Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Onward to 2011 ...

For me, 2010 started on crutches and has ended with a hydroblade (well, half a hydroblade - I can get down and hold it but can't get back up ... yet).

2009 was a year of surgery; 2010 was a year of recovery. I hope that 2011 will be a year in which I think about my hips less and less, and eventually not at all.

For 2011 I am not planning any surgeries or trying to fit my life in around physical therapy and crutches. I don't have any looming doctor appointments. My x-rays are in storage.

I am looking forward to a front-row seat at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, NC next month. I am on the panel for all of the dance events from Novice to Championship. This will be the last competition I judge this season after a very full schedule. I am grateful that I am able to sit in the cold through an entire event without hip pain. (Some of the events at Junior Nationals went on for hours, with just one potty -- uh, Zamboni -- break.)

For those recovering from PAOs or preparing for surgery in 2011: it's going to be a long year, but when it's over you will have your own story to tell.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A holiday gift

This morning the rink was almost empty, so I decided to try some things I normally don't do on crowded sessions. I've been trying to do a hydroblade on my (stronger) right leg; something I used to do pre-PAO. I just haven't had the strength to go all the way down and usually get stuck half-way down. Today I just went for it and was able to get down and hold it for about half a circle. I could not get up (no surprise, that takes a lot of quad strength) but was already practically sitting on the ice so just fell.

I have been trying to get all the way down for several months. Now that I can do it, I will work on getting back up. Perhaps that will be my birthday present in March!

If you are a skater with hip problems (FAI, dysplasia, arthritis, traumatic injury, THR, PAO, arthroscopy, resurf ... you name it) and want to connect with other Hip Skaters, I have started a Yahoo Group called, believe it or not, Hip Skaters. I have met so many people who referred others to me, and I put them in touch with other skaters with their same problem. I wanted to build a forum where everyone could connect with each other without me in the middle. Skaters have special rehabilitation needs and desires. Please join our group if you can lend your expertise or if you need support.

Hippy Holidays to All! Terri

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Learning to Cheat

Now that I'm done whining about the claw, here are some of the things I've done on the ice this past week for those skaters who are curious. I have started to compensate more with my upper body to overcome the lack of turnout and have found some new ways to cheat which are even more wonderful than what I used to do pre-PAO. I am also still compensating for some strength deficits.

Yesterday I did some hard stuff:
~FO and FI triple twizzles
~Twizzle from our old free dance (with arm overhead)
~Inside and outside rockers from Jr. MIF (RFO rocker is still the tough one as the left free leg doesn't want to come through correctly yet)
~Starlight Waltz solo (first time I have gotten through the entire thing solo; still no flair on the closed MO - thank you claw - but I was able to do the 3 turns into the MO and then the mohawks down the ice on the back end - the stepforward from LBO to RFI has been impossible until last week and now I've learned to cheat it)
~Rhumba choctaw at glacial speed
~Cha Cha Congelado solo
~Ravensburger waltz solo at slow but not glacial speed with all twizzles

And also the stuff that is easy for everyone else but hard for me:
~Alternating FO 3 turns (The 3 turns are easy, the stepforward has been difficult but I've finally learned to use timing and momentum to cheat it - still scratchy though)
~Back crossovers then stepping forward from the back inside edge onto a forward outside edge (a choctaw but one of the most basic moves in skating and something that has taken me a very long time to learn how to cheat - can now do these at about half speed)
~The three turn move from the adult pre-bronze moves test (I can finally do this; had major issues with the LFI 3 turn for a while until the strength came back in my left leg. Now the 3 turns are easy and I can now finally step forward from BI to FI with a lot of compensation in the upper body for lack of turnout)
~Blues choctaw now up to about 1/2 speed (I don't have the strength in my left leg yet to really bend the knee at the start of the LFI lobe, so it's difficult to come up from that and rebend into the turn. Instead I tend to stay down and then can't stop the rotation very well, especially with speed)
~Power pulls (getting stronger but still shows exactly where my muscles are weak)
~Stopping (almost don't have to think about it which is amazing considering I couldn't even do a snowplow stop from a crawl a few months ago)

And that's today's report.

The Claw



By the way, that thing hanging down between my two hips that looks like a penis is actually a tampon. So much for modesty! Aren't x-rays fascinating?

Answer to Matt - My HO is much smaller and more localized than yours. I know yours prevented you from doing everyday things like driving so it was much more important to get it out. In my case it aches with exertion and keeps me from moving past about 70 degrees of flexion unassisted (although I can force it to 110 with my hands). I don't think mine impacts rotation per Dr. Mayo (and I have better rotation on the left, where the HO is, than on the right).

So I am not as anxious to have it removed as you were! But I have a feeling I will do it eventually. Just can't stand the thought right now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Depressed after a visit with Dr. Mayo

I am not sure whether to be upbeat about my one-year appointment or a bit less so. All is healed, all is well, all looks very good on x-ray, and I have exceeded my surgeon's expectations as an old-fart bilateral PAO'er. However, it has taken me a week to write this update because I haven't felt much like doing so. I saw him on December 6th and the x-rays show that the ectopic bone has solidified into a lovely one-inch long "claw" that hangs down right in front of my acetabulum. I will post x-rays here as soon as I have time.

This piece of bone is now causing impingement and pain with flexion past a certain point. That point isn't considered significant to a normal person, but it is to an ice dancer because it keeps me from "looking good": I can't do a nice forward flair (something that, if I do say so myself, I used to be really good at). Unfortunately most forward flairs in ice dancing occur with the left leg (think of the flairs after the rocker foxtrot mohawk, the starlight mohawk, the foxtrot mohawk, the 4-beat edge on the quickstep, the 4-beat edge on the blues, etc. All impossible. The answer? "If it hurts, don't do it."

I am tired of the assholes who tell me I can "still enjoy" skating without doing anything to make it look good. Yep, I can still skate, meaning my blades are connected to and moving on the ice. But anyone who finds doing an activity with only about 1/2 of their prior skill level and 1/3 of their prior flexibility "enjoyable" is far more jovial and accepting than I am.

My external rotation is still zero on both sides, although left is just a bit more than right ("zero plus a fraction"). Normal external rotation is about 20 degrees, and those who use their body for dancing tend to have more than normal not only due to self selection (people without natural turnout don't choose to dance because it's just too difficult and frustrating) but because over time, normal non-dysplastic/non-anteverted hips will turn out more based on stretching and activities that utilize turnout.

Anteverted post-PAO hips, not so much. Really, not at all in my case. I stretch and stretch and stretch some more and that just keeps me at parity - doesn't increase my flexibility at all. Plus I am always in pain because my body doesn't want to be stretched in these directions. However, if I didn't stretch at all my tight connective tissues would probably cause my body to collapse in on itself like a black hole.

So why didn't I self select myself into a sport that didn't require turnout way back in the dark ages? Something I could excel at like Competitive Pigeon Toed Walking? Why did I ignore all that pain for so long and assume that everyone felt as crappy as I did? What kind of a stubborn fool spends such a huge portion of their life beating their head against a wall?

I hope you all understand these questions are rhetorical.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Health Care (in response to FB)

The following may be out of context as it's a continuation of a discussion on Facebook that I wanted to take off that forum.

****


I'm not sure why some people feel that insurance companies shouldn't behave rationally, mitigate their risks, and attempt to earn a fair profit just like any other business. I think it's because people feel entitled to health care because without it, you might die. The same could be said of food, but I haven't heard many people saying that grocery stores should give food away for free because we're all entitled to eat. Obviously if they did, they'd go out of business, and then nobody would eat.

Insurance companies are in the business of taking on risk. That's what insurance is for. If health insurers didn't exist, and government didn't serve in that capacity (mostly the case in the U.S. except for medicare/medicaid and similar programs until the recent reform legislation), people would have to self insure, meaning that you'd pay a full fee for service every time you went to the doctor and most would not be able to afford anything other than basic services. So in that regard, insurance companies have a very important function. Those of you who don't have insurance probably know what I mean.

No company that is fiscally responsible would take on risk without being adequately compensated. Paying for insurance doesn't seem to be an issue for things like automobiles, but for health people see it as unfair, because we've come to expect that our health care system will take care of us no matter what. I pay my car insurance premium and I don't see that as paying money for nothing, even though I haven't filed a claim. Similarly with health insurance, I pay my premiums and I try to stay healthy and I have peace of mind knowing it's there if I need it.

Nobody in their right mind would go into business to take on other people's risk unless they had a method of limiting their exposure and unless they were adequately compensated. I don't care how altruistic you are, any other business plan would be a bad idea. If you try this experiment and take on too much risk you will soon be out of business, because your pockets aren't infinitely deep. Neither are the insurance company's. Know also that the amount of profit they are allowed to generate is regulated closely by the state departments of insurance.

By contrast, the government's pockets are "infinitely" deep. So if you replace private insurance companies with government, the risk simply gets spread to ... you. If you pay taxes you will be footing the bill in some form, or your children will.

I personally don't want to pay taxes into a system that uses my money to take care of people who ride motorcycles without helmets and smoke and eat McDonalds 3 times per day. I would be happy to pay taxes into a system that uses my money to care for people who contract a serious ailment through no fault of their own, get injured in an accident that doesn't involve their own drug or alcohol abuse or stupidity, or are born with a disability. Unfortunately I don't get to choose who benefits from my tax dollars with a government system, nor do you. It is still unclear how much our taxes will increase to fund the new health care system and whether the government will be able to administer the system as efficiently as private companies. Premiums vs. taxes - we'll still be paying for health care one way or another.

