Things are going according to plan

6.5 months PO

 

I am doing good. My hips like my new PT/ workout routine much better than physical therapy which turned into bootcamp in the end.

 

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I still get achey with my op hip, on “very special” days it’s both hips, but in general they are much calmer. Compared to two months ago I feel much stronger too. Of course that will be put to the test at some point and I probably still can’t keep up with others over longer distances but I am getting there.

For example, I can walk a bit more than a mile now and I even can pass people, so I am officially not the slowest one in the park anymore. Ha!

~~~

  • My Elliptical is up to 11 minutes on level 1,
  • the stationary bike I can do 16 minutes on level 1 and
  • walking on the treadmill is also okay for 16 minutes, medium fast walking speed. I guess adding a minute every two weeks is safe. Of course it’d be nice to go for more but what’s the result? Two pissed off hips.

 

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At my 6 month follow up with my orthopedic surgeon X-rays were taken and everything is healing nicely. There is continued bone healing and bone remodeling taking place and no complications.

 

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He reminded me again, that this is a recovery that can take up to a year. I believe it but I do feel like I have, for the most part, my life back already.

I can take care of my family again, run the household & errands and except for doing sports, I am the same as before I so geniusly kissed the snow. Now it’s all about fine tuning.

~~~

He examined my hip and it is gliding smoothly and its mechanics work well. It is not completely anatomic anymore since the fracture was impacted and I might have aches here and there from now on, but when do I not? I expect things to get even better with time and I am already very happy with the healing process.

 

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I should “keep doing what I am doing” with my exercises and should be able to go skiing again early next year. Music to my ears!

~~~

My daily steps are also improving. I am now doing 10,000 steps several times a week but I also learnt two lessons the hard way last week.

a) I went too fast on my stationary bike and was limping and hurting the whole next day.

b) I have to watch my walking speed and gait. For one of my walks I walked too fast and my stride was too long, was hurting the whole night. So back to walking a bit slower again and making smaller steps.

 

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Big milestone!!

 

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Today I am 6 months post operative and hopefully things continue to go well for me.

The past half year was very tough, physically and mentally.  First the ski accident and surgery that came out of nowhere, trying to accept the situation and the fact that I had to start from scratch yet once again; deal with brutal pain the first few weeks, to doing my 20 weeks on crutches – learning how to walk again, do stairs and just little things.

Especially “the little things in life” everybody takes for granted are not so little, if you can’t do them on your own or not for a long time.

~~~

I seriously could not have done it without the endless support and care of my husband. He was and is there for me when nobody else was/ is. ❤

 

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This was my third and by far, the most difficult hip surgery recovery and what you learn very quickly is, who is a real friend and who truly cares. Let’s just say the list of people who stood by my side was very, very short. Teaches you a lot about people…

~~~

I started physical theraphy at 6 weeks PO with my PT and did home exercises on a daily basis at home ever since. I am still not done with it but the roughest part is over.

Now it’s all about endurance, strengthening, giving it time and waiting for things to fall into place.

 

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My range of motion is good in my op hip, the pain level is okay on most days but I still get achey quite a bit. On a good day I am on a 1-2/10 pain level, on bad days it can go up to 5/10.

My gait looks good but the more tired I get, the more I will start limping. Also, still lots of compensation going on which my good hip is not too fond of and gets upset too. (Good times when both hips are cranky…)

~~~

Stairs are working fine, if they are reasonable and my op hip is in a good mood. The more tired or achey it is, the slower the stairs will be.

Driving my car is no problem anymore and sitting in general is fine.

I am still putting a huge effort into my recovery and do my exercises. As I know from my previous hip surgeries – “happy hips are a lifetime commitment”.

 

Atrophy (as well as scar tissue & adhesions) is also still a problem I am working on.

At this point I can walk 1 mile/ 1.6 km nicely. Not as fast as other people, but not slow either. I also can do about 8,000 steps/ day and feel fine. A bit more is doable but I will get achey. 8,000 steps is a good day.

This was last weeks summary, according to my Fitbit.

