Updates on My Progress
Yes, I know it's hard to believe. It's hard for me to believe, too. I had finally gone back to work full-time in February, first with the help of a rotating carpool of coworkers and my Jazzy power wheelchair. After a time I was able to drive myself to work, but I still had to use the chair once I got there. Still, things seemed to be looking up. I can't remember the exact day, but I think it was sometime in March that I was released to walk at home without my walker, and a little bit at work, as I felt comfortable.
I started having some pain in my right hip area around the beginning of April, and at first, my doctor and I both thought it came from overuse -- since I was walking around more and doing more stuff on my own. The pain got worse and I went in for an X-ray, but it didn't show any fracture, so my doc thought it might be tendinitis. I was waiting to have a bone scan done when, on Tuesday, April 12, everything came to a head -- the pain became too bad too bear, plus I couldn't stand up at all even with help.
The next morning, Wednesday, I had to call an ambulance to transport me to the ER, where a CT scan revealed that I did indeed have new fractures in the ball part of my upper femur where it fits into the socket. Because of my past surgical history, it was decided to put me in surgery right away and do another total hip replacement. It was a little soon to do a second one, but not unheard-of.
My cousin, Dr. Broyles — who assisted on the previous hip replacement — actually did this operation because my regular surgeon was leaving town the next day and didn't want to do surgery and then leave me. For various reasons the surgery was not performed until late Friday evening — April 15, or tax day! My cousin was very happy with the results. I woke up Saturday morning feeling pretty perky, but that afternoon I got tired and sore again, after PT and everything. Again, not uncommon. Sadly, I had a friend in town "visiting," and her whole visit was spent either alone at my apartment or hanging out with me in the hospital, something that really separates one's true friends from those who aren't so loyal!
I stayed in the hospital until Monday morning and then went to an inpatient rehab facility for a few days. This is the first time in many surgeries that I've gone to inpatient rehab, but my surgeon and primary care doctor were both a little concerned about my ability to rehab with the left hip still so vulnerable from surgery in January. The rehab place was no fun, as I've experienced in the past. I don't know why I find those places so difficult to handle. It's the emotional side more than the physical for me. I had no real trouble with the exercises and occupational therapy. I had more trouble with the loneliness, lack of privacy, and seeing so many patients who, frankly, were a lot worse off than I was. It's just hard to witness sometimes.
With that said, I progressed very fast in rehab and was "released" much faster than anyone there could believe. Some of the therapists were a little concerned about my doctor letting me out so quickly, but being a family member and knowing my history, he knew how well set-up I was at home and how well I knew the "routine."
The funny thing is that the PTs might have been right. Less than a week after I got home, I was just sitting on the couch, minding my own business, as they say, when I shifted position and felt a jolt of searing pain in my right hip. The pain was so bad I nearly lost it. Luckily, my stepmother was just on her way to bring me lunch. When she arrived, I was on the phone with my surgeon's office, and he was telling me it sounded like I had dislocated the new hip, and I needed to go to the ER immediately! My stepmother called the ambulance, helped bully the ambulance drivers into treating me with kid gloves, followed me to the hospital and stayed with me until my doctor and my father arrived. My doctor reassured me that the implant was dislocated but could be easily fixed with a little sedation right there in the ER. Needless to say, I was a bit skeptical!
My body had one last monkey-wrench to throw. It took 45 minutes for the nurse to get an IV into my veins. But when they finally got that going, they gave me Versed. One moment, I was talking and nervously holding my dad's hand. The next minute, I was sitting in a different position with a weird strap around my knees and the pain was gone. It was amazing! I walked to my dad's car on a walker almost as if nothing had happened. The strap was a long piece of padding with velcro on the ends that I used while sitting to keep my knees together, which helped prevent another dislocation.
I walked around VERY carefully and a little nervously for the next several months, but it seems that luck is finally on my side, at least for a while. I once again got back to work, first with walker and wheelchair, then walking a short way on my own to get to the wheelchair, and finally, after much work and waiting, ditching the wheelchair once again. It remains at my office in an empty cubicle, but I haven't had to use it in more than a month. I have coworkers who hardly recognize me when they see my face five feet and eight inches above the floor. Heh. I feel really good, finally, and I've joined Weight Watchers to start trying to lose some of the weight I gained during all that time of being off my feet. I've lost more than 10 pounds in four weeks, so I feel very good about that and very motivated.
We had discovered in February that one of the cables in the left hip had come loose again, but at the time, Dr. Broyles said he didn't think it would cause problems, and that he was inclined to just leave it alone (as am I). That area is doing fine — the broken cable hasn't moved and still isn't causing any problems. I haven't had pain in it for weeks.
I did get some bad news, though. At the end of our appointment, the surgeon kind of pointed toward my face and said, "I see you have a pretty big zit going on, there." I kind of laughed. I thought he was just teasing me, as we are related (he is my second cousin). I did have a pretty huge swollen pimple right next to my nose. It's quite embarrassing at my age, but hey, what are you gonna do?? Anyway, I laughed and said, "Yeah, well, you know." But he said seriously, "Does that happen often?"
I was still kind of chuckling, and I rolled my eyes and said no, it doesn't — that this was an unusual event. Well, he actually wrote me a prescription for Bactroban cream and said that I have to medicate this zit and any others like it that I may get — because an infected pimple is a staph infection, and it is enough of an infection to actually travel to a joint and cause problems! I cannot believe it! I have NEVER heard this before. It was a real eye-opener to me how small of an infection can be a potential problem. My cousin/doctor is NOT an alarmist at all, nor does he write a prescription at the drop of a hat.
I was quite disturbed by all that. But I should mention that he was really pleased about my having lost so much weight. That's my other good news from yesterday. I finally have broken through the plateau I've been struggling with for a month. I haven't been able to lose any significant weight, and I've been hovering right around the 33-pound mark. I finally got my latest Weight Watchers gold star yesterday, for reaching 35.6 lbs of weight loss. I'll say it again: Hooray!
Overall, I'm feeling great. It's been one year, and my right hip is in perfect shape. My pelvis in general feels perfectly comfortable. I can walk with total ease and do everything I want to do. I'm very glad that we finally took the step of the total hip replacement on the left, and that the right THR worked out so well.
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