This is a very basic explanation, and of course it's not really this simple. But people like to reduce the argument to its most basic terms. Many also expect that "someone" will pay for health care. They generally don't want that "someone" to be themselves.

Full disclosure: I work for an insurance company (disability and life, not health). I have had two hip surgeries costing over $200,000 and I am not in love with my own health insurer; I have bitched about Aetna on this very blog. I am damn happy that I had insurance coverage when I needed it. BTW, I am a socially liberal and fiscally conservative democrat and that is how I vote most of the time, but not always. There are tradeoffs in every decision. I value the opinion of those who educate themselves about the issues and don't simply repeat the party line.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Beware the Big Bag

It’s holiday time once again, meaning that pretty much everyone in the Portland metro area is carrying a deadly weapon. The weapon of choice during the month of December is the Big Bag. This can be a shopping bag (or a multitude of same), a bulging briefcase, a humongous purse, or all of the above.

Oh yeah, and since it’s raining, people are juggling umbrellas in addition to their bags, boxes, briefcases, backpacks, and ever-present liter of Starbucks.

Some of the bags are so big they impact the carrier’s vision, so they don’t even seem to notice the other pedestrians who must either dive out of the way or risk being impaled on an umbrella/bumped by a box/blasted by a bag. Other bags seem to temporarily disable the “courtesy gene.” The December shopping frenzy has only just begun, and twice I’ve been banged in the pelvis in an enclosed space from which I cannot escape; the elevator in my parking garage at work. I don’t know what these people are carrying around, but their bags are HEAVY.

The truly dangerous shopper is sporting a backpack. The danger comes when the person slings the backpack off their back and its full weight is launched directly at my hip. I’ve had several near misses as people stand on the street corner just inches from my body and decide for no apparent reason that it’s time to sling their luggage in my direction.

It’s gotten to the point that I’m about to start carrying my cane again, just through the month of December, so I can use it fend off the morons who are determined to bang into my still healing self with nary an apology.

Better yet, I think I’ll just take the stairs at work and bring my lunch.

In other news, a shout out to DH who is undergoing knee surgery today. Here's hoping for total success, an easy recovery and quick return to the ice!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

One good reason to go to the mall today ...

Social dancing of course. It was worth the trip as I did my first (cheated) Foxtrot mohawk with a partner today ... with my eyes closed which somehow made it work. Tango did not go so well (couldn't do the Mohawk), nor did Blues (couldn't do the Choctaw). However, if I can consistently cheat the foxtrot mohawk I can finally say that I am able to do all dances through pre-silver with a partner socially, and throw in one silver (American). That doesn't mean they would pass the test (most would not) but at least I've already done that.

I can solo a lot more than I can do with a partner, and did Midnight Blues, Cha Cha Congelado, Viennese, and Ravensburger solos. They aren't stellar but I can slop through them mostly on one foot.

I know there was someone else having a worse day than I was today and it sucked for her. In the scheme of things, backwardass hips are only a minor inconvenience and there are others on the ice fighting more difficult battles. All we can do is keep trying.

Monday, November 22, 2010

When did "me" become obsolete?

This post is not about hip dysplasia or skating as I think we've had enough of those. No, this post is about grammar, another favorite topic of mine.

When I was a kid and I would say, "me and Samantha are going to the mall!" my mom would yell, "Samantha and I!!!!!!" I'll bet your mom did the same thing to you. Thanks to mom, I never progressed to using the even-more-heinous expression, "me and her are going to the mall!" (My own step-kids did, and they are still suffering the consequences.)

Unfortunately, some moms didn't fully explain. As a result, "me" has suddenly become the ultimate unfashionable grammar sin, even when "me" is the correct word to use. There are so many people who are scared to misuse the word "me" that they have resorted to misusing the word "I," which somehow sounds more cultured and probably won't incur the wrath of mom.

Here are some recent examples uttered by people who should know better:

~"The report was delivered by Carol and I."

~"Hawaii was the ultimate getaway vacation for my husband and I."

~"Mom, can you drive Samantha and I to the mall?" (OK, I made this one up, but you get my point.)

I think this rebound effect started because some people had no idea why "me" was wrong in certain sentences and so they just avoided the word altogether. The rest of us, even some who were paying attention in grade school, play along because the majority now shuns "me" and we don't want to look stupid or gauche. Some people avoid controversy by sheepishly inserting the word "myself" instead of uttering the taboo "me" or the incorrect "I," as in:

"The report was delivered by Carol and myself."

Ugh.

I have noticed this widespread pronoun confusion only recently, although perhaps it's been going on for a long time and I've just tuned it out. Radio announcers, professionals and teachers (ouch) are now muddling up the English language by unnecessarily avoiding the word "me." Myself? I won't join the trend, even if people think less of I.

Friday, November 19, 2010

One Year Bilateral Hippiversary

Yesterday was the one year hippiversary for my LPAO. That makes my RPAO one year, 4 months and 10 days old. My prior post details what life is like at this stage in the PAO game. As Thanksgiving approaches it is time to become introspective and reflect on this journey and all that I am thankful for.

~I am thankful for a wonderful, supportive husband who has put up with whining, grouchiness and drug-induced side effects.
~I am thankful for my family who helped take care of me.
~I am thankful for a very skilled surgeon, Dr. Mayo, who is a perfectionist and did his best to fix me as much as medical science allows.
~I am thankful that my hip dysplasia was caught early enough so that a PAO was an option to preserve my hip joint as long as possible.
~I am thankful that medical science has progressed in this day and age so that PAOs are available and I didn't just have to live with my pain and disability and end up in a wheel chair or addicted to pain killers.
~I am thankful that my body healed quickly and well without infection despite being an older PAO patient.
~I am thankful that I can now sleep normally, sit in a chair and get up without hobbling, and skate for fun and exercise although not at my prior level.
~I am thankful that I can host a Thanksgiving dinner for 8 people at my house and handle the cooking and cleanup without having to recuperate for the next several days.
~I am thankful that I am not a turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Milestones

Just in case I should forget, my one-year LPAO hippiversary is coming up this month. And I may forget, since I haven't been very good about blogging lately.

So what's it like a year out from bilateral PAOs?
~I have to do a lot for my hips to hurt. Right now I am battling a pinched nerve in my neck and that's been so annoying that I haven't even noticed my hips.
~Scars are not visible unless someone is looking for them.
~I can sleep on either side for as long as I want with no hip pain.
~Walking is fine but I am still not up for a lot of big hills or long distances. Of all the exercise I do, walking is definitely the hardest on my body. Skating and elliptical are much kinder to me and while I'd like to be able to do some hiking next summer, I don't think it's in the cards for me.
~I can jog if I want to (I've tried a few steps here and there) but don't make it a regular habit and see no reason to.
~I'm done with PT. For those of you having PAOs, I highly recommend it.
~Vanity rules - I wear high heels (not stilettos, just business attire) several times per week with apparently no issues for my hips.
~Numb patches are about the same, and I get odd pinging/tingling sensations on occasion. Numb patches don't really impact my day-to-day life, they just feel a bit odd but otherwise I don't notice or care.
~I can clean my entire house without having to take the next day to recuperate.
~I don't think I've limped noticeably in a while.
~Some types of flexibility have improved slightly. Turnout still sucks. Left is actually better than right now that it has healed some more (not a surprise, it always was). I can grab my left foot and pull it up but not yet above my head as before. The saddest thing is that V sits are at about 35 degrees and remain there as if I am sitting in cement which frustrates the crap out of me. It was only a couple of years ago that I was working on them with my Pilates instructor and was at about 150 degrees. All that effort down the drain! I don't even want to work on the damn things any more, they just make me too angry.
~My typical workouts include Pilates twice per week, elliptical twice per week and skating 2-3 times per week. I'm usually not sore unless I really push myself. I skated for about 90 minutes today and while I paced myself and rested here and there, I felt fine afterwards and had no pain or soreness while I was skating (just limitation in strength and stretch). I realized as I was driving home that I didn't feel beat up as I would have only a month ago.
~FINALLY my hip flexors are starting to get stronger. They are still relatively weak, but there is definitely improvement.
~A few skating maneuvers that have eluded me for a long time have magically reappeared in my repertoire with no effort or practice on my part. These include left FI 3 turns most of the time and blues choctaws on occasion.
~Others maneuvers I have just gotten up the nerve to try recently include FO to BO closed mohawks, outside brackets both F and B, and FO rockers (I can do the BO rockers for some reason).

A friend who hadn't seen me skate since Adult Nationals (in April, when I was still mostly attached to the boards) was at the rink today. She was totally amazed to see me actually skating under my own power. She thought the progress was incredible, and really it is.

I tend to focus on what I still can't do, which is how I keep motivating myself to keep improving. It can also be frustrating to see that I've come a long way and still have a long way to go, and I may never go all that way. I get frustrated when coaches tell me what I need to do (usually the same few things over and over) but they can't tell me HOW I'm supposed to make my stupid body do them. In particular things that my body used to just do on its own, and things that they think are easy, but which don't translate to abnormal hips.

