Saturday, December 29, 2012

Collateral damage

My hips are GREAT! In fact, I have been working out with a personal trainer for a few months now and am gaining some great muscle tone back into my legs finally!! I still have some remaining weakness in my left side that needs work but I can do anything! No hip pain, no back pain, no psoas pain . . . . . NO pain. This is the first time in my life that I am completely and totally without hip pain. I cannot even describe the feeling. It's marvelous. HOWEVER, about a year ago, I started noticing that I had some pretty severe pain in my left foot -- especially when I tried to wear any sort of heel at all. I, of course, ignored it and simply carried on. :-) I finally went to see about it shortly before my last hip surgery. After an x-ray and a brief exam, my podiatrist announced that I was suffering from hallax rigidus (stiff big toe or turf toe) and proclaimed that I needed immediate surgery. HA!! I said. I have to have hip surgery, recover from that and then there's all the work that I will be missing. I simply don't have time. Bye. It did feel better -- I didn't walk on it after hip surgery for awhile -- and I thought he was wrong. :-) Not so! As my hip recovery progressed and I began to be more active, the foot pain came back with a vengenance. I finally caved in, scheduled surgery for December 5 and had it fixed. Interestingly enough, the joint where my big toe joins my foot was almost unsalvageable. He ended up doing microfracture because most of the cartilage was gone. If I had waited even another month, I might have had a fusion instead of a repair. YIKES!! The good news is that the surgery was completely successful and I am currently in a very big ugly boot waiting for the bones to heal. While he won't really speculate on the cause, he did agree that the wear pattern and the extent of the damage on my joint suggested an irregular walking pattern. Hmmmmmm . . . . let's see, I have had hip problems for all of my life, my right hip was the first to really be painful and was painful for about 15 years before I had it fixed. Think I might have shifted most of my walking to my left side?? Yep -- and it's my left foot that suffered. Ugh! I am very glad it's over. . . . a hip surgery and a foot surgery in one year is more than any person should have to endure. I think I am happy to see 2012 end and I look forward to a new beginning in 2013 with NO surgery, good hips and good feet!! Happy New Year to all of my fellow hippies and I wish all of you the same good hips that I now have. april

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Freedom At Last!

Ok, ok I get it. I haven't posted in a long time and those of you who have been following my progress are curious. :-) First of all, please let me just say THANKS to all who have posted or emailed to say hi and wonder how I am doing. Your support and positive comments have meant a lot to me and I feel way more loved and supported just knowing that you are out there ---even though I wouldn't know you if I met you at Starbuck's. HA!! And, everyone please give a little "wooohooo" because it is true - the reason I haven't been blogging about this is because I have been out living my life again -- FINALLY!!! I had another injection with Dr. Philippon on August 29 and I have felt great ever since. i kept waiting for this one to wear off and the nagging pain return but it's now mid-October and NO pain. My range of motion is improving weekly and I have been released from physical therapy. In fact, I have entered into the strength building phase of this recovery now and have hired a personal trainer to help me with that goal. There are many, many things that I am able to do again - elliptical, biking hills, hiking for a limited time, etc. and there are other things that I am still working up to -- rowing, hiking long distances, mountain biking and golf. I finally feel like I will make it and all of my hip problems will be a distant memory!! I went to Utah a few weeks ago and decided to try hiking in Arches National Park. I was really nervous but decided there was only one way to find out how far along I was in recovery. I did quite a bit of hiking before I had a "hip twinge" but realized the reason was due to the weak muscles in my legs and the resulting fatigue. I realized they were no longer properly supporting my hip and that was the reason for the "twinge". I rested the following day and had absolutely no lingering pain or after effects. Again -- another wooohooo moment. Life is good! My right hip continues to be perfect and my left is working hard to catch up to it! I see no reason why it won't. To all other hip patients who may find this blog and continue to read this blog -- keep the faith! It's been a long, long journey for me but with Dr. Philippon, Howard Head and St Vincent Sports Performance Center I am gong to be fine --- no better than fine! I probably won't post much after this as I plan to take advantage of every single day and use these two good hips for as long as I can. Sending positive hip energy into the universe for all who need it!!! April

