Setbacks

Since I wrote last week, things had started out good. At my PT appointment Dan and I had angered the area on my right hip where he thought I had scar tissue. He thought it would calm down within 3 days and I went home with new a new stretch for my right hip and different strengthening exercises for both hips. I diligently did my exercises and continued walking and cycling. By day 3, I was not back to where I had been before that PT appointment. I didn’t feel terrible, but the tightness was still there just a bit worse than before. Also, on my left hip the bursitis was a little worse. I ached in a much larger area than before.

None if that was enough for me to really worry. I was hoping that I was just talking longer than expected to settle down. Dan had told me to call him if things weren’t going as expected. I considered calling him Monday or Tuesday morning but I didn’t think a little extra soreness warranted the phone call, so I carried on with my new exercises.

Tuesday afternoon I went for a bike ride. This was always the activity that made my hips feel the best. I had completed 4 rides of 45 minutes, so I graduated to an hour. Starting out I was aware of the tightness in my right hip. As I rode longer, the tightness went away and I felt great. I finished my ride at Log Boom Park downhill from my house, switched into flip flops and started my walk up the hill with my bike. As usual, the tightness returned as I ascended. The bursitis soreness in my left also got worse as I walked. Usually after I return home and rest for a little while, drinking the rest of my water bottle, my hips return to “normal.” This time both hips remained angry. It was bad enough that I iced both hips on and off for an hour that night and knew that I needed to talk to Dan.

Wednesday morning I called Dan. I wasn’t sure how that process would work. The only number I had was the one to schedule appointments. So I called the appointment number and asked for Dan, expecting to be told he was with a patient and he’d have to call me back. After a short wait, to my surprise I was actually talking to Dan. He assumed since I was calling that things weren’t going as he had expected. I told him about the extra pains I’d been experiencing and the lingering pain after cycling the night before. He told me to stop everything I’d been doing since our last appointment. He wanted me to rest for 3 days. No PT exercises, no walking, no cycling. That is not an easy thing for me. I enjoy being active. I’m also trying to lose a few pounds. Being on crutches for 8-10 weeks doesn’t do good things for the waistline. Stopping cardio doesn’t aid in this.

I knew that he was right though. I’m on rest day #3 today. Tomorrow I will walk or ride and see how I feel after. Dan also wants me to go back to just a few of the older exercises, specifically bridges lying on the floor on my back and sitting hamstring curls and kicks with the stretchy band in the door. He wants to get me back to where I was before the change in exercises. My body doesn’t seem to like the changes.

I am so discouraged. Up to this point, both of my recoveries have had upward trajectories. I always got better with some very minor issues. I don’t know what to do with backsliding. I don’t like just sitting around. I’m very anxious to test out my hips tomorrow. My best hope is that things will be fine and I can continue improving, but I fear that it won’t go well tomorrow. I fear that my right hip won’t improve. I have a lot of fears when it comes to my hips, including some future surgery. I’m so done with surgery. Just yesterday, I cleaned and put away my raised toilet seat and shower seat. I hope I never need them again, but I’m not so confident that I’ll get rid of them yet. They’ll stay in the guest room closet for a while longer.

Mostly good…a little bad

We don’t usually travel this much, but we have just returned from another trip. The latest was a shorter and easier trip. Steve’s summer office party was on Lopez Island last Saturday. Lopez is a 90 minute drive and a one hour ferry ride from home. Since we were traveling all that way for the party, we decided to make a weekend out of it. We left the house Friday morning and arrived on Lopez by lunch time.

relaxing on Lopez Island

We wandered around the shops at Lopez Village for a while (I had brought my cane but didn’t use it) and then checked into our B&B on the south end of the island. They had a great deck facing the water where we spent a couple hours relaxing. We went out to dinner and then hooked up with some other work friends also on the island that night and hung out at their rental house for the evening. I typically only see Steve’s co-workers at work functions every couple of months. There was a silent auction benefitting a food pantry when I was still on one crutch. That was the last time I had the opportunity to see these folks. During the evening I got lots of questions about the surgery and recovery.

