Saturday, May 30, 2009

In Training

I am in training. Not for bikini season or a skating event, but for surgery. I've been trying to get in the best shape possible, in particular my arms (the better to crutch with) and my hip flexors/quads (they will be cut/moved/damaged during surgery, so the stronger they are beforehand, the faster they will heal). I've also been getting up from low chairs on one leg. I figure if I can do it now, I might have better luck navigating when I am down to one leg for real. Thank God for all those sit spins I've done in my life!

I am also thankful that we have a home gym, with an elliptical trainer and all-over weight machine. I was working out before I had a surgery date but it was sporadic; now that I have a goal date I can be more focused in my training. I have had to work back up to longer times on the elliptical; at first my hip was throbbing after 15 minutes, and now I'm up to almost 40 minutes before the pain becomes intolerable. I haven't added much resistance but I have increased my step rate, and I just have to keep reminding myself not to bounce!

I trick myself into thinking I'm training for an athletic event and that makes it a bit more fun. If I thought about how much work I'm putting into building up the muscles in my legs, and how those muscles are going to be cut, and then atrophy, in just over 5 weeks, I probably couldn't face the machine each day. Instead I imagine I'm getting ready for ski season, or a cross-country bike tour, or a skating test. So far this trickery has worked.

I've also put together a playlist of music for pre-surgery and, if they'll let me, during surgery. I have picked some of my favorite calming music. I'm hoping that will help my nerves, but perhaps valium would be better. Recently PAO'd hip chicks all comment that the anticipation is the worst part of this surgery, and I'm sure that's the case. A part of me would like to postpone this indefinitely, but the rational part of me says, "let's get this over with."

I'm off to the gym.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The following is something I posted to the Hipwomen Yahoo group in response to T*****, who was questioning having such major surgery with so little pain. I wanted to re-post it here for my friends and family, some of whom have asked me the same question. Terri

My PAO is scheduled for July and I ponder the same thing on days when I don't have hip pain, which are frequent. But then I realize how much I am limiting myself in order to be pain-free. I was out today on a beautiful spring day, driving with my husband, and saw people hiking. I realized that I hadn't gone for a hike or even a pleasant walk around the neighborhood since diagnosis last August. I have mostly avoided walking except for what is necessary to get around.

I think of how active I used to be just a year ago, and even though I don't have severe pain yet, I realize that in order to be that active again I have to do this. I backed off on things so gradually that I hardly realized that I wasn't doing much walking until I saw others hiking. I live in the middle of a forest with trails everywhere, and so I see a lot of hikers now that the weather is nice!

Before diagnosis I managed my condition by ignoring it. I had a little pain, some limitation of flexibility and lots of stiffness after exercise. I chalked this up to being "out of shape," which I wasn't. I thought it was what happened to people over 40 who liked to be active, until I realized that nobody else my age or older was walking bent over or having trouble standing up after exercise.

My surgeon said that if I didn't have the surgery, I would only be able to "manage" the condition by sitting on the couch and doing nothing, and eventually sitting would be painful too. That was not acceptable to me. He said eventually I wouldn't be able to walk at all because the pain would be so great.

Although I'm in the age range where a THR makes sense (I'm 46), I have almost no arthritis and he was pretty clear that PAO was the better option since it will preserve my own joint. If I did nothing my arthritis would get bad and I would no longer have the PAO option - only a THR/Resurf would be available if I waited. I didn't like that very much - I'd rather keep my own hip as long as possible. Since you are much younger than I, you probably have a much better chance of success with a PAO if your doctor recommends it. But you can't wait too long or you'll lose that opportunity.

I know that was sort of long-winded. I want you to know that many of us question this surgery on our good days. I just have to look at all of the things I've given up to keep my pain level manageable to know that I need to do this. Everyone has to make the decision that is right for them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

7 weeks (or, be careful what you wish for ...)

I have a date with a tall, handsome man with very steady hands. He's my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Mayo. My surgery will occur exactly 7 weeks from today, on July 8th.

A few posts ago I was annoyed that I couldn't get a firm date, and that it looked like I wouldn't get a date in July. Now that I have the date, I'm suddenly freaking out. Seven weeks is not a long time. So much to do, so little time.

July 8th is almost exactly one year from when I first had symptoms and sought answers. I've been ranting, uh, blogging for what seems like forever about the minutiae of my hip troubles (this is post #61 in less than a year) without really getting to the heart of the matter; you know, the long-awaited pre-surgery buildup, day of surgery horror stories, post-surgery reminiscences, and sexy scar photos.

