Friday, October 30, 2009

W Pose

Fool that I am, I went to yoga class last night after skating yesterday, thinking the stretching would be helpful. The instructor decided to focus on "hip flexibility" (gag!) so there were certain things I did not do. However, for the first time ever in a yoga class, we did ... drumroll please ... W POSE!!

That's right, the only yoga pose designed specifically for anteverted dysplastics. I had no idea it existed, although I did say in a prior post, "let them all try to sit in 'W'!" and now my wish has come true. I smugly looked around the room and saw that none of my super flexible classmates, including the instructor, could do the pose very well so I flaunted my superior ability to get those knees down while everyone else made faces and looked supremely uncomfortable. Finally a yoga pose at which I can excel! Finally they know what it feels like to be me during all of the external rotation poses! Of course I'm sure nobody noticed that I could do the pose, just like I'm sure they don't notice all the stuff I can't do. Yoga class isn't all about me, after all.

After all of that exercise, this morning I feel pretty sore in my glutes (likely from the skating), but it's a good pain showing that I worked out. My hip flexors are just a bit sore. My hip joint itself has no pain at all. This is what makes it all worthwhile.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

First Legal Sk8

Today I went to the rink during my lunch break and skated for about 45 minutes. This was the first Dr-Mayo-Approved skate and per his request I was careful, but pushed myself harder than my two prior illegal and unauthorized skates.

It is interesting to note the difference between my "good" (unoperated) and "bad" leg. Stamina in the right hip is terrible. My leg gets tired after about a lap of stroking and I have to stop and rest, but not for long. I can put my full weight on my good leg and it feels normal, but if I put my full weight on my right on a good edge with knee bend I can't hold it for long. I can hold an edge, just not with good knee bend and pressure through the leg.

Overall I felt a bit wobbly but another skater who was watching said he couldn't tell and that I looked strong. I spent most of the time doing forward and backward stroking (last time going backward scared me, but I spent a long time doing back crossovers today since that works the right muscles). I did forward outside and inside eights to warm up, and forward outside loops. I did forward swing and cross rolls. I tried to do a few more turns than last time; since my balance is off turns are a bit scary. I did 3 turns and mohawks, cross roll 3s, then double forward outside twizzles on both feet (those are the easiest twizzles for me), Blues choctaws, and careful Kilian choctaws (those were the hardest turns I tried). I did back pivots and long back outside edge glides (could do them fairly well on my left leg but just barely on my right).

Knowing where I am at almost 4 months is a good barometer for where I'll be after surgery #2. Adult Nationals is in mid-April and while I will NOT be competing (ha - the very thought!), I hope to be selected to judge. If that happens my goal is to skate the social dance session afterwards. That will be about 5 months after PAO#2 and I now think I might be able to handle it. That's not saying I will be doing high-level dances, but at least I'll bring my skates and try the easier dances.

Several hip sisters have said that 5 months is a good time to try to meet a goal. I don't have a 5-month goal for the RPAO since the LPAO is happening before 5 months, but now I have a 5-month goal for the LPAO.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sixteen Week Update

I’m just back from judging the Southwest Pacific Regional figure skating competition in Scottsdale. Now, just because it’s hot in Scottsdale does not mean you should assume that the rink isn’t a freezing hellhole. Putting a good spin on things (no pun intended), it was cold enough to be a really good test of my almost-4-months-post-RPAO hip. There’s nothing quite like sitting for a couple of hours at a time on an uncomfortable folding chair in arctic cold to test the mettle of the metal in your body.

I did OK. When I first stood up from judging long events I sometimes had to take a couple of steps to get going again. I limped some days worse than others. I had some interesting pins and needles sensations in my hip here and there (nerves regenerating?) which felt like someone was pinging me with a rubber band from inside my leg. This usually occurred in the middle of an event.

When traversing the lobby to get outside or to the restroom I dodged a lot of kids and their preoccupied parents who were determined to run into me. I felt naked and vulnerable without a cane to warn them away. It is truly amazing how few people look where they are going nowadays thanks to cell phones and other distractions. People don’t apologize when they run into you either. They also pee all over the toilet seat in the women’s bathroom, but that’s another matter.