The next day was the party, which consisted of two parts. Part one was an outdoor gathering on a large farm including a light lunch at noon and dinner of grilled salmon later. The second part included tours of two homes designed at the office (super cool, but that’s not what this blog is about). The timing of the party was decided so that it could be done in one day. Many took the ferry over that morning and took another ferry back that evening. Lopez is known for 2 things, being the “friendly island,” everyone you passed waved, and being very bike friendly. Quite a few co-workers left their cars at the ferry terminal and rode bikes onto the ferry and then to the party.

So far, my story has been all good. So here’s the little bit of bad. At Steve’s office, he’s known as the bike guy. Since Lopez is the bike-friendly island, everyone assumed Steve would ride there. He did bring his bike and rode in the morning before the party, so he did arrived at the party on his bike. When he was riding, I took the car to explore some sights on the south end of the island. I went to a couple parks. They both had hiking trails but no distances or difficulty ratings were listed. I didn’t want to get into anything too challenging for my hip since i was alone, so I wasn’t able to do too much. It wasn’t really that much fun for me. It reminded me of what I’m still not able to do.

Later at the party, I can’t tell you how many people asked us if we rode bikes there. At this point, I don’t look like I’m still recovering, especially if I don’t use my cane. I can understand why so many people asked the bike guy about riding. It was kind of disheartening to tell person after person that I’m not supposed to ride hills or more than 45 minutes. It was a repeating reminder that I still have a lot of work to do. I told this story to my friend Sarah over Skype the other day. I was scolded (with love), complete with finger wagging, and told to give myself some grace. She’s so right!

Despite the bike comments, the party was fun. Steve works with a great group of people. I got many comments from people who knew about the surgery about how good I looked. That’s always nice to hear. One guy had seen me laid up in the hospital bed at week 3. I believe I got a, “hey, look at you!” from him. I have come a long way in a relatively short time period considering what I’ve been through. (I know I’m contradicting myself, but one minute I am reminded of my accomplishments and he next my shortfallings.) By the end of the day, after touring the two office projects and a lot of standing around at the party, I was pretty tired. I got to the point where I had to sit down. That was another reminder of the work I still have to do.

Changing focus, I saw PT Dan on Thursday. I wanted to address the tightness I’d been experiencing in the first hip since about 6 months post-op. Because of the distance to the office, I’ve only been having appointments every 2 weeks. At my last appointment, which was initially scheduled with Dan, I had been switched to his assistant Katie. Normally that would have been fine. I like Katie. She’s perfectly capable of showing me the next round of exercises. But I had wanted to talk to Dan about #1. I was a bit annoyed they had switched my therapist without letting me know. I made sure I would be seeing Dan this time.

So at the appointment, he started by doing a full assessment of both sides. This involves measuring range of motion for every direction you can possibly bend your hips. I measured within normal ranges or just below normal for everything. The other test is strength, which is measured by me pushing against Dan’s hand in every direction you can possibly move your hip, knees and feet. I still have some weakness in my left quad but other than that I’m doing well. I noticed while Dan was measuring my ROM he had some big smiles as he was recording the numbers. After completing the strength tests he said other than the quad weakness I was basically normal. He said I was doing “damn good” especially considering the extent to which my insides were relocated. That made me smile too. If it wasn’t for the issues on #1 he said he would be confident to send me on my way to manage the strengthening on my own. He knows me well enough to know I’ll do the work necessary.

But I am still having some issues. On #2 I started having classic bursitis pains above the trochanter (the bump you feel on the outside of your hip). I had this on #1 in the spring but it was below the trochanter. I confirmed with Dan that we have bursa in the location I was having the pain. He agreed with my self diagnosis. The way you can tell if you have bursitis and not a ligament or tendon issue…if you press on the bursa sack it hurts in a very small area.

