Saturday, September 27, 2008

10 Week Update

So here I am, 10 weeks post PAO surgery. I have more good days than bad. Sometimes there's no pain, and then there's days like yesterday where I could barely take one step as my knee, or the muscles that attached to my knee, hurt so bad that I was almost in tears. I am still trying to ditch all walking apparatuses as I still rely on a cane, with the exception when my 2-year old decides I need extra rehab and hides it on me. So yes, I can get away without it for short periods of time. There's also days when I can handle stairs like a pro, and days when I have to take one step at a time. Sometimes it's not even 'days', more like 'moments.'

My PT program has been kicked up a notch. I'm leg pressing 80 pounds, and am able to balance on one leg and bring the other knee up towards hip level. I saw the RPMs on my bike hit 90! It's so cool to be ale to bike without any pain what so ever.

The hardest part of the last couple weeks has been keeping up with one very active boy. We're working on potty training, and that in itself can be a daunting task. Basically I'm to the point where I can do most things on my own, and if I can't do it I find a way. I think it's a mom thing, you just have to do what you have to do. That being said, if you're not sure as to have kids first or to have this surgery---HAVE THE SURGERY FIRST!!!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another Interesting Day

I had a very strange trip to the Dentist today. As I walked into the waiting room there was this person sitting in the corner doing needlepoint. I say 'person' as I had to look about 5 times before I could determine if he/she was really a he. Now, no offense to all the needle pointing men that are fans of my blog, but I just had a hard time figuring out if this person was a man, woman, or "other." So as I'm getting my teeth cleaned, the hygienist tells me the dentist will be running late as he's working on twin girls that are mentally challenged and their visits just take longer. She goes onto explain that they're not actually girls, they're the sweetest ladies but with mentalities of 7 year-olds. Then I kind of put two & two together and asked if the needle pointer was the father of the girls, and the answer was 'yes'.

For the remainder of my dentist visit I couldn't help but feel for the family: a gender unspecific needle pointing father, supporting twin adult mentally challenged daughters. What a challenge. What a life. As I was walking out of the office with my cane, the father glances at me and then turns to one of the girls and remarks "that poor girl," referring to me. I was blown away and thought about this the entire drive home. My first thought was "Wow, that really puts things into perspective." But what perspective was that? Each of us viewing the other's situation in context of the cards that have been dealt to us? Maybe it was just an eye-opener for me, hearing how someone views me as handicapped? Or maybe I'm not used to having someone take pity on me while I feel that my life is great and wouldn't trade it for the world? Honestly I can't articulate what it all means but I think it's profound. Another interesting day on this journey my hip is taking me through.

Monday, September 22, 2008

You Can Dance If You Want To

I have a song stuck in my head--do you remember the 'Safety Dance' song by Men Without Hats? Well that's the song that's been repeating itself in my brain for the last 5 hours! Why?? Well, I was feeling particularly great this afternoon so I ditched the cane, cranked up the 'Happy Feet' CD and danced around the living room with my 2-year old! I'm talking real dancing, the kind where your feet actually leave the ground. Need a refresher as to what song I'm talking about since it goes back to 1982:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's the Little Things

It's the little things I'm doing at random that give me hope that life has a chance of returning to normal.  Take right now for instance, I'm sitting with my left foot tucked under my right (operated) leg.  This would have been  unheard of just a short time ago.  I also notice that I'm getting away from some of the rules PT originally gave me, like when taking the stairs to start with the bad leg to go down and good leg to go up.  And I was able to do a straight leg lift on my own today, something I couldn't do 2 days ago.

This weekend I also started using a cane on my own around the house, as I'm so tired of the bulky crutch.  I did use the cane today for the first time out in public, but I was really self conscience of it given the way people looked at me (or maybe it's the way I perceived people looking at me?)  They're probably not use to seeing someone my age with an old man's cane.  It is quite unattractive, aluminum with a black handle; but what can I say, as it was my dad's after his knee replacement.  I thought about having my son decorate it with stickers, anything would be an improvement!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

2 Month Update

I've been avoiding my blog for the last few days as I try to get a handle on this recovery.  The initial pain of trying to get down to one crutch really put a scare into me as the pain was reminiscent of my pre-surgery days.  On top of it, there's been some muscle spasms,  and general soreness in the quads and at the site were the joint capsule has been opened up twice this year.  So needless to say, I've been a bit nervous and a little apprehensive about my progress.  But I am happy to report that I am making progress, although it seems so slow coming.

