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.


Terra said...

I like the way you are assessing yourself, you do see your flaws, and also that is good news that you are now seeing progress on your road to recovery.

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

I had a plastic bag from the store tied on each arm of my walker to carry stuff in.
They were free and worked pretty well in a pinch when I was recovering from knee surgery. I didn't normally take the walker out of the house with the bags on it. I didn't feel like being a bag lady out in public.

Barb said...

A rolling walker with a seat is a godsend even if you use it only a few times a year. I.originally gor mine because lot of small standing only rock and folk venues snd needed a seat. I donr need it ro walk but it has been used to.move heavy things around this house, pile things to be moved from car to house, as a bedside steadier for getting two am and a million other non walker walking things.

Tom said...

Ohhh, your poor husband! But seriously, hope you're feeling better, and don't overdo it!

DJan said...

You are through the hardest part of the recovery, I think, and that's why you overdid it. You'll be back to your old self in no time, Linda. Hip replacement is a serious surgery!

Charlene H said...

Thanks for being so transparent. Good lesson for all of us following your recovery! Thankful that you have a local church to support you and your husband! My goodness, your "faults" you listed sound so familiar! 😉 Need some reflection here!

Debby said...

I love this. You are an inspiration even if you might be rising it a bit. I go in for rotator cup repair in Nov and am not looking forward to the aftermath. I had a knee replacement 2 years ago, and I remember those up and down feelings of hope and despair.

You're on the right path - you'll get there but I don't think you should be driving if you have to use your pant leg to push your leg down.

Linda Reeder said...

Well, Linda, you might just have to start behaving yourself for a while. Hips are easier to recover from initially, but it still takes time and PATIENCE. I am still doing regular fairly rigorous PT since my hip surgery in early January. I have now developed tendonitis in that hip from a tendon that was snipped and repaired in surgery. Add another uncomfortable exercise to my already long routine. But while my back still bothers me, my hip doesn't hurt, it holds me up, and I can walk.
Be good to yourself, but follow the rules for healing. You are a take charge person, but your body has it's own rules.

Joanne Noragon said...

Haha. I remember most of those complaints! You will recover and maybe even dance a jig one day. You'll dance it sooner if you don't have to learn how to jig.

Joared said...

Interesting account of your progress. Do take care and keep going.

Allison said...

I love your summation of you've been a total delight. Having been through my husband's shattered acetabulum, a spinal fusion, and a laminectomy, I've seen the despair and belief that it will never be over, but eventually it gets better. Hang in there. said...

I have never been a good patient. My family says I am the worst when I am ill. But I figure I do a lot to put up with them when they are "under the weather or going to that aircraft carrier in the sky (as my husband says when he is sick)" that I deserve to be a little bit snarky.

I hope you are feeling better soon. Love your blog.

Joared said...

Wonder how you’re doing and hope all is going well.