Tuesday, November 24, 2009

7 weeks Post Op!

Well... things are getting moving around here. The car is moving, my kids are moving, and we are moving in it TOGETHER with mom at the wheel! That's right, this gal is a legal driver again, and this hip, with 6 pins and all, is connected to a foot that makes the minivan go! Hoo-ah!

No more hearing Nick (5) saying, "so, when you're a mom again, you'll take me to karate class, right?" or "when you're a mom again you'll come to my school performance..." He's actually genuinely excited for me, and brags to strangers at the supermarket about my newly-restored driving privileges.

This week of Thanksgiving I am especially grateful to be able to attend all 3 of my kids' school plays/ Harvest Fests/ sliced turkey parties. I am cooking side dishes and pies for my NY family's gathering. In fact, there is much cooking going on, since this was my most-missed skill these last weeks outside of driving. There were some wonderful helpers around here, but all of them could barely operate a microwave, much less whip me up something to ease my Pad Thai cravings.

I have made about 8 trips (as driver, of course)  to our new Trader Joe's in the last week, using their lovely little electric wheelchair with attached basket. That is some serious fun! By the time I work up the nerve to ask them to put my name on the back of it, I'll have to surrender it to someone much more worthy -- but I'l miss the scooter days!

Yes, there is soreness - usually after I've whipped up some pureed roasted veggie soup (like this morning at 7:30 am) and I need to sit down. But even at it's worst, these last 2 weeks at least have seen none of the pain levels I had in my pre-op months. It's time to begin to exhale...

Dr. Feldman and I joked that we'll have to split the "Rock Star" credits at my  6-week check-up on Nov. 19. He gave me a few side leg-lifts to do, as well as permission to start swimming (slowly) again, but no physical therapy until 12 WEEKS (6 to go!), which sure seems like a long time ahead. Scar is healed beautifully, and I am getting around the house cane-free (with a limp). Nick is still awed by this -- "look, Mommy is doing her magic trick again!".

Sometimes it does feel like a magic trick.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Coming up on ONE MONTH Post-op!

It's really something to think that exactly one month ago I was packing my freezer with homemade soups (very spicy, of course) and really hoping that my Living Will was up-to-date and losing a whole lot of sleep. 

What a difference a month makes!

Now I'm hobbling around on one cane -- though doc still says I need 2 so that's what I'll do when "my public" is watching; hiking myself up and down stairs (yes, more than once a day) and definitely getting out every day. I am a "Lady Who Lunches" now! Seen just about every decent movie there is in theaters these days (and some doozies, too). The Life of Leisure is very fun and about time.

Can we talk about the driving thing? So it's against THE LAW to drive before 6 weeks after this surgery - because I am Handi-Capable (which, BTW, made a great halloween costume). So girls like me -- even though I am narcotic-free now, cannot get behind the wheel, even to drop my little Sweets at a playdate or karate class 2 minutes away. Grrrr. But I am getting that badge thing for my rear-view mirror and look forward to activating My Special Parking Spot. Yeah, you bet! 

BUT I sound ungrateful. Rest assured, I am, as I sit around day after day in a bored and restless stupor, very grateful indeed. This recovery has gone remarkably well, beyond anyone's expectation (including my rock star surgeon). Was it the hours of distance swimming and completely psycho-cardio spin classes I took for the months leading up to it? Perhaps it was the recent hours (weeks?) of looking up old friends on Facebook or reading every posting in the Huffington Post? Was it the globally renowned rock-star surgeon? Do I have superpowers or even superbones (which is possible -- I have never cut through them before!)?

We may never know. Pretty sure it's been dumb luck so far.

But thank you for continuing to check on me and send me fabulous gifts (well, many of you, anyway:)).

Next MD visit: Nov 19 -- may I receive blessings to return to The Road! After all, a Trader Joe's just moved in a mile from my house. I may not have the strength to resist. Traveler's beware.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day +18 Post-op

OK, being a cripple gets old pretty fast.

