Sunday, November 29, 2009

Two Weeks (PAO #2)

It has been two weeks since PAO#2. In a nutshell:
~The incision looks great
~CPM has been at 90 degrees for several days so I'll be sending it back soon
~The left hip doesn't feel much different than the right hip did at this stage, except the numb patch is much larger. The numb patch goes from the incision down to my knee along the outside of my leg, whereas on the right it was just around and to the outside of the incision in a patch the size of my hand.
~I am able to shower and dress unassisted, with occasional help needed getting my left sock on (sometimes I can do it, sometimes I can't).
~I am able to work from home and have been doing so a few hours per day as needed. Luckily it's rather slow at work right now.
~I can do some very light housework. Two thumbs up for the roomba.

Here are my upcoming milestones:
~Finish Fragmin shots and lose the TEDs - 4 more days
~Able to get in the therapy pool - 2 more weeks
~Allowed to drive - 4 more weeks
~Follow-up appointment with Dr. Mayo - 5 more weeks

So it's really 5 more weeks of healing, not doing much, and looking forward to the follow-up appointment where if all goes well I'll be told that I can bear weight, lose the crutches, and start PT. That's when the rehabilitation really begins.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

One Week (PAO#2)

I haven't felt much like blogging; it just seems too repetitive from last time and I am busy with other projects. I'll focus in these updates just on things different from last time.

~I had some pretty major issues in the hospital. Dr. Mayo was appalled when I told him the story. I have made a formal complaint to the floor supervisor and I sent a letter to the CEO of the hospital per Dr. Mayo's request. I don't want to alarm anyone going to Tacoma General. I don't think it's any worse then any other public hospital. But I will reiterate that you MUST be your own healthcare advocate. Best if you have friends/family with you at all times in any hospital setting to watch out for you. Bottom line: hospital wards are understaffed and therefore nurses, as caring as they might be, have a workload that is too large to put your health first. That's the way it is folks. (For details, please contact me directly and I will send you the letter.)
~Because of what happened in the hospital I had to be able to get my own leg out of the CPM more quickly than last time. Using a folded sheet I was able to do this on the 4th day after surgery.
~Since having the epidural removed, I have been taking one Oxycodone 20 mg every 12 hours for pain. Unlike last time, I am taking nothing else. My pain level is about a 1 most of the time which is the same as the last time with the short-acting meds, so I don't miss them. I would like to wean off the pain meds over the next week.
~I was able to shower and dress myself yesterday and only needed help getting my left TED on.
~Speaking of TEDs, this time they itch. I have some other itching which I don't remember from last time so I am taking hydroxizine for that every 12 hours. It could also be the time of year - it is winter vs. summer and my skin is drier due to central heating.
~I am up to 75 degrees on the CPM. This CPM is ancient and makes a loud metal-on-metal screeching noise about every 5 minutes, so I have been wearing ear plugs and noise canceling earphones in order to sleep.
~My right leg is holding up well and I am crutching around fine. Only used the walker in the hospital but when I got home switched to crutches.
~I've done a lot of sleeping.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm Bilaterally Undysplastic

Nobody over the age of 40 should have to wear knee highs!

Surgery #2 done. Just a brief note to say I am feeling pretty good, as good or better than last time. Epidural again numbed both legs so couldn't walk today; will try again tomorrow.

Same thing happened with dinner post op as last time. I told everyone that I was vegetarian. At least 4 people. So, of course they brought me meat. I asked for something different and said "no pasta with marinara, too spicy." So that is exactly what they brought me.

It made me a bit nauseous just to smell it so I skipped dinner but had a good appetite this AM.

The vampires came at 2 AM to draw blood and had to stick me 4 times ... the blood clotted before they could get it to the lab ... and they finally took it from my fingertip. Sigh, they didn't believe me when I said hard stick. They never do.

