Sunday, December 4, 2011

"Enhanced" physical therapy

It was just over five weeks ago that I had my hip surgery, and I'm finally starting to feel like I'm making solid progress on the road to recovery.  I had my doubts for the first couple weeks.  Patience has never been my strong suit, so I was floored when, after a full two weeks, I was still in pain.  I knew that the recovery time was 3-5 months.  We went over that in my consultations.  Somehow when the doctor emphasized 3-5 months, in my mind I thought that just meant I would be perfectly fine except I couldn't run for 3-5 months.  I guess I didn't realize that it also meant I would be in pain (sometimes lots of it), I wouldn't be able to move my leg properly, I would have to re-learn the simplest movements, and I would be dependant on others for so many things.

To recap the last five weeks:
Week 1: Lots of pain.  Couldn't move my leg at all without assistance. Spent most of every day sitting in a recliner with pillows under my knee to keep my hip at a more comfortable angle.  Days passed by in a Percoset-induced fog.  Nights were uncomfortable, and I was forced to sleep on my back with pillows under my leg. Strange nerve pain near the incision made it nearly impossible to wear pants.

Week 2: Still lots of pain, but moved around a little better.  Got better skilled at climbing the stairs in the house, and figured out a way to move my coffee cup from the kitchen to the living room (gaining whatever crumb of independence I could muster). Refused to take more painkillers. Started Physical Therapy, which included some very gentle exercises to move my leg, and I was given some "homework" to start strengthening my leg.

Week 3: Progress still seemed very slow and I started running out of patience.  Since I was unable to drive and was stuck at home all day, my attitude got pretty sour. (Thus, the absence of blogging).  I hated being stuck inside all day. I hated reading. I hated watching TV. I pretty much hated everything.  I finally got up the strength to crutch my way outside, and started incorporating a little bit of outdoor crutching into my rehabilitation.  The physical therapist was skeptical and mildly amused.

Week 4: Progress seemed to accelerate this week, and every time I went to PT I had better and better news to report.  My outdoor crutching increased to a half mile, then 3/4 mile.  Eventually I was able to do part of that routine with only one crutch, and I only used one crutch in the house.  My leg had atrophed so quickly that it was astonishing.  When I flexed my quad and then felt it with my hand, my leg was just squishy.  I literally couldn't even feel a muscle in there no matter now hard I flexed.  I was shocked and depressed at this revelation, but I realized I had to measure my success by comparing it to where I was three weeks ago, not three months ago.  I knew I was making quick progress.  PT had me start riding the stationary bike for 3 minutes one day, then 5 minutes the next. By the end of week 4 I was down to 1 crutch and walking a mile a day.

Week 5: Progress continued to speed right along.  I went back to work, from home, since I was finally able to sit relatively comfortably at my desk. I attempted to drive early in the week but it was still pretty sore.  I felt pretty liberated showing up to PT with only one crutch.  I again shocked my therapist when I proudly announced I had done a 1 mile walk through the woods on my one crutch. PT added more exercises and doubled the existing ones.  I started walking short distances in the house without crutches, and by the end of the week I was able to drive a short distance comfortably.

And now...the start of week 6!
The physical therapist gave me the green light to start riding a stationary bike, lightly, for 20 minutes at a time.  I contemplated going to the gym but I just couldn't drum up the courage to show up at the gym with a crutch. Yesterday I carefully climbed up on my mountain bike and rode it around my driveway.  It was fun to get on it, but probably not too wise because of all the bumps, and the likelihood of me losing my balance and not being able to get my leg under me to stop a fall.  I stopped after a few minutes, but then went for a very successful 1+ mile walk in the woods with just a ski pole!  I also decided to give myself a bit of a workout with some kettlebell exercises, which I modified as needed to avoid too much hip strain.  As usual I probably overdid it a little (just like before surgery) and I spent some of the afternoon packed in ice. 

Late in the afternoon, my mother presented me with the most amazing birthday gift... a cycle trainer! 

This was the perfect solution to being able to safely enjoy my bike and get some good workouts in, both during rehabilitation and beyond.  In just a few minutes, the bike was locked into place, and I was itching to use it!  Since I had already worked so hard I knew I should wait, but I just couldn't resist taking it for a spin.  I did a 20 minute ride on the bike, and it was the first time in literally a couple months that I worked up a sweat.  I've really missed that!

Today I'm taking it easy, since my body is telling me I overdid it a bit yesterday.  I might do a short ride on the bike later, but I've pledged to avoid anything too strenuous.  I can't wait to see my therapist's reaction tomorrow when I tell him I incorporated hiking, biking, and kettlebells into my rehab program!

1 comment:

  1. Go Mom! Oh... don't forget to get a mat for under that bike.