I am definitely moving at a break-neck 2 hops per second, into the "so over this" phase of my recovery. Still need some help on the stairs and can't cook my own food (which is making this foodie a little grumpy) but otherwise I am able to get from room to room on my granny walker at Special Olympic speed and take long showers all by myself. OK, its still really nice to be surrounded by people who clean my house, do my laundry and shuttle my kids around. Don't get me wrong, that part will be VERY missed when it's gone.

The pain is barely perceivable -- it's really only on my radar around bedtime or first thing in the morning. The rest of the time it's just various bouts of "fall over right now" sleepiness, which sneaks up on me out of nowhere. I'm beginning to think that this must be from the medications so this weekend I'm dropping half of my pain medications, and hope to taper off the other half within the next week so that I can be med-free by Week 4 post-op.

Pain medications also tend to mess with the digestive tract, so there's another motivation. Once I'm off this stuff I can start challenging my driving restrictions like a really obnoxious patient! Ohhh they're gonna love that :)

This week my mother arrives from California for a 10-day visit and I've already begun to line up outings and playtime for us because the walls are closing in quickly...

The "flower and candy phase" is coming to an end, but this really is something to celebrate. Hoo-ah!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pins and Needles!

So ... here they are! This is the x-ray from my post-op follow up yesterday with my surgeon, Dr. Feldman, at NYU. As you can see, six "pins" (4 large, 2 small), actually screws, are used to hold together my newly-aligned pelvis and hips. Those pins will stay where they are for at about six months and then there is another small same-day procedure where they are removed (takes about 15 minutes, under general). Later I told the kids that when they are removed I will clean them up and tie a bow around three so that they each keep one a s a souvenir. They loved that idea.

Of course I had to get the doctor's office to give me a disk with the image, because when you are walking around with the support of something that looks like it fell off your tool table, you want to check it several times to be sure it will really hold you up...

Dr. Feldman was very impressed with the progress so far. He is an avid modern art collector, his big office is just covered with the stuff, and when he "revealed" the x-ray to us on his computer, he did it with such pride and flair, you'd think he'd just brought it back from some auction at Sotheby's. He was grinning from ear to ear, saying "do you see that? Perfect! It's perfect!" more than a couple of times. Very proud of himself. I assured him the screws looked really great. What the heck would I know?

Dr. Feldman was also quite taken with how I could hop myself onto the examining table and bend my knees up and generally move around with very little pain. My prize for all this progress is that I now have "release papers" allowing me to leave my house (with a driver) to go most places -- movies, friends' houses, out to dinner -- or any place that offer's a "loaner wheelchair" (my first thought: Target here I COME!)  -- as long as I have help and don't need to go more than a few steps at a time. Hooray! I do have to wait another 4 weeks before I can drive and possibly another six before I can start physical therapy -- but I can get in the pool in a month!

The best, though, the very most awesome wonderful thing he said that I was just aching for is -- I can take a SHOWER!  That's right, folks, with lovely, warm spraying water on my dirty 2-week-neglected hair and other un-showered bits.

And you can bet that is exactly what I did the second we got in the door from NYC. And then slept for 12 hours! A great day.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Landmark Day!

News Flash!

I got out of bed BY MYSELF today!

OK, so it can be really lovely to have people cook you meals, bring you things you dropped on the floor but can't pick up, surround you with fields of  flowers, wash your hair (at a salon), make you yummy treats and just dote on your every whim ... well, lovely for the recipient, anyway. But having to wake someone in the darkest hours of night who is clearly in the middle of a blissful and much-needed rest just so they can carefully slide your "dead-weight leg" out of bed so you can make it to the bathroom on time is, well, not so lovely. At this moment, Jim and I are both more liberated, independent and progressed! Small steps.

It is Day +12 from surgery and other strides of importance include: Improved Walker Skills; In & Out of Chairs Independently; Ability to Bend Leg Formerly Known as "Dead Leg" Without Help; Hospital "Commode" Graduation and First Dinner Party (in a "big girl" chair, no less!). It's amazing how many of the movements and abilities were once taken for granted -- never again...

