Saturday, May 28, 2016

Recovering From Hip Surgery (or should I say "adjusting"?): Baby Steps...

I'm a little more than one week post-op and have been surprised at how good I actually feel.

Medical procedures leave me squeamish and surgery downright terrifies me, so the day of surgery last week started off tough. Waiting in the pre-op area seeing other patients being wheeled off for their surgeries only caused my anxiousness to swell. My compassionate (or was it impatient?) anesthesiologist gracefully administered some powerful - if not excruciatingly painful - drugs to help me into unconsciousness relax prior to taking me to the operating room. Aside from the searing pain as the meds passed through my IV into my arm, I don't recall anything (although Dave reports I muttered unintelligibly, eyes closed, until they wheeled me away).

I spent twice as much time in recovery than anticipated, thanks to some nasty nausea from the anesthesia, but once I was able to NOT puke or dry heave upon raising my head, they released me.

I ended up having four different procedures performed on my hip during a 2 1/2 hour surgery. I left with some good news and some bad. The good news is that instead of being on crutches for two months, it will only be one. The bad news is that this is due to the fact that the procedure that would have necessitated a longer time on crutches had to be skipped, as the cumulative damage to my hip was too great for them to be able to perform it (it would have involved scraping into the cartilage of my hip joint, allowing a scab of sorts to form that would then turn into a fibrous cartilage-like protection for the joint. In order for the cartilage-like substance to fully form, the scab would need to remain undisturbed for two months). As things stand, I could be facing a total hip replacement in "two years or two decades, it's just something to keep in mind," according to my surgeon (Dr. JW Thomas Byrd of Nashville Sports Medicine — I HIGHLY recommend him if anyone is in need of a great hip guy).

I have managed to bring myself to look at the photos from my surgery (even though they are little round images taken by the camera via the scope, it's still something inside my body and it still creeps me out…) and the amount of redness in my sonovium (the tissue in a joint that produces sonovial fluid) confirms the extremely high level of inflammation I've been dealing with for the past eight months, due to the tear in my labrum and the constant rubbing it was exposed to. Going into surgery, there was no way to determine the extent of this via scans, so my doctor was surprised by its severity, too. I had a sonovectomy (who knew this was a thing?) and am now awaiting the regrowth of new sonovium, among other things.

Despite my best intentions to try to remember all of the medial talk thrown about over the past week and a half, I can't retain much of it. One of my injuries was considered a "severe level 3" on a scale of 1 to 4. I've had the head of my femur reshaped and bone spurs removed from it. In addition to the removal of the sonovium I've had the tear in my labrum stitched together (it took about six stitches, according to the photo). I've also got a fairly large stitch on the outside of my hip capsule to keep everything in place.

In light of all of that, I imagine I should feel worse, but thanks to how painful my hip has been since last September I actually feel great. Prescription pain meds were more of a hindrance than a help - causing me to feel dizzy, weak, and shake uncontrollably. I've been off of them since day three following my surgery. I continue to take prescription naprosyn to prevent bone regrowth and aspirin as a precaution against post-surgical blood clots, but other than that I am letting my body do what it needs to do to be well.

My restrictions include not allowing myself to bend at the waist deeper than a 90-degree angle between my thighs and my torso for a month (this means someone else has to put on my pants, tie my shoes, and adorn my legs with the ever-glamorous compression socks). Retrieving an item dropped on the floor is impossible. Sitting in low chairs or navigating anything shorter than a handicapped potty is out of the questions. I'm also on crutches for this month as well, with a maximum of 50% weight allowed on my left leg (how to gauge that for a non-numbers person???), so my new comfy item has become a used plastic Target bag into which I put anything I imagine might be useful when I change locations in my house - phone, journal, some pens of various pretty colors, sometimes crochet (a skill from back in the day that I am oh-so-thankful for right now), my Kindle, and usually a spare tissue or two - due to the fact that both of my hands are being used to keep myself upright and it allows me to somewhat independently (if not noisily) move my own stuff whenever I want. Additionally, I can't allow my left leg or foot to pivot externally, so must be careful when maneuvering on the crutches, in bed, and especially around the grand babies.

My husband, Dave, has been the best private-duty nurse imaginable. Despite our close relationship and nearly 30 years of marriage, my first sense of post-surgical triumph came when I was able to go to the bathroom without his assistance. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, prepare ahead of time and convert your potty to be handicapped accessible before surgery!

Often I identify myself as a "recovering Type-A" personality, but this puts it in a whole new perspective for me. I can't do much of anything for myself, save for things that can be done with my hands. It's difficult for me to allow others to do most everything for me, and at first I battled a near-constant refrain of apologies for the inconvenience running through my head and sometimes out of my mouth to anyone who might be affected by my current condition. I'm more appreciative than guilty now.

I've ventured out a few times. Yesterday I took the electric cart at Whole Foods for a spin, trailing behind Dave and four-year-old grandson Ransom as they shopped. Initially, I was afraid I'd feel a bit self-conscious buzzing around the store in it, but I soon relaxed when I realized how most people actually AVOIDED looking at me in it and I pretty much felt invisible… It gave me a new perspective for our less-abled friends… A highlight came when Ransom pointed out an older gentleman in another electric cart just ahead of us as we entered the prepared food section and he excitedly shouted, "GG LOOK! There's a guy like you! Catch him!!!" as if we might race.

Elly Haddad is a Healthy Life-Style Coordinator, combining her certifications as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and yoga instructor. She's the owner of Elemental Fit and founder of The NashWell Group, both based in Nashville, TN. When she isn't sidelined by this injury, she teaches at Hot Yoga Plus, Sanctuary for Yoga, The YMCA of Middle TN, and coordinates wellness programs for various private corporate clients and individuals on Music Row and throughout Nashville. She helps individuals and groups understand the important influence that diet & lifestyle have on health, happiness, and overall wellbeing. Elly is also a freelance writer and public speaker, conducting workshops and seminars throughout the midwest and southeastern US. She can be contacted directly via email here

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