Long ago (1988) I moved to Berkeley and started sending a monthly "newsletter" to my Boston friends. When I returned to Boston (1993), I continued the tradition for about five more years (or until I had kids). Looking back, I realize that I was actually blogging. Each newsletter contained anywhere from a few to several blog posts. Having been silent for the past decade or so, I've decided to resume these activities. Don't expect anything profound -- I tend to focus on what I find entertaining or amusing and perhaps sometimes informative. We shall see!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Week 2: Big Strides!

It's been a fantastic week!

It started on Tuesday with a visit from the nurse, who removed my bandage, which warrants a bit of discussion. Every surgeon seems to have his/her own preferred method of closing you up: stitches, staples, steri-strips -- I've had them all. However, my surgeon used something I'd never seen before: glue and an aquaseal. The glue seals the wound and the aquaseal is a large (and I mean large) gel bandage that covers it. Among its most wonderful properties is that it's waterproof! This meant that I was able to shower from the day I got home (as opposed to the week or ten days I'd been quoted by others). I don't know about you, but showering is one of life's simple pleasures, and especially after a stint in the hospital, sitting in a nice warm shower is really high on my list.

Anyway, she removed my aquaseal, and we cleaned off a lot of the gluey, gummy adhesive to reveal my fine, six-inch scar.

Everything else looked good, so we left things that she'd come one more time, but we guessed that would be her last visit. Yeay -- everything looking good medically.

Then later that day, my PT showed up and we did a little bit of walking with only one crutch. I probably don't want to do that all the time, but I can, and that's exciting.

The next day (Wednesday), I ventured out for one of my short, but slow, walks all by myself. I now feel stable enough getting around that it doesn't concern me. This is another major milestone! We celebrated by going out for sushi that night -- I felt almost like a real person.

Thursday's big news was that I was able to lay flat for a full 15 minutes. Now, this might not seem like much to you, but one of the tightest muscles I have right now is my hip flexor, making it extraordinarily painful to simply lie in a flat position. In theory, I'm supposed to do this three times a day for 30 minutes; in practice, after about 10 minutes I want to curl up in a ball and cry. A long walk prior to the stretch helps a lot.

Ah yes, one other topic I haven't mentioned yet -- the dorky socks! A lot of post-surgical attention goes to avoiding blood clots (which I admit is a good thing to avoid). In my case, the avoidance protocols involve daily shots of blood thinner (which are getting pretty tedious about now) and what I fondly call, "The dorky socks." These are knee-high compression socks that have all the great features of a) looking ridiculous, b) being uncomfortable, and c) being really hot.

If it weren't for the dorky socks, I think I'd be able to dress and undress myself, but I still need help getting them on/off, because they are so tight, and I'm not quite flexible enough on the right side to deal with them. I am guardedly optimistic that they are about to become a thing of the past after my next/final nurse visit!

By Thursday, I also realized that the vast majority of the swelling was gone! I had been pretty bummed when I weighed myself coming home from the hospital -- I'd spent the past two weeks, eating lightly, and prior to surgery, walking a lot -- 15,000 - 20,000 steps per day, so I had expected to be a bit lighter than when I'd left for "Canada -- Part II" But the scale said that I was three pounds heavier, which was devastating. However, on Thursday, I ventured on the scale again -- 9 days post-op -- and I was a full ten pounds lighter than my "coming home" weight. Ok, I was much happier.

While I'd been off pain-killers (including tylenol) for the past week, I was still using ice at night to go to sleep, but Thursday night was also the first night where I never put the ice pack on! Things just keep getting better!

But Friday was the big day! During PT, she let me try a cane, rather than one or two crutches, and we walked around outside on bumpy ground, and it was OK. So, I've been promoted to a) a cane, and b) reciprocol stair walking (i.e., "walking stairs like a big girl"). This is huge as a cane means I have a free hand and can actually carry things! This means I can do things, which is rather exciting!

I also managed a 30 minute walk (still with the crutches), but probably over did it a bit during the weekend between insisting on making dinner Sunday evening and walking too much. I need to give the muscles more time to get stronger, but it's such a relief to be able to do stuff.

So the report after two weeks is pretty darned amazing.

  • I can comfortably walk for 30 minutes (albeit with crutches and slowly).
  • I can get up and down stairs pretty normally using the cane lightly to give added strength to the leg with the new hip.
  • My sleep is better than it was pre-surgery; I'm probably sleeping better than I have in a year and a half.
  • I'm no longer napping at all.
  • Pain level is pretty much always sub-3, unless I just do something I shouldn't or am doing a couple of the exercises that are still challenging.
  • Bruising is pretty much gone:
    Last Wednesday (8 days post-op):

    Monday (13 days post-op):

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