Saturday, September 22, 2012

3.5 months - one step forward, two steps back...

So a couple weeks ago I was able to meet up with two of ladies - hip chicks that I met online at Hip Chicks website. They both had the same surgery and the same surgeon. Tessa - awesome lady with a wealth of knowledge who has helped support me from afar throughout this journey. I "met" Laurie during recovery and found out that she was a couple weeks ahead of me but had also been down to see Dr. Mayo and lived in Anchorage. Tessa came to AK for a visit with her husband and I was able to spend the weekend with her.

I took her out to our cabin and tried to give them a solid Alaska experience. The weather cooperated and I even left the crutches in the cabin most of the weekend!!!! I think I was bound and determined to NOT be walking around on mine while she was walking around not just post PAO but post neck surgery (she has had a number of surgeries in the past year and still has a couple more to go). She is a huge inspiration. We had a great time! I even had a killer cold that came and stole my voice.

My meet-up with Laurie was a happy accident/coincidence. We had our follow-up appointments 30 minutes apart and didn't know it until that morning. She was in and out before my appt started but stayed and sat with me in the waiting room! She has young kids too and hopefully we will be able to schedule more times to hang out in the near future.

I feel very lucky to have met them both! Not everyone understands the enormity of the hip issues and the toll it takes on you emotionally as well as physically. It is great to meet a couple people that truly understand and are great/genuine people on top of that.

I had another follow-up with Dr. P. He doesn't think my progress is typical - well I totally agree and have been saying that for weeks. He took more x-rays and said the bones look good (yay) and I should only be restricted by pain at this point. He did state he thinks I am having more pain than what is typical but that I am not out of the woods yet so he isn't TOO worried.

However, on the physical exam... he could elicit loud painful popping in my hip with passive extension and external rotation. :( He said the likely causes are either a ligament/tendon snapping over boney overgrowth or scar tissue or.... get this... my labrum. I was very upset. The labral tear is what caused my initial pain and started me on this hip journey. It was detached and repaired during my RPAO but he said that the success rate was only about 70-80% because of the blood supply and how they have to try and revive that for the repair (cutting the labrum and the bone to create a vascular bond for the anchors to adhere to for repair). The decision at the end of that appointment was to finish out 5-6 more weeks of PT and see if strengthening all my muscles helps reduce the popping and the pain. I left that appointment upset but also trying to be optimistic.

Well... the weather here is AK has decided it needed a say in my recovery. I posted last time about our crazy windstorm. Well we have had several more since then - most recently the middle of last week. So during Alaska Windstorm #3 (AKA Arctic Hurricane #3) I was trying to keep our trashcan from catapulting itself off the mountain. The Mr. had tied it up to a weighed down wheelbarrow but once empty - it decided to pull away and take flight. I found it at the end of our street. They are fairly spendy cans (I know - we had to replace one over the winter due to winds). So I grabbed the keys to the pick up truck and backed it down the street next to the can so I could lift it in and return it to our garage. As I was getting out of the truck (already a feat in an of itself with the hip) a gust of wind decided to rip down the street. Well it grabbed the truck door and slammed it into me on the back right side as I was turning. It threw me to the ground. I got up angry and wet and had to catch our trash can which was now 10 feet further down the road.

As I was driving I noticed a rather sharp pain that radiated down my entire leg. Then over the course of the day my whole pelvis ached and my hip appeared to be popping on more and more movements. I definitely had have an increase in pain over the last couple days and it is deep in the groin. I called Dr. P's office (he is out for a couple weeks) and they said I could come in to the walk-in if the pain gets too bad. I also emailed Dr. Mayo's office and they said it was unlikely that I did too much damage but to keep an eye on it.

So yesterday, I told my PT about the fall and we had already discussed the popping & pain. She had previously agreed that we could strengthen everything and hope that it was a ligament/tendon. However when I told her about the fall and reiterated the symptoms HAVE increased since the fall. She asked to do a physical exam and "check me out." She got the same painful popping and clicking and did a couple other things that didn't necessarily hurt but then she looked at me and said "girl, this isn't good, I definitely think this has something to do with your labrum." So she called Dr. P's office and they suggested I come in on Monday and see his PA-C (since he still out of town) but she told them no, that she wasn't sure what he could do. She said she recommended new imaging done and that I meet with Dr. P as soon as he comes back.

She said if I need it repaired than I need to do it right away so that I can combine recoveries and maximize insurance benefits for the year. I feel devastated now. I don't want to think about it but I knew the pain was familiar. I hate that I went through all this (PAO) and end up in the same pain. So it looks like I will be getting some more imaging next week - CAN I GET AN MRI WITH THESE SCREWS? Am I seriously looking at another surgery before I have really even started recovering from my last one???????

We'll see I guess.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

12 weeks - 3 Months Post op + caribou hunting, turning 33 and crazy arctic hurricanes...

Labor day weekend was a 3 days weekend from work - it was also pretty busy. So I was dreading it. My husband was going caribou hunting so it was me and kids for 4 days. In that 4 days we had a indoor water park birthday party for my niece (I had to get in since lil guy is only 5) and we had concert tickets to take the kids to see Hot Chelle Rae at the Alaska State Fair. So going into Friday I knew I was going to be hurting. I went to the fair for a couple hours the week and paid for it - ALOT. So much pain I spent 20 minutes crying in my car the next day at work - didn't drive anywhere for lunch just reclined and cried.

Needless to say I was worried about how much I would be hurting after this weekend. Then my dad calls and tells me we are going camping - guilted me into camping. He bought all the food and drink, set up driving (thanks Nancy & JB) and sleeping arrangements and said he/they could make I was back in time for the party. So now, not only did I have spend hours following a 5 year old around a water park & walking around the fair for another couple hours -  I was adding 5 hours in the car and sleeping in the camper. He had camp already set up by the time I got off work Friday. All I had to do was show-up. Mentally I wanted to sooo bad. My PAO pretty much squashed a lot of the camping opportunities this summer and I love camping with my dad/family.

