Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Patience is a Virtue.

Hi all!

I know in my last post I quickly breezed over my appointment with Dr. S last Thursday. I figured it deserved a little more attention. So, I'll describe it in better detail here and also some thoughts on PT, etc.
So, I had my 12 week post-second-op appointment with Dr. S last Thursday. Overall, it was a good appointment.
He checked my ROM and strength in both legs (to have something to compare surgical leg to). He said my ROM is really good, but certain muscle groups are still really weak. I already knew this. He wasn’t at all concerned about it; he knew my iliopsoas was giving me a hard time. We talked about working more directly on those muscle groups (my rectus muscles and hip flexors) at PT. We also talked about my snapping hip syndrome and the groin pain I still sometimes have. I was feeling a bit down about it…I’m 8 months post PAO now and I’m sometimes feeling like I’ll NEVER get back where I was, strength-wise. He assured me (several times) that I will get back there (if not BETTER) and my weakness is completely normal. He kept telling me “Danielle, I cut that whole muscle group off your ilium and moved it down, cut it off!…moved all around in there cutting your bones, and then I sewed it back on. Of COURSE you’re still weak in those muscles.” Well…when you put it like that. 

So anyway, we talked about timelines and as all my hippy’s know these things are ever-changing. He said he’s thinking that it’ll be closer to March before I’m feeling back to completely normal, and he wants me to continue with PT until I go back to see him for my one year appointment in October.

It’s amazing…when you’re planning something like this and you talk about all these timelines you really have no idea what to expect. In your mind, it never plays out that it will ACTUALLY take as long as the surgeon says (and it certainly never takes longer). I remember thinking to myself “I’ll be back and in action by early spring. I’ll be fine! I’m healthy and active and athletic. It’s all rainbows and butterflies! Weee!” 

I’m such an idiot sometimes.

In my defense, I’ve never been through anything even close to this…but really? How naive can you be? This recovery has been really humbling...it really teaches you what limitations the human body can have, and how long it can take to come back from something of this caliber. I really thought that by now I'd be hiking and line dancing, maybe even biking, all sorts of normal people things. 
Yeah. Right. What a SLOW process this has been. It's sometimes very infuriating because it's hard to not think that you're doing something wrong. It's really hard to be THIS patient!

Anyways, to keep on task with discussing the appointment, I’ll tell you that he also cleared me to go back out in the field at work. He said that he still wants me to be very careful, and to know my limitations. As long as I’m honest with myself as to what I can and can’t do, and I voice my limitations as I feel them, then he is okay with me being out again. That is fantastic news! Honestly, I kind of pushed for this one. As much as I know that I need to be careful (believe me, no one knows this more than I do! The last thing I want is to have a setback!), field work is a part of my job description and I have been worried recently about lack of workload because of my inability to be in the field. Especially since I now won’t be going back to him until October. I really can’t wait that long to be cleared. 

He also cleared me to go back to my volunteer duties at the zoo. Also fantastic! I am excited to go back this weekend and re-acclimate myself and spend time with zoo friends!

Well, before I close I’ll just touch on a couple more things:
I still have my numb patch and it’s just as big as it always has been. The past couple days it’s been (infuriatingly) itchy deep inside and I can’t make it stop no matter how much I itch/scratch/punch (yes, I’ve even punched it). I am hoping maybe this means that it’s waking up a little bit? Tom (PT) seemed to think maybe? I also think he’s just trying to make me feel better. 

I am sleeping comfortably on my right (surgical) side now…and it feels phenomenal! No pain at all and I’m so glad. 

We really upped the ante at PT last night. I went up in all my weights, added in new “sumo-lunges” and side steps with resistance.

Sumo lunges look like this:

We also added in these fun new things called Pike Planks. They look like this, and they are HARD. 

I was slightly giddy when I did a set of 10 last night because it was honestly the first time I really felt like I completed something normally challenging…as opposed to let’s say…a leg lift (which are still hard for me!). Yay for me!

