Saturday, May 30, 2009


Lindsay spent today at physical therapy doing lots of pilates reformer machine and squats. I can definitely feel the burn tonite from both today's exercises as well as yesterday. We, of course, had to discuss today my on-going physical therapy in Indy. I have a binder that outlines the pt protocols and timeframes for completing each. I smiled today as Lindsay went through it and marked it up since I am already doing strength exercises that aren't slated to be done for another 2 to 3 weeks. Fabulous!! Part of my physical therapy today was to go for an hour long walk. Lindsay sent me to East Vail to the Gore Creek trail . . . it was a pure slice of heaven. The trail is a paved trail that runs along Gore Creek and meanders off into the wilderness. I have been dying to get out and enjoy some of the beauty and this did the trick today. There were people fly fishing in the creek and many, many people out on their bikes. The mountain wildflowers are in bloom and the snow melt is still happening making Gore Creek rage. And, I walked!!!!!!!!! Everything is firing as it should and my hip hardly stiffened at all during the hour long walk. It made me want to leap for joy. I am almost to my 6 week mark and everything has been successful. Lindsay moved my hip every which way in the socket today and it is smooth as glass. I have good range of motion . . it's not 100% yet but it's better at this point than pre-surgery. . .and it will only get better!

Two more appointments (I think) with Lindsay then Dr. Philippon and then home . . although I have to admit this place is starting to feel a lot like home. Walking down the trail today I committed to myself to continue this level of exercise and fitness once I get home. I feel so much better and don't want to give back any of the progress that I have made in my 6 weeks out here. I am excited to buy a mountain bike and take off into the woods on any weekend that I can or go hike through a forest and enjoy the life of the forest. I can start biking again . . flats only, 30 minutes only and low gear . . in another week. I can kayak as soon as I get home.

It's storming here today. Watching lightning at 9,000 feet is powerful. I love thunderstorms anyway and seeing it up close makes me awestruck. The other thing that I don't think I have commented on is the stargazing that being at 9000 feet with no city lights close by affords. I can sit on the deck for hours and stare up into the night sky contemplating the meaning of life. :-)

I am looking forward to being back in Indy for the summer to spend time with my friends. I appreciate each and every one of you and all the encouragement you have given me over the last 6 weeks but I agree . . it's time to come home. See you very soon!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

3 more days

I have 3 official appointments left with Lindsay before I see Dr. Philippon. It is surreal. First I was freaking out about coming out here for 6 weeks and now I am freaking out about going home. What's with me????

I talked with both Mark, the athletic trainer who coordinates care between Howard Head and Dr. Philippon and Lindsay and they are confident that he will send me packing on Monday. In fact, Lindsay is having me bring my pt protocols in this weekend to be completely re-worked since I am performing well ahead of schedule. Did you read that . . . . well ahead of schedule. . . . :-) . . . once again, my competitiveness pays off. Ok, actually what has paid off is staying here for 6 weeks and working with physical therapists who know exactly when to push, when to back off and how to fix things that go wrong during recovery. They are amazing.

I had a tearful hug with Laurie today. Her days off are Sat, Sun and Mon so I probably won't see her again before I leave. It felt really weird so I refused to say goodbye since I will be back out here the end of July. I simply told her that I would see her later. It also helped that I will still have appointments over the weekend so I could be brave today. I can't imagine what will happen when I say goodbye to Lindsay on Monday. I promise to hold it together but there will be a small moment of panic as I leave. This place has been so much a part of my life.

Lindsay amped up the exercises today and I'm pretty sure tried to see if she could get my hip to pop out of the socket (kidding!!). I was pretty shaky by the time I left but felt incredibly good at the same time. My hip is really stable and pain free. I just have to continue to work on getting it to relax a bit and I am golden! There were new hip patients (surgery yesterday) in the clinic today and I still am amazed at how far I have come in 5 weeks. Amazing!

I am hoping that I feel ready to leave come next week but I know I am going to have moments of uncertainty. I hope Laurie and Lindsay will bear with me as I email and text them until I get back out here in July. Speaking of July -- I made a 3 month post op appointment with Dr. Philippon today - July 27. I am planning to do a physical therapy session with Lindsay on July 26 and then see Philippon on July 27. If he gives me the all clear, I plan to stay a couple of days and do some hiking through this beautiful place that I have only been able to enjoy from afar. A small reward for all of this hard work. It also gives me great motivation to keep working really hard once I get back to Indy so I don't get reprimanded by Lindsay or Dr. Philippon. ;-)

So tonite, I am enjoying a really fine glass of red wine and a mountain view and thinking that I am the luckiest girl in the whole world!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The countdown continues

Never, ever tell your physical therapist that something is easy because she will make sure that nothing, and I mean nothing, else will be for the remainder of the time you spend with her. More time on the pilates reformer machines today. wow .. . they look so easy until you actually try to hold that position yourself for 30 seconds. I am sure that the song, "Shake, rattle and roll", was written about my glutes cuz that's exactly what they do after 3 sets of anything. One leg standing squats, lots of pilates work and stretching exercises that make me think my leg is going to come off are pretty routine. We are starting to talk about what happens and what kinds of things I need to work on with a new physical therapist in Indianapolis once Dr. Philippon releases me. That makes me nervous. I can't imagine placing my continued success in someone else's hands but that is exactly what I am going to have to do. Yikes!!