I was having a very good day today on the ice, getting through complete solos of the Cha Cha Congelado (did every step); the Blues (did every step including the choctaw); the Samba (did every step); the Paso except for the restart mohawk; the Westminster except for the end 3 turn stepforwards and with very nice RFI rockers, I might add; the Argentine except for the twizzle which for some unknown reason requires me to touch down in order to initiate and I can't do at speed; the Starlight except for the steps forward after all of the mohawks. It's the "except fors" that would make me sad if I didn't remind myself that I can do everything else in the dance.

***Addendum: my skating friend Larry reminded me in an e-mail that non-dancers will have no idea how high level the dances I am doing are and he is right, they are "quick and difficult," not that I always do them well and not that I can do all of them with a partner, which is harder since it gives me less room to cheat. Those I can't do at all and bitch about are actually considered some of the easier social dances. Since it blows Larry's mind to think of me doing the Silver Samba, I guess it's time for me to post some videos soon.***

I came back down to earth when Doug asked me to try the Rocker Foxtrot mohawk (my nemesis before surgery and certainly my sworn enemy now). We tried it at a snail's pace. The only reason I tried is because I was able to get up the courage to try FO to FO closed mohawks solo for the first time this past week. With a partner they are still, and may always be, absolutely impossible. There is just no way I can make my body turn in that position. People with real hip joints have no idea what that stuck feeling is like. It would be like walking down the street and turning your body around to look behind you, but falling down because the foot you are turning onto can only keep pointing forward. It's truly an out of body experience.

I'll try to post any important updates from my one-year follow-up with Dr. Mayo at the end of the month. Meanwhile it's off to judge Sectionals this week. Last year I had to cancel my participation as a judge for Sectionals (and Jr. Nationals) since I was having surgery which had been moved up from December. I am happy that I will be there a year later with no crutches, cane or limp; anyone who didn't know me would have no idea what last year was like and that's fine by me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hipiphany



Above - great example of breaking at the waist by me (not Doug)

Non-skater alert: long, boring, technical skating rant follows … your time may be better spent elsewhere.

Notable skating coach quotes over the years:

• “Don’t break at the waist!”
• “Tuck your butt under!”
• “Don’t stick your butt out!”
• “Stand up straight!”

I have a big skater butt and it does stick out and I also have a swayback which makes it look worse than it is. The swayback probably developed by my body over time to provide additional acetabular coverage to the tops of my naked femurs. Blah blah blah, I’ve said all this before. But I never really connected all the dots in my mind until now.

Outside to outside Mohawks, especially closed Mohawks, have always been challenging for me. I would start to turn and instantly break at the waist, despite superhuman attempts not to. I was then “stuck” and couldn’t turn at all. Because what happens when you break forward at the waist? Well, your hips close up, of course. So if your hips are already closed and you break at the waist there is no way you are going to turn. But in the past somehow finally I was able to learn a way to do them just by sheer force of will and muscling through, although I did bail out a lot when with a partner because in a dance hold I couldn’t maneuver myself into a position to force the turn. I never knew if they were going to work or not.

This caused years and years of frustration for me and coaches who’ve thrown up their hands and said it’s “all in my head.” This is why it took me years to learn one step in the Rocker Foxtrot so I could finally test it, a step that a decent skater like me should be able to do in their sleep and a step that less capable skaters without hip problems can do without even thinking about. Talk about beating yourself up.

Breaking forward was the only way I could find to get my feet together before turning without extreme pain/grinding/popping/locking up in my hip. Not knowing I was dysplastic, I thought this pain was caused by being out of shape and not working hard enough; I also just blamed it on “closed hips.” Although I didn’t realize it at the time, breaking forward was my way of keeping the ball of my femur covered during the turn. If I hadn’t been bent forward the hip joint could have popped out of the socket and probably did a couple of times. This was all pre-surgery. Now post-surgery I am weaker and less able to muscle my way through things so these turns are currently impossible.

Recently Judge L and Coach John both watched me and said “your foot is plenty turned out” and they are right based on what can be seen. This apparent turnout is coming from the knee, not the hip. When I extend the free leg to the back my leg looks turned out almost normally because I fake it from the knee down. But when I bring it in to the T position to turn, the foot may look turned out, but the hip itself is actually turned in and jammed against the acetabular rim. This is painful and feels “stuck” (a word I’ve used to describe these Mohawks since I first learned them back in the dark ages, to which coaches replied, “stretch more” and “work harder” and “don’t break at the waist”).

Now that the dysplasia has been surgically corrected, bringing my free leg in with the foot turned out and not breaking forward at the waist doesn’t force the hip joint out of the socket, but it does force the ball of my hip forward against the front rim of the acetabulum and it grinds to a halt there, thus the “jammed” feeling. Post surgery it’s the same problem with a slightly different cause. It’s not lack of femoral coverage now, but impingement against the newly-oriented acetabulum. Plus, my muscles are trained to do this the “old way.” I hear and feel the crackling and the tendons snapping. My tight psoas tries to pull my pelvis forward against my will. I can feel the pain in the iliac crest, glute, adductors and hip flexors, and as a grinding within the joint itself as the ball hits the rim.

I’ve done this off the ice a lot lately trying to build up my ability. Those muscles that bring the leg in and turn it out and keep my pelvis from tipping were damaged during surgery and have never been used this way before due to years of compensation.

Armed with knowledge, will I be able to re-train my body? There’s no risk of my hip coming out of the socket now. Perhaps I won’t have to bend at the waist if I can re-train my muscles and somehow maneuver the ball of the joint to the side so it doesn’t jam up against the rim of the socket. I don’t know. We’ll see if this German Shepherd can learn a new trick.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Good, the BAID, and the Ugly


I know some of you (ahem, Larry) are waiting with baided breath to hear all about the past weekend. And so, without further delay, here goes:

I am sore. The end.

Those of you who are not ice dancers can stop reading now. Those of you who are ice dancers or masochists can read on for the gory details.

Last time I went to BAID, two years ago, I had been diagnosed with dysplasia a couple of months earlier and thought my skating life was coming to an end. I was waiting for my first appointment with Dr. Mayo which would be at the end of October, and was still thinking a PAO was out of the question. I was skating with a lot of pain. My partner Tim came to the dance weekend too and I took him through his Starlight Waltz test so that we were finally qualified to skate the Gold Dance event at Adult Nationals. For fun, I tested my Standard Silver Samba with a coach in the Bay Area (after about an hour of practice with him). It was a rather crazy idea to "throw it out there" but I was able to pass it.

Now, two years later, I am in a different body and not going to throw anything out there and my definition of crazy has changed considerably. On Friday night I was feeling very good and energetic and skated most of the three hours of social dancing while dressed as a lion tamer, complete with bullwhip, as part of the "circus" theme.

I attempted dances with partners for the first time, including a Tango (could do all but the mohawk, so frustrating), a Willow (with Coach Peter, so the "gold version" of this dance), a Viennese, a Paso, a Samba (solo), a European, a Cha Cha Congelado, and various lower dances. I skipped the usual suspects that are just plain un-doable (Fiesta, Blues, Quickstep, Foxtrot, Rocker, Kilian, Starlight, Arge). Coach John gave me a fabulous 5 minute "mini lesson" on my outside to outside forward and backward mohawks which seem impossible right now, and I had an epiphany (more on that in a future post). I skated a lot and when I went to bed that night I was surprised that I didn't have any more pain than usual. I thought I might be miraculously cured.

Fast forward to the next morning when I woke feeling beat up and run over. I went to the morning seminar which involves more standing around than skating, thank God, and did the lower level seminar (canasta and hickory) and not the higher level seminar (blues and quickstep). I rather regretted being in the lower group because it was too easy, but the higher group would have been impossible in my stiff and sore state. I was dying to work on blues and quickstep since they are two dances I can't do right now, but in any case didn't want to get in the way of the better skaters who can legitimately do them.

In the afternoon I managed 2 dances during the four-hour session, and I think one of them was a Dutch Waltz in which I could not make the pattern very big so people were passing us, and another was something like a swing dance (but I don't remember, it's all a painful blur). I was limping pretty significantly and went to the evening party, where I parked my butt in a chair to watch the ballroom dancing.

Sunday was better. I spent the first part of the morning judging the test session and getting very cold. I then sat in the sun to thaw a bit before venturing out for the last hour of skating. I was in medium pain (better than Saturday) but decided to just push through it. I did a fabulous Dutch Waltz with Mike (He didn't hold back and while I could barely hold the edges I grit my teeth and stayed on my feet) and a great European with Coach Jimmy (he didn't hold back either and I was able to stay with him). It felt good to make myself push through and I while I didn't do any difficult dances, I tried to make the easier dances look good - head up, extended free leg, edges as deep as I can do with my minimal quad strength. It was the best I could do and I was happy with it.

All in all, I did better than I thought I could on Friday, was surprised at how much it took out of me on Saturday, and surprised myself again on Sunday with how well I could do things if I used all my effort.

I am taking today off. Tomorrow I go back to the rink to work on what I learned from Coach John on Friday night. The 5 minutes he gave me were, as always, full of wisdom. I need to work hard on what he told me and perhaps there will be hope for the mohawks and choctaws. I will describe my epiphany in a future post, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pass the NSAIDs ... it's time for BAID

Just a few more days until the Bay Area Ice Dance Weekend. This will be my first social dance weekend since surgery, and I haven't done much partnered dancing other than with Coach I and Tim. Dancing socially can be hazardous because just like a box of chocolates, "you never know what you are going to get." There is a range of ability and you are changing partners for each dance. Everyone has different technique, so synching up is the challenge.