The final event ran late and I had to get from the rink to the airport quickly to catch a flight. I grabbed my luggage and met the volunteer driver in front of the rink, only to see her pull up in the hugest truck I had ever seen. I am not a tall person, and my ability to step up is compromised, so when I opened the door I just looked up in horror at the humongous step I was going to have to take with my right leg to get into the vehicle (the way the seat was positioned, I couldn't step in with my left leg). There was nothing to grab onto, nothing to step up on, just what appeared like a 4-foot hurdle in front of me. Since we were late I vaulted as best I could and grabbed onto the seat for dear life, pulling myself up with my arms so I was pretty much laying on the seat, then pulling myself up and inside. It was certainly not a pretty sight for anyone standing behind me, but at least I made it in without falling down. That would have been ugly indeed.

Speaking of falling down, in preparation for my LPAO I am trying to practice sleeping the entire night on my back (I fall asleep that way but I usually wake up on my left side). I practice getting up from chairs with my weight only on the right foot. I think it’s time to start practicing using crutches on the other side. I am so used to favoring my right side that it will be difficult to be non-weight bearing on my left! I fear I will accidentally put all my weight on it because I’m trained to think of my left leg as my “good” leg.

So much for that, because in just a few weeks I won’t really have a good leg any more. Both of them will be “in recovery.” It’s nice to have at least one good (pre-op) leg so I can compare my operated leg with it to see how far from normal the operated leg is. I dread losing that point of reference. What will I compare my right leg to once the left leg is post-PAO? How will I know when I’ve fully rehabbed the right leg? For this reason the left PAO scares me more. I will be past the point of no return. No more knowing what my hips have always felt like which, while sub-optimal, is comforting because it is familiar.

I feel myself starting to get all mushy and philosophical about this, so I ‘m going to put the kibosh on the pity party right now. Lefty has to be done and I know that I will be better off in the end, even though I will never be the same. As Dr. Mayo says, I will always have pain and my hips will never be normal, but if all goes well a year from now I will be as close to normal as I’ve ever been. Well, my hips will be anyway.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween is coming ... out for those who want your blood!

Because of the short turnaround time between the day Dr. Mayo confirmed my surgery date and the actual date, donating blood for myself is not a good idea. I would have to donate two pints within 3 weeks, and that doesn't leave my body much time to replenish its blood supply before surgery. This could lead to weakness and slow healing.

(Plus, as longtime readers know, my veins suck. Giving blood, for me, was the worst part of the PAO surgery process.)

So thank you once again to my mom and also to my Auntie Evie, who are each going to donate a pint of blood on my behalf. I promise to take good care of it! XOXO Terri

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fifteen Weeks and my chat with Dr. Mayo

First, to avoid any unnecessary suspense, my left PAO is now confirmed for November 18th. My right leg is healing well. I am walking OK ("gets better as I get going" says Dr. Mayo), my strength and ROM are good, and the x-rays look OK.

I am also cleared to skate. If I fall on my hip it will hurt. A lot. More than before. But I won't do any damage to his work. He just said to take it easy and build up my muscles over time.

Dr. Mayo is very quotable. Below is what he said about my left hip. Note that my left hip's dysplasia is just as bad as that of my right hip, but it doesn't hurt as much. This isn't a direct quote, just a paraphrase:

"Normally I would not operate on a hip that isn't fully symptomatic. We'd just watch it and see. However, your dysplasia is so severe that it's only a matter of time. Studies have shown that the best long-term PAO success happens for people who had the least arthritis to begin with. So it's best to do it as early as you can."

Sign me up.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A hip skate ...

I had to be at the rink today for a meeting and so I decided to skate even though I am not cleared to do so yet. I realize I am not a model patient but ... oh come on, people. I know hip chicks who have skied, ridden horses and ridden bikes at this point in their recovery. The only issue is falling down, and I am capable of doing that without ice and blades, not that I have yet. I was ready with an alibi, OK, a lie, to tell Dr. Mayo about how I received my injuries if I did fall ("damn cat ran right in front of me and I couldn't avoid her ... tripped and fell right down the stairs!") Yes, I am justifying my stupidity and I know none of you are buying it. I just could not go to the rink, yet again, and not skate.

I felt much stronger than the last time I skated at about 8 weeks (when I could barely walk). I skated for about 45 minutes and spent much of the time talking to people who were clearly jealous of my svelte and hip-looking butt pads. I actually enjoyed seeing friends but really wanted to skate more. Probably best that I did not since I am sure I overdid it. My hip flexors are screaming at me right now and I will be in more pain tomorrow, no doubt.

