Yes. I am alive! I sort of jumped off the internet there for while.
My surgery on November 30 went well but it sure was not an easy surgery or recovery. The surgery again is called “derotational femoral osteotomy” – say that three times fast. Basically what they did was break my femur, realign it (it was retroverted, basically angled backwards), put a rod in and then screws to hold the rod in. I needed some extra screws due to my femur being shaped more like an oval than a circle. Best I can explain the medical jargon I was giving the day after surgery.
I was in the hospital 2 nights. Holy heck – I was miserable for the first 24 hours and it still wasn’t easy. Pain was mostly well managed but the nausea and vomiting just hours after surgery was horrendous. I ended up having spinal and twilight sleep instead of general anesthesia as they said it would be better pain management after – I think also they are trying to save as many vents possible due to Covid-19 and with a spinal, I wouldn’t need one. So my nausea and vomiting was likely to the spinal but I also had that with general 2 years ago so there isn’t really a downside due to both having similar post op reactions. I was terrified to have spinal and that I’d hear them or be awake enough to see something but I don’t remember anything until they had me come out of twilight sleep.
I was discharged after the second night and we had 2.5 hour drive home. It was the hardest long drive home of my life – every jostle radiated pain through me and even with pain meds, it wasn’t enough for the ride. I managed to get home and into bed where I slept most of the evening.
Since my surgery, here are some quick point notes to catch you up:
- My partner was amazing. He had to take all of this in and do everything. I can’t also imagine being stuck at a hotel and just waiting for me to be discharged. Unable to be with me. He was only allowed to stay with me during pre op and then kicked out. He wasn’t allowed to visit due to Covid protocol. I’m sure that 36 hours in hotel just texting me wasn’t easy. Then he has to drive me home, see me in pain, help me into the house and literally take care of everything. It was definitely a lot for any person but he did it.
- Crutches are torture – not having your hands to do things like make a meal – it’s frustrating and gets old fast. I was on crutches for 6 weeks – went to using one around 5th week and then the cane around 6-7 weeks. I finally been walking in the house without cane a few weeks and using cane when we go outdoors (basically only for physio) as it’s icy where I am due to the good ol’ early melt and freeze spring. Melts during day, freezes at night. We have so many icy spots on sidewalks and driveways.
- Dogs are amazing. Having Ginny with me felt less alone. I cannot wait to get back to our walks and runs together – I haven’t been told I won’t be able to run again so I have hope!
- Physio is amazing. Especially when you have a phenomenal advocate as a physiotherapist. My progress after surgery has been in a large part due to physio.
- Recovery and being on leave is not just lying around binging Netflix doing nothing. It was for maybe the first few weeks where rest was essential for bone healing and for the body after a major surgery but I always had physio to do even at home. Since the first couple weeks, physio has intensified. Besides going to physio (weekly initially, just started biweekly) but my at home physio program is intense. It takes all day. I’m doing all I can so I am not just doing the bare minimum exercises but with physio encouragement, I also use the stationary bike to strengthen, the treadmill work on walking and gait, and yoga to help with muscle strength. I’m doing short seated upper body workouts to keep my upper body strong. None of what I’m doing is to the intensity of my active lifestyle before this journey began but it feels like it is due to the body recovering. I have to break up items throughout the day. But it’s worth all of the time and effort as I want to do this right and give myself every advantage for a positive healing and recovery. My rehabilitation is a full time job, with even some over time.
- 6 week post op X-rays showed bone was healing but a bit slower than average. 12 week post op X-rays revealed healing has continued and was much better from 6-12 than 0-6 weeks. We will now wait until July and will check again. Hardware removal will be discussed then as well – it is possible to leave it in if it isn’t bothering me but I’ve already had some knee issues with swelling and mild pain that I feel are the screws in the knee. I feel if removed, the knee would move more free. But we will see how the rehabilitation continues and discuss later.
- Where am I at recovery wise? It’s so hard to say in this journey. There’s no manual or set steps. I can walk in the house but with a limp still – before I can go for even a short walk, the limp needs to go away or it can become something that becomes a problem. In this, you are retraining your body to walk but there’s so much more to that. You can’t let your body learn bad habits either. I also don’t just have issues due to the surgery but due to my body compensating for the pain it had up until surgery. My left side has a lot of work to do to catch up to working normally. So while I can walk in house, it’s only for short time. I have to break up things I want to do – whether it’s physio, household work (that I’m able to do as can’t do all of it yet), personal care, and things I enjoy doing for fun. For example, I can shower but then I need a break before I can get dressed. I can sit now to work on a puzzle but I have to do it in short timed sessions with breaks as I can’t sit too long. Sitting is improving since surgery but there’s a lot of work the left side needs and when I sit, it stiffens up and the knee begins to ache and the groin begins to get a bit inflamed. So I am definitely improving, surgery has been positive, but I have months of work ahead still.
- Surgery and recovery during a pandemic. Just imagine having all the restrictions of the pandemic and on top of it, you now can’t drive nor can you even take a 5 minute walk outside. It has been hard. When I find myself unable to breath and the walls closing in as I haven’t been able to do either of these things to reduce the feeling of being stuck – I try to do something that lets me breathe. Fall into a good book. Work on a puzzle. Take one step onto my deck (where ice has finally melted off the first half of it) and get some air. I’ve actually been locked down since end of January when my hip issues were so intense, I couldn’t walk and had to be off work. I’ve already been through over a year of a lock down. And there’s no sugarcoating – it sucks. But I found I can focus on what I can’t do, get depressed and moody OR I can find something I do enjoy even if it’s not want I really want to be doing. If I only focus on the negative, that’s all I’ll feel is the negative. I can’t change the pandemic or the restrictions with it but I can still choose happiness for myself instead of grumpiness.
That is the short version – if you follow me on Instagram, I did post more frequently throughout my journey there. I recently made myself a goal to blog weekly as I love doing it. I just fell out of the habit. While my journey is not easy, I am still so blessed and I am grateful for how this journey has changed me as a person and for the people in my life – many I cannot see right now but have shown me they’re there for me in their own unique pandemic ways. All I want is to be healthy. To be pain free. To teach again. I’ll be happy with going for long walks even if I can’t run. It’s unclear yet and hasn’t been fully discussed if I’ll have permanent restrictions on any past activities but being pain free is a huge restriction already lifted. Even though there would be some heartbreak to let some go if I had to, I know I can redefine my activities as long as I have my family, my friends, my health, my pain free mobility, and my teaching career.