The Seemingly-Endless Recovery

This Monday marked 4 weeks since my second hip surgery. I would love to be able to write something nice and inspirational about my recovery, but the truth is, I’m just over all of it. I’m tired of not sleeping well because of discomfort. I’m tired of using crutches and getting stares from strangers. I’m tired of not being able to carry things. I’m tired of hurting. I’m tired of physical therapy, and I only started that last week! It feels like I’ve been going through this for a year, not just 4 weeks. I wish I could wake up tomorrow and have all of this behind me, but the reality is, healing takes work. Healing takes time. So I have to keep trying and keep waiting and pray for patience that feels so elusive.

Even as I write this I feel a check in my spirit because I know I’m being ungrateful. I should be grateful that my pain has a solution and hopefully an end date. I should be grateful that I have a wonderful support system in place to help me. I should be grateful that I have insurance that allows me to have good care. And I am truly grateful for those things, but I have let all the things that I’m not grateful for crowd out all of the good.

In these moments I keep coming back to my word for last year, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

The Lord wants me to thank Him for ALL things, not just the things I like. Though this seems like an impossible task, if I truly believe that He is sovereign and that all of my life is filtered through His hands, then I can give thanks for all things because He will work them for my good. That means that even stupid crutches are ultimately for my good, as much as I would like to think otherwise. So I will give my grumblings to the Lord and thank Him for making beauty out of a mess.

FAI Surgery #2: Early Recovery

I’m now 10 days post-op from surgery to correct hip impingement. In some ways this recovery has been better than the first one. I don’t feel like my pain is nearly as bad, which makes a huge difference and I assume is due to the fact that I didn’t have a labral tear in this hip. Stephen also said he thinks I’m moving around much better this time than I was last time. I don’t know that I have felt that way, but honestly the first few days after both surgeries are kind of a blur, so I will take his word on that. What’s been strange is that even though the recovery hasn’t been so bad, I haven’t wanted to be up and about as much as I did last time. I managed to go to Wal-Mart with my parents on post-op day 4 last time, and there was no way that was happening this time because of the nausea and fatigue I felt. I still don’t really feel like going to the trouble of making myself presentable enough for public, but I did go to lunch with my mom yesterday, and it was great to be out and also great to spend time with her. What wasn’t so great was being seated at the very back of the restaurant and having people look at me as I hobbled by them, but it won’t be the first or last time I’ll be stared at!

For the first few days after my surgery, the biggest challenges were not the pain in my hip but sleeplessness, fatigue, and a persistent sore throat. The sore throat was the biggest surprise to me, even though the anesthesiologist told me it would be possible, because I didn’t have that issue at all the first time around. My sleep quality has been less than ideal but is improving, and I’m thankful that I have the rest of this week off work so I can still sleep whenever I need to. Initially I had a really hard time getting around on my crutches because my body felt so weak and unstable. I have a walker with wheels that I borrowed last time and hardly used, but I have ended up using it quite a bit because it was easier to use than the crutches. Recently I have started using the crutches more, and while I thought it would be a piece of cake to use them again, it wasn’t quite as smooth a transition as I thought it would be. Of course, I’m also not the most graceful and coordinated person alive, so I don’t know why I was surprised to struggle with them again. I dealt with terrible nausea and loss of appetite for about 3 days, which was really difficult. I’m not sure what exactly caused the nausea, as I did not have that problem at all with the first surgery, but I suspect that I wasn’t taking my pain medication with enough food. I finally started seeing improvement from that on Saturday and now don’t have any nausea. I’ve also had my share of terrible nightmares the past few nights (including one so vivid that I woke Stephen up because I was convinced it was real) and hope those go away soon.

I am planning to go back to work part-time on Monday, and I’m both ready and not ready for that. I’ve been pretty bored at home (it turns out there’s only so much reading and watching of TV one can do before being tired of it), so it will be nice to get back into more of a routine. Sitting upright in a chair all day doesn’t excite me, as sitting is the most uncomfortable position for me (I have spent the majority of my time at home either lying down or reclining), but I’m hoping that easing into it by working reduced hours the first week will help.