The main issue I wanted to talk to Dan about was the tightness in #1. My hope was that the source was soft tissue and not joint. Joint issues = surgery. I’m so done with surgery. Dan had me do various different stretches to see what angered the problem area. Some stretches engaged just the joint, so if those movements produced pain the issue was coming from the joint. None of these movements produced pain. Other stretches engaged the muscles, so if these produced pain the issue would be coming from the soft tissue. These movements did cause pain. Good news. All indications are that my issues are not coming from the joint.

Going forward I have completely different and many fewer exercises. I am doing one exercise, a step up on the stairs, to strengthen my left leg. On the right leg Dan wants me to strengthen the back of my leg and stretch the front. This should show improvements in about 3 weeks. Dan thinks I have a band of scar tissue running across and binding against the muscles in my inner thigh/groin. Every time I engage those muscles I feel that tightness because there’s actually something there. The stretch should gradually break down the scar tissue. I’m very encouraged.

Plane trip and x-rays

Warning, x-rays included at the end of this post.

It’s been quite a while since I last posted. That happens for one of two reasons. Either there’s nothing to write about, or I’m too busy to write. My excuse is the latter. I started 2 big projects for work at the same time and in the middle of them, Steve and I were gone for 4 days. It was not the best time for a trip, but my dad was turning 70 and we wanted to surprise him and my mom with a visit. I don’t think either of them would have thought me able to travel yet, so it made the surprise that much better.

My brother and sister conspired with us. My brother and sister-in-law picked us up and we stayed the night at their house. My sister and brother-in-law had the challenging task of making sure their 3 boys (ages 6, 10, and 13) did not spoil the surprise. Everyone was having dinner at my parents’ house the day of my dad’s birthday. A few minutes after the others arrived I showed up. Both of my parents were floored and so happy. There were tears welling up in eyes, mine included. It was great.

Because of work, we had to keep the trip short. We left the house at 7:15am, took a bus downtown, then light rail to the airport, all while pulling wheeled suitcases and lugging laptop bags. It was probably a couple miles of walking including the 4-hour layover. I used my cane and managed okay. I had slight concerns about the metal detector with my 13 screws, but I sailed right through. I did note some handicap accessibility failures with security, such as they assume you can stand and take off your shoes. There are no chairs until after you get through the checks. I can do that now, but I probably would not have been capable a few weeks ago, at least not shoes that lace. We took advantage of having my cane and boarded the planes first. It was much easier to get luggage stowed without feeling rushed.

Our time with family was great. We each were able to spend some time a close friend too. Steve spent an afternoon visiting job sites with his former co-worker and best friend Rob, and I was lucky enough to have my best friend Sarah in the same country, much less the same city. She lives overseas but spends summers in the US. We met for breakfast. Steve’s parents drove down for a day to see us too. They joined us for dessert with the birthday boy and had breakfast with Steve the next morning. The trip was too short, but really great. Here is a photo from dinner our last night there. Starting in the back with me (in front of the bunny ears) and going around the table is my 6-year-old nephew Jake, my mom, my 10-year-old nephew Luke, my sister Kathy, my brother Michael, my sister-in-law Deb, and my dad. Absent from the photo are Steve, who’s taking the picture, and my brother-in-law Chip and 13-year-old nephew Chet, who were both at cross country meets, coaching and running.

most of my family

Other than the trip and working a lot, I’ve also been working hard at PT. Since I have a longer trip to the PT office now, I’m only seeing Dan every other week. He gives me new exercises and I go home and do them on my own. I’ve also been gradually building up my endurance with cardio exercises. I’m walking 2.5 miles on the bike trail and I’m up to 45 minutes on the bike trainer. The most exciting part is that I’m allowed to cycle outside now. Initially Dan had wanted me to work up to an hour on the trainer before moving outside. I mentioned at an appointment that I was anxious to ride outdoors and he said to give it a try, 30 minutes flat. So I’ve done that 3 times now and it feels great. I’ve missed working hard physically. And honestly, I still miss running.

