Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Week Seven Post Surgery

Progress  continues at a steady pace luckily there haven't been any pot holes. I go to outside physical therapy twice a week and think I am one of the few that asks to increase the weights.My limp has lessened to where it is only slightly noticeable..  There is still  soreness moving from one position to another like sitting for a spell and getting up to walk.  However this is much less then even a week ago. Sleeping is much better as I can sleep on either side for a few hours before the soreness wakes me up. For the first time I can bend enough at  my waist to tie my left shoe, probably one of the most convenient advances.

My cycling continues to improve  reaching 40 miles over the past weekend while increasing  climbing by about 75% over the last ride. All while going 3 tenths of a mile faster. Riding up any kind of hill at my old pace is difficult as a combination of being out of aerobic shape and not being able to push hard on the pedals is holding me back. However I can now climb out of the saddle for the first time for any length of time. I should now be able to keep up with the B- group as long as it isn't one of those silly rides where we go round and round in circles looking for anything resembling a hill. Stats from the last ride.

I will be seeing the surgeon next week for my 8 week check up.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sixth Week Post Surgery-Jesus Sighting

As many of my friends and family know and from what I have posted on the blog, cycling is an important part of my life. From the obvious, a good way to stay in shape to the less obvious, a great way to escape from life's problems.  As I usually ride with my group at the local bike club because I can't keep up  I have been riding solo. During a solo two hour ride the mind enters places that in normal circumstances wouldn't be visited. It is an excellent opportunity, like running, to get to know oneself.  The chemicals produced in the brain,endolphins,(every time I see that word I can't help but think of those rather large but cute fish jumping out of the water at Sea World) during a long intense aerobic workout cause thoughts to become dream like and somewhat spiritual. Very nice and addicting in nature.

As I have been increasing my mileage every week,because of the surgery and the inability to put a lot of pressure on the pedals I have been avoiding what I consider real hills. On Saturday I decided to take a loop out to Syosset to try Stillwell Hill, a good choice because while fairly long isn't especially steep except in a short section or two. Approaching the bottom I didn't know what to expect. I started pedaling up and to my surprise was easier than I expected. The first part is fairly flat and about a 1/3rd of the way up there is a steep section. I made it through the section with an euphoric feeling filling my body. It was wonderful.

At about the half way mark to my shock and utter surprise an image of Jesus appeared. He (sorry girls Jesus is a man) was real and in person. Now I am Jewish and not at all religious so seeing Jesus came as a total shock. Now I know what everyone is thinking. But I swear to.......let me put it another way. I saw him and with total belief knew it was him. If I am lying, the next time I am in an open field or at the top of a hill let lightning strike my shiny new metallic hip with a vengeance. We nodded to each other, he told me I am doing great and quickly disappeared. I finished the hill with a new found determination and continued back to my house completing 38 miles. My best and most interesting ride so far. Stats for the ride.

I consider myself to be doing fairly well for six weeks post surgery. I can go up and down a flight of stairs without holding on. I have been walking without any aid for over two weeks and I just completed my 5th session of physical therapy. The scar is healing nicely without very little itching or peeling. The pain is gone except when I sit for a long time or sleep in an awkward position. I can sleep on the surgical side now for about an hour. The only physical outward sign to anyone who didn't know is a slight limp, mostly due to the surgical leg being about 1/2" longer. However as the therapist suggested may happen over time the legs are now slightly more even.  Looking forward I am feeling good about my progress.

P.S. I just want to add that while I am successfully re-gaining my cycling ability I miss riding with the members of the club. There is something nice about sharing riding and conversation with other people. As luck would have it,  Jesus Hernandez a member of my club caught up with me on one of the hills in Syosset. While it was a brief meeting and conversation it was great to see him.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Five Weeks Post Surgery

Hard to believe it is five weeks already. As the first week or so went very slowly each new week seems to appear before I know it. . While I don't feel it on a daily basis when I reflect on the past week I can see the improvement.

