6 month check-up – all good!

On 1st Feb 2013, it was 6 months and 1 day since Mr Witt sawed and chiselled his expert way through my pelvis and pinned me back together during my RPAO.  And of course, the only way to celebrate this is with an X-ray at UCLH (apparently my second home).  One of the most exciting parts of this adventure was travelling on the London Underground – I haven’t been mobile enough to do that for years! Now I can cope with just one crutch, to support my left (unoperated) hip.

And the good news is, everything on the surface is healed (see below for non-gruesome scar pic) and on the X-ray everything looks fine!  One of Mr Witt’s registrars showed me just how much more coverage my hip socket has following the operation – no wonder I’m getting less pain on that side when I walk these days!  There is one fracture which had to be shifted so far that it’s unlikely the two sides will unite fully – and apparently this is quite common and not a problem as it’s a non-weight-bearing part of the pelvis.  But the hip is officially fixed.  Woop!

We discussed one niggle that has been frustrating me for the last few weeks – when I try to do certain yoga poses (bridges, clamshell exercises), I get an intense pain low down in my pelvis, kind of between my butt and my pubic bone (nice).  It’s impossible to point out without looking extremely rude, so that was kind of embarassing.  Anyway, it’s so sore that I have to stop whatever I’m doing, and it takes several days to recover again – during which time it hurts when I walk, go up stairs, do my physiotherapy, turn over in bed  – well, during everything.

Mr Witt and his team told me that this is reasonably common and can be caused by a tiny stress fracture in the pelvis – but on a non-weight-bearing part which is why I can’t feel it when I walk around (unless it’s after I attempt said bridges, clamshells etc). They inspected my X-rays thoroughly and found no evidence of a fracture, and so they’ve put it down to a muscle (probably hamstring) which is rubbing or catching on one of the fractured sites.    They gave me more hamstring stretches to do, and told me that if it doesn’t improve in 6-8 weeks, they can give me a cortisone injection under sedation, to ease it.  This is something that happens quite often post-PAO, and apparently cortisone tends to sort it out for good.

So, that leaves Hip Number 2 – the left one!  Mr Witt put me on the waiting list for my LPAO at the same appointment, so I just have to cross my fingers I won’t have to wait too long.  I suspect August will be an interesting month for the second year running.

In the meantime, here is a picture of my scar, on its 6-month birthday.

IMG_1443

Stripes – I’ve earned a few..

I’m quite proud of it – it’s fading to a pretty silvery colour, and sits right along the natural crease in my hip joint.  It’s invisible under my knickers or a bikini.  And it’s only about 4 inches long.  The little screw bumps above the incision are not really visible in this picture, but I’m rather fond of them too.  It’s nice to have a reminder of the operation that is helping me walk again.  Almost like people get tattoos to mark important times in their life.  Tattoos aren’t my thing, but I like to think I’ve earned this particular stripe!

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Back in the saddle…

Hooray!  Just don't make any sudden movements

Hooray! Just don’t make any sudden movements

Well, it’s been 4.5 months since my PAO, and I seem to have let the blog go a little bit. I am sorry – but unsurprisingly, the drop in posts coincided with my return to work – and something had to give! I found going back to work quite tough at first, but I’m properly back in the swing now. Luckily, my employers have been tremendously supportive and during my first few weeks, I worked reduced hours until I’d got my energy back.

Since my last PAO post, my recovery has been pretty smooth and steady. I no longer have to attend hyrotherapy but have kept up with the physiotherapy, attending a series of gym classes at my local hospital for people with lower limb problems. This has really helped with my strength and as a result, I can now:

Walk without a limp for a lot longer (but I still need a crutch or a stick because of my other hip)

Do several wobbly lunges (this does hurt), dips, squats, and bridges

Do about 20 minutes on a stationary bike and 3 or so minutes on a rower.

I’ve been cleared by Mr Witt to do some low impact weight-bearing exercises now, but of course, there’ll always be a limit to my mobility until I get my left hip done. Most of the time, though, it’s the left (unoperated) hip, that is giving me more trouble now. I am amazed and delighted with the difference to how my right hip feels. I don’t feel so unsteady on my right hand side, although there are times when I still feel real, acute pain low down in my butt and in my groin from the pelvic breaks, and that makes me really wince.