My goal is to dance as many dances as I can safely do with any competent partner. I will be up front about my limitations of course. There are many dances that I can do competently "except for one step" (usually the highlight step). So I will only do those with partners who either know me well or don't mind some cheating going on stepwise. Or I might solo them.

I will have to pace myself since my muscles still tire easily. There will be 3 hours of skating on Friday night and about 8 on Saturday (there is no way I can do 8hours - I will do the 2 hours of seminar which involves some standing around, and maybe 2 more hours of social dance). Saturday night is a party with ballroom dancing, and with enough Ibuprofen and/or wine I may be able to do a bit of it. Sunday I am judging their test session so not skating, or at least not skating much, and that is fine because by then my legs will be shot to hell. They will just have to prop me up in the hockey box with a clipboard and I should be OK!

If I survive this dance weekend it bodes well for trying a couple of new ones next season. I've been promising to go back to Motown for many, many years, so we'll see if that's possible.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Today's Anatomy Lesson



I love this diagram. It shows major skating muscles (for hockey, but basic figure skating isn't that different).

Muscles shown above which were cut and reattached during my surgery are the Rectus Femoris (used for hip flexion) and Sartorius (used for hip flexion, abduction and rotation). Other quadriceps were moved aside when the hip capsule was opened. Iliopsoas was not cut, but is shortened due to inactivity. Adductor also stopped working when I was on crutches and had to be reactivated in physical therapy. Overall weakness and inflexibility are the result of these disturbances.

In the days and weeks following surgery, it was odd to have little control over basic movements. For example, during the first week or so I could not move my operated leg forward while standing as in taking a step. The muscles that provide that basic functionality were not working at all. Despite focusing all of my mental energy on moving my foot forward from the hip, I could not. I used my toes to "walk" my leg forward an inch or so in order to take a "step."

Similarly, while lying on my back, it was impossible to lift my operated leg at all. Try as I might, it wouldn't move. Similarly, while sitting down with my legs stretched in front of me, it was impossible to move my leg out to the side or back in toward the center. It was very disconcerting to have absolutely no use of these muscles! Of course, through physical therapy and lots of targeted exercises I did regain this functionality over time.

Knowing that the two muscles cut are both used for hip flexion, it's clear why this is still an issue.

I recently wrote to an orthopedic surgeon who is also a skater and who recently had arthroscopic hip surgery. After I described my surgery and its aftermath, she asked me if I was "in the business" because I "speak the lingo." I am not in the healthcare field, but I have certainly learned more than I ever wanted to know about my own body!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Progress comes in small packages ...

...which, over time, add up.



A back loop - no turnout required!

If I look at my progress on the ice day-to-day, I don't always see gains and sometimes I see setbacks. That's normal in skating, PAOs or no PAOs. I had a really dismal MIF lesson early in the month, but since then have been steadily progressing. I attribute this to a lot of balance work off the ice, more time on the ice, and general healing; healing won't be complete for another year so I have to keep that in mind.

If I look back one month, two months, and six months, progress is undeniable. I am not where I want to be, but I am doing more than I was a month ago, three months ago, six months ago. Since that's the way it is, I have to be happy with it, and not regret what I can't do.

Now that my muscles are stronger, I can skate longer and more frequently and I am not as sore for as long after I am done. I've religiously stretched my very tight psoas muscle and it has helped my posture and allowed me to get my hips under the rest of me so not only am I more centered, I look somewhat better.

Now that some of my balance issues are finally resolving, and my muscle memory sometimes works, it's usually a question of what my hips can do consistently. With every step I take on the ice, I concentrate on keeping my hips aligned, turning them out when necessary, using my nearby muscles (glutes, hip flexors, back muscles) appropriately, tightening my core, and balancing with my arms and free leg.

My mental concentration is enormous, especially when there is a sequence of moves required to accomplish a task on ice and the sequence is heavy on hip useage or changes directions through my core. I hsve broken down some moves into their smaller components for learning, and putting the pieces together is usually not easy or intuitive.

For example, one sequence I am working on consists of two back crossovers, step forward to FI edge, and immediately do two FI to BI mohawks, ending backward to repeat the sequence. The parts vary in difficulty for me (crossovers = easy; transition and step forward = very difficult; first mohawk = difficult; second mohawk = next to impossible). Each element within the sequence is also broken down into parts (xover to step forward = extend free leg under, change arms, change head, tighten core, move free leg, crank on hip to open up as much as it can, step while checking, strong check with arms and core afterward ... and on to the mohawk with its own set of parts). I couldn't do this at all 6 weeks ago. 4 weeks ago I could do it at a crawl with lots of scratching and cheating ("cheating" here means I did a flattish back counter before stepping forward). 2 weeks ago I could do it with a bit of flow but still lots of scratching and cheating. Yesterday I could do 3 patterns on each side, counter-clockwise better than clockwise (right hip is looser than left), still scratchy but the steps are more recognizeable.

Mental concentration allows me to do many things technically, but they aren't automatic enough for me to add any art, or dancing, into the equation yet. I often hear music I want to interpret, but I don't have the automatic vocabulary to do so any more. It's hard to string together different steps and turns that require different balance points and hip motions at this point, so doing some of the difficult dances (and a few of the easier ones) is still not possible.

On the other hand, I can do SOME of the difficult dances, sort of. Yesterday I worked on the Cha Cha Congelado solo and was able to get through a pattern of it, but not at speed or on tempo. I can do every piece of the dance, but can't put it into a cohesive unit yet, or dance it. While frustrating, I measure where I am by looking back at a time a few months ago when I couldn't even do the baby Cha Cha without major assistance. No complaints!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Frozen Cha Cha

My Friday moves-in-the-field lesson with Coach R was a disaster. It was just a frustrating day and I was depressed and whining. There is so much to re-learn that it's hard to focus, but I have to get it together.

By contrast, today was my first lesson with a male dance coach. Even though I am skating at about a bronze level, I need a goal to keep me interested and push myself. So we worked on the Cha Cha Congelado, an international dance that I should have tested before surgery but I was too busy stressing out about surgery to get my act together.

The dance itself isn't really that hard, although it has a lot of steps and some tricky partnering and timing. I know the timing well so that won't be an issue; doing two patterns at test level will be. There are no steps that my hips can't do so I think it's very possible to get it together. Maybe not to pass the test, but to skate it. We worked mainly on the promenade lobe into the re-start, and then walked through the rest. The back-to-back mohawk is a bit challenging for me (just not confident in the hips working as they should) and we will spend an entire lesson on it.

I have been working on balance almost every day and it is making a big difference in my abilities on the ice. I may not be skating any better but I am more confident when it doesn't feel as if I am about to fall over with every step. I was confident enough to try to skate with a partner today other than a coach or Tim. I skated a couple of dances with Doug (Swing and Ten-Fox) and he said that I am skating at about a Bronze level as a partner. That's "on average" - some things are better and some worse. But it means I can probably partner most of the dances through bronze at BAID(and by then, I hope, pre-silver and perhaps one silver, the American).

Oh yeah, and the Cha Cha Congelado.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Countdown to BAID

I sent in my application for the Bay Area Ice Dance Weekend (AKA BAID). I figured it would be a kick in the butt to get me on the ice knowing that in 6 weeks I'd be at the most high-powered dance weekend in the country. My goal is to skate all of the dances through Silver plus the Viennese and Samba, with notable exceptions (dances with outside to outside mohawks which are still only possible in my mind).

August was pretty much a washout as far as skating is concerned. I was traveling to judge, refereeing and hosting out-of-town guests. I did skate the High Dance Camp a week ago, but that's it until today.

As I've said before, lack of practice is not a foolproof method for improving your skating. However, it's working for me. After basically a month off, today was my best skate since surgery. I think the time off helped promote healing which allows better movement. Perhaps my neurons are firing better and in a more coordinated way. Perhaps my brain is talking to my damaged muscles and they are listening. I have no idea, but it was a good skate.

I am finally making progress on the FI 3 turns. I did all 3 turns (inside, outside, forward and backward) as well as alternating forward 3 turns. I had some progress on the Starlight mohawks (still have troube stepping from the RBO to the LFI and then doing a mohawk without touching down). I did all inside brackets (forward and backward). I did FI and FO takeoff double twizzles both directions. I did the blues choctaw. I did the choctaw sequence we learned at the HDC in both directions (example: RFI/LBO choctaw, cross in front, RBO/LFI choctaw). Most exciting, I did some tango stops on my left foot, even on one foot. I didn't have the strength in my quad to stop at all (not even a snowplow) a couple of months ago, and stops have been iffy until now.

My edges are not deep, but they are deeper than they were; I am not skating fast, but I am skating faster than I was. I ended the 45-minute session with the 5-step mohawk sequence, heard some edges "rip," and called it a day. I may be sore tomorrow but I think it was worth it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

High Dance Camp

Tuaca Girls at the High Dance Camp (I am on the right)



A fellow bilateral hippie had a post labeled, "10 Hours of Tennis!" This post could be called, "8 Hours of Skating!" but that wouldn't be very original.

I spent the weekend at the Portland High Dance Camp, and was on the ice for most of it. I was not able to do much of it but I was able to get out of the way of those who could, and nobody seemed to mind. I can step through the Midnight Blues (certain steps on two feet of course) a bit better than I could before the clinic, but won't dare partner it.

