Slow but steady

17 weeks PO and still in the slow lane.

 

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No PT last week, I just did my home exercises and went for small walks. I am supposed to practice walking crutch free every day for short distances inside my home; from room to room is okay but my op hip tires quickly.

Preparing a meal in the kitchen for half an hour feels like I spent about three hours on my feet or changing bed sheets sucks real energy out of me for example and I need a break.

The simple task of “standing” a little bit longer like for ironing or cooking is not all that simple. I do see improvement to a few weeks ago but I am surprised how still simple things can throw my hip off and present me a crappy night in return.

I try to stay below 3,500 steps per day, anything over I am asking for it.

 

Crutch free I can walk about 50 yards/ meters by now, then it is clearly enough for my op hip. It’s a tricky combination, to have massive atrophy and a major weight bearing bone that needs to get used to bear weight again. Why easy if you can have it difficult?

This recovery puts a new definition to the word “slow” but this week my PT is back and I am back on track.

 

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4 months PO after hip pinning

4 months post operative and yep, still very busy with my recovery.

Inside my home, for short distances, I am off my one crutch but still need many, many breaks throughout the day. Outside I am still dependent on both of them.

 

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I can crutch/ walk about 800 yards/ meters by now but I doubt I would have the strength or endurance to do a full grocery shopping in our local supermarket without my crutches. Just not there yet.

~~~

Last weeks physical therapy only took place once with a collegue of my regular PT. (My PT had a baby and is taking a few days off.)

 

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To summarize it – the guy was a joke and a waste of money & time.

He never looked once in my file, gave me only a handful of exercises to do which I did 10 weeks ago already and was more gone than there. I would have been happy just doing the exercises from last time and getting his input, instead I was sitting around, waiting for him to come back again.

I will wait till my regular PT comes back and continue with him. He seems to know me by now and I know him. Lots of home PT to do in the meantime.

~~~

Another big achievement is, I can do stairs again. Not all the way, the smooth, fluid motion; still Granny style, but it is improvement.

My op hip is okay if I stay within my limits, as well as the good hip. Both get stressed out and tired quickly and lately my left iliospsoas is giving me grief as well, it goes into spasms and really aches. Reminds me of the recovery of my second hip arthroscopy, the mirror image. Surgery on the L, angry hip flexor on the R.

The other day I read “the hip flexor – the queen of compensating”. (Makes sense but I have other names for it…)

 

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I am now in my 17th week on crutches and I sure hope it’s coming to an end soon. Let’s see what my PT will have in store for me when I see him next.

 

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Less is more

PO week 15. Crutches status? Same – outdoors 2, indoors 1.

My first attempt of “10 minutes walking without crutches inside my home” was a success but very, very slow. It also resulted in “two” angry hips for the rest of the day. Splendid.

 

film x-ray human's pelvis and arthritis at both hip joint

 

The next day I tried again and it already went much better.

~~~

My PT was impressed with my progress just within three days but I still did not get the green light for going crutch free at home. He was very clear on that. I should practice good gait and balance during my dedicated 10 minutes freestyling, work on lateral movements as well, “a few” small and short tryouts without my crutch are ok but for 98% – still one crutch.

~~~

Next to selected old exercises I was told to walk “8’s”, 5x to the left and 5x to the right, around the tubes which was not that easy, without my crutch.

 

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He checked my gait which was okay, considering, but needed some finetuning. I am very thankful for him checking it, because truthfully, this is my third hip surgery recovery and nobody ever checked my gait or balance before. Sucks.

 

We also want to focus more on exercises on my feet from now on, maybe even consider the treadmill and/ or the Elliptical soon.

 

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I did two other new exercises, which were okay as long as I stood on my non op hip but very difficult, standing on my op hip/ leg, holding my entire bodyweight. My op hip was not a fan.

It takes a lot of strength to stand on the operated leg, there is a lot of pressure in my hip/ groin/ leg and it is quite exhausting.

~~~

The aftermath of my PT was seriously  NOT  pretty. My good hip felt like it’s ready to come through the tummy, and even after spending  HOURS  icing,  both were really angry. Another wasted night, when my hips kept me awake till 5 o’clock in the morning.

 

I personally feel, my PT should adjust my home exercises from now and then. He keeps piling them on and on. I am at 2 hours daily home exercises now and it is stressing my hips out.

I am sure one could skip a few old exercises and it’d be better to focus on other, more advanced ones, which include walking, standing and endurance. Every week I ask if there is any adjustment with the home exercises and every week the list gets longer.

”Less is more” in my opinion and especially in this recovery.

I don’t want to end up with a stress fracture from a fatigued bone on top of everything. After all, even without the recent surgery, both hips were already operated hips and I knew what they could do and what not. The amount of exercises right now is more than double what I did before the ski accident.

No wonder my usually super duper left hip is stressed out to the max.

 

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Day 90 on crutches

Last weeks PT session with three new exercises, resulted in a rough night. I was really hurting and miserable and fell asleep at 5 am in the morning.

 

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My op hip felt the size of a grapefruit, and ached deeply. It was aggravated and swollen. On a pain scale a solid 5/10. I had to take the whole next day off to let things calm down again.