Tomorrow marks the next big landmark -- return to NYC with Jim for my first post-op follow up. Hopefully I'll get permission to try and master all kinds of other fun skills. With the sun out for the first time in a week, and the leaves looking so crisp and colorful from the window all my parts feel that the seasonal change is well underway.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Looking Good!

Yesterday I went on my first outing -- to the hair salon! Filthy, unwashed hair was really getting to me after  realizing that I would not have a "real" shower for at least another week. Ick! Sisters, can you feel me here?

So off we went, with my helper Martina and my granny walker... my dear pal Donna who works at an Aveda salon 1/2 mile from our house did a lovely shampoo/ blow-out and I felt like a new woman. While there, I saw - wait - is that a nail salon next door? An hour later and my toes were scrubbed and glowing, nails had a fresh coat -- now I'm off to rule the world!

Of course, after arriving home from this "day of beauty" I promptly passed out on the couch for 2 hours. Ahhh... so THAT'S what they mean by beauty rest!

Today we enjoy a day-long parade of visitors and home cooked meals -- I'm even happier to be clean!

Friday, October 16, 2009

First Days Home

So it is now post-op Day 9, and I have slept in my own bed for 3 days.

The realities of these Recovery Days are starting to take shape... what to expect, what to let go of, where the pain begins and ends, how the body is reacting to the recent "event", what the kids think of a mother who suddenly moves like a great-grandmother, whether or not the husband really relishes his role as Head Nurse, whether the hired help actually know how to make tomato soup for the kids the same was I used to... so much "new-ness"! A new kind of honeymoon? Still finding out.

The first day home I tried to be the Good Patient by staying in my bed most of the day, propped up with pillows, watching Crap TV (like I did in the hospital for 6 days straight) and talking on the phone. By the end of the first day, my lower back and booty were on fire -- and not in a good way! A home bed is VERY different from the state-of-the-art fancy hospital bed with buttons that could twist you into any variety of pretzel and a special layer that filled with warm air and wiggled every few minutes to prevent bed sores... Oh, even my fancy king size Temperpedic can't come close to that. I had basically added to my hip pain by not correctly positioning myself and learning how to sit still. Time for the How to Sit in One Place for Several Hours workshop, I guess. Any instructors out there? Now I've transferred down to the main floor for the daytime hours and can get quite comfy in a recliner chair in the TV room without causing new forms of paralyzation!

I'm currently on loads of medications for pain which Jim has lovingly dosed into mini ziplock bags with the dosing time written on them in felt tip pen. Some of these meds I'm familiar with from my past 3 c-sections, but others are definitely the Biggest Guns I've ever been prescribed. The weird thing with narcotics -- if you truly need them for pain, you don't get any "magical buzz" -  such a bummer! So far, I actually can't feel any change after taking them, but I recall that first 24-hour Hell Day after surgery, and appreciate how much they must really be doing for me.

The body is working well in many places, which amazes me. From the waist up, I am fine, and my left leg has virtually full range of motion. My right leg works quite well from the knee down, but between the knee and just above my right pelvic bone we have total Dead Leg. It is numb to the touch, and I have absolutely no control over it. It feels very much like that part of my body has been swapped out with a bloated, swollen, warm and unnaturally heavy water balloon.  It doesn't "hurt" per se, but if I walk or am accidentally body checked by one of kids, there is a aching pins-and-needles reaction that I'm pretty sure would be 10 times worse without medication.

Jim's been a wonderful Head Nurse so far. It's not an easy job, being nudged awake in the middle of the night so that you can get out of bed (after crawling over Nick, who, at age 5, is still  frequent bed-mate for us) and help move the Dead Leg just a foot or so in order for me to make it to the bathroom. Last night we spent at least 1/2 an hour trying to get Dead Leg to shift so that I could actually lay on my left side in the bed. This involved at least 8 pillows of various sizes, and constant re-positioning and shifting by a few inches in various directions. In other words, enormous volumes of patience and laughter. After all that, I still had the strange sensation of the 3" pins used to hold my pelvis back together, rubbing against the inside of my incision -- such a weird feeling! Fortunately, there was a time in his life where Jim had actually seriously considered a medical profession, so he finds things like pins and incisions endlessly fascinating. What a relief!

