Physical Therapy

I conservatively estimate that I have been to 120 physical therapy sessions over the past 4 years.  That is 4 surgeries, at 12 weeks of PT each, at an average of 2.5 sessions per week.  So very thankful for good insurance!   Last April I had my final surgery and am now on the countdown to finishing my physical therapy.  Over the years I have heard people complain about how much they disliked physical therapy, how it hurts and how some even quit before they finish their program.  I have to admit that there can be pain involved and sometimes it is not very convenient to take time away from work to attend the sessions.  However,  I have been very fortunate to have great physical therapists who talk me through the exercises and encourage me to keep pushing through any pain I am feeling.  I definitely see the benefits and the progression (albeit slow) it has made in my recovery.

Christy

Christy has been my lead physical therapist through both of my knee replacements.  After my first knee surgery, we spent three months talking about the upcoming birth of my first grandchild.  This past three months we have been talking about the birth of her first baby.

updating the chart

I not sure she will be around for my final two weeks!  Warning, my matching scars are showing in this next pic of me working on the leg press machine.

leg-press

Like my first knee replacement, I am struggling with getting full range of motion in my new knee.  One of the tortures stretches I must complete involves the PT pushing my knee to help it bend more.  This is NOT my favorite exercise.

pushing

I still have hard work in front of me to meet my long term goals, but thanks to Dr. L and my very patient physical therapists(Christy and Lisa) my life has changed dramatically in the last four years.  I can walk around the grocery store and go to the mall without giving it a second thought.  I can walk around our neighborhood or local park for 30 minutes and have plans to walk a 5K next spring for the Arthritis Foundation.  Life is good and getting better each day!

 

A new countdown begins.

It was close to four years ago that I got the word from my orthopedic surgeon that there was not much left to do (after ten years of trying) for my hip and knee joints but to get replacements.  The news hit me hard, although I am not sure why since I had been battling arthritis for a long time.  I think it was the thought of having all four joints replaced that scared me.  Sure I know lots of people who have had one or two replaced but I have never meet or even heard of anyone who has had all four replaced.  Still haven’t for that matter, but Dr. L assures me he has other patients with all four joints replaced.

Having to endure four surgeries and four recoveries frightened me enough, but the unknown of what life  would be like after those surgeries scared me more.  How much would I be able to do?  Would I be trading off pain relief for a life of limited mobility?

I started this blog two and half years ago to chronicle my journey through the four surgeries.  At the time I was about three months out from surgery #1 to replace my left hip and I was preparing for surgery #2 to replace my right hip.  You can read about those experiences here and here. Those surgeries went extremely well and left me with so much more mobility that I just wanted to enjoy life for awhile.  I was able to do things I had not done in years, ride my bicycle on trails, get back on the motorcycle with the hubby, go shopping, go site-seeing,etc.

TKG-on-bike

I was able to go about two years before I knew it was time to start on the knees.  My left knee was replaced last April.  Everyone told me the knee replacement was a more difficult surgery to recover from and they were correct.  It took about four months before I stopped thinking about my knee with every step.  It is better all the time but there is still some swelling and occasional pain. I have been told by both my doctor and physical therapist that the healing process for a total knee replacement is about one year.

post-knee-surgery

The interesting thing is that this replaced left knee is now definitely my good knee.   It is funny how that happened without me really thinking about it.  The constant arthritis pain is now only in my right knee.  So in about six weeks, on February 18, I will undergo what I hope will be my final surgery, the total replacement of the right knee.  I am so NOT looking forward to that recovery, it is painful and seems to take forever.  Patience has never been a friend of mine.  I also hate relaying on everyone to take care of me, especially Dave.  He has been through as much as I have, with just a different source of pain :).

However, I am looking forward to the possibilities that the future holds, walks, hikes, bike riding and who knows what else.  The final countdown has begun.  Just one more time!

#5 Walk for a Cause

Saturday morning with the temperature climbing to 90 degrees and the humidity feeling like 100% (not sure what it really was), TEAM THERESA assembled at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City and participated in the 2012 Arthritis Foundation Walk.  A few months ago I shared with you my goal of walking in this 5K, click here to read that post.

This event raises funds for arthritis research, education and life improvement programs.  As someone who has been living with arthritis for 10  years, I fully understand the value of this organization.  I have often gone to their website to read information on pain relief, prepping for surgery and how exercise can play a role in treatment.