~~~

Since a couple of days my L hip also is acting up. I guess the left has officially had it for taking the majority of the load for many months. Right now I have two aching hips, aching for different reasons. Good times.

 

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I also had to set the record straight on what kind of surgery I had done. I overheard my PT talking to a collegue last week and was surprised to hear what my PT “thought” I had done.

When I told him the correct diagnoses and surgery technique, his response was “oh, you just had hip pinning done?” Said with a tone like “oh and I thought you had “real” surgery the whole time.” (What the….? Seriously!)

 

I am still convinced I am his first young hip pinning patient, and I am his personal guinea pig. He does give me good exercises and tries but sometimes he seems a bit clueless.

Oh well, I am sticking with him. It’s not like “other” PT’s will have a ton of experience with this. Again, young people usually don’t break their hip and old people often end up with a  THR  right away.

Leaves me – floating around in no man’s land.

 

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~~~

I let him know about the payback last time too and he adjusted some exercises. We skipped the ankle weights but still kept the wooden box and squats going. The squats (only a 1/4 going down) are going well, the step up and step down on the wooden box I don’t know.

Some go well and at other steps I feel like either my hip or knee is about to collapse right under me. Weird.

Hopefully that gets stronger real soon, it’s an awful feeling if you don’t know if your leg will hold you or give in any second. (I’d be the type to reinjure myself  AT  the physical therapy office, I swear.)

~~~

What else is new?

  • I am still on two crutches outside my home but I am allowed on one crutch inside. Walking is getting better and a bit faster.
  • Stairs? Getting better but still only with two crutches.
  • My daily home PT exercises take me 1.5 hours
  • My crutch walking ability with 2 crutches is about 800 yards/ meters
  • I can bike on my stationary bike twice a day,  NO  resistance, casual pace for 13 minutes
  • Driving is okay within the 10-15 minutes range

 

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Living it up!

Week 13 post operative.

 

It’s my fifth day (at home) with one crutch. My op hip is on the R, so I am using the crutch on my opposite side.

On my first day I was strongly leaning towards the left when walking but the balance and gait is improving every day.

One thing that’s not getting old is, being able to actually carry something and getting some stuff done.

~~~

Technically we are having spring, but I guess mother nature did not get the memo. Nevertheless, we bundled up and went for a walk in the park. Crutches and all.

 

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Since I was told to “push myself” a little bit, I chose a tree about 300 yards/ meters away as my goal.

The distance is not long for somebody healthy but while you are recovering, have not a whole lot of muscle mass to show, basically no endurance and are rocking your crutches, it is quite a distance. It took me a while to do it but it felt very satisfying and it was nice to be out in the fresh air.

My op hip felt okay afterwards, a bit achy but not too bad.

~~~

Going to PT was exciting as I was driving myself.

 

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We practiced driving over the weekend. The sideways movement from the gas to the brakes pedal feels okay, the long and deep braking goes a bit in the hip.

I did a test drive and promptly ended up in a neighborhood I have never set foot in before. Oops.

For the moment I want to keep driving distances short, within the 10-15 minute range. I would not want to drive long distance yet.

~~~

Physical therapy is going well.

I did all of my exercises but was allowed to skip some and we replaced those with some upgraded ones, like doing “quarter squats” on the wall (see picture on the left and the targeted muscles on the right, below) or stepping on a low step.

 

 

The squats are going well, the stepping on the low box is hard as hell. The exercise is very mischiefing. The box is about 2 inches/ 5 cm high but geez – this thing sucks the life out of me!

It is such a small step and yet such a huge one.

 

 