As I mentioned in the title, I finally have x-rays. I went home from my 8-week check up with all of my hip scans on a CD but the .exe file needed to view them doesn’t work on a Mac, the only kind of computer in my house. Steve took the CD to work but had issues with the software crashing before he could extract anything and then needing to leave to catch a bus home. He was finally victorious over the buggy software and emailed screen grabs to me. This is what I look like as of my 8-week appointment. In this x-ray I am standing. The new hardware is in my left hip, which is on the right side of the x-ray.

8-week x-ray

This one is called a false profile and it’s a bit hard to see what’s what. Hopefully the labels and arrows help out a little bit. While this was taken I was standing with my left hip against the plate. My pelvis was rotated slightly back so the left hip wasn’t completely behind the right one. My right foot is angled out too. I think it’s an angle Dr. Mayo came up with himself.

8-week x-ray, false profile

Bills and PT

The bills have started trickling in. So far I have received the following bills:

service, billed to insurance, what I paid
anesthesia, $3,150.00, $427.00
epidural, 2 of 5 days, $540.00, $73.20
x-rays during surgery, $47.50, $4.92
ultrasound of legs (checking for clots), $111.00, $11.68
rental of hospital bed, 30 days, $71.54 , $14.30
rental of CPM machine, 21 days, $495.72, $60.40
hospital charges from surgery day , $169,773.90, *$970.62
total, $174,189.66, $1,562.12

*I have not paid this bill yet. The amount listed on the bill was $1,919.82. My out-of-pocket limit on my insurance is $1,500. When I saw the bill over my limit, I called the insurance company, Group Health. It took a while for her to track down information and figure out what had happened, but after being on hold a few times she figured it out. The hospital sent a bill to GH, GH paid the hospital…then the hospital amended the bill and resent it…then they amended the bill again and resent it. That explains the extra grand in the bill. Once the third bill from the hospital is processed I should owe about $900 to get me to my limit.

I have received the explanation of benefits for the surgery day bill and find some of the specific costs very interesting. These are my favorites:

service,  billed to insurance
surgery, $16,170.00
private room, $14,496.00
implant support (screws), $44,475.00
OR services, $72,314.00
anesthesia services, $7,080.00
recovery room services, $6,744.00

Since my last post I have been walking in my hilly neighborhood. I’m up to about a mile in about 25 minutes. I’ve been riding by bike on the trainer in the basement a bit. It’s sort of like a stationary bike except the position is more aggressive since it’s an actual road bike. The “aggressive” position means I’m bent over at the waist more than a stationary bike. Right now that’s a bit uncomfortable. If I sit up, without hands on the handlebars at all, the hips feel better but the saddle is less comfortable. Can’t win. I’ll deal with the sore rear so I can get the exercise.

Thursday was my first appointment with the same PT, Dan, I saw last year. He had moved to a different clinic farther away but I decided he was worth the drive. Why mess with something that worked so well before? I wondered if Dan would remember me. He did. He said he recognized my name when he saw it on his schedule. He even remembered a few little details about me, like Steve being really into cycling and that I’d had some weird numbness in my hand last year.

The first appointment consisted of a lot of measurements to determine my range of motion. Dan also watched me walk with the cane and without. Right now the official PT orders have some restrictions (no straight leg raises, no abduction) that I think were included as an oversight. Because of that there are a few exercises he doesn’t want me to do until he clarifies the restrictions (not worth him risking malpractice if something bad were to happen). I did go home with instructions for a trunk stabilization exercise (lie on back, knees bent, heels dug into the floor, lift butt 1-2 inches off the floor, hold 10-20 seconds, make it harder by squeezing a pillow between knees). I also have 2 thicknesses of stretchy bands for a seated exercise (close knot in bands in door, sit on chair facing door with band around ankle, pull leg away from door 20-30 times or sit with back toward door and kick leg away from door).

When Dan hears back from Dr. Mayo’s office lifting those restrictions, I’ll have a standing exercise called the 4-way hip. To do this one the band is in the door and you start facing the door and pull the band away from the door, rotate your body 90º and still pull away from the door, then repeat the last 2 directions.
I also went home with 3 sheets of “Dan’s Rule of Four. Return to Activity Guidelines,” one for walking, one for the trainer, one for cycling on the roads. He wants me to do a certain duration 4 times before going farther/longer. So I’m walking a mile now. He wants me to walk a mile 4 times, then walk 1.5-2 miles 4 times, etc. Same for the bike. I’m riding on the trainer 15-30 minutes now. I’ll build up to 30-40 minutes 4 times, then 50-60 minutes 4 times, then I can start riding on roads for 30 minutes.