Ok, I may seem to be complaining but please know that I am not. I have muscles that I haven't had in a long, long time and it feels really good!! I weighed myself today and I lost 3 lbs last week alone. I am probably in better health now than I have been in a long time and it feels really good. My hip is as smooth as glass and, other than the muscles that want to complain, I have absolutely no pain!!! It is marvelous. I love physical therapy . . . .no matter how much they make me wince, complain, sweat or yelp, it is doing me a world of good and I love it!! I am going to miss my Howard Head family. I don't know that they realize how much I appreciate all they have done for me and have been through with me. They are amazing professionals and kind, caring people. Onward and upward. It's time for me to move out.

I am getting nervous about the next steps but I know it's inevitable and deep down I know everything will be fine. I will take an active role in my continuing physical therapy and will be back out here the end of July for a check-up just to make sure everything is still on track. How bad can I mess it up in 6 weeks? :-) I hope to do some hiking in the mountains when I come back. That would certainly be a dream come true and a worthy goal!

So, today is 5 weeks from surgery and I am pleased to report that I have truly turned the corner on getting better. I have pretty much had all good days in a week and continue to make good progress.

:-) <-------- me smiling . . . BIG SMILE!! I am going to have my life back!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What are these? Muscles?

The benefits of physical therapy are starting to be evident. Of course, they should be. I spent more time today than I care to think about working solely on glutes and quadriceps but lo and behold . . . muscles have magically appeared. Not that I would win any bodybuilding contest or anything like that but I definitely have some bulges that I haven't seen in a long time. It's some consolation as I shake and sweat and pant while trying to hold some impossible position or do some contortionist exercise that Laurie has put me in. I keep concentrating on the end result and try to smile all the while. My muscles are finally cooperating and my walk has somewhat normalized. I still have a little difficulty when I first stand from sitting but I know how to stretch the right muscles to make it easy again.

Lots of hip surgeries happening this week so lots of new patients showing up at pt. It seems forever ago that I was in their shoes and yet it seems like yesterday. I am so happy to be 5 weeks out and working on getting my strength back instead of just trying to survive day to day.

It's peak spring in the mountains and it is breathtakingly beautiful. Everything is green and blooming and all the animals are out. Yesterday, the red fox was just across the street from the house hunting in the tall grass. He/she seemed oblivious to me watching him hunt some small unsuspecting creature for dinner. This morning, on the way to physical therapy, 3 mule deer were standing right by the side of the road grazing on the tasty new grass. There are elk everywhere. The mountain is alive. It's a magical experience.

A few days left before I find out where exactly I am in the recovery process from Dr. Philippon. Until then . . . more pt please.

Monday, May 25, 2009

One more week

I don't know how it's happened but I only have one week left here before I (if all goes well with Dr. Philippon) head for Indiana. As I looked back through this blog, I was laughing as I read my very early posts where I was obviously freaking out about leaving home for 7 weeks. Funny how things work out. I managed to pack everything that I needed (and more), drive to Colorado, have a successful hip surgery, shave my own legs (except for once) and polish my own toenails. To quote the Grateful Dead, "What a long, strange trip it's been". It's certainly been full of ups and downs but I definitely feel like I have turned a corner on recovery. My walk is consistently good. I still have the occasional sharp pain here or there but even those are becoming less and less frequent. Physical therapy is focusing more and more on strength training rather than just making my hip move . . . a very nice feeling.

Today at physical therapy, the new hip patients (surgery last Thursday) were all very curious as to where I am in the recovery time frame. Lindsay made me do a walk across the room so she could check my progress. I, of course, had to show off a bit and make everyone laugh . .. that's how I know I have turned the corner. I smiled as I told them I was over 4 weeks out because you could see the look of encouragement come across their faces . . or maybe they just want to be able to swing their hips like I did. :-)

I have decided to buy a mountain bike and bring home with me. There are some great bike shops out here with people who spend lots of time riding in the mountains. And, as a bonus, they are all trying to get rid of 2008 inventory in a soft economy. I can't actually ride it yet but will look forward to the day that I can and I think that will motivate me to continue to work really hard at pt. I am also hoping that, since I have been working out at 7500 feet, my cardio endurance will be really good when I get back to Indy.

I will be spending this last week eating at all the great restaurants that I will miss when I come home and spending time with my fellow patients and physical therapists that have become my adopted family. I will miss the mountains and wildlife but am looking forward to getting back to my "normal" life.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Vicodin, Muscle Relaxer & Mike

So, last night I decided that a full night's sleep was in order and I wasn't taking any chances with wimpy Tylenol PM. I went straight for a vicodin and muscle relaxer. Totally did the trick and I slept like a baby . . or a junkie . . . whatever it was I didn't care; I slept!! My hip was still feeling a little throbby this morning and I was hoping that Mike would be able to shed some light on what was happening in my newly repaired hip socket. Mike is the head of the hip team at Howard Head. I have watched him work with the pro athletes that have been in and he is amazingly good at his job. I love Lindsay and Laurie and think they have performed miracles with me but I will admit that I was looking forward to seeing what Mike had to say today. Lindsay is out of town this weekend so Mike is covering for her.

