Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Seven Weeks Post-LPAO

I went up to Boston today for my second post-LPAO appointment -- a little early, at only seven weeks post-op, but that seemed apropos given the quick pace of this hip's recovery.

In the last few weeks, I've been mixing in more and more walking, but still keeping the one crutch with me for longer excursions or (given the current weather conditions on the East Coast) inclement footing. Needless to say, Dr. Millis and the team were pleased with my progress, my range of motion, my strength and my nearly-perfect walking.

I say nearly-perfect because, as physical therapist Jaime pointed out, I need to do some specifically targeted exercises with the thera-band to get back to 100% on the left side. So I've got those movements as an assignment. Other than that, though, I can continue with my bike riding at the gym, and continue to increase my walking as it feels comfortable and as my hip muscles strengthen.

Essentially, I am now where I was at the end of May with my RPAO -- which puts my left hip recovery about a month ahead of where my right hip recovery was at this stage. So there's my Christmas present!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Progress Report

Officially five weeks post-LPAO now, and there is more good news to report.

I have been to the gym three times since I got the green light to start last Tuesday. Getting on that bike and moving my blood around feels so good after a month of basically being sedentary. I have fewer restrictions on my movement than I did at this point last time, plus I got started going to the gym the day after I got permission from the doctors, so the mood-enhancing effects have already begun.

At the gym I have been riding the stationary bike for 30 minutes on the "random" setting, with a highest resistance of about 6-8 (out of 25 available on the bike). It may not sound like much but after my RPAO I had to start at zero resistance for 10 minutes, and work up from there. Plus, my cardiovascular endurance totally disappeared during my month of the Couch Workout, so 30 minutes at level 6 has me breathing hard enough already! But I'm looking forward to improving on that front as well.

I've also done some upper body work at the gym (although with all the crutching, I don't think I've lost that much strength) -- lat pulldowns, rows, chest presses, etc., but I've been pretty lackadaisical about it so far; must step it up a bit.

Interestingly, I just realized that I -- completely coincidentally, without having gone back to check my post-RPAO entries -- quit my pain meds at exactly the same time post-LPAO *to the day*. Amazing! So yes, I quit my pain meds today, exactly the same way I did at the five-month mark last time: I woke up with very little pain, and figured, hey, why not give it a shot?

One of the reasons I decided to go off the pain meds now was that I wanted to feel pain as the warning sign it is. Now that I am putting more weight on the left leg, and using one crutch at times, I don't want to push things too fast simply because I've numbed the pain and don't know that I am putting too much strain on the joint. But so far, so good. What pain there has been is minimal and tolerable and subsides if I give my hip a rest for a while.

So now I am pharma-free, except for aspirin (allowed to quit next week), fiber, and calcium. I sleep well on both sides. My incisions look great. My only niggling problem is that tight spot on my spine where the epidural was, although I don't feel it nearly as often now. If it is not gone by next week I'll let the team know.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One Month Post-LPAO

Today was my one month post-op appointment with Dr. Millis and the team. I already had a feeling my left hip was healing faster than my right hip had earlier this year, but my appointment today confirmed this.

I got the standard x-rays before seeing the team: supine AP and false profile. When I went over the films with Erin, she pointed out the areas of bridging -- where the bone had begun knitting to fill the cracks. My bones have done a spectacular amount of knitting in the past month! The cut in the illium was barely visible (except the big gap to fill caused by moving the acetabulum), and the other two cuts were bridging nicely. I'll try to get the films so I can post them. Both Dr. Millis and Erin were impressed.

I reported that I am down to two Percocet a day, one in the morning and one before bed; Valium occasionally as needed. That strange pain (that I thought might be a ligament) is completely gone now. I still take one Atarax at nighttime. I am sleeping much better now, able to sleep comfortably on both sides now, as well as on my back. I still have the strange pulling feeling at my epidural site, so Erin told me to let them know if it got worse or continued much longer.

Erin did my range of motion tests and they were good as well. My hip can bend below 90 degrees towards my chest now and rotation was good. My straight leg raise was high and strong, too, which I think is because I was in good shape going into the surgery. I think if the muscles around your hip are strong going in, it can only help in the recovery.

When it came to movement, I admitted that I'd been putting more weight on the leg this past week. Erin had me walk with one crutch and then a few steps without crutches. One crutch felt OK but without crutches I definitely felt that sinking feeling you get when the leg is not ready to take the weight yet. So I am officially allowed to start using one crutch, but always keep the other around in case I need support or my gait becomes uneven "like a penguin," to quote Erin. Great news, huh?

I am allowed to go to the gym now, with far fewer restrictions than I had post-RPAO. I can do the stationary bicycle at zero resistance to start, as usual, but I can increase duration and resistance faster this time. And I can do any upper body and core exercises I want, provided my hip feels fine when I'm doing them. This is great news because the faster I can start getting back into shape the better; I'd rather not lose as much fitness as I did after the right hip surgery.

It is amazing how much different this recovery has gone compared to my recovery in March. Other women have said that one hip is always worse than the other, but you never know which one will be the bad one. Imagine if this one had been worse than the RPAO! But luckily it is going fantastically so far, and I'm feeling really great. But I doubt I would have appreciated the speed and ease of this recovery as much if I hadn't had such a rough go of it in March.

So good news overall, but there's still a lot of healing to do. I am going to try not to get overexcited about this progress, and continue to take it slow and steady so I can keep knitting away as well as I have been. I return to see Dr. Millis and the team in four weeks (Dec. 29), but I'll update here before then, to report on how the new weight-bearing and gym visits are going.