I have been weight bearing for 2 whole weeks now, and am finally down to one crutch all of the time.  On most days I ride the bike for 30 minutes on some combination of levels 1, 2, and 3. I'm thrilled that level one has become way too easy, but I'm still looking forward to the day I break a sweat!  My RPMs are steadily in the 60s & 70s (only a few weeks ago I was in the 30s!)  Yesterday I woke up and felt like I could take some steps on my own, so I tried it.  Guess what, I could do it!  I definitely have a limp and the steps weren't very big, but I still did it!  Today at PT I was reintroduced to the leg press, although I was very uncomfortable with the idea and kept it on the very light side.  I also worked on step ups (which I really have some work to do), and I tried straight leg raises which I couldn't do at all.  Weird thing is that the PT seemed pleased with my attempt, guess my quads were contracting and I was almost there but it sure didn't feel like it.  Oh yeah, I'm also doing a sitting leg extension with a 1 pound weight-- A ONE POUND WEIGHT-- and I can totally feel it.  That's kind of a bruise to the ego considering what I use to put my body through.

The good old mental aspect has been taking a bit of a toll on me these days.  Yes, there are improvements, but I've never been a very patient soul and this waiting to get better is getting a bit stale.  And as new soreness sets in, my mind can't help but wonder if I've re-injured something--but usually the new pain subsides after a day or two.  I am also starting to wonder if I'll ever get to the level of teaching again, but fortunately I have months to figure that out.

There are some victories to report:
  • I'm now driving all over town--sweet freedom!  
  • I can handle most of my mommy duties, still can't chase after him!
  • I'm able to kneel & get down on the floor
  • I can shower standing up
  • If I'm sitting, I can stand up without holding on to anything
  • I've walked around stores that didn't have scooters
September 16th was my original surgery date.  Let me tell you, I am so glad to be 2 months into recovery rather than 2 days out from surgery.  I've come a long way over those 8 1/2 weeks.  I know it will only continue getting better, I just have to keep reminding myself!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Oh My Aching Hip

Well I've learned that going to one crutch is going to be a more gradual approach than I had hoped.  Having not used some of these leg muscles for almost 2 months, I can't expect them to just jump on board and get me moving.  For me, the act of going down to one crutch will be rehab & therapy in itself as these muscles have a lot of strengthening yet to do.  My hip has been very sore since trying to drop a crutch, so I'm not rushing into this.  Although it's very nice to have a free hand!

I also woke up this morning very stiff and sore.  I'm hoping it's from my PT yesterday, and not the humidity and rain that set in over night.  My doc did say that with the good days will come an occasional set back, so hopefully this is as bad as it gets.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Oh No She Didn't!

Oh yes I did!  Major news on two fronts to report.  #1)  PT took me down to 1 crutch today, and #2) I drove a car for the first time in over 7 weeks!

I was pretty amazed when the PT suggested I give one crutch a try, and I was even more amazed that I was able to do it.  I definitely I have work to do, as it was ever so slowly.  But I DID IT!  I felt like I resembled Kramer from Seinfeld in the episode where he's walking down the street with this crazy walk in the 'technicolor dream coat' episode (except I didn't have a coat on!)  I was trying to focus on what I was doing, but couldn't help to but to keep laughing.

As for driving, I took the car for a spin around the block.  Everything seemed fine, so I'm ready to give it a try.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bye Bye Foot Numbness

Ever since week 3 I've been having problems with my right foot being numb and my leg turning cold and  purple.  Just after surgery my doc informed me that due to the way my femoral nerve is structured I may always experience numbness in my thigh, so I thought all this may be related.  I'm told most people's nerve is vertical, but mine does a little zig-zag.  Guess that makes me special.  The way it was explained is that this nerve is about the width of 3 hairs and they use this crowbar-like tool to pull it and the muscles aside which can lead to some inflammation (geez, no wonder.)

