I need to start writing again!

Ok, I think its time to start writing again. The blog has been quietly ignored for a few months now for a variety of reasons. Mostly because sitting is still an issue for me after my surgery and computer work isn’t the best thing for me. Also because I’ve been so busy, busy with recovery from my hip surgery and busy with life.

At the moment I’m in India and 5 weeks into my yoga therapy course.   I left New Zealand mid October and travelled to Thailand to spend time with my family. After a few weeks in Bangkok I flew to Kolkata and did some travelling with a good friend of mine, this was a challenge on crutches but more about that later! After a week I then made my way to Mysore in Sothern India where I plan to stay for the next few months doing a yoga therapy course. This will be my 5th trip to Mysore to study yoga with my teacher Vinay Kumar (Pranavashya Yoga). My goal for this trip is to get my strength back, wean off my medications and find a way to return to a physical yoga practice.

Since arriving in Mysore I’ve managed to wean off my crutches completely (finally) and have significantly reduced my medications. My strength and range of movement is improving and I’m walking short distances without a limp. I still get some pain and swelling, but its manageable as long as I limit my activities and rest between my classes. The yoga sequence I am doing is designed for me so it doesn’t flare up the pain, my teacher is excellent and clearly knows what he is doing. I feel like I’m in good hands.

My days are quite long here, not because they are full of activity, quite the opposite in fact! At this stage I’m only allowed to attend one yoga class and have been instructed to rest well between. Because I’m still not able to sit in a chair without flaring up the pain my projects are on hold for now. This means I’ve got a lot of time to read and think. The thinking is why I think I need to start writing again!

I hope that writing will help me process what I’m feeling 4 months after surgery as I step on the threshold to a seemingly normal life without severe chronic pain. My accident was in 2009, I had my first surgery in 2010, major CRPS episodes in 2011 & 2012 and my second surgery in 2014 – I’ve forgotten what a normal life without pain is like, the transition from being a patient to a person is more challenging than you’d expect.

Walking without crutches – finally

First full day walking without crutches in 3 months! I’m a little wobbly and have a slight limp but the feeling of freeeeedom is awesome. Hopefully I can manage the whole day & class without any major setbacks. I’ll be resting this avo for sure ! I’m so over the crutches.

Over did it a little, needed ice as was swollen.

A photography workshop on crutches

Today I did a photography workshop to learn how to use my SLR in manual mode. It was pretty darn frustrating with my limited mobility (and painful) but I had fun and started to get the hang of the technical aspects of photography towards the end. Luckily 6 weeks after my surgery I’m now weaning off my crutches; this meant I could throw them down and focus on the photography. I was on a pretty tight leash and spent a good 30mins at a time in one spot, sometimes lying on my stomach as it was easier and less painful than standing! My hip ROM is still rather limited so bending over a tripod didn’t work at all… but where there is a will, there is a way. I took 300+ photos!

Even though I’m quite sore now it was so lovely to be out and about. Doing normal things really lifts my spirits. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m definitely getting there. There’s no way I could have handled today’s workshop even a week ago.

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Hip FAI Surgery

On Wednesday 13th August I finally had my surgery to remove the impingement in my hip (FAI). I had to call the booking office the night before surgery and was told to arrive at the hospital for a 7am checkin. At this stage I was still pretending that it was a holiday and I don’t think reality hit me until I woke up the next morning. This was good, less of a chance for the nerves to get the better of me.

I live so close to the hospital that I was able to walk there which I thought was amusing given I was going in for a hip operation. There was a handful of families also waiting to be first in line for surgery on that day. I was alone but this  didn’t really bother me, surgery is less scary the second time around.

I was one of the first patents called in; I chatted with the nurses and anaesthetist, got changed into a hospital gown and given a warm dressing gown to wear.  I had to wear a hair net and silly smurf slippers over my feet which cracked me up.  The surgeon was late, so I spoke with his registrar and waited in the pre-op area for ages.  The anaesthetist and I decided against the spinal in the end, so went for general anaesthetic and an infusion of something that would to help prevent pain complications (ketimine or licocane – not sure).  I wasn’t as nervous or scared as I expected to be, but I was grateful I got knocked out AFTER speaking to my surgeon and BEFORE going into the operating room.