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Post Philippon Visit

Ok for anyone heading into see Philippon, you will completely understand this - my appointment was for 11:30. I saw him at 3:00 and sat in an exam room the entire time. :-) What you love about Dr. Philippon - when he's with you he's completely and totally with you for as long as it takes to figure things out. What frustrates you about Dr. Philippon - you typically wait at least 2 hours to see him past your appointment time and many times it's longer because he is totally focused on someone else. I always try to remember that it could be me that he's focused on making someone else wait so I steel myself to wait and take a book, water and snacks. :-) My hip was screaming by the time I got to see him. I had some adductor work done in PT on Sunday and found that it was incredibly tender and tight. I thought that might be my entire problem. It really pinches my external rotation right now and seemed to improve after some serious release work. When I say serious I should add that I am nicely bruised now. He asked to see me walk and immediately told me that I was getting an injection. Yay I think . . . wheel in the ginormous needle. He is amazingly good at sticking a needle into a hip capsule. I am always amazed. I felt pressure but absolutely no pain. What he found, however, is scar tissue. He commented that the scar tissue was pretty thick and inhibited his getting the needle into the capsule. Yikes!!! My biggest fear realized. I tried to not burst into tears even though I could see the concern on his face. He prescribed some specific things for me to do and told me that I have to come back again next month for another injection. Wow . . . talk about a punch in the gut. There are two things that come to mind for me over and over: 1. when does this end? 2. The movie - Groundhog Day with Bill Murray. I expect to wake up to Sonny and Cher every morning until I get this right --- whatever this is. I take comfort in the fact that I did EVERYTHING according to plan and that I simply cannot control this. It frustrates me endlessly because I cannot control this. :-) I felt immediately better after the shot and continue to have relief from the pain I had before. It's not perfect but I can walk short distances without pain so I'll take it. Continuing to do my glute and T.A. exercises diligently and will see what comes with another month. In the meantime, I am sending all of my positive energy into healing myself. I still take comfort from the fact that my right hip is perfect . . . absolutely 100% perfect so I know it can happen. I told Dr. Philippon that if another surgery becomes necessary, we are doing it in Pittsburgh not Vail since I had such good luck with my right side. He laughed. Off to do circumduction and a round of glute exercies. Later!

Monday, July 16, 2012


10 weeks post surgery and many, many up's and down's. Ugh! It started out so easy and then changed so quickly once I started walking. My own personal theory is that I still have lots of old, bad patterns that need to be broken but it certainly is scary! I am back in Colorado today to see Dr. Philippon and find out what's going on. I saw Brooke yesterday in PT and she could definitely see an issue with my walk. My left side is inflamed and it's higher and way more guarded than my right. She did a ton of work on my adductor and it seemed to help a bit. It's so tight that she bruised me trying to work out a knot she said was the size of a quarter. Yikes!!! Could it be that easy? I so hope so. On a positive note, I have been working really hard on my glutes and am having some great success. I know I still have farther to go but I am starting to see and feel some actual muscle again. YAY!!! I'll post again today after I see Dr. Philippon. I'm always buoyed by his confidence and enthusiasm and that's much needed today. Later!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

6 weeks post op

Today is 6 weeks since surgery. The time has flown and dragged at the same time. I am not sure how that is possible but it is. I have been off of crutches for the most part for about a week. I still don't feel like my walk is 100% but it gets a tiny bit better every day. I still have some tightness in my groin but I keep telling myself that is normal. Yikes! I am deathly afraid of forming more scar tissue but I am trying to send positive energy to the healing parts anyway. I don't want to prove the mind over matter theory by obsessing over scar tissue and ending up with more. Yikes! The CPM went away yesterday and today I gained 2 more hours of my life back. Woooohooo. I am amazed at the amount of time that I spend doing "something" for my hip. Immediately after surgery it was about 10 hours a day to get everything done. Now, I feel like it's more manageable but it still does take several hours a day to concentrate on getting all of my at home exercises done. So today I begin some minor strengthening exercises. YAY!! I will look forward to having some muscle definition in my legs once again. It's amazing how quickly muscle tone disappears while on crutches. Scary really. Every time I get in my car, my bike calls my name. Ugh! I so want to get back on my bike and ride. Not sure when that comes in my recovery but I am already looking forward to it! And, the kayak .. . whine, whine, whine. Patience is not one of my strengths and I am seriously close to doing a bit of each. The thing that stops me -- fear of re-developing scar tissue. So, I ride the stationary bike - no resistance - for 20 minutes twice a day every day and stare longingly at my bike and kayak counting down the days until I see Dr. Philippon and can get a plan in place to get me back on/in both. Heading back out to Vail in July. Seeing Dr. Philippon on July 16 - 4 weeks away. I sometimes wish I had stayed the full 6 weeks in Vail because I am nervous about whether I am where I should be. Deep down I think I am fine but I am so jumpy about this scar tissue thing that I would like a PT who sees hip recovery all the time tell me that everything is fine. :-) I will sum up 6 weeks by saying that I am glad it's over and so far so good. I hope the only thing that changes is that I continue to feel stronger and better! More to come.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