I’m really pleased to know now what I have to do to get back to road cycling. Also, since Dan knows I’ll do the work on my own and since it’s a much longer drive, he suggested I see him once every week or two. Last year I started with appointments twice a week. He said he was flattered that I followed him but also understood the challenges of his new location given where I live. I’m 100% confident I made the right decision to follow Dan to his new clinic.

I was hoping to have x-rays to post by now, but there have been some problems with the software. First, it does not work on a Mac, so Steve has had to use his PC at work. He has been very busy at work and doesn’t have a lot of extra time available. On two different occasions he has tried to open the desired images the software has quit. Hopefully he’ll be able to get it to work, otherwise I have no way to see my pictures. Might have to ask a favor of the IT guy at work.

LPAO 8-week check up

Last Thursday was my 8-week follow up appointment with Dr. Mayo. Since I haven’t been walking, much less driving our stick shift car, Steve had to take me. It was actually a nice break from work for him. We left the house at about 9:15am and drove down to Tacoma General in about an hour. We had to drive up and down all the levels of the parking garage to find one last handicap spot. In my opinion, they leave too many spots for their valet parking. I rarely find an open spot and usually have to valet the car, which I never prefer.

Anyway, we got into the waiting room right on time and I was quickly taken back for x-rays. They took three, one standing and facing forward, one false profile (standing almost perpendicular to the plate, left hip touching the plate, with right foot angled out), and one lying on the table with feet hips width apart and toes straight up. I barely had time to sit back down in the waiting room before Stevi took me and Steve back into an exam room. (To clarify, Stevi is Dr. Mayo’s PA…Steve is my husband.)

The first thing Stevi said to me was something about me looked different. She looked at me for a few seconds and asked if I usually wore glasses. Very observant…yes I usually wear glasses but I’d put in my contacts that day. I was surprised she picked up on that. She sees tons of patients every week. Next, she took vitals and asked about refills for prescriptions. Um…never had any prescriptions to begin with. When I mentioned that she remembered the huge hassle pre-op with getting approval for IV Tylenol because I didn’t want to take oral narcotics. Apparently there’s still a battle going on in the hospital over it. Stevi said the problem was that the IV Tylenol is much more expensive than oral. They already have it, same exact medicine, for pediatric patients but are hesitant to make it available for all adults. Apparently I stirred up a little controversy. All I know is it worked well for me and I’m glad Dr. Mayo was able to get me 24 hours worth of doses.

Kenda came in next and had me hop up onto the exam table to check out my range of motion. Lying on my back, she moved my leg, bent, toward my chest. I started to get resistance and a little pain well past 90º, so she seemed pleased with that. When my leg reached the stopping point, she rotated my lower leg toward the inside of my body and asked if that made it better. It did. Then she rotated my lower leg toward the outside and asked if that made it worse. It did. She seemed to expect both my answers of yes. Interesting. She also looked at the scar and seemed pleased with how it was healing.

Next she pulled up the new x-rays on screen…the film x-rays hadn’t finished printing yet. This was my first look inside #2. I have 7 screws this time. The false profile x-ray is a bit ridiculous…13 screws on top of each other because of the angle. She looked around in the files for photos taken during surgery. I’d seen one photo from surgery #1. She didn’t find any photos but there was a video that she played for me and Steve. It showed my femoral head and labrum through the big incision. Dr. Mayo was probing behind the labrum with an instrument to see how well the labrum was attached to the bone. If the instrument can get fully behind the labrum, then it needs to be reattached with surface anchors. It reminded me a little of when the dentist pokes around between your teeth and gums. You don’t want too much space there either. Thankfully, my labrum was fine.