One of the best milestones in my recovery was my first riding lesson – check out my smile in the photo above! I spent 15 minutes walking and trotting around in circles on a very safe, lovely pony, and my instructor was amazed at the difference in position and strength of my operated leg. When I ride these days, I’m a bit lop-sided because my left leg (which previously was always the stronger one) is now holding me back. Woop (although I do feel sorry for the poor pony)!

Trot on! Riding again at last.

Trot on! Riding again at last.

For the past year or so (pre-op), riding was a life-saver for me. I missed my mobility, I missed running around the hills of Devon, and discovering a riding stables where the instructors were willing to let me have a go was such a blessing. I adore borrowing my ‘spare legs’ and I’ve turned out to be quite good at it (with limits – getting on and off is always a challenge). Doing so much core stability in my physio seems to have been a big help. I also seem to be ‘liked’ by horses, and the instructors say ‘oh look, they recognise that you are lame’. Sure enough, the first time I returned to the stables, the horses and ponies took a massive interest in my operated leg, sniffing it, nickering at me, trying to ‘groom’ my hip through my clothes.

I’m not the only horsey addict in the family – the two girls are also having lessons, which has led to lots of imaginative play. And Irish and I are rather happy about that – riding is an expensive hobby, but preferable to an interest in boys at this age!

Playing horses - a lot cheaper than boys (potentially)

Playing horses – a lot cheaper than boys (potentially)

Irish has promised (rashly, I believe) we can look into loaning a horse/pony once all my PAOs are out of the way. Hmmm – I wonder..?

PAO recovery week 11: Sciatica sucks

I haven’t been posting too much this week – my Way of the Dress blogging routine has been completely upset by the recent setback in my recovery. A week ago, I discussed it with my GP who decided a new X-ray would be sensible. I ended up waiting in A&E whilst three different orthopaedic doctors reviewed the new X-ray and compared it with one from my 6 week check up, which had been sent down from UCLH. This was necessary because the X-ray showed lots of fractures, but the doctors couldn’t tell which ones had happened during the PAO and which ones might be new – how reassuring!

In the end the consensus was that there were no fresh fractures, but Mr Witt has agreed to review the X-rays to be sure. In the meantime, my physiotherapist’s best bet is that my central nervous system has been aggravated by the trauma of the surgery and is reacting to the increasing levels of activity and weight bearing by responding more strongly to pain. This is why the pain moves down my leg from my hip – it’s traveling along the sciatic nerve. I’ve been banned from physio and told to go back to using two crutches. Grrr – I’m so frustrated!

In the meantime, here are some sciatica-busting moves I’ve found useful…

1) Bouncing gently on a gym ball to keep my core engaged and stop my back muscles from getting weaker

2) The ‘tennis ball’ sciatica treatment as recommended by many Hip Women!

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place a tennis ball under the small of your back and using your hips, manoeuvre it slowly around your sacroiliac joints until you find a tender spot. Then relax against the tennis ball and you’ll start to feel the pain dissipate a little.

3) Very gentle hamstring stretches: the sciatic nerve runs down the hamstring so by stretching the hamstring you can release pressure on this nerve. I was taught one gentle exercise that I can do whilst sitting:

Sit on the front edge of a dining chair, with your heels on the floor but keeping your knees relatively straight. Holding onto the edge of the chair, lean forward from your pelvis, keeping your back straight. You should feel a stretch at the back of your legs. When the stretch becomes more comfortable, lean forward a little more and hold for up to 20 seconds. You can do this one leg at a time if it’s more comfortable – just keep one leg bent at the knee, and stretch the other one.

4) Lots of yoga ‘cat’ poses, moving into ‘downward dog’ when I feel able to.

Like this:

…and not like this!

Don’t try this at home – or with your cat.

Downward dog – I can do it JUST LIKE THIS. Ahem. Photo from http://www.yogajournal.com

5) Saving the best till last – this exercise was the most helpful in reducing my pain levels.

Lie on your back with knees bent, and let your knees fall gently to one side, then lift them back to centre. Let them fall to the other side, then back to centre. Repeat until horrible nauseating pain has gone away.