One initial comment -- Mike is MUCH stronger than Lindsay and Laurie and has seen a few hips. Mike asked me what my main complaints were and I told him that I was having some pain down the inside of my thigh and that generally my hip felt really tight. He told me to stand normally and asked me how it felt. I told him it felt like I had one leg longer than the other. :-) Bottom line -- he fixed it. My hip has never felt better than it does right now. He did some targeted stretching and straightened the way I was standing. I was favoring my left side; not making it work and by doing that, it was making my adductor muscle down the inside of my thigh be in a constant stretch and subsequently be really sore all the time. He said this is a very common complaint at week 4, easy to fix and was very encouraging. Yippee!! I feel so much better about things today. Thank you Mike!! This is another reason I am so glad I stayed out here for the full physical therapy. He said that they have a lot of problems trying to figure this out over the phone with other physical therapists. For those of you reading my blog who are coming here for surgery, I will say it again . . . . stay here for pt as long as you possibly can. These people are amazing!!

Today and tomorrow is the Blues, Brews and Bar-B-Q fest in Beaver Creek. Mitch and I plan to go check it out and hopefully sample some more good microbrew Colorado beer and hear some free music. It's raining here on and off so we're hoping that we don't get caught in a downpour. I wasn't sure I would be able to walk it but my hip feels absolutely great today so I am optimistic on making my way around.

I have just over a week left. Here's to even more improvement!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Why does this have to be so hard?

As I have said before, they won't all be good days. I am having some unexplained pain today. Laurie couldn't exactly pinpoint the cause but it is painful when I walk today so the limp is back. The limp isn't something out of a horror movie - dragging a dead leg behind me - but it's definitely a limp. There's also a throbbing in the hip . . a dull ache that just won't go away. Rats!! Nothing seems to make it worse or better . . it's just there. So, tonite I am pharmaceutical shopping . . can't decide if it's a Tylenol pm night or something stronger. The throbbing kept me awake much of last night and I could really use a good night's sleep tonite so I am thinking of opting for stronger. . . muscle relaxer. Ugh!!! I was really hoping those days were behind me but it appears that as physical therapy ramps up, I may have an occasional icky day.

Today in physical therapy, I moved up to the leg press machine. 100 leg presses using very low weight. It felt good to be using some muscle again. Still working on core and glutes but have added in some hamstrings and quads now. I am still having lots of problems with my IT band . . . very tight and painful and requires lots of stretching. It's getting better slowly but surely.

My ankle continues to cause me problems. I can't sleep at night without a pillow between my ankles. It's still numb, swells at the drop of a hat and is quite painful when moved or touched on the bones. Ugh!!! I was hoping it might start to dissipate before now but it's barely better than 4 weeks ago. :-(

A new round of hip patients appeared this morning at physical therapy . .all in various stages of recovery from surgery. It makes me very happy to be at 4 weeks, walking and moving on. I never, ever want to do this surgery again.

It's Memorial Day weekend and I am not in Indy entertaining family and friends and preparing to go to the race on Sunday. That makes me sad and feel a bit homesick. It's also been raining here for the past two days with more to come for the next several. Don't get me wrong, the mountains are still beautiful and peaceful and I am enjoying them but I love the Indy 500!! Watching it on tv just won't be the same.

Here's hoping for some marked improvement over the weekend. 10 days left before I see Dr. Philippon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One month tomorrow

Tomorrow marks 4 weeks since surgery. I can hardly believe it except for the fact that physical therapy has just kicked up a notch. Yikes!! Did I really wish for this at some point? Seriously??? Want to feel old and out of shape -- spend 2 hours working on core and glute exercises . . 20 minutes on a pilates reformer machine. I am pretty sure at this point that Joseph Pilates invented these machines as torture devices and when people didn't die; only got in better shape, marketed them as exercise equipment. Wow! I am thinking that Mitchell may have to hoist me out of bed in the morning as I will be unable to move. And, did I mention, we did core work in the pool yesterday?

I have no clothes that fit anymore. I have dropped an entire clothing size while out here in the last month. I had to go buy a pair of shorts today just to have something other than sweats to wear. I am starting to have real muscles again. It's pretty cool!! I am firmly of the belief at this point that what doesn't kill me will only make me stronger. I keep eating more and more and thinking that I am going to gain weight . . NOT! Don't get me wrong -- I still have a long way to go for complete recovery and I still have those "spots" that I look away when I see myself in a full length mirror but it's getting better.

I am using Vitamin E oil on my scars and they are starting to calm down a bit. I no longer fear something alien inside me or a spare surgery tool left under the skin.

And, most importantly, I LOVE COLORADO! The flowers are blooming, the grass is getting green and the trees are spouting leaves. It is magnificently beautiful. Every day when I drive to Vail I see people kayaking, biking, running and walking their dog. People at Howard Head have adopted me as part of their big family. I will miss them so much when I come home. I think I will also feel a little insecure without their guidance and oversight. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I will miss their pushing me hard to build muscle and get back in shape. I need someone to kick me in the butt periodically . . . no volunteers please.

4 weeks down and 2 to go. I didn't think it would come this fast but I am definitely having more good days than bad now and my progress is speeding up. Thank you Dr. Philippon and Lindsay and Laurie . . . you guys rock!!

Monday, May 18, 2009


I can finally say, with confidence, that I am starting to make good progress. Now, please don't think that I am about to run a marathon or take off on a mountain bike trail cuz I'm not even close to thinking about that. When I say progress, what I mean is that I can walk across the parking lot and into the grocery store without sort of dragging my left leg behind me like Igor. I still have a very, very slight limp but it is improving day by day. I am encouraged!! I am making more progress in PT each day and my range of motion is improving. Whew!! In case you in Indiana wondered what you heard . . .that's a big sigh of relief!! There is a rowing machine in the PT facility. Every day I ask if I can try it and get a "NO!". I feel like I could benefit from some time on it but completely trust Lindsay when she says that won't come until week 7 to 9. Dang!!! There is a young (turned 20 today) hockey player in pt with me who hasn't listened to instructions. At week 3, he is back on crutches and not doing well at all. I would be scared to death if I were him but he seems too cocky to understand that this is serious stuff. I guess my rowing can wait until week 7 to 9.

