broadsideblog

Posts Tagged ‘recovery’

One (slow, halting) step at a time

In aging, behavior, Health, life, Medicine, women on March 2, 2012 at 12:06 am
English: Walking with the parallel bars

Image via Wikipedia

There’s a new sound in my life — the click, click of my sexy French crutches — as I learn to walk normally again after two years of 24/7 pain and a gait so altered I started to look like Quasimodo, that ruined my shoes and swelled my right foot and increased the diameter of my right calf by an inch from overcompensation.

It’s been almost a month since my hip replacement, and I’m learning to trust my body again. It feels really good to stretch, to break a sweat and (yay!) to reach my toes.

“Patient”  — the adjective, not the noun — is not my most obvious quality. This recovery, from full hip replacement, includes dire warnings about doing too much too soon and how not to push it. More is not better. But you don’t know you’ve done too much until…

Daily, I circumambulate our apartment building and garage in warm, dry weather and our apartment building hallway, where 12.5 laps equals a mile, when it’s wet or really cold. My goal is a daily mile, only after which do I get to shed my $38/pair white surgical stockings I wear 23 hours a day to prevent blood clots.

Physical therapy, three times a week, (and $60 week in copays), is slow, incremental, dull, repetitive — and utterly essential to a full recovery.

When I met my surgeon, I handed him a list of a few of my many sports, and asked how soon I would be back at them. My softball team, having missed me for two years, keeps asking when I’ll return. I’m hoping within six months; friends my age (and much older) who’ve had this procedure have since climbed the Great Wall, hiked Guatemala and climbed four flights of stairs without trouble.

I’ve had to recuse myself from real life for a while, missing a friend’s book party, unable to get to my regular hairstylist in Manhattan, a 45-minute drive or train/cab away, closed off from movies, concerts and anything that would require me to sit more than than 60 minutes at a time I’m allowed.

Maybe because I did a silent 8-day retreat last summer, I’ve really appreciated a time of peace and quiet, of reflection and withdrawal. For weeks, I had to rely fully on my husband for the simplest of tasks, from helping scrub me in the shower, (after an 18-day wait!), to putting on my left sock and shoe, counting out my 10 pills a day, cooking.

I miss his companionship since he returned to work this week, leaving home at 7:30 and only returning 12 long hours later after his commute.

Soon, I hope, I’ll once more be my usual blur.

A new definition of love

In aging, behavior, domestic life, family, Health, men, women on February 17, 2012 at 1:08 am
Love heart uidaodjsdsew

Image via Wikipedia

What’s romantic?

What’s loving?

What makes you feel cherished?

The past two weeks have revealed new sides of my husband, even after 12 years together. I knew he was fun, funny, kind, affectionate.

But since coming home from major surgery, the replacement of my left hip, I’ve seen, (as has he), wholly new sides to his character.

Our days right now are so overwhelmingly focused on my health and healing, (including avoiding infection and complication), that I’ve gotten the whole bed to myself while he sleeps on the (too soft) sofa. I bought a bottle of chlorhexidine, (what surgeons use to scrub their hands with), and latex gloves and, once a day, he uses both to clean and dress my incision.

He’s been making meals, buying groceries, doing laundry, (which he normally does), helping me in and out of bed, putting on my shoes, socks and sweatpants. Helping with sponge baths, since no showers are allowed for two weeks.

The hardest part? Wrestling me in and out of my (so sexy!) surgical stockings, thick, tight white hose that go up to my thigh and which I wear 23 hours a day to help prevent clots.

He hands me the 10 pills I need every day, at the time I need them, after drawing up and taping to the wall our daily schedule that starts at 7:30 a.m. and stops at 6:00 p.m. He cranks up raucous rock and roll to boost my energy for physical therapy which I have to do two to three times a day. He brings me me a well-hammered ice pack (four times a day.)

He walks slowly and patiently with me as I do my crutch-aided circuit a few times around the garage.

As someone who prides herself on being feisty, strong, quick-moving, independent and modest, you can imagine how this has felt for me. Weird!