I also judged a marathon test session (9 hours) directly after. At one point we were missing a judge, so I ran (yes, ran) from one side of the ice to another.

After all that, I assumed that I'd spend today eating ibuprofen in the recliner with various bags of ice plastered to my anatomy. But I am happy to say that my pain level is no worse than normal. I always have pain with activity no matter what I do because the damage to my hips is still there. There is no "pain free" to my recovery. But the pain is minor and I don't notice it most of the time.

Physically, I feel darn good.

My major skating limitation as I've said all along is lack of flexibility which prevents me from doing many turns and steps correctly or at all. Some turns are relatively easy (twizzles). Other turns are hard to impossible (mohawks).

The beat goes on.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Long time no blog

Just a quick update since I'm busy at work, busy judging, busy traveling, and busy with family. No skating for a while; just no time.

Hips are pretty much a non-issue if I don't skate. I've been walking a lot, including on the beach, and can go for about a mile before my muscles get tired. When they tire it happens quickly and I have to stop and rest. I would like to be able to walk longer distances but right now that's it for me.

I will try some skating at the High Dance Camp this weekend, but after several weeks off I am not optimistic that it will be anything to brag about. Life goes on.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hips 1, Progress 0

Today is Tuesday, or "Two steps back" day as I like to call it. I always look forward to Tuesday night skating even though it is frequently lousy. Tonight was no exception. Skating Tuesday night requires me to stay late at work, eat on the run and fight traffic in order to be on the ice by 6:45, which I was.

I skated until 6:48. My entire body was in pain. Hips, upper back, lower back, ankles, even feet - excruciating. My balance was off enough to make life miserable. I could have stayed and fought through it, but coupled with being tired I just didn't want to stay out there and struggle, probably fall a couple of times, and have to deal with the laughter of the mall "audience" when that happened.

Instead I came home and had a nice glass of wine, and I'm going to bed early. That's not a training strategy I recommend for everyone but it works for me on occasion. Back at it tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Skating Progress: One small step for a skater ...

In my copious spare time, I've come up with the 5 Ps of Progress:

(1) Practice,
(2) Perspire,
(3) Persevere,
(4) have Patience with yourself, and
(5) Push yourself out of your comfort zone

Perhaps it will catch on; if so, I hope it's attributed to me and not to some famous person or high-level coach. Just remember, you saw this stroke of genius here on HipSk8 first.

I try to live by these whenever I get on the ice. Lately I've focused on #5, which is easy because just stepping on the ice is out of my comfort zone most of the time. I am trying to push myself to skate faster, turn more quickly, and bend my ankles/knees more.

Sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. I don't always know what is going to happen, even when I try something I've done for years. Most things, no matter how many times I repeat them, feel "new," as if I am doing them for the first time every time. This is disconcerting. My body doesn't seem capable of learning things very well.

I still have balance issues which my PT says is a lack of proprioreception because of the new orientation of my legs in relation to my pelvis and the trauma those body parts experienced. For everyday things like walking this isn't a big issue; for an activity that relies on the body's ability to recognize and respond to subtle shifts in weight and balance such as skating, it's huge. Yoga and balancing exercises off the ice help, but I still generally feel off balance even doing formerly "easy" things.

I also never know just how far my hips will turn out (or not) when I need them to and when one or the other might lock up out of nowhere in protest. When I reach the end of my ROM mid-mohawk or my hip locks up just as I'm about to step on that leg, a stumble is bound to result. So it's always a crapshoot what is going to happen, and that makes me tentative.

What really holds me back is the fact that my muscles still tire quickly. I know if I could practice more I would improve more, because repetition is the key to muscle memory. After an hour of skating I am usually more than done, and I am too sore the next day (and sometimes the day after) to skate again and reinforce the Progress I've made. So I tend to plateau, which is one of the "Ps" that does not significy Progress.

I skated patch last night, and I was able to do all 3 turns except LFI (can do that one with a quick toe touch before, or with my free leg extended wide, but not in a controlled way). I can do all inside rockers, F and B, on one foot except LFI (same issue with turning clockwise on the left foot). I can do all four outside rockers on one foot. I can do FI counters (yes, even on the left foot - no issue with turning counter-clockwise). I did not try the other counters. I did not work on brackets. I am making progress on my FI mohawks but haven't tried open or closed FO. I did several decent (but slow) Blues choctaws. I did several decent FI takeoff double twizzles, both directions (my left used to be much better than my right but now they are about equal since the left leg is so weak). I did recognizable forward outside loops. I did all of the twizzles in the Ravensburger Waltz several times.

Yep, I said Ravensburger Waltz.

They were slow and not partnered (always easier for me) but oh yeah, those are certainly considered difficult, so I'm extremely happy about that! But twizzles have always been easy for me. I am not at all surprised that they are much easier than mohawks for me at this point. The irony is that I may be able to skate the Rave competently some day but not the Fiesta Tango. Stay tuned for more progress reports.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to "P."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

One Year Hippiversary



It is hard to believe that my RPAO was a year ago today. What a long, strange trip it's been.

This week we started the kitchen remodel that had to be postponed for so long due to my PAOs. I started to work on the kitchen project the day I was allowed off crutches after my second PAO. It's taken a long time to come up with a design, pick out every single thing that will go into the kitchen, order it all, and do the demolition. I couldn't have handled this project while I was concentrating on my hip "project"!


Blue the cat supervises kitchen demolition

I am very happy with my right hip's recovery at this stage, less happy with my left hip but it's still better than the alternative. I know that a full recovery takes up to two years, so it is good to know that I can expect even more from righty as time goes on.

Here is righty's status at one year post RPAO:
~The scar is almost invisible. I rarely notice it at all.
~Strength is about 80%. Stamina is about 70%. Flexibility is about 60%.
~Righty rarely hurts, and when it does it's muscle pain from overexertion. I haven't taken a pain pill or even Tylenol or ibuprofen for my hips since January (and that was for lefty, not righty).
~Righty can get tired with a lot of activity but I just need more time and training. My expectations here were low and I've exceeded them.
~However, I do need at least a day to recover from strenuous activity but that's probably true of most people my age. Well, not really, before surgery I didn't have this problem and I wasn't that much younger.
~I still get some tendon clicking when I SLR my right leg, but there is no pain associated with this. Otherwise no noise.
~There is no groin pain or any of the pre-PAO pain/radiating stiffness. I do have some stiffness after activity, but it's not the crippling joint stiffness. Now it's due to muscle weakness and tightness, IMO.
~Unless I sit for a really long time, I can get up out of a chair without groaning or walking like an 80-year-old.
~I can sleep in any position I want with no pain, turn in bed, etc.
~I can stand for fairly long periods of time, but still prefer not to, especially on a hard surface. I can feel it in my hip later if I do.
~The only improvements I'd like to see now are more strength, especially in the hip flexors, and lots more flexibility, although my flexibility now is probably what's considered "normal." I can hug my knee to my chest. Because lefty is so limited in turnout, I am trying to make up for it by getting more turnout on the right, which responds better to my stretching efforts.
~My screws don't bother me so they are staying in. Dr. Mayo countersinks them intentionally for this reason.
~Recently I've had some back issues; I suspect they are related to my hip issues but I am not sure.
~Oddly, balance is still an issue, both in yoga and skating. I thought I would have adjusted to my new alignment by now and since my balance was really good before, I'm not sure what to do about this other than allow time to work its miracles. Could be that my expectations are higher than most, and my balance is actually normal for everyday things, but not good enough for effortless skating or yoga yet.
~Skating presents its own challenges, which I have chronicled here, but in day-to-day life my right hip is generally a non-issue.

Would I do the PAO over again? If faced with the same decision, knowing what I know, yes, I would do it all over again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Disappointment

I have made so much progress skating recently that when I have a bad day it seems Really Bad. I looked forward to skating tonight, and even fought traffic to get to the rink. I was rested and hydrated and fully recovered from Sunday's Big Fall, hoping to conquer brackets on one foot today.

But from the moment I got on the ice I felt shaky and unsteady. It was as if my balance had shifted and I couldn't find my center. I tried to do figures for 30 minutes but they were scary. Right, scary. Going that slow, a fall is actually bound to be worse since there is no momentum. I didn't really want to fall again at slow speed (fast would have been better), so I left after 30 minutes of trying to find my balance.

I am sure that this was just a bad day and not the harbinger of a bad forever, but on the way home I was disappointed enough to ask myself whether I wanted to continue. Rationally, I know that I was bound for a step backward since I have been striding forward lately. I felt like I was getting to about bronze level with consistency (the Paso is an anomaly folks - it's just an easy dance for me - although today I wouldn't have been able to do any of it) and now I am back at pre-preliminary. I am back to doing 3 turns and back edges on two feet. I am really hoping this setback will be followed by more progress, but I am going to take a couple of days off to get my bearings before trying again.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What goes up, must fall down

I am pleased to say that today I had my first major fall on the ice since surgery. I've fallen before but not hard and not directly on my backside. Today was a true "splat" fall - the kind where both legs go up in the air and you come down right on your hindquarters; the loud kind that makes everyone on the ice turn around and come skating over to ask if you're all right. Especially if they know you are recovering from a broken pelvis.