My scars are taking some of my focus now. They are big, ugly, swollen, red lumps. I have been told to massage them each day to break down the tissue so they go away. Gladly . . except it really feels creepy under my fingers. They look like something out of a sci fi movie -- I keep thinking that some alien is going to pop out and run around the room.

It has been beautiful here for the past several days. Temps in the upper 70's, blue sky, green but snow topped mountains. Picture perfect!! Too bad I spend so much time indoors. . . .oh well . . . I come home every day and sit out on the deck for an hour or so and just enjoy the scenery and solitude. Quite lovely. Mitch has been running in the very thin mountain air here and seems to be getting into great shape quickly. I think time in the mountains has done both of us a lot of good. For those of you who are wondering, I am shaving my own legs and polishing my own toenails as I could never convince him to do it. :-)

Two weeks from today, I see Dr. Philippon for my almost 6 weeks post op visit. It really doesn't seem possible. I am holding my breath for a good report so I can head home and get on with the remainder of my rehab and enjoying my house for the summer. For all of you in Indy -- we have some celebrating to do this summer!!! This coming Thursday will be 4 weeks post op . . wow!!! My hip socket is as smooth as glass, the muscles are starting to cooperate and I am feeling great! I am hoping that the days continue to improve from here and that I make small but significant improvements every day.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Day 23

This is me at Day 23 still trying to make my muscles get their act together. When Lindsay gets one in line, another one stands up to complain. Today was no exception. Thank goodness for Extra Strength Tylenol! But, I am slightly better and my walk is improved . . .it's not perfect, still a slight limp but I can feel that it's better. Still working on the lazy left glute (stubborn) and adductor muscles. I noticed today that I didn't lose nearly as much muscle tone in my legs this time as I did last. Amazing and encouraging at the same time. I think that is definitely one of the things that is accelerating my recovery. Today after physical therapy we walked and shopped through Lionshead and then came back home to sit on the deck, gaze at the mountains and soak up some intense sun. Ahhhhh . . . very relaxing and very beneficial for my state of mind.

Tonite we are heading out for dinner with Lindsay at Terra Bistro. Again, an upscale Vail restaurant that currently has all entrees 50% off for the locals who remain after all the skiers leave and before the hikers and bikers arrive. Looking forward to an excellent meal and a nice bottle of wine. I am thinking if I buy dinner for Lindsay she might go a little easy on me tomorrow. HA!!!!

Almost all of the hip patients that had surgery at the same time as me are gone. There are a couple of local people who remain and I am starting to feel like one of them. No worries though . .. I am anxious to be back in Indy with my friends and family.

Oh yeah . . . this is Mitch, my nephew who thinks he has the best life a 25 year old could have right now.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lazy glute

I am somewhat pleased to report that I am having some success getting my lazy left glute to work. It's still weak and very, very shaky but Lindsay, Lauri and I are forcing it to get off its lazy butt (pun intended) and WORK!! So, the end result and bottom line, my walk is improving. . . it's not perfect . . I still have a slight limp but it's improving and that's all I am asking for at this point. I am back working with Lindsay for the weekend and she is putting me to work on the pilates machines. Yikes!! A good workout but I think I will need more extra strength Tylenol before the weekend is over.

Spring is finally coming to the mountains and it is ever more beautiful here every day. Flowers are blooming, trees are sprouting leaves and the elk migration is in full swing. The sun has been out this week and temperatures have been in the upper 60's to low 70's and it has done a lot to improve my mood. My orders for the afternoon were to walk so we walked around Vail Village today, had a late lunch outside on the patio of La Bottega and did a little shopping. My hip was tight but definitely endured . . even with a slight limp. Yippee!!

I am past the halfway point and now, of course, starting to panic about how short of time that I have left and how much there is left to do. I am hoping for a snowball effect of strength and mobility. Why do I always have to worry about something???

Thanks to everyone who has called, emailed or texted. You keep me positive and moving ahead!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Day 20

It will be 3 weeks tomorrow and I am pleased to report that I have made some major breakthroughs the past 2 days. Today I am walking almost normally . . without having to consciously think about which muscles to fire to make me walk and without feeling like my hip isn't going to hold me or is going to lock in place. My back is a little tender but it's doing ok too. Today I am encouraged about the end result of 6 weeks of physical therapy out here.

Tomorrow I get my stitches out. I am thrilled . . they are starting to pull and get uncomfortable so it's definitely time to come out. So, my schedule tomorrow is pt from 7:30 to 9:30; Dr. P's office at 10:00 and then pool therapy from 11:30 to 12:30. I am skipping afternoon pt because I think 4 hours tomorrow will be enough. I was too tired on Tuesday from everything and I think it set me back slightly so I am experimenting to see if this works.