Reclining twist – from http://www.diveintampabay.com

After a week or two of awful pain, I’m now on reduced levels of painkillers and starting to walk around the house without crutches – although with a little less confidence than before. My next physio appointment is tomorrow so hopefully I’ll be starting a more comprehensive rehabilitation programme again soon. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and sending a BIIIG thank you to the hip women who helped me through a wretched couple of weeks. Being happy with wonky hips would be a lot harder without you!

PAO Recovery Week 10: A Setback.

Dammit – things were going so well!  Until a week or so ago, I was making great progress.  As I wrote in my previous PAO update, I was beginning to do some weight bearing physiotherapy , trying to move away from crutches, and generally enjoying being in much less pain and much more mobile.  So much so, that I think I got too confident and…oops.

*Sniff*

I was trying to do some one legged bridges (raising myself up on my operated leg) and it felt sore.  Well, I thought to myself, physiotherapy exercises do hurt.  Every physiotherapy exercise I’ve ever been given has hurt when I first tried it.  So I did a few more.  And that night, when I went to bed, I noticed a soreness down the side / back of my right thigh.  It hurt when I bear weight through my leg, when I squat, when I sit down, when I stand up – and over the next few days, it didn’t get any better.

After an uncomfortable hydrotherapy session I decided to take it up with my GP, who sent me to the Accident and Emergency Department for an urgent X-Ray.  Three different orthopaedic doctors compared the X-ray with the previous ones taken at my 6-week checkup, and decided that there were no changes between the two.  This is good news, because it means my adventurousness hasn’t resulted in a fracture.  Blood tests revealed nothing unusual so infection is also ruled out – hooray.   Unfortuately though, it has left me with a series of guesses as to what is causing the problem.  Sciatica?  Bursitis?  Iliotibial band?  I’m not sure.

Ouch…what have I done?

But still – meh.  In terms of pain and mobility levels I have regressed weeks.  I am back on two crutches, need serious amounts of codeine to help me sleep through the pain, and can’t sit, stand, walk or sleep for long. And I’m still at a loss as to what is causing the pain.  It isn’t localised to my joint – in fact the mobility in my hip joint is continuing to improve.   This pain radiates down the back and outside of my thigh, even as far as the outside of my knee.   And because I don’t know what the matter is, I don’t know how to try and fix it.  I’ve been told to lay off the physio and wait to see if things improve without any weight bearing or other kind of aggravation.  Grrrrrr!

Thankfully I have another physio appointment in two days, so I am really hoping for a) some answers and b) some exercises that can help me reduce the pain.  I feel like I’ve retreated back to a codeine-induced zombified haze, and I just don’t want it to be like this any more. Last week, I was getting excited about  returning to work soon, and now I’ve been signed off for at least another four weeks.

Are there any PAO-ers or ‘hip women’ out there who can give me some advice?  Does this sound like anything you experienced or have heard of?  I’d be so grateful if you could help me get rid of this pain and put me back on the track to becoming the bionic woman (minus one-legged bridges, which I may very well never attempt again.  Ever).

Week 9 post-PAO – hydrotherapy rules

9 weeks into my PAO recovery and things are definitely looking up!  I have been working hard at the physio and am now happily doing exercises that I found impossible in week 6 – and more besides.  My physio has been really helpful at finding me new exercises that challenge me (for which read: that hurt like hell). For the first day or two, they are beyond difficult, but gradually I am finding myself getting stronger and stronger.  It’s a small difference which I can’t notice day by day, but when I look back each week, the improvement is undeniable.

My scar is continuing to heal and my mum bought me this stuff:

I am bio-oiling the hell out of myself.

I have no idea if it works, but it smells innocuous and feels nice when I smooth it into the incision and surrounding area.  My GP friend suggested I try it, so I will continue to report back on the healing process.

Some things I can now do:

  1. Stand on my operated leg for  about 5 wobbly seconds
  2. Do a few dips on my operated leg whilst holding onto a chair or whilst using my crutch for balance
  3. Lift my operated leg until it’s perpendicular to my body (when lying down) and hold it there quite happily
  4. Walk around inside the house without a crutch – albeit with a significant limp, and very slowly.  The more I walk, the more noticeable the limp is.  And in the morning and evening it hurts because it all feels so stiff.
  5. Bring my operated leg up and cross my ankle over my other knee so my legs are in a ‘number four ‘position.
  6. Sleep on my operated side for several hours
  7. I had a teeny little practice driving again yesterday – hooray!  I wouldn’t want to drive more than a few miles yet, but it felt good to get behind the wheel and to practice some emergency stops / harsh braking to reassure myself I could do it if necessary.

