A Flashback of an Old Hip Road Trip

Back at the beginning of July it was road trip time!

The 5 hour drive north wasn’t bad, I was a little surprised how good I felt through the entire ride, especially considering I was just over 6 weeks post-op for my second hip replacement.

Flashback to Another Time

This drive north always gives me flashbacks to one year (2015) when we started the trip following a rainy rugby game. I can still feel the pain, somethings will never leave my memory.  (It actually makes me want to cry as I type this.)  I remember how painful that ride was, even while being able to re-position in the passenger seat and stretch out (if you have arthritis you know that doesn’t help!).

The rugby game itself also still stands out in my mind as I was a peg leg most of the time.  If you don’t know what I mean by peg leg that’s when your one leg (my right at the time) would basically stop working and you just throw my leg forward from the hip area to try to move it.  It’s actually a little easier to do this when you’re trying to move faster (which isn’t really fast at all in reality).  So I looked like a running pirate.  This sometimes happened to me later in games (almost always afterwards) but it was a very wet day and that made things much, MUCH worse from the very beginning.  I was in so much pain.

And then I hoped into a car for 5-6 hours.  Not that going home and laying down would have drastically changed my pain levels and mobility.  It took me several days to recover from that game and car ride (this was a year before I learned I needed hip replacements) and that will live in my memory forever.

It’s flashbacks like that that I try to look at through the lens of appreciation.  I appreciate where I am now, that I have had the opportunities to become pain free and mobile again.

My New Hip Long-Weekend

It was a weekend of firsts!  This was the first time I went swimming, the first time I stood up in a shower and the first time I went on a hike (a very short hike but none the less).

The first two days went very well.  I could feel myself get very noticeably stronger.  Lots of walking, stairs and daily physio exercises (people were impressed with my dedication while drinking Caesars).  Come the third/fourth day I started to get very sore and tight/stiff.  I was losing some of the progress that I felt I had gained over the previous days since arriving up north.  Prior to this there were a few moments when I had actually forgotten that I was still in recovery mode.  Just relaxing I felt no pain, no limitations and a glimpse into what the future could/would be like.  It brought a feeling of joy and peace of mind of the potential that the future had.  BUT… I had pushed myself a little too hard and was feeling the consequence of that.

All recoveries have it’s ups and downs.  Try to keep that in mind when a set back feels like a failure, it’s not.  Recovery is a process, not a straight forward guarantee.

 

 

6 Week Follow Up Appointment

The Day Before

I attended physio, did some new things, including more standing exercises that involved full range (but still within my restrictions).  The video of the squats was shown in my November 6, 2017 blog post since I didn’t have a video with the modifications.

I usually start to get nervous the day before follow up appointments.  And this wasn’t any different.  Not because anything feels wrong but because I just never know.  Maybe something shows up on the x-ray that I can’t feel.  I lived for years with problems I didn’t know the extend of.  So just some nerves, normal nerves.  Things that just don’t let me fully fall asleep at night.  (It may also be due to the anticipation of being able to work away from crutches… so many thoughts and possibilities, no wonder my brain never stopped moving).

Follow Up Day!

This was the day I’ve been waiting for.  All the work leads up to this check point.  Things are feeling great but there is always the feat that something inside is off or not how it should be.  The x-ray tells all today!

Once in the hospital I checked in at the fracture clinic, got my x-ray requisition, a ‘Falls Risk’ wrist band (say that 5 times fast) for the first time ever and waited.

Falls Risk Wrist Band

Waiting is always the main part of the hospital trips.  The x-ray was quick and easy.  They get you to lay in two positions: flat on your back (for a pelvic and single hip image) and half up on a wedge (for an angled image of your operated hip).  They cover all the angles.

Time to wait again.  Once I was called into the clinic and I wait a little longer, I am seen by a physiotherapist.  They run through a couple of physical tests.  Flexibility (moving around the leg and hip) and strength based on the knee and ankle resistance.  She said I was very strong after the tests were completed and that things seemed good.  Yippee!!

Next I would wait for the surgeon to speak with the physiotherapist and review the x-ray.  Based on these analysis he would give me the next steps.

I was anticipating weight bearing restrictions to be removed but to still have some restrictions for the following 6 weeks (as I did after my first hip replacement).

Nope!

While my weight bearing restrictions were removed (as anticipated) everything else was too!  I was so insanely excited!!  I can’t even describe it.  I thanked my surgeon, repeatedly.  He asked if I regretted my decision at all.  I told him, no way.  I couldn’t be happier and more pleased with the results.

Leaving the Hospital

I used both crutches to leave the hospital but did try a couple independent steps in the parking lot.  They didn’t go to badly, pretty well actually.  Unlike my initial step following my first hip replacement (in the same parking lot) which resulted in my boyfriend laughing at me for about an hour cause it was kinda a huge hilarious fail.