4 weeks out

Today I am celebrating! I got to turn in the calf pumps today and I am thrilled to not have my legs sweat through the night and the whirring sound of the motor as it pumps and deflates the cuffs. I didn't think they were too bad when I first had to wear them but I soon grew tired of them and sleeping with them for the last night was almost unbearable. :-) And, I am able to decrease my time in the cpm to just 2 hours per day. It feels like I have just gotten some of my time back. It's not much but 2 to 4 hours a day is a lot to gain right now with all of the other things I am doing. Yay!! Real progress at last. I have been walking 50% weight bearing for almost a week now. It feels good . . still a little unstable and my hip still feels tight but it feels good enough that I have forgotten to grab my crutches a couple of times and have started to walk unassisted. This is the week that I start upping my weight on my left side until I am walking without crutches on Sunday. Scary!!! There's no real pain with any movement but I am still definitely stiff and tight and lots of muscles still don't really want to work very hard. I always forget how long it takes to get everything back into good working order after this surgery. Since I am not the most patient person in the world, I want it all now. Ugh!!! The medical bills have started to come in. One word -- SCARY!!! And, it seems to be a full time job to review what was submitted, how it was submitted and what I am responsible for. They come fast and furious in the mail every day. It's a little overwhelming. So far insurance has paid for most. There is one large one, however, that the insurance only paid $2500 out of $17,000. I am worried about a potential $15,000 bill coming my way. Ugh! We'll see on that one. Everything else looks good though. Ok, off to my busy day of circumduction, pt and a gelato as a reward!!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Surgery re-cap

I can't believe this is the first post since surgery. I had forgotten how miserable I am after surgery and just didn't feel like doing anything other than the prescribed have-to's. So, now almost 4 weeks out, I am starting to feel a little more normal (i say little) and thought I would do a quick post. So, first the surgery - ugh!!! Lots of scar tissue. It had adhered to my labrum and was pulling the labrum in half every time I took a step. Yes, no wonder I was miserable. In some way sick way, it is good to know that I wasn't crazy. :-) He had to replace anchors in my labrum and I am now the proud owner of 4 new anchors. He also shaved down a little more bone and released my very tight and very angry psoas. He told me when he did the release that it sprung like a guitar string because it was that tight. Hmmmmmm . . . am I surprised???? The good - I woke up from surgery and immediately felt relief from my constant, nagging, excrutiating back pain that has plagued me for the past 3 years. It has not returned in the 4 weeks post surgery so I am somewhat excited by the prospect that I may be ok. Shhhhhhh . . . I don't want to jinx anything here. So far so good though on the back pain. Dr. P also told me that my hip surfaces look better now than they did 3 years ago so I have actually had improvement in my hip. Wow!!! That is huge!!! And, lastly, he told me that once I get through all of my rehab that I will not have any restrictions. OMG!!!! Watch out world. :-) The bad -- Recovery is very different this time. I stayed in Vail for 6 weeks last time and when I came home, I was in rockin shape and doing pretty much what I wanted as far as exercise. I was lifting weights, doing leg presses and really building lots of strength. At 6 weeks this time, I will just be coming off crutches and starting to do my major strengthening. I am on crutches for almost 6 weeks as opposed to 3 last time. The CPM will go for 6 weeks instead of 3. It's a much longer and slower process this time. Dr Philippon told me that he has found scar tissue to be much more common in women so he has changed the protocol for post surgery to try to mitigate that. The ugly - Having never thrown up after surgery, I broke my winning streak. It was bad!!! I had to wear an anti-nausea patch behind my ear for several days as I just couldn't shake it. I spent the couple of weeks after surgery barely able to eat and hold anything down. (the good - I lost 13 lbs; the bad - I don't own any size 4 clothes). And, having made fun of someone last time out there for his record setting bruise, I was the proud receipient of the largest bruise this time. It literally went from my knee all the way up past where most people were allowed to see. It's still faint but going away. So, Tuesday will make 4 weeks out from surgery. The hip still feels marvelous. The muscles surrounding the hip are still very spotty. My IT band is tight, tight, tight. At one point, at PT told me that it felt like I had a golf ball in my IT band. My quad is tight especially where it and my IT band are friends. And, I have officially lost every muscle in my left leg - my calf is flabby and where in fact did the quad go? It's really hard to watch and especially hard to feel what has become a gelatinous mass of goo that once was a leg. ugh!!! I gain a teeny, tiny bit of mobility every day and am diligently doing all of my exercises hoping to make a dent in the muscle tone. My glute work is coming along and it's the only thing that seems to be responding to the exercises currently. J-LO watch out. I feel best in the pool and wish I could do it every day. There is a sense of freedom in walking without crutches and being able to get around. I look forward to the day I can do that on land. Overall, I am HAPPY to have this behind me and am looking forward to getting back. I promise to be more diligent about posting since I am home and feeling a bit better. For anyone planning a fun surgery visit to Vail - I found a condo that I would highly recommend. It's on and here is the link: Lorna was GREAT to work with and the condo was convenient and comfortable for a hip patient! More later!!