These are small triumphs that please me every day.  I am less reliant on painkillers but still take paracetomol (and sometimes codeine) before heading off to physio or hydrotherapy.  This week at physio I spent 5 minutes on a bike and discovered that if I worked at it, the limp I have when using one crutch will go away.  At hydrotherapy I was given some very tailored exercises that will help me with the things I still find difficult (reaching to put shoes, socks, jeans, underwear on, lifting my knee up in front of my hip, pushing down with my heel).

The issue with hydro is that people assume it’s a lovely spa treatment and offer up comments like ‘ooh, lucky you!’.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case – at my hydro session, it feels more like getting into a warm bath with your physio and perhaps one other patient, and splashing about doing exercises that hurt you but which you are assured will aid your recovery.  That said, it is blissful to let the warm water take the strain off my body for a while – and so freeing to be able to walk in chest deep water with no limp and no significant pain.  I am always a bit reluctant to come out of the pool after my time is up, but it is exhausting work!

In general, the tiredness is where I feel I am getting stuck at the moment.  If I go out and I’m out of my comfort zone, I get tired after a couple of hours.  The pain creeps up on me and my brain gets all foggy with tiredness and soreness.  It’s this which makes me feel I’m not ready to go back to work yet.

I’ve also noticed that I’m continuing to have some very mild hair loss.  It started during week 2 post-op.  Every time I brush or wash my hair, I lose about a handful’s worth (scrunched up) of strands from the root.  I also shed strands of hair over the carpets, etc (nice).  I’m not too worried about this – I have a lot of hair, and I’ve heard this can happen after major surgery or a physical trauma.    To be honest, there are so many people who lose all their hair through chemotherapy, etc, that I can’t really get upset about this.

On the plus side, I’m getting quite fond of my new ‘dinosaur spines’, as I’m calling the screw bumps just above the incision.  They are starting to become more obvious – you can see in this picture.  They do press into tight clothing like jeans, but wearing dresses is proving to be an easy alternative for now.

‘Dinosaur spines’ – I actually quite like them. I am weird.

The screws will be taken out with the ones from next year’s LPAO, probably in 2014.  That seems like a looong time away, so perhaps it’s a good thing I’m happy with them.  They make me feel like a bionic woman!  Watch this space for future feats of athleticism…I’ll just have a quite nap first!

What a difference three weeks make – PAO recovery weeks 5 – 7

After week 4, the rehabilitation work begins. My time is now increasingly taken up with physiotherapy exercises and attending hospital appointments.

Week 5 sees the first of my physiotherapy appointments.  Having seen all the amazing feats of athleticism that other PAO-ers are able to achieve after 5 weeks, I’m rather nervous that my physiotherapist will be disappointed with me.  But no – in fact, she’s really impressed!  This is a big relief to me, as I was starting to wonder if my pain levels at this stage were rather high.   She suggests I add in an abdominal exercise to the exercises I was given when I left the hospital, and books me in for hydrotherapy in week 7 (of which more later).

Pleasingly, she also marvelled at the rate at which my scar is healing, and at how neat it is.  You can judge for yourself here!

I did not pick the glue off this scar at ALL. Definitely not. No.

This photograph was taken in week 4.  I think it looks a lot worse in the photo than it does in real life, actually. You can see that the glue covering the incision is starting to peel off, and it’s very difficult to refrain from helping it along.  The peeling increases after I discover that I can wangle myself into the bathtub at last.  This is heaven.  I spend a long time in the bath every morning.   It really seems to help with the achey feelings I get when I wake up.   There is still some weird numbness along the incision site and radiating down my thigh – but the area affected by this is decreasing every week.

Week 6 sees me head up to London for my check-up at UCLH – and the surgeon also seems really pleased with my progress.  ‘I did that!’ he says with a rather endearing level of smugness, as he checks over my incision.  He’s also happy with the new X-rays, which show that my pelvis is starting to heal.

