Off to a good start

1 year/ 2 weeks PO

 

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This year I went out twice already, playing tennis. Not real tennis – “tennis after hip pinning”, but still. And each time I feel a little bit better on the court.

The last few times I left with the feeling “this was fun and at least I was out there” but today was different. My lateral movement is improving, the footwork is getting better, I get to more balls and my forehand is slowly starting to creep back in. I still have big limitations on my op side, but better is better.

I actually saw a glimpse of myself “pre-hip fracture” on the court again and it felt amazing and encouraging.

 

(Not a glamour shot but I call it the “getting my life back – shot”!)

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In the locker room I met an old team mate of mine who I used to play with. She was happy to see me and asked what I have been up to, she hasn’t seen me in years. So I gave her a quick summary of my last five years, consisting of three hip surgeries with 2 torn labrums, 2 strass fractures in my pelvis, a broken hip and a total of 11 months on crutches.  That’ll do it to anybody.

I was told my old tennis team would absolutly  LOVE  to have me back as singles player but my competitive days are over. Hitting yes, grinding it out over several hours? Not so much.

It’s okay though. I had a great time playing competitive tennis and made it to No. 1 singles player in our club but this was in a different life.

~~~

After tennis I always take it easy. My op hip will get pretty achey from it but still at a level I can deal with, about 4/10. The next morning it’s usually better, but I really think tennis is helping me. Certain muscles need a smack on the back of their head, to stop snoozing, get their act together and start working again.

~~~

Remember my New years resolution “staying out of my OS office” in 2019? Well, this did not work out, have to see him next week. Fortunately not for the hip but he also does shoulders. Let’s see what story will unfold there…

~~~

And here the good news of the day – in 10 days we are going skiing!!! I am beyond excited (with a good portion of nervousness and respect for the mountian of course)! Finally some snow and outdoor fun.

By coincidence I also read an article about our ski resort, the ski patrol has new staff members… puppies who get trained for being avalanche dogs. They will be patroling the mountains and are ready for close ups.

 

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So it’s all good…

  • Tennis is coming along
  • Ski vacation planned
  • Cute puppies are waiting for me. Personal goal: pet as many as I can get my hands on! ❤️❤️❤️

 

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Hello new year!

1 year, 1 week PO

 

I am finally back, workout wise, where I was before I had my flare that lasted three weeks. Took me another two weeks to work myself up to it.

I am not any farther along than I was at 11 months PO, but I am getting there. I think going slower but a bit longer works well for me. Might not be what my OS had in mind with his advice “you need to push it” but I rather play it safe. The “slow but steady” method has worked well for me in three hip recoveries, so…at the moment I am at 15 minutes each – TM, stationary bike & Elliptical, level 1 and I am content.

~~~

Tried playing tennis again, first time indoors and back at the club since my injury. Felt awkward to be among all those people, like nothing ever happened.

 

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I was on the court for an hour with my husband, just hitting – nice and easy. That’s all I have for the moment anyways. There is no way for me playing a competitive match yet. They would beat me in no time.

 

Things I am still not good at, thanks to my injury, are:

  • low balls. It would mean going down & up in basically one motion and aside from feeling my op hip getting stuck, I can get neither down nor up in one swift motion. Yet.
  • sideways running to the right (op side), sprinting diagonal to the right and going backwards quickly – very difficult. I don’t trust my ability to do this yet and fear I would stumble over my own feet, so I don’t.
  • wide balls I let go.
  • Hip rotation for the forehand – nope.

 

Since movement on my forehand side (op side) is very difficult for me, I either have to cover the forehand side of the court with my backhand or let it go. Still need to work more on glutes, quads, cores and movement.

 

Two good news though:

  1. I was out there.
  2. All my cardio exercises are paying off, I hardly broke a sweat.

I will try again next week.

~~~

It feels so awesome to have a whole new year ahead. It’s like a white sheet of paper, a fresh start.

 

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In a few weeks we are going on a ski vacation and the FIRST thing I will do at the destination is bring in my skis for inspection. We had them waxed last year and they were slippery as hell.

It is  NOT  normal to have them slip  THAT  much from a standing position (!!!) that it causes me to fall and break my hip. If it really turns out somebody messed up the waxing technique and the edges are the incorrect angle, I am ready to twist some serious neck.

 

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~~~

I got some new athletic shorts with build-in bumpers on the thighs, to cushion the fall, in case one falls.

Good idea but these shorts were awful. They had a terrible fit, in front there was a pocket hanging down where I assume guys “you know what” goes (awkward…) and in the back, in the butt region there was a huge pad which made me feel like I am wearing full diapers. These are going back.

