Significant progress

I’ve just spent a week on holiday at the beach with family. Its been great to work on my tan before heading back to work, and I’ve been pushing the limits with my hip. I’m now 8months post op and I am doing really well, I’m 100% sure the operation was a success and I’m much much better than I was 8 months after my first surgery.

I feel like I’ve turned a big corner in the last month.  Little things I’ve noticed in the last 2 weeks are:

  • Travelling from India to Thailand was a breeze this time. It was a long journey that required a lot of sitting and it was almost pain free. I was also very happy to be able to stand in the line for immigration with no issue.
  • I was able to run for the plane (oops) and I can walk with a 15-20kg backpack on.
  • I’m able to walk for several hours at at time now. Including walking on the beach and in the jungle.
  • I can swim in the sea for 45min-1hr at a time (lots of snorkelling), swim 20-30 lengths of freestyle and do some very slow/gentle breaststroke.
  • I can lift my 3yr old niece and play with her without too much discomfort.
  • I’m walking fluidly with ZERO limp.

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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.

2 months after surgery

I’m 2 months post op now, the operation feels like a distant memory and I’d say I’m back to “normal sore” but continuing to get better with time. I’m frustrated with how slow my recovery has been, but still feeling optimistic that my surgery will be successful. I’m a big believer in positive thinking and I’m doing everything in my power to ensure a positive outcome, including moving overseas for 6months!

At the moment I’m walking inside without crutches and outside with one, unless I’m doing a lot of walking when I will use two for symmetry and speed. My philosophy with crutches is to try and slow down, focusing on form over speed. Making sure my left leg is recruiting the right muscles. I think I’m 1-2 weeks away from getting rid of the crutches entirely which is good. Both my physio and I agree it’s better to use them to manage the pain and avoid a limp. I’m looking forward to putting the crutches away forever and hope this will be my last time on them.

I am happy with my progress even if it’s a lot slower than I expected. There are some things indicate an improvement from before surgery, the biggest being able to sit in a car for short distances without too much issue. And being able to lie on my left side for 15-20mins before it gets sore. Going up stairs, and putting on shoes, socks and tights that are the only things that I really struggle with on a daily basis. That motion of pulling my knee to my chest isn’t great and my thigh feels a bit like mince meat! Standing, sitting and walking aren’t fantastic either but I’m used to that and hope with more strengthening (and time) I will continue to improve in this area. So it’s not great, but I’m definitely past the hardest part of surgery.

The next month of my rehabilitation will involve a lot of travel as I’m heading up north to visit my mother, then flying to Bangkok to stay with my father. The plan is to stay in Bangkok for a couple of months and then go to India for some yoga therapy. So my focus will once again be on the hydrotherapy, swimming and walking. I’ll also be getting back to my daily structured physio exercises which have gotten a bit half arsed while I pack up my life and get ready to move.

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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.