 

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In general I feel good and I am happy again but I know there is still lots of work ahead.

Pretty much the only thing that is totally not happening right now is sports, anything beyond PT exercises. Hopefully this will come with time.

Till then, chin up and keep going.

 

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And… more PT!

Same week, more of the same.

Had physical therapy twice and my PT is really pushing me. The second I am not looking he sneaks another plate of weight on the leg press and exercises that are tough already are  REAL  tough now. Just when I think “this exercise is monstrous”, he tops it with something.

I have made my peace with “clams” by now but two exercises just got more advanced and are killers.

  1. walking sideways 8x with a super tough elastic band around my ankles. It takes everything out of me and burns my gluteus medius muscles to a point that’s beyond funny.
  2. getting up and sitting down from a chair 20x with a 4 lbs./ 2 kg ball in my outstretched arms  AND  an elastic band around my thighs, while the feet are wider than my shoulders.

They are both tough exercises but I really do hate the first one. That band is so incredibly tight, it hardly gives. I swear it’s the elastic band from hell.

 

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I am doing my exercises but I certainly have an opinion about them.

~~~

Did I mention already I almost fell at PT?? I was done with the elastic band from hell, which by the way is so tight it left my skin bloody as I noticed afterwards (!), and hobbled that one meter over to the bench to take it off, when I tripped and almost fell. That could have been catastrophic!!

~~~

Also, my PT thinks it’s a splendid idea to start doing incline on the treadmill. (I personally  KNOW  it’s not a great idea. Already before I broke my hip and I was “just” dealing with two recoveries from FAI & labral tears, incline was a baaaad idea.)

For the moment it is on the lowest level and only a few minutes at a time but I know my PT by now. Very soon it will get steeper and the minutes longer and then I will put my foot down.

 

Coming home from PT I was completely exhausted. So many exercises in a relatively short time, a few were made even tougher and to top it off – incline. I fell asleep immediately,  with my lower body feeling like dead weight. That’s the best I can describe it.

 

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Last week I tried walking a tiny bit more than a mile (2 km). I needed about 5 breaks and my op hip was not happy afterwards. So back to my mile. Obviously my hip needs more time.

 

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Why does it take so long?

 

5,5 months PO

Recently I got asked over and over again “why is your recovery taking so long?” Well, here it is….

The hip is not “just” a broken bone. The femoral neck is one of  THE  major weight bearing bones in the entire body and neither the fracture nor the recovery is a joke. It is considered a life threatening injury to have and can have many devastating complications, not just during surgery but also in the recovery.

My recovery is slow yes, but everything is going smooth and according to plan. What more could I wish for??

 

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People who ask “how much longer is this going to take?/ Is this ever going to end?/ Geez, this is going on forever!/ Why are you still in physical therapy?” and other charming questions don’t realize just how serious of an injury this is and how incredibly complex the recovery is.

Recovering from hip pinning is way harder than recovering from a  THR. Only young, healthy and active people will be given this kind of surgery, because it’s too tough for older people and they have a higher risks of complications, such as AVN.

~~~

I started off with “toe touching only” for six weeks, to really give the fractured bone a rest and was full time on crutches for 14 weeks, weaning off for another six weeks. So basically I spent the whole month of January, February, March and April on crutches and did not get far.

The recovery is very very delicate since you can not put “too much weight – too soon” on the hip, otherwise it re-breaks and then “the shit has hit the fan”, to be very blunt.

 

Everything has to be learnt all over again over the course of many months and hundreds of hours of physical therapy.

Simple things like “standing” on two legs for example, with the weight equally spread out, is not easy at the beginning and one has to learn to stand for “longer periods” of time, 5 minutes, 10 minutes ect. again.

Might not seem important but it is. How many times a day does one “just” stand? Brushing your teeth, putting make up on, cooking, prepping meals, ironing, standing in line  somewhere…, leave alone learning how to stand on “one” leg again.

 

Other tasks I can think of that everybody takes for granted but I had to learn again:

  • getting up from a chair/ low seated couch
  • unassisted showering
  • putting on socks & shoes by myself
  • getting in and out of a car
  • eventually drive myself again, whereas my op leg is the right
  • doing stairs
  • shifting weight forward and sideways
  • walking without crutches and walking altogether

 

The hip is a very complex joint and lays super deep within the body. It is surrounded by 17 muscles and being on crutches for such a long time will do a serious number on them.

Atrophy begins after 11 days not using muscles, imagine what the muscles look like after 140 days on crutches! Not much left.

 

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Muscle mass is disappearing very fast and it takes forever to build it up again. My OS told me “per week on crutches the body will need six weeks to rebuild the lost muscle mass”. So in my situation I am looking at 120 weeks. This will keep me occupied for over two years and I am working hard at PT.

~~~

Things one has to work on is getting your range of motion (ROM) back, get rid of the limp when walking and find your proper gait again; one must work on balance, the leg (and knee) is very weak because of missing muscle mass and needs to regain strength. With strength will come endurance as well and of course one has major muscle imbalance to deal with.

Not only the front to the back in the op leg but also from the good leg to the op side leg. While the op hip is still healing, my good hip has to take over and do overtime and being an operated hip itself, there will be the point when even that hip has had it and needs extra love.

 

One must also not forget that some muscles need more attention than others. The glutes for example, so important for basically everything but mine don’t fire properly which throws off everything. The muscles have to be “trained” again to fire  when needed. Another task that takes months.

I am not even getting started about soft tissue issues with scar tissue & adhesion build ups and issues with the pesky hip flexor which by itself can make life miserable already. (Soft tissue issues are very real and can take years to go away).

 

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And since everything is off balance and not working properly, SI dysfunction is never far away either.

 

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The bone will take up to a year to completely heal and till  ALL  of this has settled, calmed down, is strong enough again and balanced, it will be a while. I am not too concerned about the timeline. It will take what it will take.

I could go on and on with this, but my point is, this is a very complex and intense recovery. I am not dragging it on because it’s “oh so much fun”.

I am following instructions from my orthopedic surgeon and my physical therapist and between them and me; time, dedication and  A  LOT  of hard work I am getting it done. Maybe not tomorrow or the day after tomorrow but I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

 

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Little big milestone

21 weeks PO

I finally reached walking one mile in the park, at 21 weeks PO hip fracture! I was very proud of it, did it quite well and when I told my PT, his very first question was “did you time yourself?” Huh? I am happy I could walk it, I could seriously not care less in what time. Weird.

In the past week I walked my precious mile three times. It goes a bit better each time but still takes a lot out of me.

At PT we increased the height for practicing doing steps. Now it’s an 8 inch height, which is pretty much the standard height for stairs.  I can manage my staircase twice a day now – the “normal” way. But twice is  MORE  than enough. I feel it in both hips pretty much right away and it takes a tremendous effort.

~~~

Tomorrow we are going on vacation. My PT told me to take the crutches along. Just in case my hips get angry. Makes sense but I was kinda hoping I was done with them, but I am a good patient and take them along.

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The Elliptical is up to 8 minutes on level 1, medium speed. I am happy with that. Lots of little improvements happening.

Pain is almost gone, the hips take turns in being achey and it of course depends on how much I do. Overall I feel pretty good and if it wasn’t for the lacking strength and endurance in my R op hip/ muscles; doing sports and moving faster on the staircases, I’d say I feel almost normal.

Girl drawing smiley face on to a wall

~~~

So now I can pack my suitcase.

Forget the cute shoes, it’s comfy sneakers with good support, icepack, Ibuprofen and crutches. Hooray. But I will make the best of it. I will have to choose wisely what I can do, judge walking distances and I will probably make friends with every single bench in sight. Hopefully this will be the last vacation with crutches.

As I said to my OS already, last time I saw him “the subject hips is not just getting old – it  WAS  old already five years ago” (when this “oh so fun journey” began).

See ya.

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19 weeks PO

I am 19 weeks post operative and doing really good. Particularly the past week.

