Week 3

The recovery continues!  I apologize for taking so long to get to Week 3, but July has been very busy with travel so my blog took a little bit of a back seat.  If you looking for more up to date posts follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

New things for Week 3

Physical Growths

As I was getting more comfortable and mobile I spent more time outside and man was that helpful!  The sun kept my spirits high and allowed me to feel as if I was free and independent.  There isn’t much that some sun (some vitamin D) can’t help cure.  I started to spend more and more time outside.  Some days you couldn’t really get me back into the house, except for a bathroom break and to make a few small meals/snacks.

Speaking of meals, I continued to became more independent in the kitchen (made my own morning coffee for the first time!). This happened way earlier in the recovery of the second surgery, which amazed me (as I spoke about in my Week 2 post).

This is the week that I started to single crutch it around my home once and a while.  It make maneuvering a bit easier but I only did it sometimes and for very short distances, since I didn’t want to accidentally put to much weight on my new hip (although I’m sure it would have hurt if that had actually happened).  Since I was still 50% weight barring I was being very careful to ensure the bone healed properly by not disobeying my surgeon’s directions.  Following the first surgery I didn’t feel strong enough or capable enough to single crutch until the end of Week 5 or later.

One day my boyfriend took me back to our home to pick a few things up and to get out of my parents house (sometimes you can feel like a caged animal).  While we were there we took a walk around the (very small) block in our neighbourhood.  It was nice to get moving but man was I exhausted!  My arms were killing me not even a third of the way around and I couldn’t move particularly fast.  The little walk definitely was as I could handle but it was rewarding to see where I was physically.

My quad was finally starting to feel better!!  This was such a relief to me.  I was worried (although I knew it would ultimately be okay) about how long it was going to take to recover.  At this point following the first surgery I was bored with my hospital physio exercises.  I couldn’t wait to get new ones.  However, this time around, I could still feel the hospital exercises challenging me.  Now, to be open and honest, there were problems with me compensating with other parts of my body following the first surgery (due to years of chronic pain I naturally compensating with my core and other muscles… but perhaps I’ll get into that in another post all together).

Probably the best improvement that came out of Week 3 was that I was now capable of getting to the bathroom and back into bed all on my own.  I didn’t have to wake anyone or wait for anyone to go to the bathroom.  It something that people take for granted, I know I do when I’m able bodied, and it isn’t until you are in a position where you require constant assistance that you truly understand and appreciate gaining whatever independence back you can.

Alone Time

One evening I was finally able to spend a little time alone.  And I don’t mean with someone else always in the other room, I mean (basically) truly alone.  My boyfriend had to work so he went back to our place so I spent time upstairs in my bedroom at my parents by myself, set up my iPad and watched some Netflix, painted my nails and coloured.  I had the evening and morning without someone checking in on me or always looking over my shoulder to see if I was okay (or, let’s face it, I didn’t have to ask anyone to help for the first time in a long time and that sense of independence and capability was rewarding).  The following morning I also (went to the bathroom on my own) and then laid in bed and watched Netflix for a few hours before even coming downstairs.  It was nice to know that I could function alone and honestly, no matter who you are, sometimes just being alone refreshes you mentally.  And man, did I need that.

Routines make things easier

While the showering situation didn’t drastically improve it was getting much easier!  Routines, once they are figured out, make things way easier.  Because even if you have been through it before, sometimes things need to change.  Working with the other leg this time around meant that some simple things needed to change, like how I stepped into and out of the shower.  Actually having a ‘good leg’ to stand on the second time around meant that somethings were naturally easier as well.

I started to apply Vitamin E to my incision daily, and additionally following any shower.  Since the bandages are now off I am able to start to apply some additional support to assist in it’s healing.  The better it heals, the better it looks and more minimal it will be… although you can’t change the length (but I think it looks cool anyways).

Many things stayed the same

I continued to take Restorolax.  While I hadn’t take any pain medication for a while I was still feeling some of the side effects and along with all the none-movement my system still needed a little bit of assistance.

The trip to the Chiropractor was great this week!  It feels so nice to ensure that my body is staying in line… and with all the sitting, lying down and crutch walking I really needed the adjustments.  I still needed assistance to get onto the table but I was feeling more comfortable with the car rides.

Naps… this will continue for some time (lol).  It’s important to remember that your body needs the rest, it’s going through a lot even if you aren’t physically doing a lot.  You’re just doing yourself harm if your pushing through nap time.

Clarity of Mind

The beginning of week 3 was the first time I also felt mentally prepared and energized enough to truly write down everything that I had been going through.  I spent an entire day writing about the past two weeks and everything that had happened, how I was feeling and the struggles and rewards along the way.  Prior to this I had not been able to get myself into the mind set to write everything out in my journal (something more detailed and longer then an Instagram or Facebook post).