I have PT again on Wednesday, I’ll keep you posted on my progress as I go. 

Thanks for reading,
Talk soon,

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Major Milestones

I know it has been a while since I’ve last posted. I have had a lot of things going on and very little time to update. Big news to report though and this is an exciting update for me.
When planning my surgeries, one thing I always kept in the back of my mind was my brothers’ wedding on June 15th of this year. I knew when I started this journey that, as a bridesmaid in his wedding, it was important to me that I work hard to be able to walk down the aisle for his wedding. It was a personal goal for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I didn’t want to have crutches in their wedding pictures they look at and show people for the rest of their lives. I can just hear it: “Oh, what a beautiful day you had, but what the heck happened to that gimpy one?”
Well, I worked hard at PT and at home. I pushed myself, I never gave myself a second to be babied, and I not only walked down the aisle for my brothers’ wedding, but I had perfect posture and there was no limp to be seen! It was a wonderful moment, not only for the sentiment of the day, but because it felt like I had really reached a major milestone in recovery. I had a goal early on, even before the first surgery…and last weekend, I achieved it. Walking down that aisle, all suave and smooth, it felt like I never had a disability to begin with. It’s a hard thing to explain to someone who has never experienced an inability to walk….but just know that it felt AMAZING. 

Another exciting thing that I am still giddy about: I am Event Co-Chair for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event in my hometown, and I organized that event at the end of May. I was on my feet pretty much all day on Friday through Saturday and ran around like a nut (not physically ran, still not there yet!). The event was really successful, and the best news is, I had ZERO hip pain. The joint was definitely a bit tired, but there was no pain at all.That is key. Not an ounce of pain.

So, overall, I hit two major milestones in terms of hip use and recovery over the past month…and it felt GREAT. There are days where I walk around and do things and I don’t even THINK about my hip. I just forget about the whole ordeal. I would have never imagined that. My hip used to be all I thought about…How can I deal with the pain today? 3-4 Ibuprophen at a time, or 5 Tylenol? How long do I think I can walk for before it hurts too much to go on? If I use a shopping cart to try and get around will it help or just be in the way? Now, I don’t even think twice to run errands and do normal daily things. That, right there, made this whole thing worthwhile. Before surgery, I used to get discouraged when I thought about kids…thinking I would never be able to keep up with them, or do all of the fun things I wanted to do with them. Now, I can’t wait to start a family and do all of these exciting things I envision in my head. Things, I know, are so easily obtainable for me now. I am so excited at just the thought of it!

Now, while everything is going really great, and overall I feel good…I still have a few things that I need to work on with recovery. These are completely expected, and are not surprising to me or my surgeon (whom I met with today, actually). The iliopsoas issue is still giving me a hard time, but it’s definitely better than it was. I’m still weak in the rectus muscles down the front of my leg, and in my hipflexors on the side. Those are the things I’ll be working the hardest on as I continue in my last few weeks of PT.

At my appointment with Dr. S. this morning, he gave me the go-ahead to go back out in the field for work (woohoo!), and to get back into my volunteer activities at the zoo! These are both great things. When we talked about my weaknesses, he made sure to reassure me several times that these are not things he is concerned about at all…and that he fully expected some weakness. He keeps telling me he doesn’t want me to be discouraged because these are not setbacks or major issues. He said he definitely expected it to be at least as weak as it is, if not worse, because of the second surgery so close to the first. He said I’m doing really well, and I’m on a really good track. So, those are good things to hear. He also said he thinks I’ll be 100% by March. I’m seeing him again in October for my 1 year appointment. It’s amazing to me that I’m this far removed from my PAO surgery…it seems like just yesterday I was going home from the hospital!

So, that is that for now. I wish I had kept better notes of my progress since my last post. I’ve been very busy (as you can see, with these two really large events happening just weeks apart), and can’t remember everything now. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on things as they continue to happen.