I did 20x reps and towards the end my thigh was just shaking. It is pretty difficult to hold and transfer the weight, and keep the knee from giving out.

~~~

Overall I think, the recovery of the labrum tear in the hip, which I had the pleasure of doing twice, was faster in the beginning but afterwards slow and   t-e-d-i-o-u-s  but compared to this recovery, it was a walk in the park.

Recovering from a hip fracture is an entirely different animal. Post op pain is severe, crutches time is about triple as long but I hope now things will be picking up a bit.

I am making really good progress and feel very optimistic but it’s exercises like these when I think “geez, still looong ways to go”.

 

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My walking ability on one crutch is pretty good but it’s at least another week on one crutch inside my home. Still on two crutches outdoors.

This is my 13th week on crutches but that’s ok. Rather do it right the first time than rushing it and risking a stress fracture or worse.

What cracks me up are medical articles, stating “the recovery takes 3 months”. I must be missing something.

 

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Oh and guess what came in the mail!? Two more bills for my ski accident/ surgery. Another $ 5,500! (We are now at $ 44,000. I wonder how many more bills will come.)

 

 

For now I keep icing away. My op hip is not happy and I think it will be a fun night. My hip is ready to rumble.

 

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3 month PO update

I saw my orthopedic surgeon for my 12 week follow up appointment and it was good news.

 

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My X-rays showed some bone growth but the fracture has still not healed all the way. Things are definitely moving in the right direction though.

Signs we were looking for:

  • No malunion – check
  • No AVN – check
  • No nonunion – check
  • Alignment is still good – check
  • Screws have not shifted (two of them losened up a bit because walking puts compression on the bone but it’s still within the norm) – check

 

I was given the go ahead to work towards weaning off crutches, which is a process over several weeks as well.

He really wants me to work on bearing more weight so I don’t get “de-conditioned” which I thought was kind of funny. I mean, after being on crutches full time for 12 weeks, there is nothing left of my op leg – he is concerned about muscle mass?? A bit late for that, I’d say.

 

Ideally, he wants me to push myself a bit. “Push yourself but don’t do too much”. The famous thin line to walk on.

 

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I asked about bone pain and he said, this is normal and to be expected since the hip is not used to carrying weight anymore. It will get better with time. (So basically back to my comfort zone – icing at night. The freezer,  my BFF!)

He gave me permission to drive again and I should practice in some quiet neighborhood first, to see if I can shift my R (op side) leg quickly enough from the gas to the brake pedal.

I also should continue physical therapy and “proceed with caution”.

 

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~~~

PT was good, the place was hopping.

I did all of my exercises and as a highlight….. I was allowed to practice walking on one crutch!!! It was not painful but my op leg felt  stiff and weak at the same time, if that makes any sense.

This weeks home exercises include trying to walk around some in my home with one crutch only. Outside the house still two.

I am not walking fast, pretty slow but still, it’s improvement! Before any upgrade to walking faster, I always have to take two steps backwards and walk slower first.

 

On the way out from PT I saw a lot of commotion on the staircase. Reason for that – the elevator broke down, so you had a long line of people on crutches and walkers trying to battle the staircase and I am happy to say, I was one of the faster ones on it.

 

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You will never guess what my first luxury was at home! Walking on one crutch  AND holding a cup of tea – at the same time. Thank you very much!

 

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All in all, things look promising. I still have long ways to go but for the moment I am very happy and have a hard time trying to wipe that grin that goes from ear to ear off my face.

 

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Reality bites

Vacation is over, back to reality and PT.

A few days ago I made an interesting observation. Since I am 50% weight bearing when crutch/ walking, I figured, I am also 50% weight bearing when just standing. I tried it during washing the dishes on one day and prepping dinner the next day – bad idea.

We are talking five minutes, ten tops. I can not stand with the feet close together (no balance), only well apart, but even that gets achy very quickly and both times it ended up with me feeling miserable in both hips. I guess the good hip chips in with sympathy pain….

 

I mentioned it at PT today and after doing my regular exercises, I worked on weight transfer.

First, shifting  VERY  slowly and gently from my L foot/ hip to my R foot/ op hip and back, while holding onto a counter.

 

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And after that, transfer the weight from the good leg/ hip to the op leg/ hip, one small step forward and very carefully back, while holding on to a counter.

It went well but  v-e-r-y  slowly and after I was done with it, my quad muscles kept twitching away on their own. It looked like fireworks going off inside my thigh. My PT said it is because of fatigue. Yep, atrophy in all its glory.

Both exercises from now on 20x per day.

 

(One step forward, feet together and one back. Counts as “one”.)

 

The leg press was increased to 60 lbs. today, 40x, very manageable.

~~~

Since I will see my OS later this week for my 12 week follow up, I had to fill out a questionnaire about my progress, what I can do and what I can not do.

I really had to try not to laugh when I read questions like “can you run? Can you hop? Can you walk around two blocks? Can you squat?” Wishful thinking at this point.

 

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My PT measured my strength, ROM and all different kind of angles, to give to my OS as a six week PT update. He will also request another prescription for PT.

  • ROM is still improving
  • Hip flexor – tight (what else is new?)
  • Strength is good
  • Angles are still getting better
  • most important task right now? Weight bearing, weight bearing, weight bearing.

~~~

Did I mention we are still getting medical bills for my ski accident/ hospital stay three months ago? So far it’s $ 38,000 which was fully covered by insurance. Go big or go home, right?

 

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For now my whole focus is on the next appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. I would love to hear some news like “bone has started to form”.

My third month, full time on crutches – this is slowly getting old.

 

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