Releasing and documenting all of that information from my head while comparing the first and second surgery, was really helpful for me.  It allowed me to put into perspective everything that I had been through and what was still yet to come.  As some days even if things are going well it can be frustrating, but sitting back and thinking about what your body has gone through, what modern technology is capable of, helps me to centre myself and get back to a realistic perspective.

 

‘Staple’ Removal Day

At the 2 week mark it was ‘staple’ removal day!  I call it that because the first time around I was told that I had staples and was given a staple removal tool and arranged my family doctor appointment to have them pulled out.  However, when I attended my family doctor’s office, they removed my bandage, the steri-strips and advised that there were no staples… okay, so what’s going on?  What they had done was stitch me up with dissolvable stitches and then use the steri-strips to keep it all close and together.  And since my boyfriend, mom and myself didn’t really know what we were looking at a week earlier when we changed the bandage we were all surprised!

This time around I knew for sure there weren’t any staples.  However, I still made my 2 week appointment with my family doctor.  I still wanted her to remove the steri-strips and ensure everything looked good.  And it did!  She removed roughly 22 steri-strips, including the 1 on the ‘rod’ stitch at the top of my hip bone.  Removal of steri-strips don’t really hurt, sometimes there can be a little pull or something, but that is it.

What hurt was the cleaning up of the knots!  Last time I learned that leaving the knots at either end of your incision can cause a lot of annoyance and pain if it rubs or catches on something (like clothing, etc.).  My family doctor cut out two knots at the small incision at the top of my hip bone (as they often caught on things last time and actually hurt quit a bit).  So while the removal was a little painful it was short lived and necessary.

Side Note: the knots could be cut out because the incision was healed enough that nothing was going to open back up.  We weren’t just cutting things open for fun.

In relation to being told I had staples (and I didn’t), I later learned that they normally use staples for hip replacements at the hospital I went too but they wanted to try to minimize the scar since I was so young.  I’m not sure if it would have made a huge difference but whatever they did it has healed up really nicely both times!

Right Hip

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Right Hip

Left Hip

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Left Hip

Reflection: Pain before Replacement

There has been a lot that I have learned through this year of surgeries.  And while sitting and recovering at my parents I had a lot of time to reflect.  One thing that I truely reflected on was the pain that I use to be in, the pain I had and the degree in which our body protects us from feeling pain.

Side Note:  For this post it’s important to keep in mind a few things:

Pre-Surgery: Right hip felt worse then the left (but they were both in a lot of pain)

Surgery No. 1: Right hip replaced (Oct 2016)

This story takes place here, between surgeries

Surgery No. 2: Left hip replaced (May 2017)

Something that I have learned while recovering from the second surgery is that recovering with a bad leg full of arthritis and other problems makes things so much harder! Which is what I did after my first surgery.  I couldn’t feel my ‘normal’ pain in my, still at that time, bad hip (left hip) until almost 4 weeks post-surgery on my right.  That’s how much my body was dealing with other things and ignoring my chronic pain.

After my first surgery, I specifically remember when I started to feel the pain again in my left hip.  We were driving home from physio and I just started crying.  My left hip and leg were killing me and it felt almost unbearable.  And this was my ‘better hip’ and less painful hip out of both of them pre-surgeries.  I couldn’t believe the amount of pain. This is when I started to understand the degree of my hip problems (weird how it wasn’t until one was fully replaced that I understood.  People, aka the surgeon, had told me how bad things were but I hadn’t truly understood it).  Before surgery they were just normal to me, whatever, I didn’t think it was that bad (well I knew they weren’t great) but it was manageable (or what my brain had worked into being manageable… funny little brain and what it does to protect us from pain).  Sure it was annoying, I couldn’t always walk and when it rained I felt useless but I didn’t let that get me down (I’m a positive person, silver linings).

It was hard to admit that I had been in so much pain.

This changed my perspective on my pre-surgery life, what I had been able to accomplish, what I pushed through and what my daily activities were really like.  I had unconsciously altered the way I did things to make bending, standing, etc, easier on myself (twisting and leaning on things, for example).  All of these realizations took a while to sink in and were very overwhelming at first.

Side Note:  The pain on my then still old hip got better managed.  I started back on my pre-surgery pain medication at the 6 week mark after confirming with my surgeon that it was okay to do so.  However, when it rained all of March I was pretty much out of order.

I’m honestly still dealing a little bit with the understanding of what I was living with.  While I’d love to move forward, and I’m so glad that I am, I also can’t forget.  Writing this all out and remembering what I have been through helps me to better appreciate where I am going and the gift of new hips.  I feel blessed that in Canada we have everything covered (even without private insurance) and that the only thing I have to focus on is rehabilitation.  I can’t imagine what others (in the US for example) have to go through.