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!

Lazy Days of Summer???

I have been neglecting my blog the last couple of weeks, not because I choose to do this, but because there is not enough hours in the day.  I would LOVE to spend each of my days writing on this blog, practicing my photography, cooking or decorating my house.  These items always tend to fall at the bottom of the TO-DO list since they are mostly done during “ME” time.   I am not saying I have not been having fun because that is far from the truth,  I just have not had any “ME” time.

This is what I have been doing…..

  • Taking a one day trip to Omaha to attend a Users Group Meeting for the software I support at work.  This trip was longer than usual due to the flooding.  Our normal three hour one way trip has turned into a four hour one way trip due to the detours.  This made for one very long day.  The picture below is I-29 below water near the Iowa border. (Obviously I did not take this photo)

  •  Traveled to Arkansas with a group of friends….but I already told you about that.
  • Worrying about Molly – she went on her second float trip of the summer.  I remember doing that….that is why I worry!  Kidding aside, the air conditioning in her apartment has gone out twice  in the last couple of weeks.  These are dangerous temperatures for not having air conditioning.   Molly is taking a fun class this summer (at least fun from my perspective).  It is a food preparation class and they have been cooking every day.  One day she walked back to her apartment with a cake in each hand.  I am thinking her roommate is liking this class also.  She even took a field trip to the Shatto Milk farm and got to milk a cow.  She said that they do tours by appointment and it was a really fun place to visit.  I am putting this on my bucket list.
  • Back to Omaha for another four days to work in the office.  For some reason my boss likes to see my face.    On Friday, the day we were to leave to come home, I worked from 6:50 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. before getting in the car for the four hour drive home.  Needless to say, my bed felt SOOOOO good that night.
  • Picked Kindra up at the airport for her bi-monthly work trip to Kansas City.  A few times her work trips to KC have been at the same time as our work trips to Omaha.  However, this time we were all here at the same time and it has been great visiting with her.  Bonus visitors were DL and Percy.  DL was actually in the house less than 6 hours.  He was on his way to hike in Colorado for a week with his Dad and a group of friends and  stopped by to drop off  Percy, our granddog.  She is staying with us for the rest of the week until he returns in a few days.  She is such a sweet dog.  Cleo is not at all happy about the situation.

  • Celebrated the last birthday of “Birthday Season.”   Kayla ventured out to celebrate her birthday with us even though she is in serious study mode these days.  She is finishing her last few days of class for the summer semester and will be complete with her Master’s degree in Accounting on July 28, less than a week away.  On top of that, she is studying for the CPA exam and takes the first test on Aug 3rd.  I am so proud of her…she is so dedicated and such as hard worker.  It was such a rare opportunity to have all three of my girls in the same place at the same time.  As usual, all three girls talk at one time and I try very hard to keep up with all the different conversations.  I so miss having them all together.
  • Keeping up with Physical Therapy – at the last visit with my Ortho doc, he suggested another four weeks of PT because he does not like my gait.  I hear that from the Physical Therapist all the time.  I keep telling them I have walked like this for 10 years and until my knees are fixed I am guessing I will continue walking like this.  Oh well,  I am sure the PT is doing some good.  I am alternating between land and water.  The water PT is SO much easier on my knees but they say the land PT will make me stronger which will benefit me when I have my knees done.  Not even thinking about that yet!

I am looking forward to some R&R this weekend although already have a birthday party, dinner out and the Harry Potter movie scheduled.  Maybe I will be able to work in a little “ME” time also.

Pain and Progress

On Tuesday of this week I graduated from my in-home physical therapy program and on Wednesday I had my first outpatient physical therapy appointment.  When the PT saw me walk in her first words were, “At four weeks out I was expecting you to come in with a walker.”  That was enough to encourage me to show off a little during that appointment.  I walked without the assistance of a cane all around the indoor track.  Then I pushed really hard at each exercise she wanted me to do.  She thought I was doing great.  I felt pretty good when I left there.  By the evening I was in major pain.  I think every muscle in my body was aching not to mention the joints themselves.  My knees were even screaming at me.  I finally got to sleep that night with the assistance of a pain pill.

 On Thursday I woke up feeling pretty good and even did the exercises that the PT provided for me.  By the end of the day I was feeling VERY adventuresome so Dave and I went to Hy-vee.  I walked around most of the aisles in the store pushing the cart.  I can not tell you the last time I went to the grocery store without driving around in one of the electrical carts.  It has been at least two years.  By the time we got to the check-out counter I was a little tired but not exhausted.  I sat on a bench while Dave finished checking out, then I walked with him to the car.  You can not imagine how excited I was to be able to do that.  All evening long I kept saying to Dave, “ I walked all around Hy-Vee!”