So, now I’m expected to put full weight through my operated leg – although still using two crutches.  ‘Let’s give you a test’, says the surgeon.  ‘Stand on your left leg.  Lift up your operated leg.  Good’, he says, as I wobble about.  ‘Now, try the same on your right leg’.  I attempt to lift my good leg off the floor and put all my weight through my operated leg.  Ouuch – but I manage it for about, ooh, half a second.  The surgeon actually chuckles.

He gives me some new physiotherapy exercises which, at first, I find really tough.  I wonder if he’s overestimated my recovery level, even though my mobility and energy are continuing to improve.

The new exercises I have to do are:

1) Lying on back, keep operated leg straight and raise it into the air.  Repeat 20 times

2) Lying on back, bend the knee on your operated side and lift your leg towards your chest.  Hold your knee and pull your leg towards your chest.  Hold for 20 seconds, repeat 15 times.

3) Lying on your side (operated leg upwards), keep your operated leg straight and raise your leg, keeping it parallel to the lower leg.  Repeat 25 times.

25 reps?  Oh please! The first time I tried this, I could barely do one.  After a week or so, however, it gets easier.  My hip starts to feel more stable, and I feel as if the movements are more controlled.

By week 7,  I’m used to the pain of carrying out the exercises and reassured that the hurt is not making my hips worse.   Of course, I’m still not improving as fast as I’d like, but my physiotherapist rolls her eyes at this.  ‘What do you want?’ she says.  ‘I’m amazed you can do those exercises and that number of reps.  Your pelvis was broken in 3 places!’.   She tells me that the pain is due to the inflammation still present and to the fact that the muscles and ligaments are being pulled and stretched differently now that my pelvis is screwed into a different position. She seems genuinely impressed with how I’m getting along, and tells me not to overdo it.  Nonetheless, I persuade her to let me try a few minutes on a stationary bike, and she gives me a new set of exercises that I can do at home with a gym ball.  So I have plenty to work on!  I also start hydrotherapy this week – and in chest-deep, warm water I discover I can walk without pain and without a limp.  It feels heavenly.

And finally – all the lounging in the bath and hydrotherapy sees off the last of the glue surrounding my incision.  Here it is – again, I think it looks rather more graphic in this photo than in real life, but what a difference from the photo above!  The ridge above the incision line is partly caused by the heads of the three screws holding my pelvis together – they do stick out a little, but that’s probably more to do with the fact that I’m quite slim.  I’ve been told that all the screws will be removed one my second PAO is done.  In the meantime, I’m starting to feel that I’m getting my life back!

Incision at 7 weeks.

A woolly hug from my friends..PAO recovery week 4

I don’t know whether it’s the furious bouts of video game action, the increased confidence I have in my crutches, or the occasional sunny day that we’ve had recently, but week 4 sees a big improvement in my mobility and pain levels. It’s easier to get up and down the stairs, and I can sit, stand, and move about for longer. I am far less reliant on painkillers, although paracetamol still features rather heavily in my life! I celebrated my progress with a tentative glass of wine – and enjoyed it.

Highlight of the week was a visit from my my rudest and funniest friends from the local knit and knitter group, and we had a wonderful cup of tea and a gossip. It felt GREAT to be back hearing all the village gossip, and for the first time I could envisage myself knitting again.

And look! My friends brought with them a beautiful, hand-crocheted present! All my friends clubbed together and made squares for this beautiful blanket.

A woolly hug – definitely the best medicine!

I love how the use of red contrasts with the pastel tones – I would never have thought of doing this, but it really works. In fact the colours remind me of my favourite flowers, which are currently all over the house. I like to put little posies of them in vintage bottles. They brighten up dark corners of bookshelves and look gorgeous clustered with a little pile of books.

Who doesn’t love sweet peas?

Best of all though, my blanket has a secret message in one corner:

I did not cry at all when I read this, oh no.

‘Made with love from all your friends at Knit and Natter’. Oh, I wanted to sob! I’m so, so lucky to have such loving, and clever friends. If ever I needed some motivation to get moving and get back to my rather raucous and sweary evenings with the Hatherleigh Hookers, this was it. And with my first physiotherapy and rehabilitation appointment coming up next week, I think this motivation is going to come in rather handy…

PAO surgery and recovery – week 3

PAO Recovery Days 14 – 21

This is where the recovery starts to get interesting.  During this week, my mobility and stamina noticeably increase.  I don’t need an afternoon nap every single day. My ability to complete the physiotherapy exercises and stretches really improves.  I am sore and stiff, but I find that I can lie more comfortably, sit for longer, and when sitting, reach for things like the telephone or a glass of water without feeling an uncomfortable pull in my hip.  Hooray!