~~~

People keep asking me if I am not afraid of going back skiing. No, I am not. I am not afraid of skiing – I am afraid of falling. Ha.

We both got cheated for a whole winter and ski season and even though we are going back to the same place where it happened, we have been so many times at this resort, the good memories definitely outweigh the bad ones.

I am a bit nervous but not scared for going back but most of all, I am excited for swooshing through the snow, feeling free as a bird and having cold air hit my face. I am sure it will be an adventure and just to be sure, my icepack comes along on the trip.

 

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1 year surgery anniversary!

Today is New Years Eve and also the day when I had my ski accident, broke my hip and had to have emergency surgery last year, December 31. 2017. (If you want to read about it, go to blog post “A new years to remember”.)

So from now on, this day has a whole new meaning to me.

~~~

I will summarize what “one year in my life after a subcapital hip fracture” was like. It was  NOT  fun and I hope to never, ever have to go through this again.

 

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This is how my pins looked back then and still do. They are still in my hip and staying in.

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Here is the timeline:

  • Accident and emergency surgery on the same day, just hours apart.
  • 3 day hospital stay
  • Crutches and 6 weeks toe touching (= 10 % of weight bearing on operated leg)
  • PT started 2x/ a week at PO week 6; 1.5 hours each time.
  • After PO week 6 I added  V-E-R-Y  gently a tiny bit of body weight, week by week.
  • Full time on crutches – 14 weeks
  • At PO week 14 I started weaning off crutches, took me another 6 weeks. Total time on crutches – 20 weeks = 5 months.
  • I believe it was around PO month 4 that I was allowed to drive again.
  • Went to PT for 5 months, 2x/ a week and continued at home every day after; in the beginning up to 4 hours daily, then 3 hours, 2 hours, now I am at 1 hour.

 

Total cost of everything, hospital/ surgery/ meds/ PT etc. – a sweet $ 50.000!

 

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My  PT  was a nice guy and tried his best but since this is not a common injury for a 44 year old  AT ALL,  I was his first ever “young adult – hip pinning patient” and a bit of his personal guinea pig, to see which exercises work and which don’t.

~~~

I am now 1 year after my accident/ surgery and the advice I would tell others is this:

  • make research about this injury and recovery, read as much as you can about it and brush up on hip anatomy.
  • CRUCIAL: stay on crutches as long as you are told!!! This injury is not a joke and it takes time to heal. You can not rush it. Your body will take the time it needs.

 

  • Take your pain meds. I chose not to take them at home, it was a personal choice and the pain was brutal. Now I know, it would have been easier if I would have taken them.
  • Add weight to your operated leg gently and carefully.

 

  • Do your PT exercises daily and as told but at the same time, “listen to your body”. If it hurts, back up. Be ready for a tough few months, working really hard at PT!
  • Keep up with your exercises even after official  PT  is done. PT helps you get started, it’s up to you to keep up the maintenance.

 

  • Don’t go for “too much/ too soon”.
  • Be patient. It all is very time consuming and will take a long time.

 

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  • Don’t compare yourself with others. Every patient is different, starting at the age, fitness level, what kind of fracture and surgery they had; different orthopedic surgeons and PT’s have different philosophies and everybody heals at a different pace. There really are not two patients alike.
  • And last – try to stay positive despite everything. Unnecessary negativity will not only make the whole experience more miserable as it is already for you and others, it uses up energy that you could be using otherwise. So, focus and be patient.

 

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I really did not see this whole circus coming and could have nicely skipped the experience but one takes it step by step. With a little luck, everything will fall into place eventually and hopefully better things are around the corner.

For the new year I wish for no major health problems. A year without an accident and no hip surgery for a change; I don’t want to see a PT office from the inside or be a regular at my OS office. Not too much to ask, is it?

 

 

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Myths of hip fractures

First of all, I am done with my flare. Lasted solid three weeks and also meant three weeks of rest and no workouts. At the moment I am in the process of trying to work myself up again to what I could do “pre-flare”.

