Hello from end of week 5/start of week 6! Thanks for the anniversary greetings, @Layla
. Time is both flying by and standing still. Can't believe it's been a month. Pretty nice view from here. I’m sitting in a chaise lounge while a machine ices and compresses my leg, sipping a black nitro brew from a coffee shop, looking out my window at a sunny, almost 40 degree (F) day. Have just returned from a few short errands that included a trip to the grocery store because I had a mad craving for Fruity Pebbles (that's what happens when you watch a history show about the production of sugar cereals). Drove with the windows down and music blaring (ABBA -- yes, I am a cheeseball) because that's how we roll here in the Midwest.
Think we can recap this week and the next few as my finally getting why these weeks, after the acute pain of the surgery pain is faded, are both rewarding and frustrating.
Or, also, "Lessons in learning to walk again after THR and weeks of partial weight bearing AND over a year of walking like a penguin" (which is totally not as cool as walking like an Egyptian as the Bangles 80s song goes).
Lesson One: Shows on the Teevee Get a Lot Wrong
The terrible television I’m streaming (“Falcon Crest”) just happens to be featuring a storyline where a main character has to learn to walk again. But um....quelle surprise....nurses wearing white hats and dresses is not the only thing wrong with this picture.
Chase (the “studly” leading man) takes a bullet to his abdomen and some shrapnel gets lodged in his spine. He is paralyzed. Then, teevee doctor character comes in, says, “Chase, only YOU are going to decide whether these legs walk again,” and slams his hand down on Chase’s leg. Chase says, “Wait! I felt something!” (note to self: ask surgeon to perform this miracle slap on my leg next time I see him
Next ep has Chase on those parallel bar trainers, using his arms to pull himself along as his entire family (er, HIPAA wasn’t a thing back then?), teevee doctor watch. You know what’s coming…sure enough, he falls in a heap and teevee doctor yells “Orderly! Help! Now!” Said “orderly” runs over with crutches, but Chase is too busy shaking his fist at the sky to notice. He is hauled to his feet by teevee doctor as the orderly gets him back on crutches. Now I’m really nervous about PT next week.
Next ep has Chase on crutches working in the winery during bottling or something (this takes place on a vineyard, btw) and he is goaded by evil Lorenzo Lamas to climb up metal stairs to a catwalk where he is further goaded (“sorry, is this too taxing for you?”) to checking a tap on a barrel (evil Lorenzo has loosened this) and…da da dum…suddenly the tap breaks and Chase is awash in a flood of cabernet that knocks him down and leaves him clinging to the catwalk, soaked and now cursing not only the skies again but also evil Lorenzo. Chase, maybe try a more graduated OT next time?
On the same ep, we now have Chase crutching through his vineyards, fed up and sweaty. Chase throws the crutches, does the patented teevee zombie stagger and face plants in the dirt. Good choice, dude. It’s 1982. No cell phones for you. So he somehow manages to drag himself standing and get his crutches under him again and repeats. Zombie stagger/faceplant/more sweat/award-winning look of grit and determination/hauls himself up/throws his crutches down and zombie staggers/faceplants again.
Next scene is in his house: his family sits, worried to death, and here he comes through the door, clothes in tatters, sweaty and filthy, and he dramatically throws the crutches to the floor. Everyone cheers. It’s dark out, so this means Chase has been zombie staggering through the vineyards for hours in the dark and he’s not even asking for an aspirin or an ice pack. What a man! I, personally, would recommend a soak in some ice cold pinot grigio, both for drinking and because it is going to take an obscene amount of cold to even touch the amount of swelling and pain and regrets he would discover were he not on teevee, but that’s how you do recovery, soap opera style. So all of you manly men out there…get thee to a vineyard and get going. You’ll be cured in no fewer than 2 episodes and you may earn an Emmy nomination to boot if you grimace and sweat hard enough.
Lesson 2: These next few weeks may be a tad Dickensian -the worst of recovery and the best of recovery
Big old weekend excursion. We met some friends to watch their daughter’s high school hockey tournament game. That meant: in car, drive 20 min, park, walk from car to arena which included a fun skyway that has one heck of an incline, more walking in the arena, sitting for two hours (aside from standing to cheer, of course), then more standing as we chatted with said friends and waited to say hi to their daughter (and, if you’ve ever waited for a teenage girl to get ready to go out, you know that’s not exactly a short wait), walk back to car (decline this time!), into car, drive home.