When they did look over they saw me sitting on the ice smiling. Finally! The big fall had come and gone and I was not going to the hospital. I fell on a spot very close to where I suspect the butt bone PAO cut (as I lovingly refer to it) was made. It hurt ... the same way it would have hurt before my PAO. I got up and kept skating. I'm sure I'll have a bruise and be sore tomorrow, but I didn't jar any screws loose and my pelvis didn't shatter and break into a million tiny pieces.

Of course I did fall on my right side. The left side might have been a different story!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Golden Waltz

I have to learn the Golden Waltz. No, not the Golden Skaters Waltz - a very nice dance for sure, and one I couldn't do 3 months ago. I am talking about THE Golden Waltz, a la Klimova and Ponomarenko, arguably the most difficult compulsory dance known to man.

Now that I can stand up on skates without holding on to the wall I figure I'm ready for a challenge. Foolish, yes, I agree, but I've already walked through the solo, doing the difficult parts on two feet. (Remember, all of the steps are difficult, so you can picture how great that was.) And of course certain parts of the dance can't be done solo, yada yada yada, but that isn't going to stop me. I already know that twizzles are going to be some of the easiest turns for me and this dance is just full of them.

So why am I doing this crazy thing, you ask. I have to judge this dance as part of the new "Short Dance." While I've judged it before, this time I have to be very on top of things, and the best way to learn something is to do it. I've even lined up someone to dance it with me so I'll experience the partnering. This and the Finnstep are the only international dances I've never actually done on the ice. So, I'm going to do it. Slowly, on two feet, whatever it takes. I don't intend to test it or compete it or even do it well, just do it. How's that for jumping into the deep end? Yee haw!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Best Lesson Ever/Motivation

I have a game going with a skating friend of mine to keep us both motivated. He said he'll attend yoga class at least twice per month if I will skate at least twice per month. This little game was invented by L. when I let him know that I was feeling a bit down and frustrated with my (lack of) skating progress. As a good friend, he took the necessary steps to help increase the level of motivation.

I am happy to say that today was my fourth time on the ice in the month of June. I've been busy traveling coast-to-coast both for business and to judge, so doubling my promised number of skate adventures shows some increase in my level of motivation. I'll probably skate again at Sunday's social session, so that makes 5. This is nothing compared to my pre-diagnosis 5 or 6 days per week skating habit, but I can't handle that kind of schedule right now. I need at least one day of rest after any strenuous activity.

Improvement breeds motivation, as any obsessive-compulsive skating addict knows, and I've had plenty of that lately. As I look back to the social session at Adult Nationals just over two months ago, where I hugged the wall and had to be held up to do the forward dances at a snail's pace, I am very, very happy with my progress.

This morning I had a lesson with Coach R, who works with me on moves in the field. We hadn't worked together in a few weeks due to my travel schedule, and the last time she saw me I was struggling to do three turns on one foot and couldn't check them at all. This morning she came in to see me working on the new Junior MITF straight line footwork sequence. "What's that?" she said, because of course my turns are not yet recognizeable and some are on two feet. But she had a smile on her face and made me do the entire sequence again, and said, "wow." Quite an accomplishment for someone who was holding on to the barrier a couple of months ago.

I am also more confident now that I'm more agile and can move out of the way quicker. In addition, I am finally able to stop. Stopping was almost impossible at first due to muscle weakness, but I can do a snowplow, T stop, and (shaky) tango stop on my left, and snowplow on my right.

Today we worked on one-foot turns (easier for me than two-foot turns):
~Double 3s in the field (FI/BO and FO/BI) on one foot - As of today I can do all 3 turns but the LFI 3 is still a bit difficult. It's better if I do the BO turn first and then go into the FI turn. Today was the first time I've done all of the back turns primarily on one foot instead of two.
~Brackets on two feet and occasionally on one.
~Rockers on two feet and occasionally on one
~Counters on two feet - I did the last RFO counter on one foot and lost my balance, so I put my foot down. I glanced over at Coach R. who looked concerned, and said, "hey, you know that I'm going to fall at some point ..." and she answered, "yeah, but I'm not ready for it yet!"
~FI double twizzles - these were "impressive" she said. Of course, twizzles are and always have been easy because they require no turnout
~FO double twizzles
~Alternating 3 turns to the center (the stepforward is still really difficult)

Overall I need to work on "glute involvement." Lazy glutes, go figure!

As I was taking off my skates I was smiling, and told Coach R. that this was "the best lesson ever." She had pushed me to do things I hadn't really tried yet (twizzles, back three turns on one foot), and I was able to do them. Now I'm motivated to do them better.

I am confident that I will get all of my one-foot turns (threes, twizzles, rockers, counters, brackets, loops) back. Two-foot turns (choctaws, mohawks) will be an ongoing challenge as they were before surgery. I learned to compensate before, and now I need to learn to compensate differently. It might take some time.

And now, some motivation for fellow hippies - my post-bilateral PAO Paso Doble solo video (6/15/2010):

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Small Correction to SKATING Magazine's Article

I was honored that HipSk8 was featured in SKATING magazine's "Adult Corner" this month. I need to make one slight correction though; the article reads, "Before her diagnosis, Levine was unaware faulty anatomy was the cause of her inability to perform "easy" moves such as mohawks and twizzles."

Before my diagnosis I had a lot of difficulty with easy moves such as mohawks which require hip involvement. However, twizzles, which are not considered easy, were easy for me since they do not require hip involvement. So in actuality, I always wondered why I couldn't do the "easy" moves without a lot of pain and difficulty, but had no problem with some of the really difficult moves, such as twizzles. Finding out that my hips were faulty cleared up the mystery.

Thanks Lexi for including me in the article!

Terri

Saturday, June 5, 2010

T'nT Sk8

Today was a rare opportunity to skate with Tim. We don't have any goals right now and so we don't always have an agenda, or know what to work on. Considering everything we should work on basics, but we always seem to start with difficult things. Like today, the first thing we did was the Viennese Waltz. Followed by the Starlight. Followed by the Samba. Sloooooooooowly. Followed by parts of our free dance and some dance spins. Then we improvised some new choreography. All things way above my current ability level considering I still can't walk without limping, and yet I did them and he didn't complain.

I am always amazed at what we can do together. The whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. We somehow give each other stability and fearlessness so that we are better skaters together than we are alone.

I am weak enough technically right now that I have to trust him to lead and that's been good for us as a team. I've always back-led since I taught him to skate from the ground up. Now he has to do it, and I have to let him, and that's as it should be and should have always been. So that's the silver lining. Not to mention how much fun we have.

After we got off the ice we decided a goal would be helpful. Compete? I don't think I'm ready for that yet. Work on his remaining pre-gold dances to test? Maybe. Work on the Midnight Blues so we can skate at the Portland Adult High Dance Camp in August? Probably. Pick some music and play with some of our own choreography? Definitely.

Friday, June 4, 2010

YogaLicious

Just a quick update on last night's yoga class:

~I can now sit crosslegged for about 3 minutes before I can't take the pain any more. This is better than a month ago, when I couldn't do it at all. My left leg is still sticking up but it's better.
~I can do tree pose with my knees turned sort of out, instead of pointing forward. This means my turnout is slowly improving.
~My balance while standing on one foot is much better I've found when I stand on the floor and not on my cushy (but unstable) mat. I was having so much trouble balancing on one foot which for a skater is, um, embarrassing. It's much better when I am standing on a stable wood floor and not on half an inch of foam. And it took me how long to figure this out??? Duh.
~My teacher comments on my "great turn-in" when I sit or lie in hero's pose.
~I am working on doing a full backbend because my back is still very flexible. Now it's just a question of strength in my arms and shoulders. I'm almost there.
~Crane pose is still my big "aha moment" in class.
~Lunges on my right leg are pretty good; on the left leg I only do modified since it is still weak and thus painful.
~Warrior 2 poses are difficult since my hips twist forward vs. to the side; I am better with the right leg in front than the left leg in front due to better turnout on that side. Lack of turnout really does make these positions painful and unnatural. The undysplastic have no idea what this is like. I look very awkward doing these with my butt sticking out but persevere I must.
~I can bring my left leg somewhat closer to my chest, but it is still not flexing like it should (due to ectopic bone growth, I think). Right has full flex in this direction.
~Stretching every night, in addition to twice weekly yoga, is starting to make some small difference in my flexibility. I'm still miles away from where I was.

All in all I've made noticeable progress.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Six Months LPAO

Yesterday I hit the six month mark for my second PAO. The first PAO is just over 10 months old. I had totally forgotten about the six-month milestone until I wrote the date of my surgery elsewhere, and realized what day it was.

I am no longer thinking in hip milestones. I am also not thinking ahead to the next hip surgery, which is nice. I am having more and more pain on flexion with my left hip and my thought is that there is more ectopic bone growing. It also sometimes hurts when I am not flexing. This could also be normal healing pains of course; I have no way to tell yet.

I may need a final surgery to remove the ectopic bone some time in 2011, or I could just choose to live with my limitations, whatever they end up being, once all of the extra bone is done growing. Right now I am leaning toward living with it unless I am in constant pain and Dr. Mayo can assure me the surgery will correct that.

But right now I am not worrying about or planning for a future surgery, and that means I can go on with my life.

For those who are facing their own PAO recoveries, here is what 6 months feels like after bilateral PAOs. Note that healing is slower overall with bilateral PAOs so close together.