Today was day after surgery day too. Dr. P did 1 hip surgery yesterday and she was at pt this morning when I arrived . . .sitting in a chair next to the exercise bike throwing up in a trash can. She was about the color of wallpaper paste and miserable. Aside from the throwing up (which always makes me want to throw up too) it is hard to watch people come out of surgery still. I can so relate to how they feel. I think I heard today that he is doing 5 hips on Thursday so Friday should be an absolute zoo in there. Mental note to self -- take i-pod!!

So tomorrow I reach the half way point of my journey out here. In some ways it feels like I have been gone forever and in other ways it seems I just got here and started work. I feel like I have lots more to do so my focus is to get as much back as I possibly can before I start the journey home. Here's to day 21!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

6 hours of physical therapy

Will wear a girl out!! I started with 20 minutes on the bike, Lauri had me do many different stretches, isometric exercises and then worked on range of motion with my hip. It was immediately off to the pool for an hour of aqua jogging, laps with a kick board and then walking against the current in the lazy river. Then time to run to the grocery store for a quick bite to eat and immediately back to physical therapy for 20 more minutes on the bike, some new glute strengthening exercises and lots more stretching and range of motion for my hip. I started at 9:30 this morning and got home at 4:30 this afternoon and other than the driving or running to the grocery store for lunch, I was doing something. Let's just say that I had to take a nap when I got back here today. That could also have something to do with the fact that I still can't sleep through the night. My hip has been so tender that I wake up every time I move. I hope it's just nervousness about the hip which will ease with time and I will finally sleep more than 4 hours. This is getting really old!!

The good news -- I am walking much better now. Sitting will cause my hip to stiffen. . . a lot so I am best up walking around doing something. I feel more shopping coming on tomorrow between physical therapy appointments. No pool tomorrow so I will only have about 4 hours of things. Back to the pool on Thursday.

More good news -- the "boys" didn't challenge me in the pool today. Apparently all the weight lifting and muscle building I did with my legs pre-surgery is paying off. I have strong legs. Maybe it's my big feet that propel me along so quickly. Who knows? I basically think it's just something they have to give me a hard time about. Nick who is a week out of surgery and was at the pool today has the biggest bruise I think I have ever seen in my life. Ok I got the whole ankle thing but at least I didn't get a bruise that covers my entire upper thigh from front to back. Yikes!!

19 days to maximize my physical therapy and get back to Indy. :-)

Monday, May 11, 2009

They won't all be good days.

So yesterday I had a bad day . . . a really bad day. It's the whole "make the right muscles work and the other muscles stop" thing. So, my body's reaction to trying to make that happen was to lock up. Progress came to a complete halt and I had to go back to walking with a cane. In fact, I had to take a muscle relaxer and vicodin last night just to get everything to relax and quit throbbing long enough to go to sleep. It was not a good day! My ankle was throbbing, I was frustrated and my body rebelled. It was not pretty.

Today, however, I had a good day. The muscle relaxer did it's work and I awoke feeling a little more limber. Lindsay stretched and stretched and got me to walk again by this afternoon. It took great effort on both of our parts but we made it work. In fact, I had about an hour between a conference call and my last physical therapy appointment so I went to Lionshead and went shopping. I was under strict orders from Lindsay not to sit . . I have to walk every 20 minutes to keep my muscles from getting lazy or locked in place. The great thing about Vail in early May -- sales and absolutely no crowd!! I found a great bargain on a pair of capri pants at the Patagonia store. I am not sure that I have mentioned this but I have lost weight since I got out here. Surgery, drugs and working out 4 hours a day have taken a toll on my appetite so I would guess I have dropped somewhere between 5 and 10pounds. I am not complaining . . I bought a whole size smaller than I wore when I came out here. Seems I may have some shopping to do when I get home.

So, today I am encouraged again. I have two physical therapy appointments tomorrow as well as pool therapy. I will spend about 6 hours tomorrow working my hip. I am hoping that walking will come easier after all of this. The boys who will be going to the pool with me tomorrow were already trash talking today. I plan to kick both of their butts tomorrow. ;-)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

She Walks!!!

Today is officially day 17 which means that I give up the hip brace and tying my feet together at night when I sleep. If it weren't Sunday, I would go buy a bottle of champagne and celebrate. I would mostly be celebrating the promise of a full night's sleep which, of course, I have not had in 17 days. I sleep about 3 hours at a time . .. 5 if heavily drugged. It's not fun. I am a BIG fan of sleep and typically require at least 8 hours a night to function properly. Let's just say that I can feel the effects of 17 days of bad sleep. My brain isn't working at it's full potential and I am constantly tired. Hopefully a new trend is about to begin!

Lindsay has also made me officially give up the crutches and the cane and begin to walk more and more. My hip is stiff and lots of muscles are complaining LOUDLY!! Since my hips have been bad all of my life, the proper muscles don't support them. So, I have some muscles that are absolutely locked in place that shouldn't be and other muscles that should be supporting that have been simply going along for the ride all these years. Re-training both sets of these muscles will take a little time and pain . .. mostly pain I am thinking at this point. Whew!! I am beginning to see what she is trying to accomplish because when everything is firing as it's supposed to be, my walk is fabulous and I feel great. When I first get up in the morning and am completely stiff, I walk like my 82 year old mother . . ok, maybe not even that good. It's work, it's hard work but it's definitely just starting to get results. Lindsay also tested my balance yesterday by making me stand on my operated leg and lift my right knee up parallel to the floor and stand for 2 minutes. Ok, take a break from reading this and go ahead and try that on your leg that hasn't had surgery 17 days ago. . . . it's hard!!! But, the good news is . . . I did it . . she continued to make it harder and I did it every single time. I have good balance!! At least one thing I don't have to work on. . .YIPPEEE!!! She also started me on some pilates machines yesterday. It felt great.