Some of my friends drop in at random points during this week, and we sit and chat for a couple of hours.  The normality is heavenly.  I learn to pace myself – I spend the morning in bed, and get up in the afternoon, or vice versa.    My appetite is returning, as is my ability to read and hold a plot line in my head.  I become a little more confident on crutches, and putting my right foot down at the ‘wrong moment’ becomes less of a drama and more of an annoyance.

This week I begin to wonder when I can start physio.  I start to feel that I can complete the exercises given to me in hospital competently enough to progress to..what?  I chase up my physiotherapy department at my local hospital – but grrr, despite having been sent a copy of a referral letter from UCLH, they are clueless.   ‘We’ll call you back’, they say.  They don’t.  This is really frustrating.  I decide just to up the repetitions and frequency of the physio exercises I have been doing so far, until I get an appointment.

On the frustration front, I start to wonder if I am progressing as quickly as some other PAO-ers.  I read blogs where other people have felt like going miles on their crutches by week 3 – not me.  I can just about manage to get to the end of the driveway and back – and this feels like a big step for me!  I need a big lie down afterwards.  Reading about the experiences of lots of other ‘hip women’ on their eponymous Yahoo Group gives me a lot of confidence and helps me to realise that my recovery is actually pretty good – not the fastest, but by no means the slowest!  I try to bear in mind the smiley physiotherapist girls from UCLH who kept reminding me that PAO-ers are by nature a rather competitive bunch, and that I don’t need to make a race out of this.  A PAO is a tough operation, but I can’t help it!  I am so eager to reduce the pain and improve my mobility – or at least, have the energy to deal with the mobility that’s left.

Here’s a weird thing that really helped me push through the pain barrier that prevented me moving from lying in bed to sitting on the sofa.  You think sitting on the sofa doesn’t need stamina?  Believe me, I needed lots of it in week 3.  Anyway, one of my friends suggested I try an Xbox game to relieve boredom and take my mind off being still all the time.  They recommended a game called Skyrim.  Hmm, I thought, it looks a bit dungeons and dragons-y.  This is not normally my thing.

Skyrim – it’s not what you think. Well it is, actually, but you might like it anyway..

But hey – I can’t move, I can’t go anywhere, and I’m too tired to knit or concentrate on small print in a book.  Surprisingly, this game was the most absorbing thing I found to do.  I’m no game expert – in fact, it took me ages to work out how to prevent my little elf character from running into walls, but once that was done, I had a lovely time collecting flowers, making potions and generally faffing about.  The game is supposed to be about killing dragons, and carrying out quests, but I think I’ll save that for later.

Dragon problems? Nothing compared to a PAO, honest..

My youngest (step)daughter (8) is most disappointed in my lack of dragon fighting ability.  ‘HipOptimist’, she says.  ‘Look over there.  A dragon!  Kill it!  With your big axe!’

‘Nahhh’, I say.  ‘Why don’t I just catch this beautiful blue butterfly instead?  Look, isn’t it pretty?

‘DRAGON!’ she yells.  ‘Get your bow and arrow out!  You need to kill the dragon or you’ll never level up!’.

Oh dear.  She is right, isn’t she?   You can tell that the smiley-but-demanding physio terrorists are nothing new to me.  I get this all the time.

I’m not a natural dragon-fighter.  However, I am not a natural sofa-surfer either and well, needs must.  When I’m feeling a bit better, I suspect I might well go back to knitting, gardening and baking.  But if you can’t find something to occupy yourself on the sofa and daytime TV just doesn’t cut it for you, you might find yourself resorting to this.  You have been warned!

