my incision. And while that area is indeed huge, the swelling also extends down to my foot and up to the middle of my back. Seriously. It’s weird looking. And although I have never thought of myself as a particularly vain person, the fact that I haven’t seen my kneecap in a week is a continued source of frustration. I was outside talking to neighbors yesterday and they asked which leg I had done. “The huge one” Tessa replied before I could even open my mouth. “Oohhhhh,” the neighbors responded, nodding sympathetically towards my freakishly large leg. It’s not fun being a freak show.

editors note: That was last night. The swelling has improved today. Definitely not normal, but I will not be signing up for any freak shows. Yet.

Let’s see, more surprises.. Ah yes, the random numb skin. Not a problem or even an inconvenience, just strange. There are patches of skin on my leg that I can’t feel, and they’re not near my incision, so it’s weird. On the bright side, it won’t hurt if I cut myself shaving there (when I can reach my legs to shave them, which will hopefully be soon. It’s getting gross).

Things I’m looking forward to:
1. Monday: I get to ditch the squeezy leg things. They itch and it’s cumbersome to be constantly attached to tubes and a noisy compressor. I know it’s better than having to take Coumadin, but I’m really ready to be free of them.
2. Tuesday: Doctor’s appointment. I’ll get my bandage changed and my staples removed. I am definitely NOT looking forward to the actual process, but it will be so nice to lose the industrial strength bandage. And having staples just gives me the willies, so I’ll be glad to be rid of those. If the X-rays look good and my exam goes well, I’ll be switched from 50% weight bearing to “weight bearing as tolerated” – one less restriction! Yippee! I think I’ll also get to stop taking some of my meds.
3. Any day now: Seeing my kneecap.

Overall, things are really good. I know I’ll eventually have to get my other hip done, so I’m trying to take note of when certain improvements took place so I’ll have that to encourage me next time. Really, that one week mark has been significant. I can do all my PT exercises without assistance, and the duration of my walks seem only limited by my arm strength (and my swelling, but let’s not talk about that. It makes me crabby). I’m not totally self sufficient yet, but I can see that in the graspable future. I’m weaning myself off the pain meds too, which is huge, since those things leave me feeling so tired and funky.

I’ve really enjoyed having my parents here and spending time with them. My mom and I have been getting silly during my PT exercises (I’m on drugs. I don’t know what her excuse is.), and we have been doing the “guess which exercise I’m doing based on my facial expression” game (Again, me: drugs. Her: no idea). Anyway, I thought that in closing today I’d let you play too. So, in the following picture, am I doing:

A. Leg extensions
B. Ankle pumps
C. Buttock squeezes
D. The Dougie

Answer will be in the next post. Have a great day!

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The queen would like to go downstairs now

It’s pretty nice being waited on. I am the queen of my queen sized bed, and everyone brings me all the things I need. But it does get old after a bit. Sara observed today that I was definitely doing better because I was getting antsy. So today, the queen went downstairs.

Seriously, today was a really good day. My leg still looks like that of an East German speed skater, but I’m moving a lot better. And I was awake more than I was asleep. I had visitors and I didn’t pass out on any of them. AND…. I got out of the house! Yes, ’twas glorious. I put on makeup and clothes that weren’t sweatpants and I went with my family to Tessa’s band concert. Of course, I still had to wear my compressor pack, with the tubes sticking out of my waistband like feeding tubes, and I sat in my chair so gingerly that people probably thought I had hemorrhoids, but I was out. It was lovely.

And I learned 2 important things:
1. It’s never a good idea to pluck your eyebrows while on heavy painkillers.
2. Don’t try to wave at people when you’re on crutches. Trust me on this one.

Overall, today was very encouraging – a little reminder that I won’t be like this forever. Just for a little while. And then I’ll be back to crabbing about how crazy my kids’ schedules are and that I feel like I live in my car. So for now, I should probably enjoy being the queen.

It takes a village

“I need a cookie sheet, a towel and a foam roller”

No, not a scene from MacGyver, just me getting ready for my PT exercises. I will admit that when I first saw the pictures of the exercises in the Sacred Handbook of Joint Replacement they gave us, I did mock them for their simplicity. But it turns out that after you’ve had a bunch of butt muscles cut and ligaments stretched (and some metal parts put in) those movements are really hard. And exhausting, which is one reason I’m only now getting to writing an update. I’m kind of like a baby at this point – I can stay awake for about 3 hours and that’s it. Part of that is the arsenal of drugs I’m on, part is just that every movement is draining.

But I am moving! PT exercises twice a day, plus 3 “walks” a day (I have to use the quotes for now, because so far they consist of shuffling down the upstairs hallway and back on crutches). We’re not allowed to count getting up to go to the bathroom as a walk, but it is such a production getting me there and back that I think it should count. And I have to wear the squeezy leg things all day except for when I shower, so all movement is complicated by the fact that I have tubes and a compressor thing attached to me. Like I said, moving is quite the production.

And it seriously does take a village to take care of me right now. Luckily for me, my village rocks. I’ve told you already about Rich and Sara, who continue to take care of and coach me. My mom got to join the taking-care-of-Jen fun today by helping me take a shower (let’s just say she got to take a shower too). My dad helped us make sense of all my meds by creating a spreadsheet (did I mention he’s a retired engineer?) and color coding each bottle. Tessa switched out my ice packs for me, and Riley kept me company so I wouldn’t get lonely in my room…ok, ok, he needed help writing a sonnet for school, but he did hang out with me after that. Team parents got Riley to his soccer games, and dance moms did Tessa’s hair and makeup for her competitions. Between all of us, things got done.

And we all laugh a lot. I mean, you have to. I was initially very upset to see myself in the bathroom mirror after I showered because I didn’t realize how swollen I was. But then Tessa came around the corner, froze in horror and gasped, “Mom, your leg is so big! And your butt – it’s HUGE!” Yes, some things you just have to laugh at.

So, I’m doing well, slowly making progress and looking forward to being able to do some more things myself. Until then, I’ve got my village. And that is more than enough.

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