~My right hip almost never bothers me. Hip flexors are still weak, but getting better. If I walk a long way, or skate more than 45 minutes, or do any other type of physical activity that is strenuous, it might hurt or be sore the next day. This is muscle pain, not bone or joint pain, and tells me that I'm not fully recovered yet. ROM is better, although not what it used to be. All in all, I am happy with my RPAO outcome.
~My left hip has started to bother me more, as discussed above. ROM is very limited, and there is more pain now than there was 3 months ago. I still have a very slight limp on the left side - not all the time, but it comes and goes. I don't think my gait is ever entirely normal even if I'm not limping. Some days I don't think I am limping but Perry tells me that I am.
~Although I have lost weight since before my first surgery, I carry my weight differently now. Interestingly, I seem to carry excess weight in my hips more than before. Actually, it's just below my hips, not at the iliac crest but significantly below that. The technical term is, I believe, "saddle bags." Ugh.
~I am flabby all over due to lack of training and it is hard to create or maintain any muscle tone, especially in my legs.
~Working out is a double-edged sword. I know to build up muscles I have to work them, but if I work too hard I have to rest for a day or two (or three). So I have to ration my activity, and it never seems like I can really ramp up to any kind of "training" which will create true fitness.
~Some days my yoga class is so difficult I can barely get through it. Other days I do pretty well. I try to do yoga twice per week.
~I would like to skate 3 times per week, but right now I'm lucky if I can handle an hour once per week. It's just too taxing.
~Walking is something I do, but not as exercise. I should start walking on a track or other soft surface and work up to longer distances. Right now I am just not that interested in doing so. Elliptical trainer seems to cause less trauma to the hip, although I am not supposed to use any incline and it is hard to feel like I am getting a good workout. Too much resistance and I pay for it the next day, so I keep that low as well. Dr. Mayo cautioned me to move my legs fast with little resistance and it would be better on my joints.
~I still lift my left leg into the car and over barriers with my hands. I don't think this is normal at 6 months. I can do it without hands, but it hurts.
~I would love to try Body Pump or Zumba or Spinning - but right now I'm afraid of what that would feel like the next day!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

:)

One thing I am sick of ... people who say things like, "Aren't you glad you had your surgery, no more pain now!!!" Some people had the nerve to say this when I was still on crutches.

If I do any kind of physical activity I know I am going to pay for it during and after with pain. It's a different kind of pain on my right than I had pre-PAO, but it still hurts. And, my left hip barely hurt pre-PAO, and now it hurts a lot, so that's hardly an improvement.

I wish I lived on Planet Pollyanna where there were magical quick fixes for everything. Some day in the future when I'm fully recovered I may not have any pain with activity; right now I'm still in the recovery phase and pain is expected. At least, it's expected by me; almost everyone else expects I'm "cured." Sometimes I vow that the next person who gives me the big smiley face and tells me how great I must feel is going to get a piece of my mind.

Then again, why bother. Let them live on Planet Pollyanna.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hike Hangover

It has taken me a week to get over my 3.3 mile hiking adventure. I am not sure if I'm fully recovered yet, but after some horrible skating and awful yoga-ing this past week, I am feeling a bit better.

I've found that I can do a lot on two feet at the rink. In fact, yesterday at social dancing I two-footed my way through the entire Westminster Waltz, Viennese Waltz, and Midnight Blues. All of these can actually be solo'd on two feet, which could mean we need a new event at Adult Nationals: Two-Footed Gold and International Solo Dancing (on half ice). In lieu of regular skating costume, competitors may wear butt or other padding; there are no test requirements but all competitors must have some sort of metal or artificial part in their body. X-rays will be taken. I'd rock that event.

Granted, I am doing tiny patterns and no pushing or edges, so pretty much just dinking around on two feet and turning now and then, so these are not recognizeable as the dances I want them to be. But I can pretend, and thanks to mothers' day there weren't enough people on the dance session to care that I was trying them.

It's Midnight Blues madness right now anyway, and so I was about the only one attempting the West when it came on. Everyone is learning the steps to the MB in anticipation of the High Dance Camp in August. Since I know the steps, I've been teaching them. I can demonstrate a lot of things on two feet and holding on to the wall, and since these are really good skaters and they've watched the videos they are able to translate my feeble attempts into actual skating.

It would really be nice if I could actually skate in time for the dance camp, but that remains to be seen. There are good days and bad days and I never know when I wake up in the morning which it will be.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Yoga Dropout

I am really regreting that 3.3 mile hike last Sunday. I didn't think 3.3 miles was very much, but evidently my hips disagree. They've been sore and cranky ever since.

I figured it was time to go to yoga class and stretch them out; maybe they'd behave. How wrong I was! After only 10 minutes of class, I was ready to leave. Another 10 minutes, and I was barely moving (much to the annoyance of Flexy Freddy, the guy to my left). I could not do "crescent lunge," "low lunge," "warrior 1" or "warrior 2." I couldn't even touch my toes. So slowly, carefully, I gathered my things and crept out the back door.

I have never left a yoga class in the middle, even when I just started back after surgery. I can usually modify the poses enough so that I can get through class even if I am having a bad hip day. And a week ago at yoga class I really thought I'd had a breakthrough, since I did almost all of the poses unmodified. But today there was no point in staying because everything hurt.

I know it's still early in my recovery, but I want to be able to do more than one activity per week. I want to be able to walk on Sunday, skate on Tuesday and Friday, and yoga on Thursday. But I am just not there yet. I still have to be careful and take it easy when it comes to physical activity. I am not good at doing that!

Tomorrow I have a lesson with Coach R and I AM NOT CANCELING. I plan to go to Sunday social dancing and I AM NOT CANCELING. Yoga I can live without, but skating is non-negotiable.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dysplastics Take Over The Ice

Watch out! Two post-PAO gals took the ice this morning at Lloyd Center Ice Arena and rocked it. It was good to finally meet Sarah, the "other" post-PAO Portland ice dancer I've heard so much about. She looked great and even did some jumps near the end of the session. I hope some day I am recovered enough to skate that well, although I am banned from doing jumps for life and I plan to honor that so my hips will last longer.

Today was a pretty good day on the ice. I led some of the High Dance Camp ladies through the steps of the Midnight Blues. I can slop my way through them without pushing and what I can't do, I can describe. Despite that, I can't do the Swing Dance solo at speed because I chicken out on the mohawk. I just am not sure if my hip will work or not when I do it. Checking three turns is still dicey as well.

Dichotomy: I can't do the "easy" Swing Dance without bailing, but I can step through a slow and very sloppy Westminster Waltz (including rocker turn); none of the turns or edges are distinct and some are on two feet but I don't chicken out. I did a horrid European Waltz to practice my 3 turns; the step forwards are just as challenging as the three turns. I can step through a lot of dances but when I try to do the steps correctly or at speed I run into a problem and it doesn't work. So right now, slow and sloppy rules the day. The turns may be unrecognizeable but at least I can "do" some of my favorite dances. My hope is that with time and practice things will become faster and more correct.

I can do, at glacial speed, the Blues choctaw. I didn't think I could do the Rhumba choctaw, but when the music came on I tried an itty bitty slow one in the corner, and made it through "on the correct edges" per my friends. I was so thrilled that I did a bunch more, and made several people watch them. It was like the little kid who lands her first axel and makes everyone watch it: "OMG, look what I can do!" Coach R was there to witness this exciting milestone. Granted there's no way I can do it at speed, but for something I thought would not be possible yet, it's way cool.

So overall this was a good day. Still frustrating that I can't do so many of the things I never gave any thought to like stepping from backward to forward, making the easy stuff difficult; but interesting that I can do some difficult things here and there without too much worry.

I'm thinking about ditching the butt pads. They are just too distracting and if I fall, I fall. I'll live.

ADDENDUM: After skating for an hour today (although to be honest, I spent much of the hour socializing), Perry and I walked around the Fairmount Loop hiking trail above our house. It is 3.3 miles and we did it in an hour and 15 minutes. When I was home recovering from surgery #1 last summer I would watch hikers go up our street toward the loop, and couldn't wait for the day when I could do it too. Today was the first attempt. I was limping by the end, but now I am in the recliner and feeling OK.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Memory Jogging

A shout out to Matt, who yesterday underwent surgery to remove ectopic bone which had formed after his PAO. According to his blog he is up and about and doing very well today. Hope you are on your way home from the hospital soon Matt!!

I skated this morning for the first time since Adult Nationals. A week and a half of healing made some noticeable difference. I felt more balanced and at ease over my skates today. Coach R. worked with me and even though I hadn't practiced since our last lesson 3 weeks ago, I had improved. Note that I am not advocating that skaters forego practice in order to improve! Generally it doesn't work very well.

Despite the improvement, I fell on a 3 turn. That's right, a 3 turn, and a slow one at that. I just didn't get all the way around (because half a rotation is a long way to go, I guess). But I didn't fall anywhere near my hips so didn't get a chance to test out the butt pads. My right hip hurts a bit now since it was twisted, but it's clearly nothing to worry about. I should be fine tomorrow.

It's amazing which things are still in my muscle memory and which have departed. Interestingly I was able to do pretty good cross rolls both forward and backward but (***lightbulb goes on***) those don't require any turnout, and actually require some pigeon toeing. Holding edges after 3 turns is difficult because my toe turns in; forcing the hip to open is something I have to re-learn. When I do it, the turn improves. My glutes don't seem to be firing when they should, so I have to actively think about using them. I'm not always sure where to put my weight on the blade, even on maneuvers I've done most of my life. Once Coach R. corrects me it makes sense and feels right, but left to their own devices my muscles have lousy memories.