Skaters may be curious to know what I could and could not do. Forward stroking was OK at about 30% of normal power. Compared to last time, my hip abductors are actually working now and I can push to the side vs. just toe pushing. FI edges were OK. FO swing rolls were definitely stronger on my left than my right, but much better than at 8 weeks. Very cautious turns: RFO and LFO 3 turns, RFI and LFI mohawks, a couple of Blues choctaws (painful), one pathetic Kilian choctaw (painful), FO loops on both feet (two footed at the top of the loop) and one very slow and cautious set of LBO double twizzles (not painful at all). Note that my left leg is my "good" (unoperated) leg; I didn't try any twizzles on my right leg, I'm not totally insane! I was, however, spotted doing the forward samba steps from the Silver Samba at very slow speed.

FO mohawk a la rocker foxtrot was the most difficult turn I tried but my compromised ability to externally rotate was always a problem for me on those turns, and continues to be an issue. I could barely do one holding on to the rail. It's almost impossible. FO mohawks a la fourteenstep were a bit better, but forced and painful. I did 2 off the rail at very slow speed.

As mentioned, I had been concerned about turnout. It's not as good as I would like it to be, and it is worse than pre-PAO but may improve as I heal. I think if I were doing all these turns at speed I would have problems rotating. It will take some time to re-learn how to fake them consistently with my new alignment and worse turnout than before, but I think that it's all do-able with a lot of work, other than the FO mohawks. I may have to kiss the foxtrot, rocker foxtrot, and starlight waltz good-bye. Thank God I took Tim through the rocker and starlight tests before the PAO!

Overall I'd say right now, compared to pre-PAO, I am at about 30% stamina, 35% leg strength, and 25% flexibility. My posture is terrible but then again those muscles are weak. I am also in the bad habit of looking down right now - a bit scared to hit a rut or something on the ice like a french fry (the food court is directly above us in the mall rink) and go down on my hip. The fear of falling is something I am going to have to work through. I know how much a direct hit to the hip is going to hurt me and it's mentally limiting. I don't have much ability to bend my knees; this is not so much a knee or quad strength issue but I can't flex much at the hip and that prevents everything else from bending including knees and ankles. It's not surprising that I am stiff but that will take time to work through.

I now know some of the challenges and what I need to work on off the ice before next time. I do promise that next time won't be before I see Dr. Mayo and ask him for his blessing.

Luckily enough, I have an appointment with Dr. Mayo on Tuesday to find out how I'm doing and verify my upcoming surgery date in November. Perhaps he'll tell me to stay off the ice until 4 months (Nov. 8) but I'm hoping he'll let me out of the penalty box sooner.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

14 Weeks Down, 5 Weeks to Go

The countdown to PAO#2 has now begun, even as I count the weeks since my first PAO. Here's the weekly status report.

~After feeling like crap a week ago, today my hip feels the best it has since surgery. That may be due to the body work my PT did yesterday (she is the best), or to the pilates class I took last night, or to the fact that the sun came out briefly yesterday. All I know is, I got up this morning and was able to walk immediately with no pain and no hitching. Usually I am stiff and sore when I first get up; it's a given. This morning I felt almost normal from the first step.
~One thing I do know is that recovery from PAO is not linear. You make progress, you regress, you make more progress ... as long as the general direction is forward, it's all good.
~My scar has healed beautifully - it's a thin pink line that I hardly notice. It is covered by my swimsuit, except when I hike it up a bit to show off in my Seniors' Pool Exercise class, where everyone has a scar of some sort and mine is the newest and I dare say the prettiest.
~My cane has been unused for weeks. In fact, I'm not really sure where it is right now.
~I can walk a mile, but haven't tried to walk farther. It's rainy here and so I've been doing indoor exercises instead. My goal was to walk the Fairmount Loop (3.5 miles) by Thanksgiving. However, I will be one week post PAO#2 on Thanksgiving so I may have to try it the weekend before.
~I can do 30 minutes on the elliptical with no incline and no resistance.
~I am doing a lot of pulley work per my PT's orders, still swimming some, and going to the occasional yoga or pilates class (more on that later).
~My left (unoperated) hip sometimes hurts more than my right, but in a different way.
~Daily hazards still exist: I'm suspicious of revolving doors after a mishap around 10 weeks when someone got in behind me and gave the door a huge shove. I almost fell down. I don't like people to walk too close to me, and when they are coming at me fast in the opposite direction I get a little nervous. I don't want anyone to knock me over or bump my hip. I am also nervous in elevators. The other day someone banged my hip with a backpack in a crowded elevator and I doubled over and cried out in pain. I'm sure he thought I was overreacting, but I pretty much couldn't walk for 24 hours after that. I now stand with my purse way out in front of me to block people from getting near me. Paranoid is better than hurting.
~I guess that's what it will feel like when I start skating again and fall on my hip. Something to look forward to for sure.
~Carrying heavy loads still makes my hip hurt. I have tried to carry less except when I have no choice. I still think it's great to be able to carry a cup of coffee across the street and still have a hand free to open the door. Can't wait to be back on crutches ...
~ ...Not.
~Yes, I can tell when it's going to rain. It's autumn in Oregon so that's pretty much every day.
~I have gone to yoga and pilates classes. There are moves I can't do at all, and others I modify. Some of them I do pretty well unmodified. As someone asked on HipWomen, why does it seem every yoga move starts with, "rotate your hips outward"? I do a lot of the strength and balance moves with my hips square and no rotation, and they work fine for me that way. I see no reason to try to work on external rotation because let's face it folks, my femurs turn in. It is what it is and will always be. Let them all try sitting in "W"!
~I will admit, however, that it is disheartening to look around the class and see the people who have little core strength or balance but who can all sit smugly cross legged with their knees on the floor, or in lotus position ... everyone in the class can do it except me. I do a great plank ... and I can balance on one foot longer than anyone else (my knee is forward in tree pose, not out to the side, thank you very much) ... and I am the only one in the class who can roll up to standing from my back ... but I am not going to do those turnout moves. It's just not gonna happen.
~Note to self: Yoga is not about competition. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. Let it go. Breathe. Just be.
~Yeah, right.