Photo is of me with Valerie, PT, sitting on the edge of the bed today. Notice my green leg and very puffy self from all the IV fluids. Lovely picture but I'm on enough drugs to post it publically!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another night before

This is getting a bit boring as I retrace my steps toward PAO#2.

First the good things -- I got to meet fellow hipster and blogger Matt, who was having a follow-up appointment right before my pre-op appointment. He has now been cleared to bear weight and start physical therapy. I remember that day well, and hope that he is out celebrating!

Everyone at Dr. Mayo's office was nice and happy to see me, and Keri and Sara both remarked that they think I am the fastest second surgery they know of. Usually it's a 6-month wait, and I am at 4 months and 10 days. Sara said I appear to be farther along healing-wise than many people at 6 months. She also cautioned me that the second recovery may be more difficult, and my right hip might hurt when it has to bear all of my weight for the next 8 weeks. Something I knew, but good to hear it validated.

The hospital pre-op was ho-hum since I'd been through it only 4 months before. The anesthesiologist actually asked me why I was there, since there was no need to meet if I had no questions. I requested Dr. Swineheart (my wonderful anesthesiologist from PAO#1) for tomorrow but there are no guarantees.

Perry and I ate at the Hub (restaurant tip for Dr. Mayo's patients from out of town, we recommend the Hub in Tacoma). We are now back at the hotel room, I've had my hibiclens shower, washed my hair for the last time in a week, shaved my legs for the last time in who knows how long, and set the alarm for 4:30 AM.

I am much more relaxed than last time. Not looking forward to it, but ready to get this over with and start my new 100% non-dysplastic life.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Last Skate Revisited

The Monday before my prior Wednesday hip surgery Tim and I skated for a couple of hours. Even though he was not available today, I figured it couldn't hurt for me to go alone because I'm a bit superstitious and figure if I repeat what I did last time it might make this time go well too.

I have skated several times now since being cleared by Dr. Mayo. Today was definitely better than the others. That may be because I had a "what the hell" attitude. After all, if I fall or pull a muscle it doesn't really matter because I'll be able to lie around and recuperate for 8 weeks.

So I attempted a lot of new things today. I wanted to see which limitations were in my head and which were physical. Turns out a lot of them really are physical. My quad and hip flexors usually start hurting within 5 minutes of taking the ice. It's not horrible pain but it is enough to notice, and worsens to the point where I really can't do much with my right leg by about 30 minutes. This pain is accompanied by weakness, meaning that I can only have my weight on my right leg alone for a certain amount of time before I can't hold it any more, and I can't hold a good extension at any angle.

I started with FO and FI eights (figures) and FO and FI loops. Not bad really. I did choctaws (blues and rhumba) and rockers (FO, FI, BO, BI). Slowly, I might add. The first rhumba choctaw I can do, but don't have the strength in my right leg to hold the BO edge long enough to step forward on the second choctaw in the sequence, so I had to put my foot down in between. I skipped counters because twisting while bending was difficult and I was experiencing pain in the flexors by then. I bit the bullet and did FO and FI twizzles with some speed on both feet and they weren't too bad. I did a BI upright spin (on my right leg).

Finally, I tried to do a hydroblade just to prove the absolute limits of my limitations, because I was darn sure it would be impossible and I was right. As I started to bend down (I didn't get very far) my right leg muscles all instantly rebelled with screaming pain. OK, that is going to take more time. A LOT more time ... in the gym.

Right now I feel like I have one good leg and one bad. Next time I skate they will both be "post-op," meaning "bad." Most of the confidence I have right now is based on my left leg still feeling about the same as before. Next time I won't have my strong left leg to bail me out if I get into trouble. Next time it will be a brave new world of learning to deal with new balance points on both sides and a new reality of weakness and pain until I am able to build those muscles back up.

I figure I'll be cleared to skate again 4 months after PAO#2, which lands me squarely on March 18th, my 47th birthday. It's on my calendar.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Good things come in threes

Since this blog is about me I do talk about myself a lot. Sometimes even I tire of it and think I should blog about something else for a change, but then I realize how infinitely entertaining the minutiae of my life must be to everyone else.