Stephen and I will make another trip to Nashville on Friday for my first follow-up appointment. I’m hoping Dr. P. will clear me to drive then, since there’s really no reason I can’t drive because I don’t use my left leg at all while driving. I also expect to get my orders for physical therapy and will be ready to begin that and see my great therapist again.

Even though this whole process is an ordeal that can be draining sometimes, I am trying to remember that I am closer to healing with each passing day. I long for the day when I can write that I am pain-free, and I pray that day comes so that you all can share in my joy at seeing what the Lord has done! And even if that day doesn’t come, I still will be joyful about what He has done, for the work He has wrought in my heart is far more important than any work done on my hips.

FAI Surgery #2: First Impressions

I’m now one week post-op for arthroscopic surgery on my left hip, so it’s past time for an update! Here’s a (not-so-brief) recap of how the surgery itself went. I’ll write another post soon about how the recovery is going so far.

Just like with the first surgery, I had to be at Vanderbilt at 5:30 a.m. on Monday. We stayed at a hotel in Nashville on Sunday night and arrived at the hospital right on time. Unlike last time, there were also a lot of other people checking in for surgeries/procedures, and it took a lot longer to get checked in. Once I got back to the pre-op area, I got into the hospital gown (which was purple-yay!). The nurse came to get my IV started, which unfortunately was a terrible experience and resulted in being stuck once in each hand and and gave me an awesome bruise for a souvenir.  After that, I met the anesthesiologist and his assistant and answered the same pre-op questions several times for several different people. Dr. P. also came by, along with one of his assistants. I jokingly told Dr. P. that it was very important that I have scars symmetrical to my first ones, and he said he would do his best (Spoiler alert: they’re not symmetrical. Such a bummer, since I’m so wont to show off my upper thighs!). Stephen got to wait with me until they took me to surgery, which ended up being around 8:00 a.m. After I got to the operating room, they had me move onto the operating table and then I got the spinal injection. I don’t remember much after that besides the anesthesiologist placing the mask over my face and instructing me to breathe deeply. (I also remember talking with a nurse about her Fitbit and the fact that mine was going to spend some lonely time in a drawer for several weeks.) Last time I remember my legs going numb and watching them put the booties on my feet, but I think this time I was out before any of that happened.

Some time later, I woke up in recovery and was in pain and also found it hard to talk. My throat was really sore this time (and ended up being sore for about 3 days after surgery), and the nurse gave me some ice chips. My experience in the recovery room was not as great as it was last time. The nurse I had the first time was very compassionate and attentive, and I felt well cared for. This time, I felt like they were trying to rush me out of there (which they probably were since the place was so busy, but that shouldn’t be obvious to the patient). My nurse wasn’t mean, but she didn’t have quite the same reassuring bedside manner as the previous nurse. She removed my IV fairly quickly, and then I had some strong nausea and vomited and they couldn’t give me any anti-nausea medicine through the IV since she’d already taken it out. They ended up bringing me a pill to swallow instead. She only asked me how my pain was one time, and I remember being asked about my pain level several times last time. My suspicion that they were rushing me out was confirmed when we were able to leave the hospital by 1:30, whereas last time it was sometime after 3. My experience in recovery wasn’t bad, but it was a little disappointing given the stellar treatment I received the first time.

I also didn’t get to talk to Dr. P. after the surgery like I did last time, and even though the nurse paged him, he ended up being tied up with another surgery and unable to come. Stephen did talk to him after the surgery, and what he told me came as a surprise to me: when the doctor looked at my left hip, he discovered that the labrum on that side was not torn. He did shave down the bone on my femur to correct the impingement,  but no labral repair was necessary. I go to see him for a follow-up this Friday and am supposed to bring along the pictures he took during the surgery so he can explain everything to me.