I am so glad I went. Had a great time. My kids and I had soooo much fun. Little man told me that is was the most perfect weekend ever "we got to go camping, swimming, eat ice cream/cake, have a sleepover with Mommy and go see Hot Chelle Rae". If only his words could melt the pain like they did my heart. I am sore and hurting but I got to see/feel more progress and hope then I have in a while.I was able to walk around on one crutch almost the whole time camping - even up a trail. The birthday party was hard but being in the water wasn't so bad - It was walking around in between. The concert and fair was great too. I did take more painkillers than I had been taking in the past couple weeks but I think I was finally able to get over a hump because of it and I can 'see' myself actually getting off crutches now. Hubby even came home with a nice caribou and we have 120 lbs of meat for the freezer! Progressing hope was there, I thought.

Tuesday morning - I woke up hurting and sick - sore throat, head cold, whole body muscle aches and the pain I was expecting with my activites. I didn't have any meetings scheduled and the kids were complaining about the same illness. We decided to stay home and veg-out, watching movies, snuggling and overall recuperating. I stayed on email from work and started getting crazy notices regarding the second windstorm that was moving in - threatening to do some serious damage. We live on the hillside and have experienced our fair share of 100+ mph winds. To me, all it meant was another night of not sleeping and it was my birthday the next day. sigh.

Well I woke up Wednesday morning a 33 year old who just survived the first 3 months (officially) of recovery post PAO+ sugeries and I was finally seeing and able to report progress. I also woke up to another day off of work!!! The wind storm did crazy damage and schools were closed, as well as, many state and city offices. 30k+ people were still without power. Ours had gone out Tuesday night but was back on by the morning. We get lots of wind and lots of snow but this was pretty crazy. It takes some pretty extreme weather to shut down schools here (our kids have outside recess until -10 degrees F and we have to get more than a foot in less than 24 hours). It was an AWESOME birthday wish granted to wake up on a Wednesday and not have to go to work (especially with the overworked body pain and headcold).  Another day of watching movies and snuggling with my kiddos was a blessing. I teased all day that Mother Nature knew I needed another day of rest - and she grants birthday wishes with force & style! My dad's house still has no power and some people are going on 36-48 hours with power and Four of our schools operated today with no power and on back-up generators. Crazy!! We had sustained winds between 70-80mph and reported gusts (near my house) in the 130s! Trees uprooted and blown over - lots of damage all over Anchorage. We lost our trampoline and grill despite well-intentioned tie-down efforts. The trampoline speared itself on a tree between our house and the neighbors, the grill launched itself off our deck (pressed up against the house/almost under the stairs) and into the yard almost into the driveway. But no structural damage to the house and we only lost power for 8-10 hours. Could have been worse.

I realized when I requested my refill of pain medication that I had gone almost twice as long as I have been previously. Part of this is the fact that I am back at work and I can't take it during the day and while that has been incredibly hard on me it has proven I CAN stretch it. I think I have to take an higher dose when I get home and I still haven't found a way to adequately manage the pain during the day but I can tell it is getting better, slowly. I did start taking my Naproxen again. I have another follow-up with Dr. P next week and we will get down to some more details. I have started a list of questions in regards to pain. Did I go back to work too soon? My job involves a lot of sitting up at a desk - what are way to reduce the pain, with medicine or without? Do I need to discuss a modified schedule or alternate work site with my employer, is so, what is recommended and for how long? How long can I realistically expect this sit bone pain? When should I be concerned? I have started, stopped and restarted PT. The week I started was a significant increase in pain - combined with work, how long will this continue? Again - what can I take during the day - naproxen isn't cutting it - oral meds like tramadol or patches??? will patches help joint or bone pain or is that more nerve - I have both but the deep joint pain/bone is what makes a full day & week of work impossible. Nerve & muscle pain is what keeps me awake at night once I get the other pain under control.  My muscles still cramp up during the night? How long is this typical?

So I want to say that my days at work are getting better but I have to be realistic and mention that I have taken several half days - worked with my buildings to go home early (take lunch at the end of the day) and I have taken several sick days. So I am not really working at full capacity yet and that is going to change very quickly. My year is picking up very quickly and thanks to the day off yesterday + a couple days out for training - I will have to reschedule 4 meetings agh. One day at a time right? But I am not coming home in quite as much pain and I have noticed a HUGE increase my abilities. I know I was home for a couple days relaxing (and therefore walking around a small space with lots of things to cruise on and lots of rest) but I haven't used my crutches at home for the last 2.5 days. I was a little too optimistic today (after 5 days off) and decided to only take 1 crutch to work. I realized how big a mistake that was about halfway to my office - walking into the building. Tomorrow both crutches get to go with me and if I leave one in the car or my office while walking around the school - okay, but at least I have them both. It took me a LONG time to get back out to my car at the end of the day. Sleeping is still hard. I still wake up several times and have been cutting and adjusting my ambien trying to find a dose that helps me sleep but doesn't make me feel drunk the next day. I will maybe talk to Dr. P about that as well - of course if I get everything under control - I might actually stay asleep. I am definitely feeling more positive, less hopeless.

There still isn't a light at the end of my tunnel but the darkness isn't as consuming. :) That is enough right now to push me along.

Kids camping! Photobucket trail-walking - 1 crutch Photobucket Happy Kids at the Concert/Fair Photobucket 12 weeks/3 months
12weeks Atrophy
Hubby's hunting trip - 120 lbs of caribou!!!
And some wind damage