Well hey, you all do read this, right?

In any case, the following good things have happened in my life this month:

~I am about to be promoted at work (a significant promotion which should have happened a long time ago, but better late than never).
~I received my National ice dance judging appointment, which means fans can boo and criticize my matronly fashion choices and blame me in online chat groups for all that is wrong in figure skating. This I will choose to ignore.

What will be the third good thing? I am hopeful that it will be a successful outcome of my surgery on Wednesday.

And yes, world peace would also be a nice bonus but I am not holding my breath.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My dream: hangin' out in the lutz corner

This will be more hilarious to my skating friends than to my hippy friends, but I just had to memorialize it here. Last night I had a dream that I was in a kitchen (not my kitchen, but someone else's, I'm not sure whose) practicing off-ice double lutzes in the "lutz corner" (aka just a corner between the cabinets and the kitchen island). They were good too; extremely high and landed cleanly.

So I haven't done a double lutz in probably 30 years and I haven't done off-ice jumps for almost as long. Why the dream, especially when I am now an ice dancer and don't jump? Until I was about 40 I used to do an axel every year on my birthday just to prove I still could, but otherwise not a whole lotta jumping going on until the summer when Tim was injured and I started practicing freestyle, including jumps, just for something to do. Not soon after I started jumping again I was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and that was the end of that. I am not so foolish to compromise my newly reconstructed acetabula by jumping again, so it's not something I plan to do ever again.

But those double lutzes in the dream, even though they were on linoleum and not on ice, sure felt damn good.

So today I did go back to the rink, this time on a public session. I didn't try to do actual ice dances but just worked on basics and did much better. Doing dances is difficult because so much is going on. Basics are not as challenging right now. I found that back crossovers were much easier than forward crossovers. It's hard to lift my operated leg to stroke when going forward but I do OK going backward. I did double 3's (FO/BI and FI/BO) and those were OK. I did lots of 3 turns and mohawks.

Just very basic, basic skating but I had my head up and a bit more extension this time. I still started to have hip flexor pain after about 20 minutes. I know, I know. It is still healing. Perhaps after the next surgery and another 8 weeks on crutches not doing much of anything the hip flexors will heal enough to allow better skating when I am ready to try again.

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's a long, long haul

On my 4 month hippiversary (yesterday), I went to the social dance session and skated for an hour. My right hip flexor was sore by about the halfway mark, and still hurts today, so an hour was probably too much but I keep thinking ... when can I start pushing myself?

Since I look pretty good just walking around -- I walk pretty fast, with an occasional slight limp -- most people wouldn't guess I have 7 screws in my pelvis.

But when I get on the ice it's apparent to all who know me that I am not myself. It's going to be a long, long haul.

Of course I'm really just getting on the ice for rehab benefits and not trying to re-learn how to skate just yet. That would be silly since I'm facing PAO #2 a week from Wednesday. But my skills have deteriorated to the point where the old me would have been embarrassed to even show my face at a dance session filled with very skilled skaters and with a large audience of mall shoppers. I used to love that audience because I am a performer, and I was a decent skater, so it was fun.

One of my wise hip sisters pointed out to me that I need to Dance As Though Nobody is Watching. But people ARE watching, and I am aware of them and basically I suck. Before surgery I skated like an adult who skated as a kid. Now I skate like a brand new adult skater and that's a very different story. I'm not trying to offend anyone out there, but for those of us who skated as kids, "skating like an adult" is not a compliment.

I can do three turns, but my free leg has to bend, I have to jerk my arms, and I have to wide step. Mohawks with a bit of speed are jerky and hurt my hip. My head is always down looking for the rut I'm going to trip in. My hands and shoulders are up and my arms are stiff. My knees are locked. My toes are not pointed. My extensions are non-existent. I am going about half speed, if that. My edges are flat. Expression? What's that? For someone who has passed standard gold and international dance tests this is almost too much to bear.

