When I first realized I would need surgery if I ever had a chance of pain-free running again, I scoured the Internet for any insider knowledge on surgery and recovery. I didn't just want the surgical exlanation; I wanted other's real experiences. The blogs and youtube videos that I found were so helpful that I feel the need to document my own personal experience, as it has been a little different from what I read (isn't it always??)
I also want to preface this with a few things: I did core and hip specific strengthening exercises very regularly from the time I scheduled surgery (mid-June) until a week before my surgery (September 10). I would have probably done them right up until surgery, but I was traveling and decided fun was more important at that point. I also had spent about 9 month doing hour long strength training sessions 4-5 times a week, and about 2 months after that doing HIIT training nearly every day.
With that, here is my experience in recovery:
Day 1 (9/11/15)
I opted for an overnight stay in observation at the surgical center, so spent the morning there. The nurses were wonderful (I honestly can't say enough good things about them). They took my vitals, helped me to the bathroom and gave me Norco every 4 hours. I slept ok, but did wake up every hour from midnight until about 5:30 when I gave up and turned on the television. I found MSNBC's rebroadcast of 9/11/2001 and took time to count my blessings and remember that day.
About 9:30, my nurse helped me get dressed and ready for the day. The surgical center ended up providing me crutches versus my clinic, but she said they were the same thing and they would work it out between them. When I was all ready, I was in a hip brace, TED hose, compression cuffs and had crutches. I was to sport that look continuously for 2 weeks.
My sister and mom came about 10, and after all the discharge work, we got me into my car and we headed for my first post-op and physical therapy appointment. The post-op appointment was short, one of the medical assistants just checked the surgical area - lots of swelling but only two incicisons about an inch long each and not a whole lot of bruising. Then she showed us how to change the dressing, which included a transparent and water-proof cover, which meant I could shower right away! <--- you have no idea how awesome that is
Physical therapy was short and very easy - just passive range of motion exercises that mom could help me with at home and a few isolation exercises for me to do on my own, to be done 1-2 times per day. The PT was really impressed with my mobility and range of motion, despite having an incredibly swollen leg and hip.
Roll leg inward (15 times)
Move leg outward to 45-degree angle (15 times)
Move leg in circles, clockwise and counter-clockwise (15 times)
Move leg to 90-degree angle at hip, with bent knee (15 times)
Hamstring stretch while on stomach (3X30 sec)
Bend leg at 90* while on stomach, rotate foot outwards (15 times)
Glute, hamstring and quad squeezes, 10X3 sec each
After we got home, someone showed up with a continuous passive motion machine (CPM). I was to use this 6-8 hours a day to help prevent the build-up of scar tissue. Most people sleep in this because it's the easiest way to get the time in. So, I decided to try that as well.
Family brought us lunch and it was nice to 1) eat a real meal and 2) have visitors. My co-workers also sent a lovely edible arrangement that was quite tastey!
|Jeff insisted on being on the loveseat with me when I came home Friday.|
Norco (every 4 hours)
Vimovo (morning and evening)
Aspirin, 325 mg, mornings
Extra instructions: no greasy or spicy food the first 24 hours post surgery, take temperature daily, change dressing every other day.
Day 2 (9/12/15)
I showered! My mom left me completely on my own after we had set the shower handle where we thought it would be most helpful and I was a little scared to get in and out of the bathtub, but I did it. That shower felt sooooo amazing. I also used a shower stool, as recommended by a fellow Loopster and I'm so glad I got it. It made it so much better and I was glad I didn't have to worry about balance.
Did PT in the morning and then relaxed for most of the day. We went to my aunt and uncle's that evening for pizza so my sister could see more family while she was in town. That pizza was also amazing. I guess it was Amazing Saturday. That venture was my first time going down stairs (there are 44 between my apartment door and the ground), which was a lot scarier than going up, but once I got into a rhythm, it wasn't bad at all.
|Ready to head for pizza!|
Same, plus stool softener + laxative combo.
That night, after PT round 2, I once again slept in the CPM. Jeff was allowed on the bed with me, since he clearly didn't like that I was not "normal". In the middle of the night, he got sick and nearly threw up on the bed, so I was frantically trying to get him off it (which I did), and the in process, strained a tendon in my foot that was strapped into the CPM. It hurt so much that I had to wake my mom and sister at 2 AM, apologizing in tears because of the pain. So, we decided no more sleeping in it.
Day 3 (9/13/15)
PT in morning, followed by breakfast with fibrous foods, as Mom announced that I was going to poop that day. I didn't think it was that big of a deal, but wanted to get an informed opinion, so I called my pharmacist. That was probably a fun conversation for him. Those of you that know me know I have very little inhibitions when it comes to discussing poop, so it didn't bother me any, lol. He said that if I was taking stool softener for 4 days without any results then I should be concerned, but don't get over zealous with the stool softener because then before you know it, you have diarrhea and no one wants that.
We split up my 8 hours in the CPM through-out the day and I continued to eat as much fiber as possible at meals ( brussels sprouts, kale, plus a fiber supplement). I tried drinking coffee twice and got an upset stomach both times.
