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.

Hips Don’t Lie: 8 Weeks Post-Op

My hips were achier than usual all day today, and I told Stephen tonight at dinner that I bet rain was coming. My hips always seem to hurt more right before it rains. Sure enough, earlier this evening rain began to fall. Just call me Shakira because my hips don’t lie!

I’m happy to be at eight weeks post-op. It somehow feels like a big milestone, although the true milestone was last Tuesday, when I was FINALLY able to ditch the crutches after almost 7 weeks! I was so nervous those first few days without my crutch, scared that the slightest misstep would send me right back on it, but so far I have been fine. My physical therapist says I still have a slight problem with my gait, but she feels that it will correct itself overtime as I strengthen my muscles. One of the biggest issues I’ve seen with therapy is the fact that I have zero muscle tone due to being completely sedentary for a year before my surgery. It took me so long to get the right diagnosis and treatment for  my hip, and while I was seeking that out, I wasn’t doing anything physical because I was in pain all the time. Obviously, being so inactive took a huge toll on my body, in more ways than one, but I see it the most when I am at physical therapy. At first, just doing a simple thing like extending my leg and holding it made my thigh quiver with exertion. It’s gotten better thanks to all of the sessions I’ve had and the home exercises I’ve been doing, but I can’t help but wonder if my therapy would have been easier if my muscles had been stronger. I know there’s really no point in worrying about that at this point since I can’t change the past, though. And on the positive side, my left hip will hopefully be stronger going into surgery since it’s had to work harder these past few months (and boy have I felt it!).

I had a follow-up visit with my orthopedic doctor last Wednesday, and he was very pleased with my progress. He took x-rays and showed me the area of bone he had shaved away and showed how that should help the movement in my hip joint. He said my joint space looks great and also thought my gait looked good. I was concerned before the appointment about the amount of pain I’m still having, but he said it’s normal at this stage and that I should see a decrease within 2-3 weeks, so I’m hoping that by week 10 I will be doing much better. It’s been hard for me when people have asked me if I’m pain-free now and I have to say no. I feel as though I’m letting them down with that answer, which I know is ridiculous, but we all know I’m good at being ridiculous. I am ready for the day when I can say that I’m pain-free. I hope and pray that day comes, but sometimes I am afraid it won’t. I still have a long road ahead of me since I still have to take care of my left hip, too, but I can’t dwell on that right now. I’m only guaranteed today, so I will focus on that and be thankful, achy hips and rainy day and all. 🙂

Three Weeks Post-Op!

I had grand plans of updating this blog regularly during my recovery, but it turns out recovering from hip surgery is really boring. My days were all very similar and involved difficult decisions such as: Should I start out on the couch or in the bed today? Which TV show should I watch on Netflix first? (Gilmore Girls. Duh.) Which coloring book should I color in today? Is it time for a new ice pack yet? So you can thank me for sparing you the mundane details of my post-op life.

We had a low-key Thanksgiving at our house with Stephen’s parents, since they were in town to help me after my parents left. I have to say, if you’re going to host Thanksgiving at your house, try to get injured beforehand and be rendered completely useless because then everyone else has to do all the work. 🙂

Monday was a big day for me, as I returned to work. I was really nervous about it but felt like I needed to come in, as we were going to be short-staffed that day. It ended up being a challenge, as I am currently still using my crutches, and by the end of the day I was completely exhausted and in pain. On the bright side, I have a renewed appreciation for my legs and how nice it is when they both work properly! I worked a half day on Tuesday, which was much better, and then I was off yesterday so Stephen and I could go for a follow-up with my doctor at Vanderbilt.

The good news is the doctor thinks I’m progressing nicely. He thinks it’s great that I’m off the pain medication and am trying to work. My incisions are healing nicely, and I can be little freer with my movements now. He said I can start increasing the amount of weight I put on my right leg, and then in a week I can ditch the crutches! After I ditch the crutches, then I can drive! This is especially exciting given the fact that we bought a new car the day before Thanksgiving, and I haven’t been able to drive it at all. I think I may need to have some sort of official crutch farewell ceremony. If I wasn’t going to need them again for my left hip, I’d try to do something destructive to them, but I guess that will have to wait. In the meantime, ideas for creative crutch destruction are welcomed!

I’m starting physical therapy on Monday and am anxious to begin the true healing process. I know it’s going to be hard and probably draining, but if I come out of all of this pain-free, it will be more than worth it.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me during this ordeal. I’m so grateful for the people God has placed in my life!