 

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In my last year, recovering from hip surgery No. 3, a complete hip fracture, I came across many comments and wanted to debunk some myths.

 

1.) “Hip fracture is not hip fracture.”

An incomplete fracture is a totally different story than a complete fracture or a stress fracture.

Also the location, angle and severity of the fracture takes a big role in how the surgery or recovery will be approached. Some fractures need surgery, some don’t. Some need pins, some rods while others just require rest and crutches.

~~~

2.) “Once you are done with crutches, you just walk again.”

Nope. First of all, you will start “weaning off” crutches, which will take another few weeks and is a gradual process, you don’t just “drop” your crutches and go.

And second, nobody walks normal right away again. You are dealing with muscle atrophy, the bone is still weaker and your gait will be off.

~~~

3.) “Physical therapy is overrated.”

Most certainly not. I can only speak of my own experience but I know 1000% I could not have done it and would not be where I am at right now, without physical therapy.

If you end up being on crutches for five months like I was, there is  TONS  to work on. Build up strength and endurance, isolating muscles to start firing again, range of motion needs to be worked on, gait, walking sideways/ backwards… an endless program.

~~~

4.) “Once you are done with PT, you are done with rehab.”

I wish. After surgery to your hips, your hips will never be the same again and to keep your hips happy, you better get used to the idea that is a lifetime commitment from now on.

~~~

5.) “You can speed things up by taking shortcuts.” 

This is a serious injury and requires medical expertise, good guiding at PT, following instructions from your OS and PT; dedication, time and effort.

You can not shorten up the time on crutches. Either your bone is not strong enough yet for bearing weight or your muscles mass is not there yet. Most likely both but if you still push for it, you  WILL  PAY  for it. With pain, a huge setback and you are at risk of refracturing the bone.

Also, the “no pain, no gain” attitude in the gym does not work. You can not bulldoze your way through this recovery, that’s just not the way this recovery works.

 

 

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6.) “It’s just a broken hip. Everything else still works.”

Initially yes, but once you are on crutches for a long period of time, it will create a domino effect on the entire body.

~~~

7.) “Only old people break their hip.” Definitely less common in young adults but still possible, I can assure you.

~~~

8.)  As read in Google “Recovery from a broken hip takes three months.”  Obviously a statement written by somebody who never had to go through it. A minimum of one year recovery for a complete fracture is more likely.

~~~

9.) “It’s just a broken bone.”

Wrong on so many levels. It is first of all a major weight bearing bone and second, the surgery/ recovery comes with many risks and can take many bad turns, even death in the cases of older people.

It also is not just an injury that affects you physically but also mentally. It’s not easy to go from a busy and active lifestyle to basically being disabled for a while, being dependant on others and staying put. It gets to you and it is also pretty demanding on your partner.

~~~

10.) “Hip pinning is an easier recovery than THR.”

Two complete different surgeries and therefore different approaches for recovery. THR means replacement, hip pinning means fixing the bone.

It just can not be compared. It’s apples and oranges.

 

 

That’s all.

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Making big plans

The other day I had a medical appointment. The tech saw me and said “has it really been a year already?? So, tell me – how was the last year for you?” (Right….)

I told her about my hip fracture, since this had priority No. 1 and took up the majority of 2018.

Of course she did not expect that and told me “isn’t a subcapital fracture usually an old persons injury?” It is. (Only I manage doing this at 44, I swear, and it always makes me feel real special – every single time I hear it.)

She also asked if I have any plans for New Years eve. My answer was simple. “Yes, stay out of the OR.” (My accident happenend on 12/31/2017 and while other people looked at fireworks, I woke up from anesthesia.)

~~~

Today is my birthday. Got a super present already. A smooth recovery without complications. Best gift in the world!

 

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Since it’s holiday season I decided to bake some cookies. I only did about a third of what I usually do and stood in the kitchen for two afternoons.

Now it’s six days later and I am still paying the price for it with a very achey hip. Sucks. Till things have not calmed down, I can not work out. This would aggravate it even more. Lesson learnt, my hip does not like to bake cookies.

~~~

On a bright note, we booked a vacation for next month. Going skiing again, even at the same place as last year. Yoo-hoo!!

Some people call it “stupid”, to go back on skies; others call me “gutsy”. I call it “making a comeback”.