Before I knew it I was in post-op recovery area and waiting to go up to the ward. I think I got up to the ward by noon and don’t really remember much of that afternoon.  I was in a fair amount of pain, but it was well managed.  I was given pain relief by IV and was able to control when I got it by pressing a button. The best part was turning my phone on and getting so many text messages from friends, workmates and family, including some lovely photos from my family in the UK. The worst part was getting up to go to the toilet numerous times that first night, I had to use a zimmer frame and every time my body would shake uncontrollably which made peeing very challenging. My body has a thing when it is in an excessive amount of pain that it shakes uncontrollably and I get really cold.

I was in hospital for 4 days and the time on the ward wasn’t overly restful as I was sharing with three very noisy old ladies. This was especially challenging when we changed the pain medication and the central sensitisation went a bit haywire.  Bright lights and noises are a problem for me, especially when I’m in pain or stressed. Hospitals are very bright and noisy places,  my ward was chaotic and the old ladies had a lot of visitors who ignored visiting hours.  Thankfully, the pain team  did a good job and got my pain back under control fairly quickly and I was able to go home just in time for my birthday.

The surgeon was light on details but he said the operation went well. When I asked about the number of holes in my leg (more than I was expecting) he said that he wanted to be sure they got all of the impingement so that gives me confidence. I noticed the feeling come back in my foot almost immediately and the pain in my hip feels different. It is still early days, but I am feeling really hopeful about the surgery.  I know I’ve got a lot of work to do to make a full recovery, and I know its not going to be easy (or happen very quickly), but I’m feeling really hopeful and am ready to put all this behind me. I’m very relieved the worst is over now and I am on the road to recovery.

I am partial weight bearing on crutches (allowed to put a little bit of weight on my foot, but not much) and am resting at home for at least 2 weeks. At the 2 week mark I will see the surgeon for a follow up and to get my stitches out.  I’ve got some very basic physiotherapy exercises to do and will start the rehabilitation when the surgeon gives the all clear to get started.  I’ve also got an appointment with the pain specialist in October to discuss the plan forward from a pain management perspective, the pain clinic have been very clear the expectation is that surgery will improve my function but is very unlikely to make me pain free.  Regardless, I’m excited about the future and looking forward to getting on with the rehabilitation. Its going to be an interesting few months.

And the ankle!

As you may have gathered, my ankle has been bothering me for quite some time. I sprained it a year ago and because I didn’t trust my pain levels, I choose to ignore it.  Eventually I saw the physio and had a few treatments, then figured it was good enough and my focus went back to the hip rehabilitation.   Then in March this year I made the silly mistake of taking pain killers and dancing on one leg (I really wanted to enjoy a concert) and I managed to sprain my ankle again! I’ve pretty much been seeing my physio on a weekly basis for my ankle ever since.

The sprain in March has created havoc with my hip because usually I bear most of my weight on this right leg.  So when the ankle hurt as much as the hip, I was caught in a cycle of trying to look after an injury on both legs. I’d stand on my left leg to give my ankle a break and cause my hip to be painful; then swap legs to give the hip a rest and flare up the ankle!  I was unable to use my standing desk and this caused a significant knock on effect to the hip.  In April I needed to take some time out to rest both injuries and I ended up on crutches for a couple of months as walking got too difficult.

I had ultrasounds and x-rays on my ankle which showed a lot of swelling but no major damage (phew). With taping and physiotherapy it  started to get better, then I managed to sprain it again while on crutches! Now that takes talent. After a couple more mild sprains the physio said my ankle joint was too unstable and I got confined to a brace for 10-12 weeks.  I was not impressed at the time, but its made a huge difference. With regular physiotherapy and weeks in the brace, my ankle has been getting better and better.  I’ve managed to get off my crutches and am able to use my standing desk again.

Today the physio said my heel raises are the best she’s ever seen me do and it looks like I only need 1-2 more treatments. I’m so pleased and relieved.  🙂  I need to get some new work shoes as the brace stretched my old ones and the risk of another sprain is too high, but once I’ve got new shoes I can ditch the brace too.  Hooray. One joint down, two to go!

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Permission to rest granted

I’ve been dealing with escalating levels of pain and exhaustion for a while. I went to see my GP on Monday and we discussed where I’m at, instead of upping my medication she gave me a doctors certificate so I can rest for a week. It was such a relief to know this week I don’t have to push through the work day in pain, push through the noise and over stimulation of the office, push through the horrible bright lights that hurt my eyes. I came home from the doctors, planted myself on the couch and promptly fell asleep. I’m feeling shattered.

