Sorry there’s no “Here’s what you missed” trailer, but if you haven’t already, check out part one of this blog here.
PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY PREPARING FOR SURGERY.
January 11th. That was the date they gave me. Being that it was early December, that meant that though it was only a month away, it felt like an eternity. At this point, I stopped doing lower body work because of the stress to my hip. To make up for it, I instead worked on my upper body as much as possible and with it being low impact, the bike became my new best friend.
If I put the seat up really high without hyper-extending my leg and I could pedal at a medium pace to get some movement in and boost my heart rate just a bit.
Alternatively, I eventually realized that I could use the assault bike without using my legs, which was a game changer, allowing me to use my arms to get in some cardio. I kept up with acupuncture twice a week. Dr. Julie Allison worked with the motor points in my quads, glutes, back, and a pesky little piriformis. Each acupuncture session was like a mini workout for my legs. I truly believe that Julie’s healing skills were what sent me into surgery still strong.
Though - I felt like I was in limbo...
There were days that I completely accepted that I couldn’t run.
Then there were days where I would see other people running and felt awful. I had daydreams that Dr. Weeks was going to tell me that I could run again and my hip was totally fine. I had a dream that after my hip surgery, they left it open - so while I walked, everyone could see inside my hip and observe how the joint moved.In that dream my hip was also made of metal. I was basically The Terminator. You don’t need an advanced psychology degree to realize that I was feeling quite vulnerable.
Practicing mindfulness was essential.
I listened to my body, my heart, and my mind.
When I needed a break, I took one. If I felt frustrated, I let myself be frustrated. If I felt optimistic, I allowed myself that feeling. I tried to not judge my feelings.
I remember one day, barely pedaling on the bike and I cried. Momentarily, I thought, “oh shit, this is embarrassing.” Then I accepted that my body and mind needed those tears in that moment. It passed. I survived.
SURGERY TIME, FOLKS.
My surgery was scheduled for the afternoon, which meant fasting. A whole day of fasting.
I think this situation was more difficult for my husband, Amol, more than it was for me.
He ate breakfast and pretended that he was drinking kale juice instead of coffee, it was actually hilarious.
I felt confident that the surgery was going to be successful, so it was basically just a waiting game for me.
Small pause here to give kudos to everyone at OrthoCarolina and Carolina Health Systems. They expertly answered all of my questions and made me feel as comfortable as possible and as calm as I could make myself right up until I was wheeled down the hall into the operating room.
Then there was the surgery - which fortunately I was asleep for.
When I awoke, I felt alert - oddly alert. I was STARVING and excited to literally eat everything I could fit in my face.
Randomly, one of the most interesting experiences of that night in my hospital room was watching Wonder Woman and suddenly feeling crosseyed.
I seriously thought that I was going blind for about an hour before I realized I’d had a motion sickness patch stuck behind my ear post-surgery.
I pulled that thing off and almost instantaneously I could see again. I promise I’m not currently blind.
ENTER THE RECOVERY PROCESS.
We returned to Charleston on a Friday, so we had the weekend to get acclimated to being home before therapy started on Monday. I was 50% weight-bearing on day one and was able to get around the house but don’t get me wrong - Amol helped with everything - and when HE needed a break, we were incredibly fortunate to have great friends that would come watch Netflix with my hobbled self. (Thanks, Cassie & Doug!)
Of everything I was dealing with, one of the things that I found to be most challenging was having to move so slowly on the stairs, especially when I was acclimated to running up the stairs. Patience is a virtue...I guess.
Then there was sleeping on my back. I felt like Elaine in the Seinfeld episode where she sleeps on the pull-out sofa. My back wasn’t thrilled and I’m definitely a stomach sleeper. Little did I know, but it would be months before I could even attempt to sleep on my stomach. Embrace the suck - as they say. And lastly, That damn CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine. I know that I am not good at sitting still. I learned that I am even worse at being stuck in a machine that moves your leg up and down. I’m grateful that it helped with my mobility, but even more grateful that I was done using it after two weeks.
Physical Therapy kicked off on Monday morning with the fabulous Dr. Will Avery. I woke up that morning and I felt TERRIBLE. There was a warning that the painkillers could cause constipation and I was determined to maintain my regular routine - if you know what I mean - so, I took activated charcoal and senna to maintain the “status quo”... and that backfired on Monday morning.
I was able to get my life together and made it to PT a little late.
While I was performing some simple anterior pelvic tilts and bridges, it was like the Atlantic Ocean was churning inside me.
Thankfully, I made it to the bathroom at the end of PT.
A word to the wise; If you have to take painkillers and are worried about constipation - give yourself a day or so before you take supplements to help with the - uh - flow.
I was feeling really good until Wednesday morning. I’d stopped taking any medication and there came this deep, deep discomfort in my hip. You know that pain where someone cuts through your gluteal muscles, shaves your femur head, and sews your labrum back to the bone? Yeah, that kind of pain.
As I was eating breakfast, I literally just cried into my cereal.
It was a really low moment; actually the lowest moment of the entire recovery process.
Fortunately for myself and everyone else, as the weeks progressed, so did my progress in PT.
It felt outstanding.
I’m an overachiever and did all of my homework. Every set and rep that was recommended for even the most basic exercise, I was doing them ALL.
Dr. Avery also appropriately challenged me during every session and reminded me that I was significantly ahead of the post-surgery protocol.
There were a few little victories during every single PT session.
Some of the ones that truly stand out are:
Using one crutch instead of two at a week and a half post-surgery.
At two and a half weeks, I was off crutches completely.
Squatting on the Bosu ball
Performing a single-leg deadlift without falling over
Running for 90 second intervals X 3
Jumping off a box
Banded agility drills
Rotating through a cable woodchopper exercise
And doing every stability ball exercise that Will could imagine
I visited OrthoCarolina at two weeks, six weeks, and three months post-surgery. They were very satisfied with my progress and impressed by my ability to bounce back so quickly.
Upon my last appointment, I was cleared for nearly everything.
I’m able to run intervals - but there will be no training for races in my future. I need to be careful when squatting so that I don’t go past the 90 degree mark. I even found a creative way to row so that prevents any overly flexing of my hip. My forever homework assignment is to keep my glutes strong. That will prevent that hip replacement from ever being a necessity - and I am absolutely up for that assignment.
This experience has taught me a lot about hip mechanics and it’s taught me even more about myself and who I am.
I am not defined by my ability or inability to run. I am a strong-ass woman, and simple determination and a clear focus has pushed me past the limits that doubt attempted to set for me.
I’m really glad you all stuck around for this whole thing, and I really don’t want to force you to read any more, so I’ll simply leave you with the following mantras that keep me going:
Listen to your body.
Move your body.
Take breaks when you need them.
Keep. Moving. Forward.
Apply these practices to your everyday life, and though you may experience setbacks - there is no way you can ever fail.
Meet you back here next Sunday?