Staying here for 6 weeks of rehab was absolutely without a doubt the right thing to do. There is no way that I would be working on balance and pilates machines if I had come back to Indy. Lindsay has promised that she will get me out on a road bike (flats only) before I leave here on June 2. Most people who leave and get pt elsewhere wouldn't get that chance until about 3 months. I watch them rehab pro athletes though and they know exactly when to push and how hard to push. While I am certainly no pro athlete, I get the benefit of the therapist who knows how hard to push and I get pushed along at a slower rate. My stomach and back are already more muscled than they have been in years. Next will come the muscles in my legs. I will get to enjoy a lot of my summer still and will have 2 good hips to do it with for the very first time in my life. Knowing what I know now, I wish I would have scheduled this surgery about a year after he did my right hip. :-( But, it's done now and hopefully I still have many years to enjoy them both.

Many of the patients who had surgery at the same time as me are leaving this weekend. It's kind of sad but then again I get to be the most advanced patient setting a good example for the patients who are further behind me. There is a college hockey player who is a week behind me who is pushing way too hard. . .already trying to walk and shouldn't. I suspect he is going to pay the price sometime next week. Yikes!! Maybe I'll still be able to kick his butt in the swimming pool on Tuesday. :-)

I have 22 more days to stay here, maximize pt and get myself back in shape. I am definitely homesick and ready to be back in my bed and my house. Don't get me wrong, I am infinitely thankful for Bill and his generous offer to let me stay at his house but it's not home. It's a fabulous house, incredible view and perfect location but it's not home.

So, here's to day 17, walking again and building a stronger core and legs.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Learning to walk again

Isn't all that easy. Yikes!! I tried to be off of crutches all day today but my hip kept feeling really tight and a little wobbly. Lauri is not to be deterred, however, and made me do several balance on my left leg only exercises today. Don't get me wrong. . . it's definitely helping me get my strength and balance back but it is HARD!! We are also working on my glutes . . and yes, they do need help. Making muscles work and work differently than they did 15 days ago can certainly be challenging.

Two more days of wearing my brace and tying my feet together at night. I think I am going to tie my knees tonite with a theraband because I don't think my feet can take much more. It should have the same effect of not letting my hip roll out so I am going to give it a try tonite. Ugh!! I will be so glad when this part is over too. I took my last anti-inflammatory today so I am officially off all surgery meds now. Hoping that I continue to see progress and I am sure I will.

Lindsay will be back this weekend and I will see her Sat, Sun and Mon. She always seems to push a little harder and make me do more than I think I can. We start gentle external rotations this weekend (this has been absolutely forbidden . .. thus the hip brace and tying my feet together) so this should be a little scary.

Had a fabulous dinner tonite at Montauk. It is off season in Vail so the restaurants that are still open have fabulous deals. Montauk is a seafood restaurant that offers 51% off of your meal. Yummy!! I had some nutritious salmon tonite. I saw 2 other hip patients in there with me. We, of course, all had to come say hello to each other and offer words of encouragement. It really is like one big family here.

I had a sad moment today thinking about how much longer I have to be here. I am slightly homesick and ready to be home. I had to suck it up and focus on the real goal again. I suspect that more of those may come as the time winds down but we'll see. It's supposed to rain this weekend and I think that always affects my moods a bit. I am ready for warm weather and the Indy 500. Not to be this year. :-( Oh well . . . Lindsay this weekend and I am sure I will be walking better by Sunday!!

Lindsay and Laurie tease me because I push so hard and want to do so much more. Today I was bugging them again about strength training and getting on a bike outside. I have been politely told that is not until week 6. :-( I should know better than to push them because, in return, they push me back. I may indeed have buns of steel when I leave this place. :-)

And, Noell, I was thrilled to talk with you today! I will definitely call you tomorrow and answer any questions you might have. My bottom line to you -- I have my life back in a way that I haven't had before and it is the best thing that could have ever happened to me!! So hang in there and listen to Dr. Philippon. He is the BEST!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Two weeks today!!!

Today I am officially two weeks after surgery. It seems like forever ago and only yesterday at the same time. Today was an incredible day for me . . . first off, I drove myself to physical therapy for the first time this morning. Instructions say you can drive 4 days after surgery but I had not done it until today. Let me say, there is an incredible sense of freedom and independence that comes with driving again. I was thrilled, elated and felt better than I have in two weeks just driving again. Ok, then I got to pt at 7:30 this morning, 30 minutes on the bike and then Lauri took me off of crutches completely. I was a little unsure at first but with her expert coaching, I took my first completely independent steps and then repeated them over and over again. I probably walked 10 laps around physical therapy before I tired and started my pt work with her. It was amazing!!! I am weak and there is lots of work to be done to get myself back in walking shape but I did it!!!! I was ecstatic. I also started pool physical therapy today. So, pool therapy consists of putting on a flotation belt, getting in to the deep end of the pool and jogging laps for about 20 minutes. Lots of work but felt great. I was there today with Nik who is a pro hockey player and one other guy - don't know his name - he plays college hockey. I am pleased and proud to report that I kicked total butt at pool physical therapy today. After the jogging, we put on fins and did kicks on our stomach and our backs down the full length of the pool and back. Mark, the guy who runs pool pt, said I have the strongest kick he has ever seen at pt. I guess all of the working out that I did pre-op has paid off big time!! The pool felt great today and I think it went a long way toward strengthening my hips and legs as well as stretching them out. I felt like a new person when I got out today. Home for a nap this afternoon and then back to pt at 4:30. More great news -- I took the continuous passive motion machine, foot pumps and game ready ice machine back today. The only thing I still have to do tonite is bind my ankles together while I sleep. I am still wearing the hip brace and both of these last until Sunday when I will be completely and totally free. . . at last!!! Hallelujah!!! I really feel like I turned a corner today and am feeling so much better about everything. I was in pt tonite with a woman who had hip surgery on Tuesday. I assured her that she would feel much better starting day 5 and then would turn a huge corner on day 7. She looked very hopeful and like she really didn't believe me. :-) I know I have said this before but seeing the new surgery patients makes me realize just how far i have come. I am starting to do some new exercises in pt and am starting to get some strength back . . a tiny bit but it's better than nothing. They have to teach me how to walk again . . this time without a limp or hip problems . . and then I will be kicking butt again in pt. A great day!!!