So today is an exciting day because it will be my first-ever outing since returning home from the hospital -- I am going to get my hair washed at a real hair salon! It may as well be Disney World -- I am so thrilled. This plan was actually suggested to me by my surgeon's office. My single greatest post-discharge complaint was that, due to the position of the incision (lies along along the crease of the pelvis - about 6") showers or baths are on the "Naughty List". OK, so I know you can some critical parts clean with a sponge bath while sitting on the toilet (awkward! But at least I can manage it solo) what's a girl to do about the hair?? Two weeks of unwashed hair? Geeee-ross! You can just never feel truly clean, I know you girls can feel me here. Guys, maybe not as much.... But strategically, there is almost no way to do this in the home without risking getting the incision wet, very dangerous at this stage. All things considered, it looks like being driven 8 blocks to my dear friend Donna over at Fringe Salon is now on the "Ok List"!  And you can bet if this works out I'll be heading to the nail salon by next week for sure! Jim looks a little worried - but at least I have a doctor's permission, right?

Looking forward to a weekend of friend visits and family time, even though the weekday help team has been terrific. I hear lots of complaints about the weather, but so far, that has not been an issue for me!  Jim will get his first stab at 4 kids and no mom -- with one kid who is basically disabled! Keep your fingers crossed for him -- I have a feeling he'll rise to the occasion...

My Support Crew

My Support Crew
Jim, Nick, Madie & Liana

The Countdown Begins...

First blog, first major hip surgery, first chance to lay on the couch for weeks on end (well, in about 25 years, anyway...). Here we go!

Jim and I have spent the better part of the past week "laying down the runway" as we prepare for takeoff on Wednesday at the Hospital for Joint Disease at NYU in NYC where we will be greeted at dawn (it's always dawn for these things, is that so you too tired to change your mind?) by our rock star surgeon, Dr. David Feldman.

While Liana, Madie and Nick head off for school ( and hopefully just a little oblivion) I will get fully acquainted with the blue-ribbon anesthesia team who will set me up with an epidural and hopefully knock me out so well that I won't notice the piles of surgery tools (Home Depot sale, anyone?).

Three or four hours later I will wake up with a completely re-aligned hip socket (if you really want to know more, I have included links here in another box about osteotomy) and hopefully pain-oblivious through the wonders of epidural support. The last 3 times I ever had an epidural, they handed me a baby within about an hour. That would be a little unnerving here, but would make for a great story, right?

By the time I really figure out where I am, hopefully it will be in the new pediatric unit at HJD which is all-single rooms. Ahhhh... to be a kid again! This piece of good news is side perk of being cut up by the guy that runs the whole place. He mostly works on kids, and since I basically have the full-grown version of a kid birth defect, he is now cleared to use his power tools on me.

Then the makeup and styling team arrives.... or maybe just Jim, my wonderful Head Nurse who has seen me through 3 babies pretty darn well (he does a great post-op puppet show, just ask him!). He and I will get cozy and hopefully enjoy at least a day of epidural bliss (um, that would be just me).

Then there will be a few days of training and workshops -- How to be a One-Legged Mom for a whole bunch of weeks. Hopefully this will include lessons in How to Obey the Laws of Bedrest, because that is the class I could seriously fail in. Pretty sure these workshop days will include a bunch of narcotics, so this would be a good time to ask me for money.

So that's what's on my calendar this week.

Check back for more updates, and if there aren't any after surgery day (can you believe these hospitals without wi-fi! the nerve!), you can text Jim on his cell, because I am guessing he will be watching a lot of Oprah for a few days.

If you've read this far then please know that I can laugh a lot more than cry about this next big step because of friends and family like you -- who walk with me each step of the way, and who know that this is not a fatal illness, far from it, and that having love, laughter and support will mean that we can do jumping jacks together at Christmas. Because I have never done that, have you?

Hip Helpers: