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PAOs and pregnancy July 3, 2014

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When I first found out that I was pregnant one of the first things I asked my midwife was whether my PAO surgery would affect my pregnancy or childbirth in any way. She wasn’t sure and marked me down as a ‘high risk’. I was told I should have an additional consultation with an obstetrician.

Then a few months later, I had a routine check up with the hip clinic at UCL hospital. I wasn’t able to have an x-ray this time around so just had a consultation with one of the registrars. He immediately put me at ease by explaining that my PAO surgery was done on my hip – not my pelvis – so wouldn’t affect my pregnancy in any way. He said that lots of women are concerned about how hip surgery may impact on pregnancy and seemed frustrated that neither my GP nor midwives had been able to reassure me.

He wrote a letter to my GP following my appointment which included the lines:

Of note, it is just to clarify that a periacetabular osteotomy does not affect child birth and there will be no problems with a normal vaginal delivery or a caesarean section. This procedure should not complicate the pregnancy.

With two weeks to go until my first baby is due, I am happy to report that my hip hasn’t given me any problems at all. I expected to at least have some aches and pains as I put on extra weight and my muscles loosened up, but I haven’t. I have had regular check ups with my midwife and didn’t need to see an obstetrician after all. So far, so good…

So apart from generally worrying about the pain of labour and how on earth I am going to take care of a baby, all I have to remember to do is ask the midwives to check my baby’s hips as soon as she’s born. If she is born with dodgy hips as well at least they can hopefully catch it straight away.

 

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Long time no blog February 27, 2010

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4 months post-PAO

It has been over three months since I last posted anything on this blog. Time has passed so quickly!

Since November I have gone from one crutch to no crutches. I met my personal target of spending Christmas crutch-free which was great. I also went back to working at the office in November as well. It was hard at first as it is a 20 minute walk from my flat to the office but I think it helped me to have that regular exercise. It was just in time before I went stir-crazy being stuck in my living room all day.

I had my 3 month check-up at UCLH at the beginning of February and the bones have healed up very nicely. My screws don’t seem to be causing any problems so they will stay put which is fine by me.

I completed my six week course of hydrotherapy which I LOVED. It was so wonderful to spend time in the warm pool whilst it was snowing outside. And it was very motivating to see my leg moving about under water in ways that it couldn’t do when gravity was taking hold. I am still going to regular physiotherapy once every few weeks. Progress is steady but my muscles are still not working 100%. I have aches in my groin and buttocks – seemingly in different places everyday. The pain is not bad enough to warrant painkillers but I am frustrated that there is still pain at all.

The main problem that I have now is my coccyx/tailbone. Since Christmas it has been hurting and isn’t getting any better. I have asked my surgeon, physio and GP if it could be a side effect of the surgery. Nobody knows and worst of all, nobody has any suggestions on how to make it better. I am convinced it is because the allignment of my pelvis has shifted slightly and the muscles around the coccyx are still weak. I hope it goes away – just when my hip pain goes away something else comes to replace it.

So overall, I am happy with how things are going. I hope by the time that the summer comes I won’t have any regular aches and pains and I can spend at least one day without thinking about my hip (or coccyx).

Both feet on the ground November 6, 2009

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I have been really looking forward to my six-week check up. It always helps to have something to look forward to when you are flat-bound and every day starts to blend into one. Most of all, I was looking forward to seeing what Mr Witt had actually done to me. I only got three screws but they are whoppers!

6 weeks post PAO

The two girls who did my x-ray let me pop around the screen to have a look. My response: “Oh. My. God. Those screws are massive!” I still don’t really understand how on earth surgeons can do the things they do. But then, I don’t understand a lot of things like how television or the internet works!

After starting physiotherapy last week (5 weeks after the operation – my only real complaint about the NHS) I have felt much more positive and finally feel like I am on the road to recovery. I am hardly taking any painkillers now and am getting dangerously close to getting a good night’s sleep.

In the last week I have even managed to go out all by myself! I hopped down the road to meet with three other hip women – Suzanne (who is practically my neighbour), Annick and Nena. It has been brilliant to put faces to names and share experiences in person. It is amazing to think that less than 6 months ago, I had never heard of a PAO and now I am part of  huge community of women who have been through the same experiences. I will be eternally grateful to all of the hipwomen for their advice and encouragement.

Mr Witt was happy with the way the hip is healing so I am allowed to put weight on my right leg – hooray! No more standing like a flamingo to brush my teeth or make lunch! I can now walk on both legs but have to keep the crutches for another two weeks. Then I can go down to one crutch. I hope this doesn’t mean I have to start doing the washing up.

Post-PAO exercises October 21, 2009

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Dont try this at home!

Don't try this at home!

Around three weeks after my operation I had quite achy knees as well as the hip. It was suggested that this was because I was sat in a chair all day and not moving enough. The hospital didn’t recommend any exercises for me to do between discharge and physio (though I think this would happen in most cases). Huge thanks to Annick who suggested the following exercises, they have helped a lot!

[Don’t try these unless you are certain you can do them. If you do, take it slowly – I don’t want to be responsible for anyone hurting themselves]

1. Ankles – point and flex feet alternatively, do briskly and keep legs straight, will stretch calf muscles.  Repeat 10 times.

2. Bend one leg and put your foot on the bed and put a cushion under the other knee.  Exercise straight leg by pulling your foot and toes up, tightening your thigh muscle and straightening the knee (keep knee on cushion) Hold for 5 secs approx.  Lower slowly and repeat 10 times.

3. Both legs together and straight.  Bend your ankles and push your knees down firmly against the bed.  Hold 5 secs, relax.  Repeat 10 times.

4. Bring your leg out to the side and then back again to mid position.  Use dressing gown belt or similar hooked round foot if needed to help.  Repeat 10 times.

5. Bend and straighten your leg.  Repeat 10 times

6. Lying face down hips straight and knees together.  Bend knee as far as poss keeping hip straight and ankle flexed.  Repeat 10 times.

7. Lying face down, bend knee to right angle and lift foot towards ceiling.  Repeat 5 times.

8. Clench and release your buttocks. Repeat 10 times.

28 days later October 20, 2009

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One month today since my operation. I can’t believe it! Time has actually gone quite fast.

I had hoped to bring you an update today my first physio session but it was cancelled just hour before! I am so disappointed. This was my first major milestone and now it could be delayed by as much as two more weeks. Hopefully I’ll get a cancellation but I won’t hold my breath. Thankfully, another hip woman has given me some exercises to do (I’ll add these in another post) to stop me wasting away completely.

My pain levels have dropped a lot this week and the last of the surgical glue was come off. I am finally feeling like I am making a recovery now. I hope it lasts. The only bad thing to have happened is that I have had a really bad reaction to some moisturiser that I put on the dry skin around my scar. It is red, bumpy and VERY itchy. There’s always something…

Scar status: Glue is all off now. Scar looks okay, a bit uneven in places but has healed well.
Pain levels: Pain was really bad at end of last week but I started to do some more regular exercises and that seems to have helped a lot. Hardly any pain now, just the odd twinge.
Medication: Hardly any!
Crutch ability: Have been out most days now and definitely building up some stamina.
High point of the week: Leaving my local area yesterday for the first time in a month. The world hasn’t changed at all.
Low point of the week: This morning when UCLH called to cancel my physio appointment.
Lesson learned: People really don’t make concessions when they see someone on crutches. They’ll just walk into you.
Main achievement: Going to a meeting yesterday.
Gains: God awful rash around my scar.
Losses: A stomach full of pills and surgical glue.

The video I wished I hadn’t watched! October 15, 2009

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This video, presented by the amazing Andi Peters, is from City Hospital in 2005. Jenny is undergoing a PAO. Just look at the fricking tools they used. No wonder it hurts!

Sleep is no longer my friend October 14, 2009

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I used to look forward to going to bed at night. I love sleeping; I can’t get enough of it. It was one of my favourite things and I was good at it too.

Now, I don’t want to go to bed any more because I know it will be painful and uncomfortable. I’ve tried every position (apart from laying on my bad side) and have tried putting cushions everywhere and anywhere. It’s no use.

Help! Does anyone know of any exotic sleeping positions guaranteed to be comfy for a whole night? Please let me know.

Week three update October 13, 2009

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I found this picture on Matt’s blog today which is a helpful illustration of the carpentry done on my hip. You can see how they have to cut the pelvis to make the socket a bit deeper. I know I have three screws but until I have my next x-ray I won’t know exactly what position everything is in now.

What I do know is that I am now in real discomfort. Even immediately after the operation it didn’t hurt this much. I think I was getting too smug that I could manage on headache tablets (paracetamol and diclofenac) and this is my body’s way of reminding me who’s in charge. It feels like there are pins being stuck into different parts of my hip and thigh and it isn’t nice. I am hoping it is just the nerves starting to work again rather than a sign of something I have done wrong.

I have done really well so far in keeping weight off my right leg. I am flamingo-like in my ability to perform tasks balanced on one leg. It all went wrong on Sunday when I went to return some books to the library and tried to hold the door open for a lady who was coming out. We had an awkward moment of “after you”, “no, after you”. Since I was the one on crutches she insisted…as I tried to release the door that I was holding I lost my balance and had to put my foot down. It didn’t hurt at the time but felt tingly for a while after once I had sat down. I don’t think the pain I have now (Tuesday evening) is because of that but not sure what else it would be.