 

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I will be 13 months PO by then and my OS said it’s okay after 12 months to give it a gentle go.

That’s all I want, being out there, smelling the cold air and cruising down some fresh powder. All this PT must be paying off for sure.

I do not expect to ski the same, first time out since it happened, strength and endurance still need more love, but I hope it will be good enough for a few runs. Nice and easy.

And this time I make double sure to wear the bumper hockey shorts!!

 

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11 month PO update

 

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Made it to 11 months PO.

I am doing really, really good and I am almost certain there was just recently a big push in my recovery.

I am pretty much painfree most days; some aches here and there but no more pain. If I would not know I had a complete hip fracture and what I all went through this year, I would not know the difference to before, which is awesome.

~~~

Still doing my daily workouts, now it’s not  PT  anymore but more maintenance and finetuning. It is slow but steady process. Considering this was my third hip surgery, I am happy with what I can do.

At 11 months I can do:

  • Elliptical 2x a week, 12 minutes/ level 1 – 3 minutes/ level 2
  • stationary bike 2x a week, 15 minutes/ level 1
  • Treadmill 2x a week, 22 minutes medium fast walking, NO incline

 

And I average about 10,000 steps a day, so I am pretty happy with that.

I am still working on endurance and strengthening though but this will take more time, probably another year, so I just will keep doing what I am doing and give it more time.

~~~

What’s still lacking are sports. Haven’t played tennis in a while due to an early start of winter. I guess indoor season has started.

Tennis is still limited to mini tennis and some easy groundstrokes. Rotation, sprinting, change of direction, sideways moves – all not my friends yet. Hopefully that gets better with time.

~~~

I am still trying to get as many walks in as possible. Even the cold does not stop me from going for a walk at 5 F/ – 15 C.

It was cold yes, but I did not feel my screws in the hip more than any other day. Most of the times I don’t feel them at all, just sometimes.

 

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~~~

I was hoping to be able to ride a real bike outdoors again by now but it did not happen, has to wait till next year. Takes still too much resistance and strength for my op hip.

And then there is skiing…. haven’t tried that yet, for obvious reasons, but with all the new snow on the ground I am sure itching for it. Maybe in January if things go well, fingers crossed.

 

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~~~

Last month we went on a  BIG  trip too. It was physically quite demanding, alone the 15 hour flying time was not peanuts but my hip(s) did just fine. I did lots of walking every day, climbed very high steps, walked on very uneven ground (always a favourite for hipsters…) and even rode a camel, which took a lot of balance.

I can not say I felt like a natural on it but if somebody would have told me half a year ago I would be sitting on a camel, I would have thought it’s a joke.

I kept up the whole vacation and truthfully, it was like any other sightseeing vacation PRE  hip fracture.

~~~

Overall I really get the feeling pieces are slowly falling into place. Every month I add more pieces to the puzzle.

 

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~ Being grateful ~

Today is Thanksgiving. After Christmas my second favourite holiday to celebrate. This year I am especially thankful since life threw me quite a curveball in 2018.

 

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  • I am grateful for my husband who is always by my side, supports and encourages me. We both did not see hip surgery No. 3 coming but he is a trooper and I am incredibly lucky to have him by my side when hardly anybody else is. ❤️

When you go through rough times, you find out very quickly who is your true friend and who cares for you. I hate to say it, but none of my so called friends passed the test. (Practical – less Christmas cards to write!)

 

  • Looking back to that dreadful day when I had my ski accident, December 31st 2017, I am  MORE  than grateful,  it happened at a place that had a medical facility to take care of me and the doctor on call was an orthopedic surgeon specialized in hip trauma. Gotta luck out at some point…

This surgery requires skill and I would hate to be under the knife of a surgeon who is not an expert in this.

  • Another thing I am thankful for is health insurance. It covered the whole mess of a whooping $ 50,000.

 

Most of all I am beyond grateful for my health, being pain free again and having, for the most part,  my life back.

It was a super tough and brutal recovery and I worked my butt off in PT but persistance, together with patience paid off. I don’t take things like “I can walk”, “I can do stairs” or something as simple as “I can put my own socks on” for granted.

Things could have gone wrong many times but I had a lucky star guiding me and was fortunate enough to have a smooth recovery. The lesson is, you are nothing without your health.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving you all!