It’s one thing to be seen naked when you feel sexy, quite another when you’re bruised, sore, covered with surgical magic marker notations.

Instructive, to say the least.

He apologized this week for not getting me a Valentine’s Day present; I brought him shoes, socks and a sweater from one of his favorite shops, Rubenstein’s in New Orleans.

I can’t imagine a greater gift than a man willing to give up three weeks’ vacation to nurse me back to strength.

Say a little prayer, please!

In aging, life, Medicine, women on February 6, 2012 at 12:16 am
English: An unidentified yellow flower at the ...

Flowers make me happy! Image via Wikipedia

This morning, while it’s still dark here, we’re driving north up the road to my local community hospital to have my left hip replaced.

My husband, Jose, is taking three weeks off to stay home with me, (blessedly able to have that much paid time off and willing to nursemaid me), and a friend from our church has offered to coordinate meals and drives when he needs a break.

She, too, will be with us as she recently had bypass surgery and knows the drill all too well.

I’ve tried for weeks to wrap my head around the idea that a foreign object — the ceramic head made (je suis ravie!) in France, the rest in Warsaw, Indiana — will become part of my body.

In the United States, where 47 million people suffer (as I do) from arthritis and millions are obese or overweight (guilty), 200,000 of these procedures are done every year. It’s hardly unusual. But that doesn’t make it any less scary. My hip was destroyed, ironically, by the drug given to me in May 2010 to reduce severe inflammation, producing AVN. Beware!

Thanks to friends who write on these issues, I’ve got checklists on how to try and avoid infection; one friend wrote the book on MRSA.

Please say a little prayer — or a big one — for me!

I hope to be back here with you in four or five days, and Jose may post in the meantime.

What Three Months On Crutches Taught Me

In behavior, design, Health, Medicine, men, sports, travel, urban life, women on November 11, 2010 at 7:23 pm
Crutches against orange wall

They rock! Image by net_efekt via Flickr

This has been my first week, literally, on my own two feet since August 8. It is an odd feeling to readjust to ambulation.

I’ve been relying on a pair of amazing short crutches that I bought for $200 on-line that are light, strong, comfortable and made those three months as easy as they could possibly have been.

You can buy them here.

I’ve been fighting arthritis in my left hip, but some dead bone in there is more the issue. Now we’re hoping it won’t suddenly chip off, which will force me into the OR right away for the inevitable hip replacement.

What did I learn?

People are wayyyyy too nosy. I am now so glad that total strangers can’t grill me about what happened and when did I have surgery and why not and tell me all about theirs. Boundaries, people?

People are often incredibly kind. Many times, strangers in grocery stores (as I crutched with one hand, stuck the other crutch in the cart and pushed it, ugh) offered to help me or even do my shopping for me. Many opened doors and held them, men and women. Some even rushed to do it.

Most people have never heard of short crutches. They rock! Light, easy, portable. They don’t hurt your arms or shoulders or hands or armpits. They don’t hurt at all. Yes, you do develop insanely strong triceps and very thick calluses on the heels of your hands.

They see short crutches and assume they are permanent. I received many pitying looks from people who mistakenly may have assumed I must have had polio or suffer from MS.

Life goes on, crutches or no. While on them, I flew out to Las Vegas and spoke to a major conference. I scooched fast, sideways, in movie theaters, up stairs, down super-steep parking garage entrance ramps, up wet, grassy hills.  I even used them to get in and out of the swimming pool. It is damn challenging to move across wet, slippery tile!

Life also moves a lot more slowly. This is not a bad thing, but it becomes necessary. Everything takes longer than normal.

Rainy or snowy days are a drag. With both hands used for crutches, you’ve got no hand left for holding an umbrella. They are also frightening as you pray not to slip or slide into concrete or in the road.

You will develop triceps of steel. Seriously!

It’s only crutches. On my most fed-up days, I was still glad it was nothing more serious. Many people are facing much worse.

My surgeon didn’t believe I’d do it. So he told me. Of course I did!

I can’t say I will miss them, but I am deeply grateful I was able to enjoy three pain-free months of such well-assisted mobility.

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