It’s lucky my GP gave me this week off as I had a bad reaction to a cortisone injection for the bursitis. I had the injection at 9am on Monday, by 11ish the local anaesthetic was starting to wear off and by late afternoon it hurt like heck and got progressively worse as the evening went by. My hip was very stiff and swollen, leading to very little sleep. There’s no way I would have coped at work this week. It’s calming down now but my physio has also given me instructions to rest this week. To my surprise she told me no swimming until Saturday.

It’s day 3 of my rest, I’ve slept a lot, the hip pain is easing off and I’m going to go down to one crutch from tomorrow. Hoping to be walking sans-crutches by the weekend. It’s been hard going back on crutches but it’s working, so worthwhile.

A not so happy update to “Happy Healing Hips”

Its been a few weeks so I figured its time for an update.  I notice when things aren’t going great, sometimes the blog gets ignored.  On the flip side, when things are going fantastically the blog also gets ignored while I go out enjoy life.  Unfortunately, at the moment things aren’t going great.   The pain levels are escalating, the central sensitisation has been a lot worse and I’m exhausted from battling the system.

Where are things right now?  well….

  • Work/life balance has swung out of control again, have been working long hours.  The project ends this week (maybe next) so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Its a bit of a race to the finish line though, so this week will be rough.
  • The pain levels are high and are interfering with my sleeping again.
  • I’m on thin ice, and need to rest a lot more.
  • The bursitis is REALLY sore and always swollen, I can’t lie on my left side or my tummy and have to ice my thigh constantly.
  • I’ve been trying to get a cortisone shot for the bursitis, its taken 4 weeks at least but I’m finally booked in next monday (phew).
  • The hospital is mucking me around and it turns out I’m not actually on the waiting list for surgery yet, and assuming my paperwork goes through ok it is a 5 month wait.  She said they are processing my paperwork now and I should get a letter in the next couple of weeks.
  • I got offered a fantastic job but had to turn it down as it was conditional on surgery (when I applied the surgeon had just told me surgery would be end of April)
  • I’ve been getting my right ankle treated for a sprain I did several weeks ago when dancing on one leg (as you do).  It is apparent there is a lot of scar tissue due to years of multiple sprains (because it’s the opposite side to my sore hip it’s taken a thrashing).  Because I am unable to rest it properly it’s not healing well and is rather swollen and sore this week.
  • Because I’m now bearing more weight on my left leg (due to sore ankle) my hip is much worse than usual and the bursitis is getting worse.
  • I’ve had to pull the crutches out for the first time in over a year.  Am not quite able to bring myself to use them even though I probably should.  But I have been told to take them to me when I go away for a choir trip this weekend (lots of standing).
  • I’ve skipped a lot of choir practice due to pain and am also saying “no” to things.
  • Have been slack re the physio therapy and swimming, mostly due to pain, tiredness and a lack of time.
  • Am working with the Pain Clinic again, quite frequent appointments and quite intense treatments.
  • The weather is getting colder which is not great for my pain levels and circulation.

Good news….    (there must be some)

  • I started a new blog called  Pretty Ordinary Things where I take a photo a day of something ordinary in an effort to help me be more present in the world and actively search for beauty in every day things.  Its been working a treat, I feel my eyes are constantly scanning the environment, it pulls my thoughts away from my problems and is helping my photography.   I’m really enjoying the project.
  • We got restructured at work, so at least something is changing there.  I’ve got a new manager and a new team, hopefully I can move my desk too.  That with a new project will help refresh me at work.  Just as well seeing as I had to turn down that amazing new job.
  • I did a 3 day cram and passed my Six Sigma Green Belt Exam this week.  I’ve just got to put together a portfolio and I’ll get certified. Six Sigma is a methodology for process improvement and data analysis.
  • I’m going away this weekend, heading to Otaki to do a 2 day singing workshop with my choir.  I can’t wait.

Fingers crossed things pick up soon, I think the next couple of weeks will rough but hopefully things will improve soon.  I’ll feel A LOT better when I get a date for this surgery, I just need to know when it is going to happen so I can plan things and prepare.  In the meantime, I’m looking forward to going away this weekend.