But now that's all within reach. I've got a list of things to do which will keep me from going off the deep end in the near term. I have friends and family and this blog to keep me going for the next 49 days. But I may need someone to drag me inside the hospital doors the morning of July 8th. I have a very strong fight or flight response!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

Where are the penny slot machines?

Day two of my trip to Las Vegas. I am here for nothing more than relaxation, while staying at Mandalay Bay.

I arrived with a cold, and on day one did more walking than planned (Portland airport, McCarren airport (which is huge), hotel (we are at the end of a very long corridor), to and from "O" last night from valet parking, to dinner, around casino. I have not yet given in to the temptation to get a wheelchair and let my cohorts push me around. Not yet.

This morning I decided to go out to the pool and bake my cold a bit. My hips were less sore than I thought they would be after yesterday. I found some shade (I am a pasty white Northwest Pacific native, and it's 110 degrees here), and got into the pool. After seeing "O" I was inspired to do some aquatherapy.

I'm sure the lifeguard and people lounging in the heat thought it was pretty funny to see pasty white woman with hat, sunglasses and mega sunscreen walking briskly up and down the length of the 4 foot deep pool over and over again, and even JOGGING. Yes, jogging, something that I can do in the pool without pain. I must have walked across the pool 100 times, and then did a bunch of pool stretches a la "O." I could actually move in the water without pain, although I might have overdone it. We'll see how sore I am tomorrow. I felt like I could have walked for hours!

I don't like swimming (Chlorine! Cold water!) and don't really have access to a pool at home, but this was nice. If we had weather like this I'd swim every day. After surgery I'll join a club with a pool at least temporarily because I know this will be good for me.

Tomorrow Cher is on the agenda, along with the Barry Manilow store. That's right, Barry, who despite two hip replacements is still dancing and giving a great show well into his 70's. We saw Barry's show in Portland a year ago, and the Barry store is definitely on the "to do" list. I'll see if I can find out the name of his hip surgeon too while I'm at it.

P.S. - I STAND CORRECTED by Crissy, who is evidently a Barry Manilow fan; in this post I erroneously reported Barry to be "well into his 70's" when he is, in fact, in his mid 60's, but still fab. Also, according to reliable source Crissy, Barry had labral repair and not a hip repacement; many hip chicks reading this can relate. Blogs are not checked for accuracy by the blog police, and I don't pass myself off as a serious journalist, but I don't want to get nailed by other Manilow fans (myself being one) for perpetrating misinformation. THR or not, Barry's still the HIPPEST in my book.

More on Manilow

Note however that the article in the link above, from 2006, states that Barry was 60 years old. Wikipedia confirms Crissy's report of Barry's birthdate (he will turn 66 on June 17th), but clearly some confusion regarding Barry's age abounds in the press.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Around Anchorage

Last October, exhibiting the "Old Normal" - disco pants and all!

I spent the weekend in Anchorage, which is a 6 hour plane ride (plus a layover in Seattle and a one-hour time change) from Portland. Because of the distance from the lower 48, it's not the type of place you normally go for just a weekend, but I was asked to come up and judge some skating tests and always love going to Alaska, so I said yes.

I again found myself bumped to the front of the security line just because I have a cane. Again, I didn't argue with this; I suppose it's one of the only perqs for those with hip dysplasia and other disabilities. I felt kind of silly since I still envision myself as I was 9 months ago - healthy and young - and figured everyone in line saw the sham.

That was before I caught sight of myself reflected in the glass-lined walkway as I made my way through security. Who is that old, stooped over woman, shuffling along? Not an athlete or dancer with good posture and a spring in her step. That's the person I am inside my head, but the mirror told me the truth. I have certainly aged since August.

Once in Anchorage I did my judging and then went sightseeing with one of the coaches, her dad, and the other judges. Thankfully we were driven in a van and only got out to walk around when we got to our destination, where we had dinner and then came home. Quite the sedentary sightseeing, and so different from what I used to do.

I did do a lot more walking than usual though, and probably walked faster than my "new normal" pace. On Sunday morning I walked "around" the lake which was near the hotel. The old me would have done exactly that. The new me walked "around" -- meaning "near," not "on the perimeter of" -- the lake. That means I went from the hotel lobby to the lake, walked about a block along the shore, then turned around and came back. That was my limit. I was sore when I arrived home at midnight Sunday.