The reason I was surprised that the labrum was not torn is because my left hip started bothering me long before my right hip. The only reason I decided to have surgery on my right hip first is because at the time it was hurting more than the left hip, but the whole time I worried that I had made the wrong decision and that delaying surgery on the left hip would only make things worse. Fortunately, that turned out not to be the case (as is the case with so many things I worry about–life lesson there, friends!), and I’m very thankful that the left hip ended up being in better shape than the right hip. Dr. P. told Stephen that my recovery should be pretty similar to last time because he still had to shave down the bone, but I’m secretly hoping that proves to be untrue and that I will bounce back more quickly this time around.

It’s still hard to believe that I’ve now had not one but two hip surgeries at age 34, but I’m glad to have both of them behind me. I’m praying that by this time next year all that will be left to remind me of this experience are the asymmetrical scars on my hips and that I will be running again and free from pain.

 

17 Weeks Post-Op and Getting Ready for Round 2

I have failed in my aim to thoroughly document my recovery from arthroscopic hip surgery. I was dismayed when I saw that my last update was 9 weeks ago. Oops! Funny enough, that update was written on a day when it was rainy, and today’s update also finds me writing while it rains (and rains and rains and rains) outside. My hips definitely don’t like the rain, and I hope all the aches I have been feeling diminish once the rain leaves.

As the title of this post would indicate, I am now 17 weeks out from surgery on my right hip. I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor (I’ll call him Dr. P) on Feb. 24, and I was very ready for it to come. I was discharged from physical therapy on Feb. 2, after about 2 months of therapy, and at that time I felt pretty good. I felt like I was finally seeing a decrease in my pain and felt more confident in my movements and in the strength of my hip. Then, just a few weeks later, I noticed that the intermittent pain I’d been feeling in my groin was increasing and becoming more frequent. So by the time my appointment arrived, I had worked myself into a panic. I was convinced I had somehow done something to reverse my progress and that the surgery hadn’t worked and that I would never find relief. (It’s a real party in my brain most of the time, let me tell you.) Before the appointment I asked some friends to pray for me because I needed peace and clarity, especially because I knew that at the appointment we also needed to also discuss moving ahead with surgery for my left hip. I was scared to move forward with another surgery when I still had so much doubt about the first one being successful.

However, I left my appointment feeling reassured and comforted. The setback I experienced is not uncommon and pretty much par for the course with recovery from hip surgery, and Dr. P said that there will be times when I will see these types of flare ups but that they will hopefully be few and far between as my recovery continues. He spent some time examining my hip and testing my range of motion and said that I’m doing well and he sees no reason not to move forward with the surgery on my left hip.

Soooo…I’m scheduled for surgery on March 28. It’s really soon, and I don’t know how I feel about that. I’m ready to get it over with and work on completely healing BOTH hips, but I’m also dreading it because it’s such an ordeal that will disrupt my life and my family’s life for weeks. I wish I didn’t have to put Stephen through the experience of being the primary caretaker of both Charlotte and me. I wish I didn’t have to rely on other people to help with meals or drive me places. I wish I didn’t have to use crutches and be stared at every time I go somewhere. I wish I didn’t have to do any of it again, and in a way, I don’t have to. The surgery is my choice. However, I know if I don’t do anything, my hip definitely won’t get better, and the pain will not go away. So I’m choosing to be uncomfortable and inconvenienced and needy now, in the hopes that a year from now this will all be a distant memory.

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think every now and then, “What if this is all a waste and I’m always in pain?” Even though I believe in God and trust Him with my life, that trust doesn’t guarantee me a pain-free existence. Of course I will pray for and hope for complete healing. I will do what I can to pursue treatment that will lead to that outcome. But I know that no matter what, God is with me. No matter what, He has my good in mind. And if pain is what He chooses to make me more like Him, then so be it.