At my 6-week appointment I was offered some nerve drugs, but I opted to wait it out and see if applying weight would make a difference.  And I'm happy to report that it has!  Coloring has returned to normal and most of the numbness has subsided.  I notice that first thing in the morning that my heel now feels like pins & needles, but that goes away after I get moving, and when I'm at rest my second toe now is numb.  I'm sure this will all go away with time.  It just re-affirms that I have to get the muscles firing up and things will start to fall in place.

Friday, September 5, 2008

7 Weeks and Seeing the Light

Yep, week 5 was definitely a turning point for me both physically and mentally.  Things keep getting better and easier, especially now that I've been given permission to weight bear.  The other day I went to the doctors, went out to lunch, and scooted around at both Target and the grocery store all in one day and without any naps in between!  That would have been unheard of a couple weeks ago.

I had my first PT appt since being told to kick my workouts up a notch.  Measurements were taken to gauge ranges and strength, and there were times when I had absolutely zero range of motion.  I know I've said it before, but it really is a terrible feeling when your brain is saying 'do this!' and you're physically unable to, and it really brought up some emotions when I was told that I will never reach normal levels in some aspects but they will work with me so that I can be within a functional range.  I know it could be worse, but it still sucks hearing that.  The good news is that I was able to tell the PT that my pain has been virtually at zero!!

I'm trying to get to the gym every other day.  Today I rode 30 minutes on the recumbent (levels 1 & 2), then I tried the sitting leg abductor & adductor machines on the lowest weight (10 lbs). I was scared at first, but after I got going 10 lbs felt easy.  I was able to do upper body with free weights (thank you to the nice guy who brought the weights over to a bench for me!), and just for giggles I threw in some Bosu pushups since it's been 7 weeks since I've done anything like that. Wasn't exactly easy to get down on the floor in position, but I managed.  Oh yeah, then I came home and napped!

We had more food delivered by some wonderful friends today.  We're so thankful for people taking the time and energy to take care of us, we're very lucky.  After dinner, we headed to the mall where my hubby wheeled me around in my chair.  I could have crutched it, but it was much faster and comfortable that way.  We also splurged on Sander's cream puffs and root beer floats, it was delicious but OMG I'm getting so squishy!

Tomorrow I'm going to pretend I'm 12 years old and sit in the car and act like I'm driving.  I need to see if I have enough muscle control to move my leg from the gas to the brake, and then enough strength to apply the brakes.  Wouldn't be so bad if I could use my left foot to brake, but we happen to have a stick and right now we only have one car--figures.  Then Sunday I'm going to have to wear real clothes to a friend's baptism.  No workout clothes or boxer shorts allowed.  Hopefully I'll get lucky and find something appropriate and comfortable.  Ah, the little things we take for granted.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Weight Bearing, About to be Reality?

Today was the appointment I've been looking forward to, 6 weeks post-op.  After a series of X-Rays (on new equipment that delivers half the radiation--still too bad that I had that darn CT Scan a couple weeks ago!), Dr. Z. declared that my bones have healed!  Sweet music to my ears.  That means I can start the process of weight bearing.  I say 'process' because it's not like my muscles are ready to go and I can miraculously walk unassisted.  But just as soon as I could jump off the exam table I started walking with more weight on my right leg.  Immediately I felt soreness in my knee and rear, reminding me that these muscles haven't been used in a month and a half and it's going to take some time.

Dr. Z predicts that I'll be crutching it for another 4-weeks.  This is a little longer than most that have had the same procedure, but because I didn't go into the PAO at the top of my game thanks to my failed scope that left me hobbling for 5 months it's going to take a couple extra weeks.  Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I will eventually get to where I need and want to be.  When all is said and done I will have spent 15 weeks on crutches this year-UGH!

So what's next?  I go back to PT tomorrow with the goal of strengthening the muscles and ditching the crutches.  I can also start doing more on my own in the gym, including using that silly abductor & adductor machine that I always make fun of, and I can start water walking which I think will have the most impact if previous experience holds true.  All is good.