Monday, October 12, 2009


This brings back so many memories ... working on choreography early in the morning in an almost empty rink. Notice that Tim and I have different ideas about when the lift should end, but it all works out because really, what choice did I have? It was either hit the position again or get dropped on my head.

Ah, I do miss getting dropped on my head.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fashion Week for Post-PAO'ers

I have a few more weeks before I am allowed to skate. November 8th is the date, but unfortunately I will be out of town judging a competition on that date, which means I will probably cheat and go skating a few days earlier before I leave on my trip. November 18th I go under the knife for PAO#2 so I need to make the most of those ten days on the ice. In anticipation, I ordered these:

I know all you female ice dancers are turning green with jealousy. Perhaps I'll start a new fashion trend at our Sunday social sessions. Trade in your sleek Seku tights for huge lumpy butt pads, woo hoo!

Post-PAO fashionistas who ski, snowboard, roller blade, bike, or skate may be interested in these and I'll give you my unbiased opinion on how they work as soon as I have a chance to try them out. Stay tuned for my product analysis in a few weeks. Meanwhile you can order your own here:

Three Months

I’ve never paid much attention to people who claim they can tell when the weather is about to change based on their aches and pains, any more than I pay attention to people who claim they communicate with aliens through the fillings in their teeth. But now, thanks to the 7 stainless steel screws holding my broken pelvic bones together, I too have joined the amateur meteorologist club.

A few days ago a cold front blew in; the night before that I couldn’t figure out why I was suddenly limping again. Ever since the weather changed, my upper thigh has been both achy and numb. Well, it’s always numb, but the achiness is new. I’ve been stiffer in the morning, and it has been harder for me to get moving after sitting for a period of time at work. Evidently this is my post-PAO body’s crappy way of welcoming fall.

This is the first status report in a long time where I can’t say that anything positive has happened over the past week. I’ve had to work harder to make less progress. My PT exercises are no longer energizing, but exhausting. My limited flexibility is not responding to my efforts, and in fact I seem to be regressing in that area. Overall I am starting to feel uninspired about this whole recovery thing.

I wouldn’t be normal if I never had a bad day, so please, no lectures about how a positive attitude is the key to my successful recovery. Pessimist though I am, I’ve posted mostly cheery and upbeat blog messages here over the past 3 months. Now, in the name of honest reporting, it’s time to wallow in my misery a bit.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thirteen Weeks

I received a letter from Dr. Mayo's office today telling me that my second surgery has been officially scheduled for November 18th. That's right, it's time to break out the iron and vitamin C pills again.

For those who want to do the math, that's just over 6 weeks away. I am much calmer now than I was at the same point in the countdown to PAO#1. I know what needs to be done, and I know what's important and what isn't. I'm not freaking out or picking fights with my husband. I know that my pain won't be nearly as bad as I imagined it would be at the beginning of this journey. I know how long rehab will take. I know how to go up and down stairs on crutches. I know not to take any crap from nurses who are having a bad day. I know who to call, and where to go, and what not to wear.

I'm still nervous because this is major surgery; it's not fun, and things can go wrong. However, this time I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am eager to put this hip journey behind me.