It is about 10 days now walking without any aid. While I still have a limp (which I understand may be there for about six months and not unusual) it seems to be lessened by the day. I still have to be careful with bending over as there is still the possibility of dislocating the hip until the hip capsule fully heals, typically in about 8 weeks.   I had my 2nd session of physical therapy last night (more about the therapist measuring leg length later) and there is improvement in range of motion. On most of the machines and exercises they are increasing the weights as the legs are getting stronger. I wish I started a week or two earlier. I can stand on the surgical leg carrying all of my weight which is necessary to do some of the exercises.My fourth ride post surgery was 25 miles which is an increase of five miles at about the same average speed. Click on the link to see the stats. Sleeping is still somewhat of a challenge however if I get the pillows just right between my legs I can sleep on my side. My favored side to sleep is the surgical side and look forward to that in about a week.When I am just sitting around or relaxing the pain is totally gone. Finally

Now to the leg length measurement. When I went to the therapist last week I asked her to measure the discrepancy between my leg lengths. One of the main challenges for the surgeon during hip replacement surgery is to get the leg lengths as close to the same as possible.  When I walk I can clearly feel the surgical leg is longer or hitting the floor before the other. While lying down I  had my family try to see the difference in the lengths and the surgical leg appears to be about half an inch longer. This is border line unacceptable as the goal is to have a goal of no more than 1/4" and if true orthotics would be necessary.

I found the results of the "professional" measurements very interesting. She first individually measured the length of each leg while I was lying on a table. This was done two ways. First a point is determined on the pelvis and the tape was stretched to a point on the ankle bone. Secondly she started from the belly button and measured again to a point on the anke bone. She did this for both legs. Both legs were approximately the same length. She then while still lying down on a table making sure I was square  and pararallel to the long sides of the table  determined that the surgical leg was extended (didn't say longer) about half an inch past the other leg. So while both legs are about the same length  the surgical leg visually appeared to be extended or longer. My pelvis and  or back might not be perfectly straight and a possible cause. During surgery they re-attach the tendons to the bone, repair and re-attach the muscles. It is impossible for the surgeon to get the exact same tension on the parts as pre surgery. So the joint will slightly shift as the parts adjust over time and return to their proper tension.This should probably take another month or so and hopefully will cause both legs to reach the ground at the same time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Four Weeks Post Surgery

 I finally arrived at four weeks. When I was in the hospital in severe pain one month seemed like an eternity.Overall I am satisfied with my recovery.

 I went on my third  bike ride yesterday, exactly three weeks and six days from the slicing, dicing and stapling. For the first time I felt I belonged on the bike. I was riding the bike, not the other way around. While I am still below where I would normally be speed wise, 15.4 mph for 20 (very flat) miles reflected a vast improvement from one week ago of 13 miles at 13.8 mph.  I could accelerate, although modestly. Next week I am planning  an also flat 25 miles. After that  the challenge of the hills begin.

The front lawn was looking very sad and sorry from not having it's favorite hair dresser, my son, take care of it.Lately he has been giving himself a headache at some school in Baltimore with an "s" after it's first name.It has been more than five weeks so a trim would not work. A full styling was in order. So out came the lawn mower with me behind as it was converted into an expensive, mechanical and noisy walker. Without those tennis balls on the bottom of course.  Did I add heavy as all of the turns necessary to maneuver the mover over the postage size lawn made me feel I was wrestling Hulk Hogan.  Between the riding and the wrestling I was exhausted and sore.

I had been walking with only the assistance of a cane for just under a week. A few days ago I tossed the cane and started walking on my own. Mostly shorter distances, like around the house, shopping in a store if I got a good spot.. I forgot about yesterdays excesses and was abruptly reminded first thing this morning. So out came the cane from the dumpster which will be used for the next day or so.

The vast majority of the pain is gone. Certainly nothing that can't be controlled with a few Advil. Sleeping is another matter however.  I am typically a poor sleeper. Trying to sleep on my back is improbable at best. While  allowed to sleep on my side, my preferred choice, the surgical side is out for at least a couple of weeks for obvious reasons. The "good" side while not where I would normally first turn seems to pull the muscles, or the internal stitches or something in there, (inside the gruesome cavity)  and after a while causes pain. I have tried all different combinations of pillows by tossing and turning them into place. So while I can fall asleep for an hour or so the pain wakes me up. It is improving daily and hopefully within a week won't have the pain.

Tomorrow I will see my primary doctor for a post surgical check and will start out patient physical therapy. I should be ready to kick some ass after that.