Scar status: Glue is really starting to peel off now and looks disgusting. The actual scar is showing through and is very neat and pink. If the whole thing is like that then it shouldn’t look too bad.
Pain levels: Most of the week has just been a manageable ache but the last 24 hours have been much worse. Strange firework sensations in different parts of my leg. Hope that’s the nerves fixing and not something bad.
Medication: Paracetamol and diclofenac still plus some co-codamol for nights. Purchased in bulk from the chemist.
Crutch ability: Went on a 15 minute journey back from Nandos which was exhasting. Need to get out more.
High point of the week: Visits from friends on Saturday (karaoke and curry) and Monday (lots of laughter, homemade food and wine). The wheelchair makes an excellent extra piece of furniture.
Low point of the week: Last night – hip pain + period pain is just not fair.
Lesson learned: Don’t try and open doors for other people when you are the less able.
Main achievement: Going out three times and not falling over.
Gains: Pretty flowers, get well cards from overseas colleagues and homemade macaroons.
Losses: The novelty of working from my living room and my love of sleeping.

Week two update October 6, 2009

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Two weeks since my operation now. I hope the next few weeks go as quickly. I am pretty much back to work as normal now except I am working from my chair and can’t go to any external meetings. I haven’t gone mad from spending all my time sat in the same chair in my living room – yet. I’ve had at least one visitor every day which is really nice, I am making the most of the attention whilst I can. A friend who had an operation a couple of years ago told me that the novelty will soon wear off and no one will visit. I have been out of the house on three occasions this week. The first time was exhausting and emotional but the second and third were easier. We have brought the wheelchair out with us so that I can sit down if I get too tired or if I am nervous about being knocked over. The embarrassment of going to a pub in a wheelchair is outweighed by the guarantee of getting a seat!

The most frustrating thing is not being able to do simple things yourself such as picking something off the floor, or making lunch, or having a shower, or putting your socks on! I AM fed up with these surgical stockings. I have in my head that I have to wear them for six weeks but I’m not 100% sure. I suppose it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Six weeks of these babies

Six weeks of these babies

I have my first appointment with the physiotherapist in two weeks. No information provided about what I will be doing or what I should bring though. My 6-week check up with the surgeon is also confirmed now for 6 November. I must behave until then.

Scar status: Same as before but the glue is starting to peel off now. My lovely sister has bought me some Bio Oil which I will use as soon as I can.
Pain levels: No more sharp pains every time I sneeze, cough, laugh etc but it is still aching like mad. Seems to have got worse in the last 2 days.
Medication: Paracetamol and diclofenac still. The latter will run out tomorrow so I will have to find something else.

Crutch ability: Few trips out but still not confident. Sore hands.
High point of the week: Going to the pub (albeit in a wheelchair).
Low point of the week: Taking so long to go out and collect a pizza that it was cold when we got home. I cried.
Lesson learned: Recovery is not linear – thank you Maggie for reminding me.
Main achievement: Going out three times and not falling over.
Gains: Weight if I’m not careful. I am sitting on my arse a lot. And there are still lots of treats around.
Losses: Any chance of skiving off work.

One week on September 29, 2009

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I can’t believe it has already been a week since my operation. I did go home yesterday and it is wonderful! I have even managed to find a comfortable enough position to enable me to start getting back to work this afternoon. I will have a follow-up appointment with Mr Witt in 6 weeks and will get a letter about physiotherapy soon (dependant on postal strike, I imagine).

So, some reflections on the past week:

Scar status: Long, dark and covered in glue.
Pain levels: Constant, dull aching but tolerable. Sharp pain every time I sneeze, cough, laugh etc.
Medication: Paracetamol and diclofenac (not sure what good they actually do though).
Crutch ability: Short trips around the flat are fine. Am a bit worried that I don’t really understand what ‘touch toe’ weight actually feels like and might be doing it wrong.
High point of the week: The relief of sitting on my own sofa yesterday and realising the worst was over.
Low point of the week: Morphine side-effects (see earlier post).
Lesson learned: What an amazing boyfriend, family and friends I have (actually, I already knew that).
Main achievement: Surviving. And not crying too much.
Gains: Massive scar; bruises on on my left hand and both arms from cannulas and injections; grabber (note: Bag strap + elastic bands + grabber = portable pick-up tool); wheelchair (on loan); new fold up table to work from chair; new nightdress; lots and lots of magazines and chocolates.
Losses: My mind (for brief moments); my dignity (on occasions); use of my right leg for a few months.