Saturday, September 18, 2021

Impatient patient

 I was pretty sure I'd be ahead of the curve in my recovery from hip replacement surgery. I like to go and do and I was eager to get on with my life. For the most part, I was compliant with the instructions of both surgeon and physical therapist.

One thing I wasn't told - or don't remember- was not to get down on the floor for the first four to six weeks. So one evening I put my padded yoga mat on the floor to do a PT exercise called "bridge" - where you bend your knees, tighten your abs and your buttocks, and make a shallow arch with your back. It was easier to do on the floor than on my bed because there was more back support on the floor. When I started to get up - difficult even before hip surgery - something in my hip area complained, kind of like the soft twang of a rubber band. I cried out and Art came over and helped me up. I was pretty scared that I'd dislocated something.

I guess I had a setback in my healing. Using my walker had gotten more comfortable before the floor episode, but afterwards there was more pain when I put weight on my right leg. I'd been able to get the leg into bed on my own, but afterwards I needed Art's help to lift it. And medication didn't seem to help. 

After five days I called the surgeon's office. The person asked me some questions - is your range of motion in PT still good? (Yes). Are you having trouble sleeping at night? (No). Their conclusion was, "Well, you probably aggravated the hip when you got down on the floor.You need to ice more, elevate more, and don't overdo it. Take 650 mg of Tylenol every six hours." I'd hoped they'd say, "Come right in and we'll take x-rays to make sure all is well." But they didn't. Maybe they didn't care about me now that I'd had the surgery. I'd need to wait until my six-week follow-up appointment with the surgeon on October 5 to find out what was going on. Maybe it would be too late by then.

So I iced more and I elevated more and I took the Tylenol. 

I talked to my nurse practitioner in Tucson. She asked where the pain was and I said it was in my groin. She said, "Well, you have spinal stenosis, and you had that groin pain before the hip replacement. Your left knee and back and right hip have compensating mightily for the last couple of years. Your body needs to adjust to this new configuration. Ice and elevate and WALK."

When I got out of bed this morning and went into the bathroom with my walker, for the first 20 steps I had NO PAIN. It's come and gone since then today, but I finally believe I will heal.

Here's what happened to me, as a person in pain who was told to take it easy:

  • I yelled at my husband twice in one day because he didn't bring my ice within five minutes after I asked for it.
  • I spent hours lying on the bed brooding.
  • I persuaded myself that no one cares about me now that I'm not "going and doing".
  • I ate extra - especially graham crackers and peanuts.
  • I drove to the dentist one day, when the only way I could get my right foot from the accelerator to the brake was by lifting my leg with the fabric of my pants. This was after the floor episode; the week before I'd gone to the grocery store with no trouble. Our ortho nurse son Peter, when he heard about it, said, "NO, Linda, you don't drive until you have your six-week appointment with the surgeon." He actually rolled his eyes right in front of me.
  • I gave my husband the silent treatment because we are supposed to be decluttering and he isn't enthusiastic enough about it. I'd go so far as to say he's stonewalling, but it's harder because I can't do much of it myself. I have this idea that we should be done by the time we leave for Tucson on November 1, hip replacement or not.
  • I complained daily about how hard it was to carry anything when I'm using my walker, since it doesn't have a basket or a seat. So I'd use one hand to carry something, like my laptop, and limp along with only one hand on my walker.
I have been a delight.

Actually, as my friend Diane pointed out, I'm seeing the glass half empty for the first time in ages. Usually I'm an optimist. I was grateful that she just described my behavior rather than scolding me for it. And I've had visits from Gail and Marilyn and Pam, friends from my church. Gail has brought food and Marilyn has brought groceries and Pam has brought food. They seem to like me just as well as before. And phone calls from Ellen and Connie. Those are good things.

I'm remembering my pain-free walk this morning and, for right now at least, feeling inklings of hope.