Walking with a Cane

We went out to lunch to celebrate.  I had packed my cane in the car for afterwards ad used it to walk into the restaurant.  I was a little twisted and wobbly but it was a nice change.  Below is a video taken once we got home of me walking:

The next surgeon follow up was set for 3 months in the future!  At the 1 year mark from my first replacement.

The Following Day

I went to Physio and my therapist was happy to hear I was off weight bearing but shocked to hear I didn’t have any restrictions at all!  And honestly, I was still in shock as well.

We went over some exercises and safe ways to do them.  Squats, balance exercises and he provided me with some sheets of water exercises for the lake at the cottage.  Basically, anything I wanted to do above water (and can’t right now) I was allowed to do in the water.  Water therapy is the BEST!

He also had very good advice on protecting my incision while I was in the water.  So I had a small pin hole at the bottom of my incision still from the close up stitch.  To prevent water from getting inside he recommended using new skin and Vaseline while in the water to create a barrier, and then some polysporin once out of the water to clean and disinfect it.

Big Crowds and Crutches

As a birthday present I received tickets to the Canada v. USA Rugby Game at the Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton on June 24, 2017.  I originally was not going as I wasn’t sure where I would be in my recovery, but, because my boyfriend is awesome, he got me tickets once he knew I would be able to handle the event.

Preparing for the Day

The day started early.  I showered on my own for the first time! Well, the boyfriend was close but I was independent the entire time. I set up the bathroom the evening before.  Ensured that all my containers I would need would be within reach (without breaking 90 degrees).  It was a great success!!  I could get in and out of the tub independently from my chair,  water didn’t get everywhere (which is challenging when sitting and shower even without limitations) and my boyfriend was able to continue sleeping (although I’m sure he had one eye open just in case).  Everyone won!!

After I went downstairs, made myself and the boyfriend breakfast and continued getting ready.  A frustration that plagues me is my speed on the stairs.  I can’t just run to do something or get something.  It has to all be planned out,  so at times when I’m anxious and feel like I need to get so much more done (like this morning) I get frustrated and annoyed easily.  Some of the things I just can’t get done, like make-up or more attention to my hair, sacrifices had to be made.

Pre-Game

Anyways, a girlfriend drove us to Hamilton.  We started at a friends house for some drinks and food.  I 1 crutched around her yard and the house. When I sat on the outside couch everyone would alway leave me wiggle room and when I went inside to watch something someone would give up their spot on the couch with back support for me (so I could lean back a little and relax).  I told them I could have sat on the floor but they wouldn’t hear of it.  My friends are sweethearts.

Later a bus picked us all up to go to the rugby game.  I made sure to have both crutches. It’s one thing to move around a home with only a few people with 1 crutch and another when I’m out in public places.  The bus ride was fine for my hip, luckily as wasn’t very sensitive to bumps anymore.  Otherwise I would not have attempted the bus ride… that wouldn’t have been insane.  Also, school buses are not designed for people with crutches.  The isle is so narrow!!  I already knew that it was tight but you really feel it when you are trying to crutch down it to get to a seat.  So needless to say I sat near the front, I couldn’t get any further.


So before the game even started there was a tailgate party included in the festivities.  As the bus approached the stadium it kept driving past it… for a couple of blocks.  I was like WTF!!  I had no idea the tailgate wasn’t at the stadium as it had been for other events in the past.  This now meant a bit of a walk for someone on crutches… I was a little nervous (and so was the boyfriend).

But after a beer and part of a hamburger the boyfriend and I started to make our way to the stadium (before most other people haha).  We took our time (and a break or two) and finally arrived at our gate.  Time to head to our seats!

Note: If you are at a public event on crutches, people will often help you out.  It was nice how helpful Ruggers (rugby people) are!

Game Time

When we arrived to the stadium we got to the elevator (it was huge!).  The security guard at the elevator used a metal detector to scan us.  That’s a 1st for me with new hips.  Did you know that the beeping noise is different for implants compared to other external metal?  Me neither.  That was a cool learning experience.  (I have since been through other ones and I haven’t had the same response, so it may be related to the type of metal detector they used).  The security guard knew a lot.  Kinda cool to hear my hips go off, cause they don’t do anything in the big walk through scanners at the airport.

We had box seats and they were pretty sweet!  Not only because of the view but also because I knew there wouldn’t be randoms trying to get passed me and I could stretch my newest hip leg straight out to not break my 90 degree restriction.  I could also stand whenever needed to stretch out and move around.  Normal seats would not have been safe for me at this point in recovery.