And guess what? The walking around the smooth, flat concourse on my walker felt AMAZING. Some muscles complained initially, but they figured it out and pretty soon I was zipping along, faster and taller than I ever did before surgery. We ran into several people we knew and everyone commented on how well I was moving – guess people expect someone using a walker to be all hunched over and mincing along, but I was hardly leaning on it at all. That was a celebration day for sure.
I've also been working in the cane (short putters around the house) a bit as surgeon suggested I could do. Did NOT like it at first – the balance and grip just feel so weird and I’m trying to follow the instructions (use opposite arm of op leg, place just ahead of foot, step with weight on op leg and cane) but it just feels so awkward. Also, my back and wrist really weren’t too keen on it, but I figured out taking smaller strides helped and it’s better for use in the kitchen, anyway. So I also did more of that this weekend.
Also, have gone from prescription strength naproxen (anti inflammatory) to OTC dose. From 1000 mgs a day to 500 mgs.
Soooo....Sunday night I'm sitting on the couch with over 20 pounds of purramedic happily sunk into my lap and...huh. Glute isn't too happy. Oh, wait, neither is the quad. Oh, IT band, too? Oh, ****, now the hip flexors/hip area. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Pain reaches a 4. Sigh. Take oxy before bed. Better in the morning.
Ah. So that's why this particular part in recovery is so frustrating and why it’s just as much a mental game as it is physical. My wife reminded me that the PT at the surgery center warned me about such things. PT said “you may feel like you can do more – if one lap feels good, you’ll want to do two. Don’t.” Sigh. Hi, I’m the puckhead. Nice club you have here. It’s called the overdid it club, right? When’s dinner?
This must be the period in recovery where I feel better than I actually am? Well, at least I've rehabbed other injuries and surgeries and this part is relatively familiar to me -- the two steps forward/one step back/dosey-do/bang your head/stick your elbow in-hokey pokey recovery dance.
Assorted Other Sights and Experiences from the Week 5 Trail
I crossed my op leg over the non op leg, baseball player style, to put on a sock. Stretch, but no pain. Can thank a purramedic for that, as she was obsessed with the ropes on the sock putter-on-er and wasn’t giving them up for anything, so I said, fine, you can have it and gave it a go putting on my sock and I could do it! Whooo! I got dressed without aids this morning. I like the dressing stick, though. It’s very dapper. I may take it with me when I start going to the gym for style points.
Scar is feeling a lot less nasty to the touch – smoother and a lot of the glue has worn off
Water balloon seems to be gone. What a relief.
*medical graphic trigger warning
* So, while at the hockey game, was chatting with someone who claimed knowledge of medical procedures. She claims that THR is the "bloodiest" ortho surgery there is (really? I only lost 30 ccs of blood, which is nothing compared to the abdominal surgeries I had) and that, if the surgeon is tall enough, blood splatter will go right over h/her head, but if h/she is short, the blood will splatter all over their legs. Nice. Will have to ask my surgeon if he avoided the splatter zone. Think it’s a little personal to just ask, “hey, how tall are ya, doc? And do you like long walks on the beach and good conversation?”
I have missed being around people and all their unfiltered glory.
Next week, PT starts, and I look forward to getting some advice progressing to FWB as well as some reassurance that yes, I will eventually walk without aids. I’m still quite anxious about the fracture, even though I know I’m starting week 6, the beginning of the time range for fracture healing, and my surgeon has given the OK to start a slow transition. Don’t think I’ll feel completely at ease until my next post-op at 8 weeks and I plan to ask for an x-ray just to confirm bone growth. Thing is, because the fracture is inside the socket, it’s not visible on the x-ray, so I’m not going to see any proof (not that I can make out anything on xrays anyway), but I think, if I’m understanding correctly, if there’s good bone growth, the fracture would have healed up in that process.
Meanwhile, key things:
Smaller, shorter, slower steps
Stop when I'm feeling good
My body is the only timeline that matters
Fruity Pebbles are not what they used to be. :(
My wife is usually right