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


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!