I hope that my future state "new new normal" after surgery is somewhat closer to the old normal, although I fear I will never really be "normal" again. It would also be nice to feel my age again, and not like this androgynous, clunky, staggering, shuffling elderly lady I've become. I hope to hold myself tall and walk like a dancer or an athlete again. I hope to some day really be able to walk "around" the lake; hell, I'd like to be able to walk all around Anchorage. I hope some day to be "around" normal.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Kianoosh, Chris, Molly and me freezing our patooties off in California

Yesterday I went to the (ice) rink and worked on novice moves. No, silly, the NEW novice moves. That's right! The new novice moves that will take effect a year from this fall. That's just in time for me to test them after my two surgeries and rehabilitations are over. No more nasty spirals, which with my hips are really impossible, and the loops and twizzles are oodles of fun. I am working on the entire test now on the rare days I actually skate. And yes, I am serious, now that the spirals are gone my goal is to test them post surgery. Having a goal like that will help get me back out there, and the timing of the changes to the test structure seem about right for my recovery, if all goes well.

The forward loops took a bit of practice and a lesson from coach R, since they are on half circles and not full circles, but since I passed my 3rd test back when dinosaurs roamed the earth they came back pretty quickly. I'm pretty good at counters although they hurt my hips right now, but I'm hoping post surgery/rehab that won't be an issue. The new twizzle move is just plain fun because thankfully twizzles are the only thing on ice that has ever come easily to me. Stepping forward after the BI twizzles to a FI edge is challenging for someone with no turnout, but I can do it in a squeaky way. {Judges, Beware! Read this blog no further; ISU has come out with a new communique! Run, don't walk, to ISU's web site and disregard the rest of this paragraph!!} With practice I think I can find a sneaky way to do the step forward so that judges don't notice I'm cheating. Well, because I cheat most everything and so far I have two gold medals to show for a lifetime of hip-induced nasty faux skating trickery. So there.

{Welcome back judges!} In other news, the surgeon's office has told me they are not scheduling July at all due to a personal issue for the doctor. I can understand that, but still, I had my entire life focused on July. I am now focusing on August or later. This messes up my fall judging schedule and things at work, not to mention the planned post-surgery vacation that Perry and I are looking forward to. I so want this over with so that I can stop worrying and get back to my life. After all, I have a novice moves test to pass.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Dating Dilemma

Yesterday we closed on our house re-finance. This means we took a bunch of equity out of our house in order to pay for my two surgeries. We also got a hell of a nice interest rate on our mortgage (4.75%, yippee), so we feel pretty good about that part of it. Not so good about having to raid essentially all of my non-retirement life savings in order to pay for surgery, of course.

Since I’m now funded, in case Aetna doesn’t want to play nice, I talked to the surgeon’s office today about getting an exact date in July. If I get the date I want (July 1), that’s only a bit over 8 weeks away, and there is so much to do between now and then.

They replied that they are “not ready” to schedule July because they are “not sure what they are doing quite yet.” Huh? Does that mean they may or may not be around in July? I want to have confidence in the people who will be cutting my pelvis apart and screwing it back together. I don’t have high confidence in people who are “not sure what they are doing.”

This answer also ticks me off. Do they not realize that I need to schedule time off work (and frankly, it’s not going to be easy for those at my office when I’m gone), file papers for STD and FMLA, get a bye on my coveted downtown parking spot, order a hospital bed for my home, order other post-surgical necessities, get a hotel room in Tacoma for the night before surgery, donate blood for myself (twice), get an appointment for a pre-surgery physical with my GP (who normally has a THREE MONTH lead time), etc., etc., etc. These are just the things I can think of off the top of my head.

I know doctors put a premium on nobody’s time but their own (no offense intended, any MDs that are reading this, but you know I’m right). That is why you can wait an hour and a half to see a doctor for 20 minutes, and there is no guilt or remorse shown by the doc or the staff. So perhaps this surgery scheduling is done last minute, so that I can scramble to get everything done, because the surgeon doesn’t believe that I have a life outside of their operating table to deal with beforehand.

Yes, I am feeling pissy. I have been recently promoted at work, and so I’m working a lot of hours and taking on a lot of new responsibility, all of which will be put on hold somehow for 6 – 8 weeks starting in July, which is just around the corner. I have to get everything in order with my staff and projects before then. I am doing some traveling to judge and for vacation, so I’m not going to be at anyone’s beck and call to just run on down to the blood donation center. I have scheduled a week-long visit from my stepdaughter, who I haven’t seen in a couple of years. My stepson is graduating from high school, and we are having a party. And on, and on, and on, the same list of real-life things to do that any of my hip sisters probably had before their surgeries as well. I will be putting most of my life on hold post-surgery, as will my husband, and my mother, who has promised to stay with me during the day while my husband is at work. Other family members and friends have been equally generous with their future time.

I am a project manager by trade and temperament. I need a time line. I need a countdown. I am at odds with nothing to plan toward except a vague “July.” I need a surgery date.