Before the walk began, my great niece and nephews got to take a few spins on a couple of the rides in the Planet Snoopy area.

There was even a little face painting going on….

There were also booths set up with information about arthritis and tables of water, fruits and donuts.

The walk itself was not too bad, although I am pretty sure just walking from the parking lot to the Planet Snoopy area of World’s of Fun was about a 5K in itself.

After the walk I had my picture taken with Ellie Fuson, the 9 year old walk honoree who has juvenile arthritis.  Although we were told that Ellie’s arthritis is under control through medications and keeping active, I have a hard time imaging a young child living with the pain of arthritis everyday.

The event raised over $50,000 dollars for the Arthritis Foundation with Team Theresa winning third place for the most funds raised in the Individual Team Category.  I want to thank everyone who contributed and all those that walked with me on this very hot day!

I am recruiting for next year, whose with me?????

#4 A Positive Attitude

I can usually feel it coming.  It starts with something small but annoying bothering me in the morning, in the afternoon something may go wrong at work, then at dinner a new recipe I was so excited to make is a disaster,  by evening I have  a full case of “feel sorry for Theresa” going on.  I am really good at pouting, complaining and lamenting over “why me.”

Over the years I have come to learn that no matter what situation I find myself in there is ALWAYS someone whose situation is worse than mine.  If I really think about it, my problems, no matter how annoying or inconvenient they seem in my life, often become trivial compared to what others are facing.  Additionally, I have found myself spending way too much energy through worry or complaining about things I cannot change.

Knowing all of this, why then do negative thoughts tend to take over our lives?  I think the answer to that is because we let them.  I now understand we have some control over our attitudes.  We can choose to focus on the negative which will always make us feel worse and generate more negativity.  Or we can choose to concentrate on more positive thoughts which should bring optimism to our lives and help us avoid worry and stress.

I am far from an expert on positive thinking and struggle with the application of this concept all the time, but as I have fought the pain and immobility of arthritis over the past few years, I have come to use a certain technique to try and keep my mind optimistic.  It involves listing the things I am happy about at that time and also the things I am unhappy about.  Nine times out of ten when I do this exercise I come up with many more things that make me happy than things I am unhappy about.  This visual exercise can help put those non-happy thoughts into perspective.

Today I have been fighting the pain of a pinched nerve and I felt myself going down that ugly negative path.  I started making my list:

The things I am not happy about today:

  1.  After three weeks I am still having pain in my neck and arm due to a pinched nerve.  The cervical epidural that I had last week has not diminished the pain by much and it is another week before I get the second procedure.
  2. Tonight I have to work late to produce the financial reports for month end close.  Last week when I worked late I finished at midnight….a 16 ½ hour workday.

The things I am happy about today:

  1.  I walked two miles last night.  A year and one-half ago, before my two hip replacements, I could not even walk around the grocery store.  This is a major accomplishment for me.
  2. Next week I get my first basket of fresh produce from my CSA.  Can’t wait to see what is included.
  3. In six weeks we are going on vacation with all of our kids to Florida.
  4. I am working in my sweats today with no makeup on.  I am lucky to be able to work from home.
  5. Tomorrow I am taking a road trip to Warrensburg to eat dinner with Molly.  As usual she left something at home this weekend that I need to deliver, but it gives me an excuse to hang out with her for while.
  6. This weekend we are starting on our bathroom remodel.
  7. It is a gorgeous, sunny and warm day outside.
  8. My clematis are in full bloom.

Comparing the two list I can see that I should be four times as happy as I am unhappy.  It is my choice to decide which list to focus on today.  I think I will choose the HAPPY list!  Granted, this does not make my pain go away or change the fact I have to work late tonight, but hopefully this will at least allow me to cope with those items better.

I would love to know how you deal with a bad day………please share!

Decisions

I have about 30 days to decide if I will have my knee replacement surgeries in the next year or not.  Of course I can always change my mind, but we have to sign up for our 2012 benefits and I need to plan for the medical reimbursement account.

You would think it would be an easy decision considering how great I am doing with my new hips, but I have never made an easy decision in my life.  I over analyze, worry and then analyze some more.  Somebody just tell me what to do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As usual I will go through the list of pros and cons a few thousand times before deciding.

The PRO’s:

The knee pain will eventually be gone.

I will have very few limitations to what I can do.

I can stop defining my life by the surgery I am going to have or recovering from.