We sometimes catch snippets of audience conversation as we skate by, and since I am traveling so slowly I heard a long snippet yesterday. "The one with the big butt pads can't skate." Well, enough said.

One of my skating buddies asked me if it is "hard to start over." They might as well have said, "God, you look like shit!" but I don't want to put words in their mouth and of course I am taking it hard because that's what I think too. I pointed out that I could either be at the rink trying or be home not trying, and I'll never get any better with the latter approach. Despite being able to walk with just a bit of a limp, my skating muscles are just not strong enough to bend and push enough to make me look like a competent ice dancer.

Despite all the above, I did the following dances (all solo as I don't feel competent to partner yet, although I did do a Canasta Tango with Doug who is not only brave but extremely qualified to hold me up):

~All preliminaries
~All pre-bronzes except only parts of the Fiesta (can't do the step forward at the end)
~All bronzes
~European Waltz (not too bad),
~American Waltz
~Silver Samba

So keep in mind that when I say I "did" the dances, they were at slow speed, off time, not pushing, on flats, no extensions, etc. I could do most of the steps and turns, sometimes on two feet, but not well.

And let's not have a party just because I listed the Viennese and Samba. The Viennese was basically a walkthrough of the steps -- no speed, no edges, on two feet when needed, and tiny pattern. The Samba is an easy dance to solo and hey, I was barely pushing so it was barely recognizeable as the dance I passed a year ago. Sigh. I am the proudest of it because when the music started I was going to go stand at the barrier but instead I just grit my teeth and did two sucky patterns and tried to actually skate it as best I could. I stayed mostly off two feet and kind of on time, bouncing along on flats.

I am not sure whether to be happy about all I can do or sad about all I can't do, and I realize I am expressing both in this post. I have gone from depressed to happy to depressed again ever since I got off the ice yesterday. Any of you who are getting ready to lecture me please think about how hard it would be for you to lose all of your hard-won skills (skills fought for over a lifetime, in fact, because I've always been fighting my dysplasia). I'm also facing 4 more months of rehab on the other side before, if I am lucky, getting to this point again, and then the real work of learning to skate again will start.

This is why it's a long road. Some days I'm happy just to be walking again. I know some people who are 4-months post PAO are barely off crutches, so I should be happy with my progress. Other days I stress out at what I'm facing if I want to some day test another international dance (Cha Cha Congelado, which probably could have been tested last year if I had taken the time to work on it instead of stressing about my upcoming surgery), which may or may not be possible but sounds like a good goal to me.

And of course, it all pales by comparison to what's going on in the world. I remind myself that it's only skating and not world peace, and I am just one person, and maybe my time could be better spent pursuing non-athletic endeavors when this is all over.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Four Month Update

In Las Vegas with Perry for Halloween

The four month mark is still a few days away, but I don't think much will change between now and then. This is also the "seventeen-week update," but that doesn't have the same cachet.

I just spent 4 days in sunny Las Vegas for a friend's 50th birthday party. Perry and I walked at least two miles every day. The first day we walked three miles. We did not walk particularly fast since we were on the strip and it was halloween, thus crowded, but I certainly felt like I was working my hips.

So at 4 months I am feeling pretty normal in many ways, even though I still have a long way to go. I almost never have what I would call pain, although the muscles still get stiff on exertion. My hip never swelled a huge amount, but it is still swollen - noticeably larger than my other hip. Dr. Mayo did not seem concerned. I guess in two weeks when I do the other hip they will match, but I would like them both to go back to normal size at some point.

Vegas was a good test of normal everyday hip function. I did a lot of walking, standing and sitting. Most people couldn't tell I was limping. I still am nervous in crowds.

I still haven't done any heavy-duty strength training (waiting until after PAO#2). I feel flabby all over my body. Strength and stamina are way below normal. Flexibility is way, way below normal. But on a typical day doing typical non-athletic things, I am fine and dandy and rarely think about my hip.