PAO surgery and recovery update – week 2

Days 7 – 14

The relief to be home is overwhelming.  It’s not easy to get about though, and to be honest, I don’t think Irish or I realised the extent to which I’d be completely dependent on other people for a while.  I can’t even lift my leg in or out of bed by myself.  The pain radiates from my hip to my groin, and extends into my torso a little.  It is perfectly manageable on codeine and paracetamol (acetaminophen in the US), but I don’t really feel like doing much.  The exhaustion is the most surprising thing – despite having to sleep on my back, I slept all night, and most afternoons too.  The activities I’d normally do on a ‘bad hip day’ – like reading or knitting – are still beyond my concentration.  I’m gutted, because my good friends have leant me so many great books and I had been looking forward to getting stuck into them!  One sanity-saver is a good DVD box set.  We were recommended the Mad Men series and it’s great – gripping, but not so complicated that my dozy brain couldn’t follow the plot.  Even Irish was won over.  On the other hand, maybe I just like it because all those office politics make me feel better about legitimately not being at work!

Mad Men – because a PAO isn’t just another day at the office..

The stairs in our ancient house are pretty steep and unforgiving – so I limit myself to getting up and down them once a day, under full supervision.  I concentrate on the physio exercises I was given in the hospital – and gradually, my mobility starts to return.  It’s very difficult to even try to move my right leg out to the side and back in – but I notice that as the days pass, I can move it further and with less pain, which is very exciting and encouraging.  Once again, I find myself concentrating on the small wins – the day that I manage to hobble to the bathroom at night without waking Irish for help, the day that I decide to hobble outside and sit in the sun for five minutes.

Things to watch out for / not be surprised by:

1) Muscle twitches / weird feelings in your operated leg.  Because the nerves and muscles are healing too, my whole leg felt pretty weird sometimes.  The muscle twitches in my right thigh or glute were occasionally quite painful – and I could do nothing to stop them.    Once, I woke up with the feeling that cold water was dripping onto my right thigh – but when I rubbed my leg, I realised the sensation was just due to damaged nerves.  I am aware of a patch of numbness on my right thigh, from the incision downwards.  It feels pretty strange, but not overly painful.

2) Be careful on your crutches.  The first week I was home, I felt pretty unstable on my feet.  Just putting a crutch down too clumsily could send a bolt of pain into my pelvis, which took a few hours to recover from.  It’s nothing serious to worry about – but be prepared for the odd stumble – it will happen.

3) Be prepared to want / be able to do very little.   I mainly watched TV, cuddled my cat, leafed through magazines and watched endless episodes of Mad Men.

A house full of flowers…

My last few – rather infrequent – posts have focused on my major pelvic surgery and the rehabilitation process, which has taken up most of my energy for the last month.  A side effect of this is that my poor garden has also had to take some pain.  I took this photograph just before I left for the hospital – the sun was out, the flowers were in bloom, the weeds were under control (sort of), and I really felt that the garden was starting to fulfil its potential.

Home sweet home…

Unfortunately, in the four weeks since my operation, I really have neglected things.  I’m tired, I’m sore, and when it rains (and we have had our fair share of rain this summer), I worry about my crutches slipping.  But the biggest inhibitor is the fact that on crutches, I have NO carrying ability – something I never considered before surgery.  Fancy a cup of tea?  You’ll have to drink it leaning against the kitchen worktop next to the kettle, because you won’t be able to carry it into the sitting room.  And drink it quickly – before your standing ability runs out entirely!  Meh.

For the first couple of weeks, I was too tired even to sit in the garden.  I missed my flowers, I missed my daily walk around the garden checking for the new buds that are developing, brutally removing anything slug like, or identifying the latest tendrils of honeysuckle.  So we decided to bring the garden indoors!

Sweet Williams in posy vases – chicken optional

..and again…

Flowers were banned in the hospital ward that where I’d spent the past 6 days.  It was necessarily a clinical, sterile, grit-free place. It was so good to see green and growing things again, and even better to surround myself with them – a symbol of new beginnings and blossomings. We knew that the sweet Williams would be over by the time I could get out to enjoy them, so we cut them all down and filled the house with them.  It looked pretty, but it smelled even better.  Putting the flowers on high places meant they weren’t in the way of my crutches.

We carried the theme on with alliums in the dining room…and hydrangeas in the kitchen.  And I discovered a weird thing about hydrangeas – they can look a bit seventies suburbia in the garden, but look stunning indoors.

Allium Christophii

Blousy hydrangeas in the kitchen

Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I’m back up to no good in the garden again.  Until then, my house full of flowers is reminding me to keep up my rehabilitation and physiotherapy – the garden needs me and I can’t wait to get back to my favourite hobby!

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