 

The CON’s:

I will have to take two 6-8 week time-outs from this new mobile life I am enjoying to recover from surgeries.

I will have to take two 6-8 week time-outs from this new mobile life I am enjoying to recover from surgeries.  (This is such an unpleasant thought it counts for two CON’s!)

Surgery is always risky; blood clots and infection.

What would you do????

Oh Happy Day!!

 I had such a great weekend!  I did push the clock a little.  I am really not supposed to be going out until the 4 week mark, but that is only in about 3 or 4 days.   The weather was so nice and I was itching to get out.  Do not tell Dr. L!

On Friday evening we drove to Excelsior Springs for a surprise visit to my sister’s house.   I tried calling before we left but she was not answering.  Even if she were not home when we got there, I was still going to be happy just to get out of this house and see some new scenery.    As I expected, she was at home but out working in the yard.  That lady has so much energy, sure wish I had some of that.

On Saturday I started my day with a cut and color at the hair salon.  Now tell me, is there anything that can make a girl feel better than a new haircut and color?  Especially when you have been waiting for three weeks to get to the salon?  Well maybe a cut, color, mani and pedi would be even better but I thought I should not push my luck.

After that, Dave and I had brunch at the Neighborhood Café in downtown Lee’s Summit.  Typically there is a wait on a Saturday morning to get a table but we walked right in and sat right down.  Does it get any better than this? 

When we returned home Dave headed off on the Harley to hang out at Gail’s Harley Davidson, a frequent Saturday visiting place.  He told me later that in honor of father’s day he test drove a new motorcycle.  I told him nice try but I already have his father’s day present.  While he was playing, I decided I wanted to go to Macys.  I was a little concerned about going there by myself this first time.  I was not sure how far I would be able to walk.  I was thinking it would be nice to have a familiar face close by so I decided to call a friend.  Joy was a willing babysitter.

 I actually walked around the store for a good 30-45 minutes, even tried on a few things.  I did take advantage of a couple of chairs here and there but the amazing thing is there was no hip pain.  My only complaint was that I was VERY tired.  I have very little endurance right now but I guess that is to be expected after being sedentary for the last month.   Endurance I can work on. There is no way I could have done this in the past couple of years without being in considerable pain.     

I came home and took about an hour nap while Dave trimmed some bushes in the yard.  In the evening we were off to our ABC Dinner Club with friends.   Check out the new installment on the ABC Dinner Club page of this blog.

Sunday we topped off the weekend by taking Kayla and Dylan out for some frozen yogurt and visiting about the CPA exam and surgery residencies.   Those two have some tough days ahead of them but I am sure they will come shining through as usual.

A weekend of simple pleasures has provided so much encouragement for what the future offers.  Project reconstruction –  50% complete!

The Recovery Begins

Home makes everything better.  I returned home from the hospital on Friday afternoon and spent a very quiet weekend starting my recovery.  I remembered that the first week after surgery was difficult, but I had forgotten just how much effort it requires to do the smallest things.  My biggest complaint right now is that I am just exhausted.

The surgery went great with no bones fractured,  just large bone spurs removed.  Bone spurs are just extra bone formation the body creates to try and heal the diseased bone.  Most everyone with OA has bone spurs, some get so large they began to impede on the action of the joint.  According to Dr. L, this is what was happening with my right hip.

The day after surgery I was standing up with the walker, weight on both hips.  Discounting the narcotics that were being pumped into my body, there was virtually no pain.  Walking was another matter.  That first day I was only able to take about three steps and those were with the PT moving my right leg forward.  The right foot just did not want to move.  According to the PT this is very common after surgeries because the nerves just are not firing.  It takes a while to get those muscles to remember how to move. 

By the second day after surgery, I was walking across my room and out into the hall.  On the third day after surgery I was going up and down three stairs.

I did find out that I am highly allergic to the adhesive on the bandages they used after surgery.   We first noticed large blisters on my back, then, before they took the bandage off the incision, the nurse noticed blisters around that bandage.  My incision looks great but I have a few open blisters that are still trying to heal.  Only gauge and paper tape bandages for me in the future.

After getting home on Friday, I was once again dreading the long climb of stairs up to my bedroom.  I remember in December when I did this,  that once I got to the top I thought Dave was going to have to bring me a chair to sit in for a while before I actually walked into my room.   However, this time, I walked to the top, walked into the room, walked into the bathroom, and then walked over to my chair.  Already feeling like this recovery will go faster…I am definitely stronger.