Kenda told me everything was looking good and went off to print PT orders. She asked if I wanted a prescription for pain meds to use when I start PT. I declined, but she said it was okay to take Ibuprofen or NSAIDs again, so I’ll probably do that before therapy. Shortly after that Dr. Mayo came in along with another man he introduced as a doctor from Germany. I assume this other doctor, I don’t remember his name, was there learning from Dr. Mayo. He asked if he could show the other doctor my 2 scars and then did a quick check of my range of motion. We talked briefly about the continuing stiffness on the other side and agreed to deal with that after I rehab my left. I’ll also talk to my PT about the stiffness in my right hip when I’m there for my left hip. I bet he’ll have some exercises for me to try.

After finishing up with my appointment, Steve and I went to visit my friend Sasha, who had her PAO the previous day. She had a rough first night with low blood pressure and an epidural that wasn’t working but she was more comfortable by the time we were there. I do not miss the days of hospital gowns and catheters. It was a good reminder of how far I’ve come in 2 months. We chatted with Sasha for a little while and then left so she could rest. She looked really tired. After that we ate lunch in the cafeteria and got a CD of all my x-rays from the records department. (I should have x-rays to post next time. The software provided on the CD to view the images doesn’t work on my Mac and Steve hasn’t had time to make me screen grabs on his PC at work…too busy architecting lately.) Then we headed home.

Since then I have scheduled my first appointment with my PT, Dan, at his new clinic. I have to wait almost 2 weeks to get in, but I think he’s worth it. I have removed the toilet seat raiser from the bathroom, which is nice since our bathroom isn’t very big. I have started walking around my hilly block using 2 crutches for stability. Inside the house I’m using one crutch to get from room to room and I’m walking unaided if I just need to go a few steps. I have a significant limp. In order to walk on my left leg, I have to shift my weight evenly over the top of my leg. Even dropping down to one crutch is such an improvement to everyday life because I can walk and carry something, a plate of food or a drink, at the same time.

Over all, I’m walking better than I expected…better than I was at this point last surgery. Maybe my weight bearing cheats the last 2 weeks have contributed to that. Since my leg has been feeling stronger than I expected, I decided to try out the stick shift car. At first I only backed up about a car length and then pulled it back in. That went fine, so over the weekend Steve and I ran an errand a few miles away from our house and I drove. I figured if I was having problems I could pull over and have him take the wheel. Again, that went fine, so I’m thinking I won’t need to borrow my friend’s car after all.

I’ve had a few other firsts since my appointment. I went down the steps to my lower level, holding one crutch and using the handrail for support. I can also shower standing up. I still have to sit down to shave my legs, but it’s a big improvement over sitting the whole time. I am a very happy girl!

One thing I’ve realized after talking to more and more women having PAOs is that things never go perfectly. Everyone has their “thing” they have to deal with or overcome. My “thing” was the dizziness and long hospital stay. For other women I know, it’s been low blood pressure, or poor pain management, or continuing pain after surgery, or torn labrums, or HOs (heterotopic ossification…bone that grown where it’s not supposed to grow). One friend, Tessa, had her HO removed and it came back. How rude! Everyone deals with something. My “thing” was very frustrating while I was in the midst of it, but everything has gone so well for me since then. I really can’t complain.

LPAO weeks 7-8…routine

Two weeks have passed since I posted. Not too much has been happening. The life of recovery has become routine. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that. As of yesterday, I am 8 weeks post-op and feeling good. I have been cheating a bit with the crutches even more and “cruising” along counters…even managing to make it across my galley kitchen by taking one step on my good leg. I’ve definitely put more than 45 lbs. on the op leg but haven’t felt any pain. I’m anxiously awaiting my 8-week check up in 2 days. I should have at least a final x-ray to post then if not some of the x-rays taken during the procedure. I’m curious to know how many screws I have this time. I have 6 in my right hip.