In general, I am less aching after physical therapy, and I can tell my efforts with doing hours and hours of home exercises since many months are paying off and for the first time I really thought “things are coming together”.

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My PT gave the green light for the treadmill and the Elliptical, only to “try it” and see how it feels.

I tried 10 minutes very slow walking on the TM and really focused on proper gait and good walking technique and the Elliptical was 5 minutes, also slow. Was okay, apart from things clicking in the back of the hip (probably the hamstring tendon snapping) but those five minutes sucked the life out of me. Wow!

I am not pushing it on the TM or the Elliptical, I am happy with 10 and 5 minutes for the moment. Those are new exercises and things have to get used to it again.

~~~

My exercises at PT are going well and I am now done with them in an hour.

I really see big improvement and last week there was a significant push in my recovery. My “slow and steady”approach is paying off.

There is still lots of work ahead but I feel really optimistic about my future and healing up.

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My PT told me to try going to the park “without” crutches and see how far I get. He suggested going for 800 yards/ meters (once around the pond) but that is only happening in his little fantasy world.

I went for half of it. It felt okay, I was not in pain but on the way back I walked significantly slower and with more of a limp. A few hours afterwards both hips were aching, was not great but still tolerable.

Even though I did not go that far, it was a gorgeous day to be out. The trees were blooming, it was in the low 70’s and a picture perfect evening and I was one of the crowd.

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Next up? My follow up appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. Let’s see what the X-rays will tell.

18 weeks into the recovery

Yes, I am still at it.

Recently a lot of people acted very surprised to hear I am still using my crutches or I am still in physical therapy. Well – surprise!

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I saw this T-shirt the other day, maybe I should get it. Hmm…

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At 18 weeks PO I can:

  • crutch-walk around a pond which is a “good” half mile/ ~ 1000 meters
  • walk “without” crutches maybe 100 yards/ meters and then it is clearly enough
  • do stairs “Granny style”
  • walk without crutches “indoors” but for anything outside my home that requires more than 15 minutes of standing or walking – two crutches
  • drive a car again with nearby errands to run
  • stand longer at home (ironing, cooking etc.)
  • do about 4,000 steps per day
  • shower without a shower bench
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      Since this week I have my PT’s permission to do “small community stuff” like go in the post office, grab a coffee or get some groceries without crutches. I do not have the okay for going to the supermarket and do a full weeks grocery shopping without crutches yet. Basically quick “in & out” errands.

      I am still taking advantage of an online shopping service for getting my groceries. One orders online and picks it up curb side. Very convenient!

      ~~~

      PT is going well. I continue to improve strength and when my range of motion was measured, I had gained another five degrees on all movements in the last six weeks.

      My gait is also getting better. I am walking faster than two weeks ago and am keeping my upper body nice and straight. It still looks “robotic” though as my PT charmingly called it. My op side has good  ROM  but when I am walking it looks stiff and wooden.

      (This is who my walk reminds me of…)

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      ~~~

      Since a little while I also have clicking going on in the front of the hip and in the back. It does not hurt so I don’t think it’s the labrum getting stuck, but some tendons snapping over the hip. I am not too concerned about it, I think it will settle with time again when everything thing is more balanced.

      ~~~

      In physical therapy we are working a lot on strengthening right now. Still doing the leg press, leg extension, hip machine, using the big ball for doing 2/3 squats along the wall and elastic bands for various exercises. (I really have to watch my PT closely, sometimes he tries to sneak extra weights on the machines without telling me and I can not do it.)

      Sideways stepping. (Burn baby burn!)

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      Walking like an “ice scater”.

      Another exercise I am working on is trying higher steps. I am still doing my staircase at home “Granny style”, or “the hospital way” as my PT likes to call it but I am practicing  now a bit higher steps.

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      I should  NOT  try my whole staircase with the new technique yet, it’s too early and too much for my hip still.

      ~~~

      So, that’s about it at this point, let’s finish with a laugh. I saw this picture the other day and thought, “hm, I guess my ski injury is so uncommon, it did not make the cut. Lucky me.”

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