For anyone who is reading my blog that has upcoming surgery with Dr. Philippon . . . don't be nervous, don't be scared and don't back out. There are some rough days up front after surgery but the end result is amazing!!! My hip has never felt better and I am only 14 days out of surgery. He is an incredible surgeon and you can certainly trust him 100%. This is my second hip and I wouldn't trade this for any amount of money. I already feel like a different person and I still have 3 months of pt to go!!

I spent a lot of time with Lauri today talking about the things that I plan to do once my hip is 100%. The weather is getting nice her and I am dying to get out on a real bike. It's still too early but they are going to try to get me out for real before I leave. I am thrilled!! Lindsay and Lauri have also convinced me to come back out next winter to learn to ski. I can't wait!! I am finally through all of the ugly surgery stuff so now I can seem to think about is my future and all of the things that I haven't been able to do that I will now to be able to do. To say I am excited wouldn't even be close to describing how I feel.

Thank you Dr. Philippon and the incredible staff at Howard Head Sports Medicine. Watch out world!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What happened to nice Lauri???

Today Lauri was back at work and Lindsay is off so I am seeing Lauri until Saturday. Ok, so last week Lauri was really very gentle and didn't push my limits. Something has happened to Lauri . . . she pushed me harder today than Lindsay did over the weekend and I swear she's much stronger than she was last week. Yikes!! But seriously, I am making tremendous progress thanks to both Lindsay and Lauri and I feel stronger and more confident each day. Today Lauri instructed me to shift more of my weight to my left side as I walk with crutches. Scary at first because it feels like my leg isn't going to support me but by the end of the day, it was much better and I think I am ready for the next step tomorrow which is 75% of my weight to the left. Progressing toward giving up the crutches. I am psyched!! Also starting to do more isometric exercises to prepare the muscles to walk again. I start pool therapy on Thursday which will also help strengthen the muscles to help me walk.

A whole new batch of hip patients showed up in pt this afternoon sporting their post surgery nausea tubs. There was one woman who was having a particularly rough time who stopped to talk with me on her way by. I assured her that it only gets better from here although I didn't tell her that I had a really, really rough first week. . . maybe she won't. Again, it makes me realize how far and how fast I have come. . . largely due to the incredible staff at Howard Head sports medicine. I continue to be amazed and impressed.

Vail is a beautiful town. . . even in mud season. As soon as ski season ends, many of the local restaurants and retail businesses shut down for some time. . .most reopen mid-May. Some stay open and offer incredible deals for the locals . .. 50% off meals including alcohol. So tonite after pt, we went to a restaurant in Vail Village - Sweet Basil. A 3 course meal for $30 and it was a fabulous meal. The funniest thing happened though . . we had a table up front by the window. I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and looked up to realize that a red fox was trotting down the street carrying his dinner in his mouth. How many times in your life have you ever even seen a red fox let alone trotting down the street of a resort town? It was so incredibly cool! The waiter said that last season the owner looked up one evening to see a bear standing in between the double glass doors. Yikes!! I am glad it was a fox not a bear. I might have freaked.

Two more nights to sleep with all the equipment and my feet and knees tied together. I am really looking forward to giving all of that up too . . almost as much as getting off of crutches. I am sleeping about 5 hours at a time now which is much improved from the initial 2 hours at a time. I have a better attitude about everything now and am much more relaxed. It finally feels good to be working this hard.

I still have another hour in the continuous passive motion machine tonite and another 20 minutes of icing my hip in the game ready machine. More tomorrow as I continue to leave crutches behind!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Day 11

Great progress today. Lindsay is still working with me and had me put full weight on my left leg today . . . twice. It was scary. She said she thought I was going to have a heart attack . .. my eyes bulged out and I think I even screamed a little. But, the bottom line is that she wants me walking without crutches by this weekend so she is trying to get the appropriate muscles working to do so. The other thing we discovered today is that my hip problem has been going on for a long time so the muscles that support the hip are tight . . locked in place .. . and need lots of work to release. It's painful, it's hard work, and it's a little scary but we made really good progress today figuring out what's holding me back and getting to work on them. For anyone who might be technical -- it's my hip flexor, psoas and it band. Lots of stretching, massage and active resistance. I may not be able to keep up with the 20 somethings in pt but I am making progress.