Knowing that I’ll likely leave my appointment with PT orders, I decided to check in with my PT from last year, Dan. I got on the website for the clinic and couldn’t find his name listed among the therapists. They had some photos of the location I went to (they have 5-6) and I saw Dan in the background of one of the pictures, but I couldn’t find his name anywhere. I sent off an email to the generic account for that office and then started internet stalking. A quick Google search of his name showed that he seemed to be working at a different clinic much farther away. The first clinic emailed back confirming he had moved on and gave me his phone number. They also stated any of their current therapists would be happy to see me.

What to do? The original clinic is a 10 minute drive, the new clinic is probably 30 minutes away and the commute involves driving on the highway. I’m not too excited about driving on the highway initially. I haven’t driven since before surgery. Our car is a stick, so with this surgery on my left hip, I won’t be able to drive our car for a little while. Thankfully, a very good friend is going to swap our stick for her automatic. If it wasn’t for her, I would only have 1 option, the original clinic. I can take a bus there with minimal walking. The bus trip to the new location downtown would involve walking several blocks up a steep hill. It’s just not feasible on crutches. Thankfully I will be able to drive to my first few weeks of PT appointments in my friend’s automatic. I’m pretty sure I’m going to stick with Dan, even if I have to drive 3 times as far.

One highlight of the last 2 weeks was having a face-to-face meeting with a new hip friend, Sasha. She’s having a PAO with Dr. Mayo tomorrow and wanted to ask me some questions. There’s not too much about going through surgery that’s overly positive, but being able to answer questions and share my experiences and put someone’s mind at ease even a little bit is very rewarding. About a month before my first surgery last year, I met with Cindy, who was 3 weeks post-op from her PAO. I remember thinking she was doing so much better than I imagined someone would just 3 weeks after surgery. It was a huge encouragement to me. I hope I was able to pass along that encouragement to Sasha. So, many prayers go out to her tomorrow.

I have had a few adventures over the last 2 weeks. Last weekend Steve’s computer needed to be seen by an Apple Genius. We decided to make a day out of it. First we went to breakfast at one of our favorite local restaurants, Alexa. It involved parking on the street (no handicap options available), a short wait for a table (luckily there were benches outside), and navigating the full floor of tables to get to the bathroom. All went well. We used up a Groupon and had a great breakfast. Next we drove to an outdoor mall with an Apple store. We had to wait about 90 minutes for an appointment and occupied our time looking around in a few stores. Shopping also went well. I was pretty tired toward the end though. It was more walking than I was used to.

Last weekend Steve did a bike race in a nearby suburb. It was a criterium (short course, lots of laps, spectator-friendly since the pack comes around about every minute). I managed to navigate the crowds with a folding camp chair over my shoulder and settled into a good spot just before the finish line. Rain threatened a couple times but I only got a few sprinkles that were mostly blocked by the tree next to where I was sitting. After Steve’s race was over, a bunch of teammates ventured over to the beer garden to toast to a good race. I managed to squeeze myself and my crutches all the way to the front corner. We sat and ate peanuts for a while as bike talk ensued. There was some amount of hip talk too, as the guys were interested in how I was doing. Many of the guys were aware that Steve’s wife had surgery but didn’t know too many details.

After a while most of the group made our way down the street to a burrito restaurant. All around the 4 corners of the race, temporary free-standing metal barriers had been set up to keep cars off the course, the kind that hook to each other to form a fence. We were walking down the sidewalk right along the race course with the barriers separating the racers from us. The women happened to be racing. After we got about 10 paces past the corner, I heard the unmistakable sound of bikes and people hitting the deck. I had been looking at the sidewalk, making sure I wasn’t going to trip with my crutches so I did not see the wreck happen. Quite a few women went down and in the course of the chain reaction, a few of them crashed into the metal barrier with enough force that the entire length of barriers went crashing down onto the sidewalk. Luckily I had been walking on the outside of the sidewalk, otherwise the barrier could have landed on my legs. That could have been bad.

Most of the women who went down were okay and ended up getting back into the race. There were a couple more serious injuries. I think one woman who used to race on Steve’s team broke her collar bone, a very common injury among bike racers. After that unfortunate excitement passed, we sat calmly eating burritos and watching the action out the windows. By the end of the evening I was tired from more walking than I was used to. I look forward to being able to build up some stamina again.