PT round 2 in evening.
Same as Day 2
Day 4 (9/14/15)
That morning, I had researched natural laxatives, so tried to have both more bland meals that were also fiber-rich. Breakfast was yogurt with peach and flax seeds plus a fiber supplement drink and lunch was oatmeal with honey and almonds. I also had peppermint tea and started taking my magnesium supplement again, both of which I was surprised to learn were supposed to help with BMs.
More family came to visit that afternoon, bringing tons of food, like Norwegians tend to do. We had a great afternoon of chats and laughter. It was also an afternoon of not eating great. I actually had vanilla ice cream with potato chips. Tastes great, but felt like crap afterwards, so much so that I had to have alka seltzer before bed. Bleh.
Drug list: Same as Day 2.
Trying to get my hours in on the CPM during the day is difficult. I began to dread going in that thing. And I was only on day 4 of 21 with it!
Day 5 (9/15/15)
My sister departed for her home early in the morning. I was really glad she was here to help, because she was able to take control with a few things when Mom was still concerned with me. Mom and her cousin took my sister to the airport, as Mom isn't very comfortable with city driving. While they were gone, I made my own breakfast and was so tired that I slept the rest of the morning while in the CPM.
I'd been having mild headaches, and thought maybe it was because I had stopped taking my allergy medication, so I started taking that again, and it definitely helped.
Up to this point, I had only been drinking water or peppermint tea. To change things up a little, I added some Nuun to my water. While probably not necessary, I figured it wouldn't hurt and it was nice to have a different flavor for a change.
My compression cuffs, aka my jet packs had started to annoy me by this point. I have to have them on whenever I'm not in the CPM or showering, and when I walk, they always slide down. Then, they compress on my ankles and it's really uncomfortable. UGH.
But then I also am happy that it's these little annoying things that I'm complaining about and not surgical pain. So, that's a win.
Drug list: Same as Day 2, plus Zyrtec, magnesium
Day 6 (9/16/15)
Again, I was exhausted in the morning and had an upset stomach after breakfast. At that point, I decided that breakfast would simply have to be delayed to later in the morning for a few days.
Mom & I have gotten into a routine, where we do PT and then 3 hours in the CPM in the morning, followed by lunch (with lots of fibrous foods) and then another 3 hours in the CPM in the afternoon.
I felt a little more mobile today so played a little with Jeffery and "chased" him around the apartment, while on my crutches. Obviously, it wasn't much of a chase, but it was fun to play with him and I think it made him feel a little better - dogs can tell when their human is 100% and he definitely had been acting like he was worried. I also started feeding him on my own and he seemed to be eating more than when Momma was feeding him.
So far, the only pain I've been having is very low (1-2) and mostly feels like I have a tight IT band. My back occasionally hurts, mostly after sleeping in that giant brace, which has gotten slightly better now that I put a pillow under my legs and I sleep on my left side for part of the night. I still ice 30 minutes on/30 minutes off as often as possible - I was using so much ice that we had to buy some extra to let my ice maker catch up.
Because I'd been feeling so crappy in the morning, I wanted a bland dinner - just had chicken and rice. I love eating complex carbs at night again, ha!
Drug list: Same as Day 1, plus started taking all supplements again (multi-vitatmin, magnesium, fish oil and glucosamine.
Day 7 (9/17/15)
Woke up in the middle of the night with heartburn radiating to my chin, which I found incredibly ironic, given the meal I had for dinner.
Did only 1 hour in the CPM after PT with Mom. Then, we went into my office so I could use the upright exercise bike at the gym and get lobster BLTs from the food truck that was scheduled to be there that day. I was soooo looking forward to those BLTs, but the truck never showed up. I was beyond frustrated and let it carry over far too long. But, thankfully, Momma took it in stride.
Using the exercise bike felt odd at first, but after I got in a rhythm, it felt great. Only did 15 minutes, but I enjoyed it. Also visited my co-workers, since the office is right across from the gym. It was good to see them.
After lunch, I was back in the CPM for 3 hours, then dinner, 10 minutes of the Chiefs/Broncos game and then 3 epidodes of NCIS while in the CPM. Yay.
|Jeff found the only open spot while I was on the couch.|
Pooping was completely normal/regular by this point. Wa-hoo!
Drug list: Same as Day 6.
I definitely believe that the hip and core strengthening I did really has helped minimize the pain and uncomfortableness post-surgery as well as helping maintain my mobility. I also highly recommend stocking up on reusable ice pack (big ones), because it's so hard to keep up with ice. Plus, zip lock bags tend to leak and get lots of condensation on them. A shower chair is a worthwhile investment, and the one thing I wish I had gotten was a reclining pillow for when I'm in the CPM. I sometimes have a hard time getting my pillows in a position where I'm 100% comfortable in that machine. Maybe the recliner pillow wouldn't help, but in my mind, it does a lot!
Also, although the clinic/surgical center only required someone to stay for 24 hours after surgery, I can't express how much I appreciate that my mom took three weeks off to be with me. It's made it possible to get out sooner, and especially with taking care of my dog. I would have spent a lot of money hiring a dog walker during this time if she was not here.