We did mohawks with swing rolls a la Starlight Waltz. The mohawks I can get through somehow (though they aren't pretty), but the step forward from BO edge to FI edge is difficult, especially on my weaker side. I did say "a la" Starlight Waltz, but what I am doing right now no more resembles a waltz than Buzz Aldrin resembles a dancer. Like Buzz, I can only earn points for trying.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Five Month Hipiversary

My five-month goal was to skate the social dance session at Adult Nationals this morning. Today is exactly five months after my LPAO (9+ months after my RPAO) and I met my goal.

I was judging at the Adult National Figure Skating Championships all week, and brought my skates for this morning's social dance session. I was stiff and sore (it was colder than I was used to and I had not done much exercise during the week). I did a Dutch Waltz, Rhythm Blues, 2 Canasta Tangos, and 2 Cha Chas - all forward dances - with six different partners. Three were friends (thanks L, K and JB for bravely holding me up), one was a fellow judge, another was someone I knew informally but had never danced with, and the last was a stranger. "Nobody fell down and nobody threw up, so it was a success," as my friend Marilu likes to say.

Not that I have an ego, but of course I do, and it was hard to be the worst skater on the ice and wearing crash pads. It looked like I had wandered over and accidentally got on the dance ice from a nearby public session. (The only worse scenario would be if I showed up wearing a helmet too.) The person who partnered me on the Canasta Tango (the easiest compulsory dance of all) did not know me, and counted every beat out loud (really loud! 1-2-3-4!) for two patterns as well as calling the steps for me which I didn't ask him to do (I did ask him to please go slowly and told him my edges were pretty weak) ... of course I know the steps (and I was actually on time) but some of the steps are difficult for me so I was on two feet a lot. I am sure he thought I just didn't know the dance.


I had help staying vertical!

Another person asked me if I had ever taken any dance tests, and I said the last test I took was the Silver Samba. He laughed, thinking I was making a joke. I explained about the surgery but it was kind of awkward.

I later told another skater that I had been a judge on her panel and enjoyed the performance she and her partner did. She paused, looked at me funny, and then said, "but you are not an ice dancer!" I explained about the surgery but again, kind of awkward.

I turned down a Fiesta because I'm pretty sure I can't do the step forward. I wanted to try a Swing Dance, but nobody asked me and none of the guys really made eye contact as I skated toward them. The one I was able to corner said he "hated the dance." They probably thought I was too scary to skate with on a dance with backward skating, although I actually skate better backwards.

I really shouldn't be so sensitive, but the comments (all innocent and none malicious) were still hard to take. They tell me I really look scary out there. I could say I don't care but I'd be lying.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

4.5 Month Check

Today was my checkup with Dr. Mayo. I posted the following on Hip Women today:

Has anyone had post-PAO ectopic bone removed? Just went for my 5 month/9 month
checkup with Dr. Mayo. On my left side, there is some bone growing over the
screw head on the front of my hip, which is why I am having trouble with flexion
on that side. He wants to let it heal for a full year then re-visit to see how
bad it is; at that point he said one option is to go back in and remove the
ectopic bone. While he's in there he'd also remove the screws on the left.
Normally he doesn't remove screws unless there is a problem so we'd probably
leave them in on the right.

He said this would entail 3 days in the hospital, and while they wouldn't detach
my muscles, "soft tissues" would be moved, so it would take some time to get the
strength back again. I would not have to be non-weight bearing so muscle
atrophy shouldn't be a big issue.

Just curious if anyone else has had this happen and if it really means 3 days in
the hospital. I know scew removal by itself can be outpatient so I am wondering
why this would be so much worse.

The thought of spending three more days in the hospital followed by more rehab
does not thrill me ... this was NOT something I was envisioning! I was hoping
today would be more along the lines of, "You're doing great, we don't ever need
to see you again, good-bye!"

Thanks, Terri

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Reunion

On July 6, 2009, Tim and I skated together for the last time two days before my first hip surgery. Today, almost 9 months to the day later, we had our first reunion.

He has only skated a couple of times since then, and obviously I am not at my best. I have only skated solo until today, and was a little hesitant to subject anyone to my bad balance and lack of edge quality. I told him not to have high expectations, and mine were low as well.

But interestingly, when I'm holding on to Tim, I am able to do far more than I can alone. We started out just doing hand in hand stroking and moved on to a Dutch Waltz and Cha Cha. We did a Ten-Fox and I was thrilled that I could do a decent three turn and mohawk (things I can't do if I am not holding on to him). We then did part of a European Waltz, with 4 three turns in a row on my left (weaker) leg.

When the Viennese Waltz came on I was resting by the wall, and when Tim wanted to try it I figured he was joking. This is the competition dance we practiced for a year and it's good to know all that practice time still has some positive effect a year and a half later. The dance was slow, the edges were shallow and the pattern was small, but it felt comfortable. We did two more patterns just for fun.

I know that I could not do any part of the Viennese without holding on to my partner, but it's good to know how much confidence I have just holding on to his hand. We're still a team, and there is still nobody I'd rather skate with.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

19 Weeks; Skating Lesson

Had my first post-PAO session with a coach. This is more to document my progress and probably not going to be interesting to very many of you. Hippies will laugh when they hear that the first thing she commented about was "lack of psoas (hip flexor) involvement." Isn't that just the way it is with us? Hip flexors are always a problem. When I explained what was cut during surgery her face went white. "I can't even believe you're out here," she said. I told her not to go easy on me; if there's anything that hurts I'll tell her. I need someone to push me and give me confidence.

We did FO, FI, BI, and BO edges on half circles. Back edges were easier than forward edges - despite surgery, I have always spent more time skating backward than forward in my many years of skating. Once I got over the fear of not being able to see people coming, backward was easier. Need to remember to lift up the upper body when I push (not collapse forward) and bend skating knee for the push before rocking over. Swing free leg through turned out and straight (yeah, right ... but I'll try). On FI push, rock back to the heel.

Two-foot slaloms forward and backward. Need to bend knees and get a good upper body twist. This hurt my left hip flexor going forward, but not intolerable. It will be sore later.

Double 3s on two feet, both directions. On the left I tend to stick the skating hip out. Need to get up and over it. Twist and check with the arms. Down, up, down with the knees.

Coach R was impressed with how much I could do, and actually I was too. This all seems so remedial but of course I have to crawl before I can walk, and walk before I can run. Watching Barb do beautiful Westminster Waltz patterns this morning inspires me to try harder.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Not all PAOs are created equal, part 2 ...

A skater at the rink asked me to do a high-level dance on Sunday. I told him that (obviously) I couldn't do it, and that I might never recover enough to do it. He was partly joking, but then he said that I should be able to do it some day, because he knew another ice dancer who had the same surgery I had who could now skate just as well as she could before.

This shouldn't bother me, but it did. To compare two people's recovery is really unfair. I am only 4 months out from my second PAO, and while I have never met the other skater, I understand hers was many years ago. I don't know if she had bilateral PAOs or just one. I don't know if her skating muscles were cut or not. I don't know her age or fitness level.

The person who asked me to dance seemed to think that I was pretty full of shit and that I was making a big deal out of nothing - and that I should be just fine soon. I certainly hope he is right, because I would really like to be just fine some day. But realistically, I know my body. It is going to take a long time, and a lot of work, to make progress in my flexibility, which is greatly limited despite yoga twice a week and daily stretching. Strengh I am more optimistic about, but after hearing other PAO patients' experiences I know that our muscles still tend to fatigue more quickly than pre-surgery, even many years post PAO.

The goal of the PAO was to give me everyday functionality, not to make me a great athlete. The likelihood of getting back to my prior level of function is between slim and none. I am 47 years old, and I don't have hours to spend working out every day. This is a reality I accept. I wish others would accept it too.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not all PAOs are created equal

I recently compared my x-ray with another hip chick's x-ray. Granted, all bodies are different and all surgeries are different too. People recover at different rates and have different reactions to medications and procedures. Surgeons use different protocols and techniques.

Her x-rays looked really different from mine. She only had 3 screws, and by the angle it looked like they were all holding the acetabular bone fragment in place and none were holding detached muscles. Her three small screws were all lined up neatly in a row, all pointing the same way. My 13 screws are much larger, in different places, and at various angles.

When she told me her surgery only lasted an hour, and that she was going to be off crutches and back in spinning class 4 weeks after surgery and back to work in less than 2, I started to wonder, did we have the same surgery? If I'm healing so darn fast (by all accounts), and I'm at 8 and 4 months respectively for dumb and dumber, then why does the thought of a spinning class even now make me shudder, knowing I wouldn't be able to walk at all the next day? And why did my surgeries, performed by an equally competent and well-regarded surgeon, take OVER SEVEN HOURS??

Why such a difference? In a relatively simple PAO, the acetabular bone is cut and reoriented and then screwed back in place. The quad muscles are not cut, and the hip capsule is not opened. In a not-so simple PAO like mine, the quad muscles are cut to access the hip capsule; the hip capsule is opened; and various things are done in there (from shaving impinging bone to re-shaping the femur to repairing a damaged labrum, all of which happened to me). All of this additional trauma makes for a longer recovery.

Broken bones usually heal much faster than traumatized muscles and soft tissues, so this all makes sense. It explains why, all other things being equal, some people heal much faster from their PAOs and are able to regain more function. Mystery solved!