Tomorrow I am back with Lauri. What will be interesting for me to see is how hard Lauri pushes now that Lindsay has figured out what the problem is. Last week, Lauri made some progress but didn't seem to push as hard as Lindsay. I suspect that is by design but that's something that I think I will know for sure this week.

I found out today that I will need to have a physical therapist lined up when I get back to Indy as I will have to be in pt for another 2 months after I get home. The good news is that there is someone here at Howard Head who will call potential therapists in Indy and interview them. They will then check in with them weekly to make sure they are following the protocols. I have to say, this team here is phenomenal!! I feel so lucky to be able to stay here and do my pt for 6 weeks instead of trying to coordinate it from Indy. I know that I will be so much further ahead by doing this and I feel really, really lucky! Most hip patients only stay for 2 weeks and then head home. The advantage to staying here is that these therapists know when to push and when not to. I can't believe the difference between this time and last time (6 years ago). I am doing things at 11 days that I didn't do until 4 or 5 weeks out last time. It's great but makes me nervous at the same time.

I had a really rough first 5 days but definitely turned a corner at about day 7. It continues to improve from there and now I really feel like I will have my life back on my terms when I am finished with this. Backpacking, hiking, canyoneering, kayaking, learning to snow ski or snowboard .. .the possibilities are limitless!! Woohooo!!!! Maybe turning 50 won't be so bad after all. :-)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lindsay is back

And my hip feels it. Apparently I have a very tight hip flexor and Lindsay decided that she wanted to try to fix it all in one day. Yikes!!! I am very sore tonite but made tremendous strides at physical therapy today. Lindsay pushes hard and I understand now why it is so good to stay here for rehab. Yesterday I met Debbie, a woman who had surgery exactly 1 week before me. As of today, she is completely off of crutches and Lindsay is teaching her to walk properly. She says she feels great and feels she is making good progress. I am greatly encouraged after today even though my hip is very tender tonite. I have 5 more nights to sleep with all the machinery. Lindsay has instructed me to bring it all in next Thursday morning and I will be done with it. Since I can only sleep about 2 hours at a time with it all on, I am looking forward to turning it in. The only thing that I will continue to use is the Game Ready ice system, my hip brace until Sunday and crutches until I can be confident and strong enough to walk without them.

Speaking of strong, I am sad to report that those lovely muscles that I worked so hard to build pre-surgery are pretty much gone. Even with all the isometric exercises that I do 3 times a day, they are slowly slipping away. :-(

Going to physical therapy is like being part of a big family. All of the hip patients hang together, compare notes, provide encouragement and joke around. I actually look forward to being there. There are a couple of "famous" people there but you would never know it by just talking with them.

And, lastly tonite, a big THANK YOU for my caregivers. I have been an absolute nightmare to take care of . . I know it and I appreciate all you have done for me. I couldn't have done it without you.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Day 8

I talked with a fellow hip patient who told me that he felt like he turned a corner on rehab about day 8. I can officially concur with his assessment. I can lay flat on the table without feeling a pull in my hip and my range of motion is much improving. I have progressed to much more complicated range of motion exercises like standing hip rotations (internal only .. external is still forbidden as it would tear the anchors in my hip out .. . very bad!). Dr. Philippon did 4 hip surgeries yesterday so a whole new crew showed up in pt today . . . one in particular looking very worse for the wear. She could barely get on the exercise bike and looked as if she would hurl at any moment. Watching the first day after surgery patients made me realize just how far I have actually come. Everything is getting easier . . not that it's easy yet but it's not a struggle just to get out of bed. Whew! A big sigh and a moment of reflection about where I have come over the last week. I am pretty proud of my accomplishments and am eagerly looking forward to the next week when I can get rid of the continuous passive motion machine, foot pumps and anti-rotational boots. I will once again be able to sleep on either side I want and hopefully will be able to sleep more than 4 hours at a time. I will have to wear the hip brace for another 3 days past that but it's the least of my worries. I also start pool therapy next week so that will go a long way in building muscle as I start to wean off of crutches. I am assigned to two therapists -- Lauri and Lindsay. I see Lauri Tues thru Fri and then Lindsay Sat thru Monday. They actually have very different styles and techniques. Lauri is much more laid back and gentle. Lindsay will push to my absolute limit and call me names if I try to whine. :-) I discovered today that I have a humongous bruise down the back side of my left thigh. I thought my bruising was pretty minimal but I guess I wasn't looking in the right place. Incisions look really good and I get my stitches out on May 14. I can't believe it's May 1 already. The time seems to fly by because I am so busy with all of the rehab but that's a good thing. If I wasn't so busy, I would be really, really homesick. I hear that all of my flowers are blooming that I planted last year and won't get to see them until next spring.

I am officially off all pain meds now -- yippeeee!!! They typically plan for 3 weeks of pain meds so I am pleased with that. To celebrate I am having a New Belgium Mighty Arrow Pale Ale tonite. My sister is making black bean nachos and I am pretty content. I know that I may still have some bad days sprinkled in here and there but for today, all is well.

My ankle is feeling slightly better. It's certainly not 100% - it's probably 60% but I am encouraged by the slow return of feeling to the actual foot. I have surveyed the other hip patients and no one else had this issue. I guess I drew the lucky number. :-) Everything went so smoothly in pulling this whole surgery off that I guess one thing going wrong isn't the end of the world.

Thanks to everyone who has sent me encouraging comments, emails, text messages, etc. during this last week. I appreciate it more than I can tell you!!!