Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nine Weeks Post-Op -- Lose the Crutches!

Hallelujah! I am now officially allowed to wean myself off the crutches!

Today I went up to see Dr. Millis for my two-month post-op visit (although it really was 9 weeks post-op). He took another x-ray (I'll post it as soon as I get the image from the hospital) and I met with Jaime, the physical therapist, again.

I'm sad to say that it is hard for me to see any difference between today's x-ray and my last x-ray, or even the x-ray taken 5 days post-surgery. But the doctor was very pleased with all the new fuzzy white stuff I have apparently added in the last month, and he said that according to the x-ray there was no skeletal reason I couldn't walk right away.

Dr. Millis had me "try" walking without crutches, and both he and Jaime were impressed that I was walking so well my "first time" without crutches. I didn't tell them I'd already been using one crutch a little bit and even doing some minor walking. Hey, they didn't ask, OK? I would have told them if they'd asked.

Even though I've now gotten permission to walk, I can't just toss the crutches aside like a Christmas miracle; my hip and leg muscles, after two months of general atrophy, need a little time to get up off the couch, dust the Doritos crumbs off their bellies, and get in shape. I am allowed to walk as much as is comfortable, but Dr. Millis and Jaime warned that I should always have a crutch with me for when (not "if") my hip gets tired or sore.

Weaning off the crutches means sometimes I'll be walking, sometimes I'll be on one crutch, and sometimes I may even need to go back to two crutches for a day or so, depending on what my hip feels like. But as my joint strengthens I should find myself needing support less and less.

Jaime tested the range of motion in my right (operated) hip, as well as my current ability to use various muscles around the joint to lift my knee up, abduct my leg, and bring my leg out behind me. She also had me stand on my right (operated) leg and lift my left leg off the floor, which felt unstable and a bit scary. But apparently having 100% of my body weight on my right hip is not a problem at this point -- everything is healed enough that I'm not going to damage anything. What I really need to avoid is impact. Standing with 100% of weight on operated leg = OK; jumping up and down on operated leg = not OK.

Jaime then had me stand on my right (operated) leg, with a hand on the table for balance, and do all the same movements with my left leg: lift knee up, abduct the leg, bring leg out behind me. Initially I thought this was to strengthen the muscles around my left hip, but it turned out that having to support my entire body weight on my right leg while bracing myself against the movement of my left leg was the actual point of the exercise. And it was hard. The same muscles that are used for leg abduction are used to support the leg when standing on one foot, so I felt the burn on the outside of my right hip/thigh rather than in the muscles around my left hip. I am to practice these leg movements bilaterally, adding the resistance of a thera-band as my strength increases.

In addition to the leg movement exercises, Jaime also gave me some more stretches (hamstring and hip flexor) to add to the quad stretch I was already doing. She cleared me to begin doing crunches, increase my resistance on the exercise bike and swim laps in the pool (gently). She said I could try the elliptical machine when I felt my balance was good enough. I am not allowed to work with a personal trainer or do Pilates until after she's assessed my progress at my next visit.

So all of this is fantastic news. I have a lot of new movements to work on now, so I finally feel like progress can occur again! I am very excited to get started.

My next visit with Dr. Millis will be at 16 weeks (four months) post-op.


  1. Brilliant news!!

    Well done you!
    You have come so far in the last couple of months and things will only get better.