I also look forward to my appointment on Thursday with Dr. Mayo. I should be allowed full weight bearing as tolerated at that point. Once I can weight-bear, I’ll probably move the toilet seat raiser out of the bathroom. I haven’t needed the extra height to the seat, but I’ve continued using it because of the handles on the sides. It’s easier to get myself to the toilet using those. It will be nice to know that I no longer need some of the aids I’ve relied upon for the past 2 months.

LPAO week 6…grateful

Warning: scar photos at the bottom of this post.

Why am I feeling grateful? Because this week I was reminded how fantastic my friends are. On Sunday a group of ladies came over with brunch. We sat around the dining room table and ate and talked. Steve joined the festivities. One thing that’s tough about being confined to my own property is that I realize I’m not quite normal when I can’t go anywhere by myself. The farthest I can go is out on the deck to sit and read a chair…and there haven’t been too many days I’d want to sit outside so far this summer. So, when some friends offered to come up with brunch I was really excited.

After they left, another friend stopped by in the middle of a bike ride to rest and visit. A little while after she left a neighbor knocked on the door with a Get Well mylar balloon and a nice bottle of red wine. Wine helps with bone healing, right? The next day, other neighbors stopped by with a home-made apple and cranberry galette.

apple cranberry galette from the neighbors

For the past several weeks, my friend Cara who had the baby right before my first surgery last year has been visiting once a week. The last 2 weeks we’ve gone out…lunch one week with another friend and lunch plus a splash park (it was one of the rare warm, sunny days) the next week. There’s nothing bad about sitting in a camp chair in the sun watching cute kids running around having fun in the water. It helps me to feel more normal when I can do “normal” things.

On Friday, I was able to get a ride to a professional group I am a part of. We’re all women business owners and are either graphic designers (like me) or something related to the field (illustrators, photographers, calligraphers, letterpress shop owners, print brokers). There are also a lot of friendships among the members, so our meetings are part social and part business.

Other than being somewhat confined to my house, I’m doing well and feeling well. The CPM and hospital bed have both been sent back. The only device I’m regularly using is my crutches. I’m able to do more and more things around the house, which is helpful to Steve. Starting later this week, I’ll have to start cooking dinners. I pulled the last dinner out of the freezer for tonight. The challenge now is to find dinners that are easy to prepare on crutches. I’ll probably pull out all my favorite crock pot recipes.

hospital bed and CPM machine

On Saturday, I managed to change the sheets, slowly, on our king-sized bed. I’m able to “cruise” around furniture, like a toddler learning to walk. (At least I’ve progressed past my infant stage with “tummy time” when I was supposed to lie on my stomach for 30 minutes a day.) As long as I can take some of the weight on my arms on a counter or another piece of furniture, I can get around much quicker than grabbing the crutches every time. That’s how I get around in our small bathroom and somewhat in the kitchen.

Honestly, I think I could easily take a few steps now. Some doctors allow you to progress to full weight bearing at 6 weeks. Dr. Mayo has his patients wait until 8 weeks. Even though I’d like to try to walk now, I’d be so angry with myself if I screwed anything up so I will wait until my 8-week check up. It could be worse though. Some doctors want their patients toe-touch weight bearing for the first 6 weeks. That means a max of about 5 lbs. on your leg, so little weight that you wouldn’t break an egg if it was under your foot. Progressing from 5 lbs. to full weight bearing takes about 6 weeks. I’ve been allowed 45 lbs. from the beginning and if I progress like I did last year, I could be off crutches completely and on just a cane in 4-5 weeks. Bring on the 8-week check up!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a scar photo, since week 2 I think. I’ve been trying to take a new photo every week because it’s changing noticeably at this point. Here’s a photo of week 4 on the left and week 5 on the right. Between the two photos, all of the dermabond has peeled off and the purple marker is gone. Not looking too bad…for a really big scar.

scar at 4 (left) and 5 (right) weeks