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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).

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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.

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.

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.

The highs and the lows (Thursday) September 25, 2009

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My blood pressure is usually quite low but the combination of morphine, fasting and not moving has made it fall even more. The physiotherapist tried to get me up and out of bed yesterday but was worried I’d faint so I only made it as far as sitting up on the edge of the bed.

Today, however, I have made it from the bed to a chair and have stood up by myself a few times! Big achievements! I can finally see the amazing view over London from my window.

After my vomiting incident last night I have weaned myself off the morphine. I am not cut out for hard drugs. They have now disconnected me from the morphine pump and have taken out the drip.

Only one more tube to be removed now, the wee-tube. I seriously cannot wait to get rid of this. The reality of having a catheter isn’t as bad as I had imagined but it is a bit of a pain now I am sitting down. It is also preventing me from wearing all of the clothes that I brought with me. I thought I’d be able to get rid of it after I had become a bit more mobile, but it seems the criteria is actually my ability to go to the ‘other toilet’ unaided. This hospital seems obsessed with bowel movements. Everyone gets asked at least ten times a day whether they have ‘opened their bowels’. I haven’t discussed toilet habits this much since I went back-packing nine years ago.