 When I got home I still had enough energy to make dinner and then make cookies. I know I still have to build up my strength and my hips do not feel “natural” yet.  I often feel like there is a tight band around my hip and many times when I sit down I feel like I am sitting on something.  However, words can not explain how happy I am to be able to do these simple things that I have not been able to do and to know it is only going to get better in the future.

 Crystal– I will soon be ready for the pool ……

Ridin’ the Storm Out

First let me just say that I have always taken storms seriously.  Tornado warnings were the only thing I would wake up my sleeping children for in the middle of the night when they were growing up.  In May of 1957, when I was seven months old, my family and I lived in Ruskin Heights and were smack dab in the middle of one of the largest tornados to ever hit this area.  Of course I do not remember this storm, but I remember the effects it had on my parents for years after.

Our home at the time was spared by the tornado although my father helped many neighbors crawl out of the crumbles of their houses and the shopping center close by.  I remember seeing pictures from the newspaper clippings my parents kept.  One was of the high school, only the first two and last two letters of the school, “RU    IN”,  were still hanging on the destroyed building.  Another picture was of a car on top of the water tower.

The house we lived in, like most in the Ruskin area, did not have basements.  After the storm my father had a basement dug beneath our house.  I did not even know that was possible to do!   The entire time I remained living in my parents’ home, whenever there were tornado warnings, my father would send us to the basement while he nervously watched the sky from the open garage door.

Last Friday, the day I came home from the hospital, there were storms in the area and I kept a close watch on the news and prayed there would not be any warnings for our area.  I was not sure I would be able to do those stairs again that day.  On Monday I was devastated watching the reports out of Joplin, thinking about all the loss and destruction and feeling so bad for all the families involved.

On Tuesday evening I did my motherly duty and called both of my Missouri girls to make sure they would keep an eye on the weather that night as they were predicting a new round of severe storms for our area.  Molly asked where she should go in a tornado warning since she had just moved into a new apartment on the third floor.  Kayla and I had the same discussion since her and Dylan’s rented home does not have a basement.  Next thing I know Molly, Kayla and Dylan all decided to come home for the night.  This worry wart mother could not have been happier.  I told them both that since they were making the effort to get here that I was sure all would be calm for the night.

We had a great evening visiting and hearing surgery stories from Dylan.  As predicted all was calm.  At around 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Kayla, Molly and I were all hanging out in my room trying to decide what we should have for lunch.  Next thing we know,  a tornado warning for Jackson County was being issued.  They said to take cover immediately.   We decided we should head for the basement.  We sent the girls on down and Dave helped me navigate the steps, all thirty of them, fifteen to the first floor and fifteen to the basement.  I was slow but I made it just fine.

As we watched the weather coverage on the news I was thinking how seriously everyone was taking this warning…..schools were sending kids to the basement, offices were sending employees to the lowest levels of the buildings.  No doubt this heightened sensitivity was due to the Joplin catastropy we had all just witnessed.  After waiting in the basement for a few hours we decided to move upstairs.  I am happy to report that I made it back up all thirty steps, back to my bedroom, without even stopping for a rest in between.

The physical therapist is not visiting today but left me with instructions to complete the exercises on my own.  I think I may have exceeded both her and my own expectations for the day.

Keep safe everyone.

It’s all relative…

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. 

When you are sitting on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour.

  That is relativity.  Albert Einstein.

Last week the physical therapist put weights on my ankles and made me get in the water.  I was thinking she was trying to drowned me.  My physical therapy has moved to a new level which is not terribly difficult when I am doing it, but I am definitely feeling it that night and the next day.  The good news is that this means my muscles are getting stronger and working harder than they have for a long time.  The bad news is that I am usually sore and very tired after the physical therapy, so much so that I have actually started dreading the days that I have therapy.

Today I met a woman who was just starting therapy after having her right  hip replaced.   She had the biggest smile on her face and just looked full of life.  She said she had her left hip replaced in 1988.  I started asking her questions thinking I would hear how much better her life is now.  She mentioned that she has had five surgeries on her right hip and this is actually the third replacement of that joint because it keeps dislocating. 

I wanted her to stop talking right that minute.  

She went on to say that she had to delay this last surgery for several months because she fell last fall and broke her pelvis in two places.  She said she was so excited to be starting physical therapy again.

Time for me to regroup….I had a successful hip replacement with no complications.  My left hip is virtually pain-free for the first time in several years.  My muscles are getting so strong that I have to use weights to keep improving their function.  Being tired after physical therapy means I am working hard.  What is there to complain about?

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.