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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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!

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