 I am really glad to be on this side of surgery #2

Physical Therapy

This past weekend convinced me that physical therapy is working.  My ability to shop (even though I took frequent breaks) demonstrates that my stamina and endurance are increasing.  For now I am doing pool therapy 3 times per week.  It feels great, the water is 92 degrees.  I am able to do much more in the pool than I would be able to do on land due to my other three non-replaced joints.  After my second surgery I will move to half pool and half  land.

I only have about two and a half weeks of therapy left.  Then I will have a month before surgery number two.  I need to find someplace with a WARM pool that I can continue these exercises so I do not lose the momentum I have gained.

Bicycling with the noodle…

Physical therapy is not always convenient, it is an interruption to the work day and takes time to dress/undress and drive to the pool.  However, I am hoping my efforts now will make my recovery from the second surgery easier and faster.

Post Surgery Expectations

Several people have asked me if I will be 100% normal after all these surgeries.  GREAT QUESTION!  I actually asked Dr. L that very thing before the first surgery.  His response was “If that were not the expectation, we would not be doing this.”  I think that was doctor speak for “I sure hope so!”    I understand everyone’s case is different and everyone responds differently to treatments but I sure would have liked him to say, “Absolutely!”

It is not that I expect to run a marathon or anything, I would be happy with some pretty simple things like walking through the grocery store or going shopping without pain.  I am getting frustrated easily these days.  I am thinking that I have had surgery so I should be MUCH better.  I should not have to use this darn cane to walk.  And in reality the achy arthritis pain in my left hip is virtually gone.  However I still have three joints that do not work well and my left hip occasionally does hurt but in a different way.  It does not feel normal yet.

Here is where that patience and endurance thing comes in again……as most of you know, patience is not my best virtue but I really have no choice.  I have started this journey and now I have to finish it.

Catch Up

This will be a long post to catch everyone up from December 2010 when this journey started until now.  I promise future posts will not be even close to this long……

November 27, 2010 – Thirty one days until the beginning of my new life…..at least that is the way I am trying to think about it.  Not thirty one days until the most painful experience of my life or not thirty one days until the most challenging days of my life.  Thirty one days from today I will undergo the first of four surgeries that will replace both of my hips and knees.  At the end of that process I hope to be able to:

  •   leisurely walk through the grocery store as I fill my cart
  •  walk around the block or on the trails in our subdivision

  •  get up from a chair or the couch without having to think about it for thirty seconds, contemplate the pain, then take thirty seconds to actually stand up and move the first leg forward
  • go shopping with my daughters
  • walk up and down stairs without pain
  • go on a vacation and do some sight seeing
  • get through the day without pain medication

December 20, 2010 – One week until surgery.  Here I sit at 1:18 am, unable to sleep due to the pain.  I took a pain pill so maybe in an hour I can try and sleep again.  Today I will go to the hospital for a pre-operative appointment, provide my medical history and visit with an anesthesiologist.  The last few weeks my mobility has decreased even further, I have no idea how I will be able to negotiate a new hip with limited mobility in my other joints.   I feel this first surgery will be the hardest recovery.  A friend told me she was praying for me to have patience and endurance.  That is exactly what I need right now.

There is a ledge I am walking between doubt and confidence, one side is dark, the other light.  The doubting or dark side is a crevice that pulls me in and covers me with fear and despair.  I go there almost each time I rise from a chair and feel the pain of putting one leg in front of the other trying to manage just a few steps to the next chair. I do not know how I got here.   I use to walk around the block in the evenings, enjoy walking up and down each aisle of the grocery store and even ride a bike around the neighborhood with my husband.  I feel those days are gone forever.  I want my old life back.  Then I try and talk myself out of this fissure, trying to think of what might be on the other side, the light side of the ledge.  I read stories of others who have had joint replacements and see how they have managed to not only survive but thrive.  Of course the disclaimer in these stories, “every patient is different and recovery is dependent on age, weight and physical ability” often pushes me back on the ledge.  I try and remember that many people 20 and 30 years older than I have this surgery and are able to walk again.  I remind myself that I am a hard worker….at least mentally….now I need to be a physically hard worker.  One thing I have not seen in any of the inspiring stories I have searched out is someone who has had all four joints replaced……..back on the ledge.

This weekend is Christmas which I have always loved.  All three girls, both sons-in-law and both granddogs will be here.

Percy LeFevre

Dakota Werth

I have all the presents purchased and wrapped.  The Christmas day menu has been created and I have each day mapped out to finish the cleaning, food shopping and cooking.

I am feeling the light headedness of the pain medication kicking in so I will try now to get some sleep.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I survived!  I had surgery on the morning of December 28 and woke up with a new left hip.  Unfortunately, I also woke up with a small fracture of my left femur that was caused during surgery when the stem component of the hip prosthesis was being placed in the marrow cavity of the thigh bone.  It was small, but my ortho doc (Dr. L) felt a metal band placement around the top of the femur was necessary to provide support.  It may cause some extra pain during recovery and there will be some minor restrictions to physical therapy for a short time, but overall it should be a minor issue.

Dave stayed with me at the hospital the entire 4 days, only going home for an hour or so to shower each day.  He slept on a cot by my bed and attended to my every need.  He is a wonderful husband and I feel so blessed to have him.

The first 24 hours after surgery consisted of a continuous morphine drip as well as “shots” of morphine when needed.  The “shots” I am referring to were not the “getting stuck with a needle” kind of shots, but the hand held dosage regulator I just clicked when I felt any pain.  It provided quick relief.  By the second day, they had removed the IV with the morphine drip and started pain pills every 4 hours.

I also started physical and occupational therapy.  The occupational therapist showed me how to get clothes on while still maintaining my hip precautions.  The hip precautions are to prevent dislocating the hip while it heals.  Everyone keeps quizzing me on what the three hip precautions are:

-Do not bend my new hip beyond 90 degrees

-Do not cross my legs

-Use a pillow between my legs when lying down.

Trust me….I am taking this seriously.  The thought of dislocating my hip is not too appealing.  The physical therapist also came twice per day and we started with just sitting on the side of the bed, then actually standing up holding on to a walker.  Soon I was walking a few steps in the room and eventually I was walking out of the room, down the hall and back again.  I was pretty slow but actually amazed at how little pain there was in my new hip.  Granted I was on pain meds, but I assumed the pain would be much worse.  I did not have much energy though, by the time I would get back to the room I was exhausted.

On the morning before I went home, the physical therapist showed me how to walk up and down stairs with the new hip.  Up with the old, down with the new.   We practiced on  three or four stairs.  I was tired, but successfully navigated the stairs.

I came home on New Year’s Eve and after hanging out on the first floor of the house for a couple of hours, I decided to tackle the stairs to my bedroom.  We live in a traditional two story house and have 15 stairs from the first floor to the second floor.

15 Stairs.....

I knew it would be a challenge, but I made it!  When I got to the top of the stairs I was not sure I was going to make it to the chair in my bedroom but I did it.  I was totally worn out…..that took so much effort.  At that point I decided I would probably stay in my room, on the second floor, for the rest of my life!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Home Health nurse and physical therapist have both started coming on a regular basis.  I was started on the drug Warfarin for blood clots before I left the hospital.  On each visit the nurse tests my blood and calls Dr. L with the results.  Based on that test they determine the dosage of the Warfarin.  Blood clots are one of the biggest issues after a hip replacement.  I also have to wear beautiful and fashionable support stockings 24 hours a day.

The physical therapist gave us a great tip on ice packs.  She suggested adding 1/3 cup of isopropyl alchol to 2/3 cup water, putting that in doubled Ziploc bags, then freezing it.  Due to the alcohol, the water never freezes solid but is VERY cold and mushy which means the bag is very flexible and can fit against your body exactly as you need it to.  She also suggested making two bags so we always have one ready to use.  The ice packs help tremendously.  I am still surprised that overall my pain level is much lower than I anticipated.  Granted I am taking the pain meds and using the ice packs regularly, but I am still pleasantly surprised at how little pain I have.

Friday January 7, 2011

Family and friends have been visiting, bringing food and offering encouragement.  I am so grateful for their concern and assistance.  My biggest complaint now is trying to sleep comfortably.  I have never been a back sleeper and right now that really is my only option.  For this reason I have spent every night since I have been home in my new recliner that I purchased right before surgery.  A friend who had undergone a knee replacement a few months earlier told me I may need it and I am really glad I listened to her.  I am not sure how I would have slept at all without it.  I do miss my Sleep-Number bed and the down-filled duvet comforter.  Hopefully soon I will be able to sleep there again.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My days consist of doing physical therapy, being waited on hand and foot by my husband and watching Season 1 of  “The Good Wife”  (my new favorite show by the way).  The Physical Therapist comes twice per week and I do the routine by myself on the other days.  So far it is very tolerable.  I am still having trouble sleeping.  I lay in my bed for as long as I can and when I can not tolerate lying on my back any longer,  then I get up and spend the rest of the night in the recliner.   I am literally trying to add five minutes each night.  I would have never thought prior to the surgery that this would be my biggest complaint!

Wednesday, January 13, 2011

The physical therapist showed me how to roll from my back to my right side while in bed todayThat does not seem like it would be a big deal, but for me it was heaven.  Of course I have to use my hip precautions, keeping a pillow between my legs so I do not dislocate the new joint.   I have also been ULTRA cautious about any movement so between the pillow between the legs and the fear of pain, moving from my back to my side was harder than it sounds.  Wow, it sure felt good though once I got there.   Now that I have two positions I can sleep in, I am hoping my bed time will increase at night and my recliner time will decrease.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It has been two and a half weeks since the surgery and today I went back to work for 4 hours.  Going to work for me is a little easier than most because I work from home and only need to walk down the hall to my office.  I can dress in my sweats and not worry what I look like.  I also had an ice pack rotating on and off my hip the entire time.  Not sure I would recommend going back this early, but it was not too bad.  It was nice to think about something other than my hip for a few hours, but I must admit I was ready for a nap when I was done.  It is amazing how just sitting at your desk can wear you out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I am back to work full time this week and it has been challenging.    I am very tired in the evenings and have been going to bed early.  Between working 9-10 hours a day and doing in-home physical therapy, I am just wiped out at night.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Big news….slept through the night in my own bed!   Went to bed around 10:00 p.m. last night and woke up around 6:00 a.m.  No recliner all night……major milestone!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I am a worrier by nature and was a little, ok, maybe a lot worried about how this week was going to go.  Dave is on a business trip to Rapid City, South Dakota and I am home alone for the first time since the surgery.  I am still using the walker but recently started using a cane some of the time.  I was not sure how I would handle the steps by myself, feed Cleo each morning, feed myself, etc.  Dave offered to cancel the trip but I knew he would really like to get out of the house for awhile.

Over the weekend we bought a little compact refrigerator for the bedroom and stocked it with the essential water bottles and diet pepsi.  I also bought some non-cook food items like cheese and crackers, peanut butter, yogurt, cereal, etc. We also brought all of Cleo’s food to our bathroom and set her water and food bowl on the ledge around the tub. Due to the hip precautions I can not bend to the ground to pick up the bowls so this arrangement has worked out well.  Cleo easily found her food and has not missed a meal all week.

We provided the Physical Therapist and Home Health nurse with the entry code to our garage so they have been able to get in the house without me going down the steps to let them in.  The J girls (Julie, Joyce and Joy – my best gal pals) have been wonderful as usual and each have brought food and much needed conversation.

Nothing to worry about after all……..

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Last night Dave and I actually went out to eat with our group of friends.  It was my first time out in public with the walker, except to go to the doctor’s office.  There was still some ice and snow around so I had to be extra careful getting from the car to the restaurant.  Dave dropped me off as close to the door as possible and our friends walked with me while Dave parked the car.  We went to our favorite little Italian restaurant in downtown Lee’s Summit called Ciao Bella.  The food and conversation were excellent.  For a few hours I forgot I was recovering from surgery and it seemed like a normal Saturday evening for us.

Being an accountant, this time of year is always a challenge.  Besides working my normal 50 hours each week, I have also worked each Saturday since I have been back from surgery.  Sitting at my desk for hours at a time is causing my entire left leg and especially my foot to swell.  I was so concerned that I actually called the doctors office this weekend.  Swelling is one of the signs of a blood clot and that is a known complication after hip surgery.  Dr. L said that since it has been almost 5 weeks since my surgery that the chance of a blood clot is fairly slim.  He suggested elevating my leg and if the swelling did not reduce in 24 hours to go to the emergency room.  By the time I got up this morning, the swelling was gone.  I really have to make an attempt to get up from my chair and walk for a few minutes each hour.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Today I started outpatient physical therapy.  The first session was really just an evaluation and discussion of my plan.  The physical therapist asked me what my goal was which I thought was interesting……..I explained to her that this was the first of four surgeries I am going to have so I was thinking that besides greater mobility in my new hip I would also like to build my overall strength to help prepare me for my upcoming surgeries.  She said that was a great goal…she said she often asks that question to manage expectations.  Six to twelve weeks of PT for me is not going to have me walking like a normal person, however it will definitely be the start of a program that will eventually get me to my long term goal.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What a great day.  We spent the daylight hours with two of our daughters and one son-in-law visiting, eating and meeting a new family addition, Whitley the cat.

Whitley

Whitley is just 7 pounds and is deathly afraid of her big brother Dakota, an 82 pound lab puppy.  He is actually about a year old, but still has the energy of a puppy.  In an effort to get the two new siblings use to each other, the vet suggested putting Whitley up on something high in the air so she could watch Dakota and get use to him.  Kayla thought the top of the refrigerator would be the perfect spot and gently placed Whitley up there.  Dakota, watching all this very intensly was not to be out done, he backed up and took a running start and attempted to get his 82 pounds on the kitchen counter.  Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your perspective, only about two thirds of Dakota made it on the counter before he fell back to the floor.  The coffee maker and assorted items on the kitchen counter did not fare too well either.  When the kids stopped laughing (and scolding Dakota) they looked around and Whitley was nowhere to be seen.  So much for that theory.

The evening was spent visiting with our usual group of friends….amazing how you can still find things to talk about after twenty years of seeing each other almost once a week.  I am excited about a new plan we have.  A couple of gals in the group want to learn to make t-shirt quilts for their kids.  Since I have made three, one for each of the girls, I told them we could have a class and I would show them how to make one.  In exchange, one of the girls is a great cake decorator so she said she would show us how to decorate cupcakes.  I am thinking a cake ball class may be next….I love hanging out with my friends.

March 7, 2011

I had a big day today, besides trying to get in my usual 9-10 hours of work, I also visited Dr. L and had physical therapy.  I drove myself to both places, found parking spots, walked in and then walked out.  That is a bunch of activity for me….and I think now I am paying the price.  It is 12:52 a.m. and despite taking a pain pill before I went to sleep at 10:00 p.m., I am now awake and both of my legs are aching big time.  Sometimes it actually feels better to get up and walk than to continue to lie down.  I have taken one of the stronger pain pills, the ones I save for the big pain, and now I am waiting for some relief to kick in.

In my exam, Dr. L could tell by the way I was walking that I am now using my left leg (with the new left hip) as my “good leg.”  I have switched the cane to my left hand and am using it to support the right leg.  I told him that the water therapy I have been doing is going very well and that typically the only pain I feel at all is in my right hip.  He said I was doing great and if I am ready we can go ahead and schedule surgery number 2.  He has always told me that I can pick the joint that is bothering me the most as the surgical candidate since all of them are in such bad shape….I chose the right hip.  So now I am in the que….waiting on the insurance verification, then the scheduling of the surgery.

Due to my work schedule I really only have about two weeks out of the month that I can be off work.  I am hoping to get the next surgery scheduled for either April 19 or May 18.  April is preferable since Dave has a business trip scheduled on May 23, plus he was also invited to attend the Indy 500 race the following weekend with one of his childhood friends.  He would probably have to cancel both if my surgery was in May.  I do not think I would be ready to go it alone 4 or 5 days after surgery.

I am certainly not looking forward to those first couple of weeks after surgery.  Although the pain was not too bad, it was a huge effort just to get to the bathroom or sleep at night.  Overall, just a huge inconvenience.  However, I remember thinking that at 4 weeks post-op I was feeling pretty good and almost normal.  Of course normal for me is probably different than normal for most people.  I have been living with OA for ten years and the last couple of years, my mobility had been severly limited.  For the past 6 months prior to surgery I started using the motorized carts in the grocery store to get around.  I basically do not go anywhere that requires walking for any distance.

However, I am envisioning that four weeks after surgery number two I should be greatly improved.  With two new hips, I should have 50% less pain than I have now……..I can not even imagine how wonderful that will feel.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It is official, surgery number 2 is scheduled for May 17.  Between my work schedule and Dr. L’s surgery schedule, this was the first date available.  Sometimes I wonder what the heck I am thinking scheduling another surgery.  I am certainly not yet at 100% since my first, however the pain relief I feel in my left hip encourages me to continue on. The thought of nice weather and the potential to be walking around the block by the end of summer, something I have not been able to do for a few years now, is VERY appealing.

Dave has cancelled his end of May business trip and turned down the Indy 500 offer.  I told him I would just have the surgery in June, but he wants me to do this as soon as possible.  Words can not describe how thankful I am to have such a supportive husband.  I can not imagine facing all these surgeries and recoveries without him.

Friday, March 11

I guess technically it is Saturday, March 12 since I am writing this at 2:20 a.m. Getting up in the middle of the night is becoming a habit I really need to break.  Hopefully when I have all new joints I will actually be able to sleep through a whole night.

Tonight we went to the first BBQ competition of the season.  Dylan’s family competes in the Kansas City BBQ Society’s sanctioned BBQ competitions each year and luckily for us they usually invite us to attend the Friday evening party.   Since these are usually large events I was a little concerned about how far away from the action we would have to park, which translates to how far I would have to walk.  Although walking is definitely getting better, the right hip still screams at me if I have to go too far.  Unbelievably, the team next to the Lil Smokers team did not show so we were able to park right next to the tent.

As usual, the food was incredible.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the buffet table.  We had sliced brisket, burnt ends, grilled shrimp and lobster and smoked salmon.  We also had a large crock of broccoli cheese soup which was great since there was defiantly a chill in the air.  Many of our friends and family were there so we had a great time visiting and eating.  My niece Mendy brought a sampling of cake balls she made this week, Strawberry Margarita and Orange Julius.  WOW, were those good!  It was such a fun evening.  If you have not already, visit the Lil Smokers webpage and order some of their BBQ sauce and rub…….you will not be sorry!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just got back from a great trip to Omaha.  We travel to Omaha once a month to work and get some face time with our employers.  Although Dave had made the trip a few times, this was my first time back since before the surgery.  We decided to go up on Saturday and have dinner with a group of my work friends and spouses.  We ate at 360 which is on the top floor of the Harrah’s casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  The steaks and martinis were amazing….we laughed and talked for three hours before finally leaving the table.  The rest of the week we put in some long hours at our offices, but were fortunate enough to get to catch up with a friend of Dave’s who was also the best man at our wedding.  He lives about three hours west of Omaha in Gibbon, Ne, but travels to Lincoln on business frequently and happened to be there this week.  He offered to make the extra hour drive to Omaha to visit with us over wings and beer….we certainly did not turn that down.

It is always so nice to get back home.  I have missed you sleep number bed!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Warning!  Warning!  Major pitty party in progress….you may want to skip this post if you do not enjoy reading about a major meltdown.  The day started on a good note with a quick visit to the Physical Therapist for the 4 week evaluation in which I am showing good progress.  The work day was also going well, I was able to complete some tasks and mark items off my “TO-DO LIST” which is always a good thing.  Then around 4:00 p.m. (on a Friday no less) I get the word that we will be making some changes in a task I have been working on all week.  These changes would have a rippling effect in documents I had been preparing for several days. Of course, all needed to be updated and completed before my work day was over………I am pouting now.

We get a call from friends about dinner, but of course I have to say no and Dave goes out and picks up a pizza for us instead.  I tell Dave that maybe when I am done we can go out for ice cream.  At 8:30 p.m. I am finally able to call it quits for the day after working 13 hours with no lunch.  This translates into my legs being VERY stiff and my left leg and foot VERY swollen from sitting at the desk the majority of the day.  My stress level is high.  I just do not have the energy to walk down the stairs and get into the car, so sorry Dave, no ice cream.   Instead I decide to just go to bed.  This is when I lose it……as usual I can not find any position that is comfortable.  My right hip (not the new hip) and knee ache and I can not relax.  Instead I just cry…….not just your “sweet little tears running down your face” cry, but the “whole body shake, air gulping” type of cry.  I am feeling sorry for myself big time now……why can’t I just find a comfortable position to sleep, why can’t I fall asleep, why does my hip and knee have to hurt so much, why do I have to have OA, why me?????

Then Cleo jumps on the bed beside me….I have noticed that since my surgery, whenever I am feeling bad she is always right beside me.  I truly believe that animals know when their person is in need of emotional support.  She rubs her face against my hand and leans up against me.  Finally she curls up as close to me as she can get.  The crying stops and I start to relax a little…….thank you Cleo, I needed that!