Ever since finding out that I needed hip replacements I have gotten into some very interesting conversations.  And today was no exception.  So many people with so many different experiences with pain, joint replacements and tons of other relate able topics.  Sure having to get hip replacements suck but it has also enriched my life in so many ways (beside no longer being in pain).

Post-Game

When the game was done we rushed back to the bus.  The shenanigans continued back at my friends house.  I’ll be honest I did fall once that evening, it was onto my right knee (the recovered, good leg).  I was exhausted and it just gave out for a second (I only had my one crutch with me at the time).  I honestly don’t remember a trigger, it was just more tired then I was registering, I think.  It was a little embarrassing but it happened.  I was fine, I didn’t go all the way down, just onto my good knee.

The Following Day or Two

I slept like a baby and just watched TV all day. My right left felt sore (like it had a good workout the day before… which it did).  My right butt and leg could feel the effects of all the activities for a few days.

I’m getting comfortable laying on my operated side.  It doesn’t cause pain to lay on that side anymore but it still feels a little weird and some pressure if that makes sense (it’s hard to explain).  I laid on my left side for a good 10 minutes while watching a movie.

Moving Forward

I was starting to get super excited about moving forward with life.  Once I’m off crutches (less then a week at this point) that’s it for me, I’m off crutches.  There isn’t another hip waiting to be changed, there isn’t another surgery or rehabilitation from surgery for many many years!  The last year or so has been me waiting and anticipating… but not anymore!  The possibilities are soon endless and limitations (both pre-surgery pain and post-surgery restrictions) will be GONE!!

 

First Full Week of Physio

Note:  If you are interested in trying any of the exercises below please seek a therapist for assistance and clearance, especially if you are still in the recovery stage.

Tuesday

The end of week 5 and start of week 6 was my first full week of physiotherapy and I learned a few new things!  Mark showed me how I could do some squats!

  •  I placed my operated leg up on a block/step stool (something with some height) to prevent full weight bearing, my feet were about shoulder width apart.  A Bosu ball is placed behind my back and against the wall.  Crutches are out in front of me for balance/support.  Now squat (while not breaking 90 degrees) and using your crutches to assist in balancing and helping yourself up if needed. (The video below is without the assistance but you get the idea)
  • It’s important to keep your knee in line with your foot.  You don’t want it to collapse inwards.
  • I did these exercises with my legs closed, shoulder width apart and wider.  This worked different areas of my muscles.

I love squats and always have so I am so happy to have this variation! And especially following surgery it helps me feel more mobile and adds some variation to my physio exercises.

We also went over a more intense bridge exercise:

  • Using a Bosu ball I placed my legs on the ball while laying on myback.  The none operated leg was be positioned closer to my body, to allow me to work the new hip with more intensity.  *This does not cause a problem for any weight bearing restrictions.
  • I was also allowed to roll the ball into my body at the top of the bridge.  This adds more glute activation.  Slow roll, then lower the bridge.

Squats are still my favourite but always glad to get more and more intense exercises.

That evening I laid on my left (new hip) side for 10 seconds, just to see if I could do it.  I didn’t scream!  It’s improving!!

Wednesday

I had a long nap this afternoon. I think the last several days (especially my birthday weekend) are catching up with me and not having a nap the day of Physio.

When trying to fall asleep this night I want to stretch out my lower back so badly!  My legs felt a bit restless (which I use to have a lot before my replacements) and it took a while for me to actually fall asleep.

Thursday

Hard to get up this morning.  All my activities are catching up with me (and it’s a rainy day, always harder to get motivated on rainy days, even without arthritis).

At 11 am I had physio. I started on the bike (as always) but then we moved onto exercises first instead of manual stretching (which we did at the end).  This session included the following exercises:

  1. Laying down leg raises (w. Assistance). They are still very challenging.  My therapist would hold me leg at different heights for me to hold and then release.  This allows me to work every angel of the muscle and build more range so that it can all get stronger together and not just one aspect of the muscles,
  2. Did some more Bosu ball bridges and rolls.  He didn’t want me to fully do 1 leg yet because of the twisting limitation (in case I lose balance).  He did show me that I can scatter the placement of my feet (forward and backwards) to increase intensity.
  3. Glute exercises.  He wanted to see if things were firing well.  I lay on my stomach and raise my left leg as high as possible.  A pillow or two under my abdomen to prevent my back from compensating is always helpful.
  4. Another glute exercise.  In the same position (on your stomach) raise your foot into the air (so now it’s an L with your butt) and then lift my foot up into the air. Goal is not to activate the thigh for more then just holding my leg up.  My therapist eventually gave me a rope to help relax my leg and allow things to focus on my gluts.  (If any of these don’t make sense I will be doing videos in the future, or ask and I can send it to you easily).

The session ended with stretching: