Tag Archives: hip surgery

11-weeks Post Op

I have had several blogs brewing in my head for a week or so, and it may just come out into one post.  I thought about naming it “parallels” or “life begins at 40” – but settled for the time marker title. Weeks 1-9 post-op I was sailing strong and steady with my recovery, with little complications.  Last week, week 10, I hit a wall emotionally and physically.  I am still walking with 1 crutch.  I was cleared to go weight bearing at week 8 (my surgeon is very conservative to ensure full healing of the fractures) and I thought by 2 weeks of weight bearing I would be walking perfectly unassisted.  I have always placed high expectations on myself, and PAO surgery recovery is no exception.  I crumbled when my physical therapist told me, “not yet…you are not strong enough to walk unassisted.  Keep the 1 crutch…its just a strength issue from being non-weight bearing…it takes time…”  those words put me into a tailspin of sadness and defeat.  I was not meeting my self-imposed, unrealistic, expectations.  I was pissed at the world, looking at Facebook feeds of everyone’s summer adventures, while I was still mostly at home, alone, gimping around.  The meal train ended week 9 and so have the emails and phone calls of asking how I was doing.  Feeling alone, defeated, and depressed, I decided to try to go back to metalsmithing, which is not ideal being on 1 crutch.  I had to do SOMETHING!!!  It was not easy, but I learned something:

Metal-smithing and surgery recovery has its parallels. For both, each step must be fully completed successfully before proceeding to the next step.  In metal-smithing, if a piece of metal does not solder properly together, I would have to go back and reset everything and try again.  In PAO surgery recovery, if I take a step without the crutch and feel my hip fall to the side due to lack of hip stabilizer strength, I have to go back to the 1 crutch for awhile and then try again.  I cannot solder metal together without placing paste flux on the metal, nor can I walk properly without doing my strength exercises.  This analogy between my work and my recovery helped my get my head around the fact that it may be awhile before I start walking unassisted again.  Patience, steps, being deliberate, deep breathing when things go wrong…those are all components of successful metal-smithing and successful surgery recovery.

Prong pendant metalsmithing
Prong pendant about to be re-soldered.

As for the “life begins at 40” title, I turned 40 last December. I knew 2014 would be an epic year for me of deep proportions.  I knew I would have not one, but TWO major surgeries (PAO on both left and right hip) and everything that comes along with living the PAO life, and in the end: reinvention. I have had a lot of down-time with my surgery recovery.  Hours of laying in bed has forced me to think a lot about my life and where I want to go once I can get my life back.  One major decision I made, and it was not made lightly, was to officially retire from Personal Training.  I have been a Personal Trainer, running coach, and triathlon coach for 18 years. I have made lifelong friends and helped dozens of people.  It has shaped who I am and my values on health.  In recent years I discovered bringing my inner artist to the outer world, and have been working hard to build my reputation and livlihood as a jewelry artist.  It was time for me to move forward and put 100% of my energy into my jewelry business to ensure its success.  My last client has been training with another trainer in Boulder since my PAO surgery.  It has been going well, which made the transition that much easier.  I wanted to make sure she was in good hands! We met last night over margaritas, empanadas and chips and guacamole as I told her my plans.  She knew already: she is a very busy person and I do not request her time unless there is good reason.  She joked that I was firing her, and I said, “No, I am breaking up with you.”  While I was sad and it was not easy for me to do, retiring last night felt freeing.  After an intense, short thunderstorm, the air was cool and crisp.  Going 50 miles an hour, I rolled down the windows, popped the sunroof, blasted music, and I felt alive.  I almost forgot what it felt like: to feel really alive in the present moment.  For those minutes, I totally forgot about my PAO and hip saga. And it felt damn good.


Luxury Stay at Stanford

I was fortunate enough to have my own private hospital room. My view from the window was a beautiful flower garden.  Days 1 and 2 were pretty smooth sailing in terms of pain management. I had my epidural in for those 2 days and my pain level never got above a level 3 (on a scale of 1 to 10).  Even being hooked up to 2 wound drains, IV, foley catheter and epidural, I managed to take 3 steps with the walker the day after surgery. Loved ones came and went, gifting me with flowers, candy and stuffed animals.  My appetite came back quickly and I was able to select from a room service menu that looked like a menu from a regular restaurant.  Turkey and gravy with cornbread dressing or basil Thai noodles and a side of baby back ribs?  Oh…decisions!

On day 3, the epidural came out and they began me on oral pain meds: oxycontin, oxycodone, prescription strength acetametaphin, gabapentin (nerve pain), DOK (stool softener), and zofran (anti-nausea).  While my pain level never went above a 3, my overall well-being started to decline. The nursing staff was still not pleased with my low blood pressure (it was an average of 80/48) and I was told I had a low red blood cell count, but not low enough to receive a blood transfusion. (I lost about 800ml blood during surgery). Dazed and confused, my nausea came back times 10. I couldn’t sit up, I could barely eat. They skipped PT and OT on day 3 because of the low blood pressure and my nausea. The nursing staff, all who were very caring and sensitive to my needs, gave me additional anti-nausea medicine, but it didn’t seem to work. I just tried to sleep as much as possible as that was the only way I felt o.k.

Day 4 the foley catheter came out and now I had to pee using the bedside commode. Did I mention how happy I was to have a private room? I was fortunate to be able to urinate easily and without pain, though I almost passed out every time I got up to pee. By the end of the day, I realized I had had enough with the nausea.  There had to be something they could do for me. I asked nurse Irene, an older RN who was no nonsense though it was apparent her patients’ comfort was her top priority. I talked to her about how I was feeling and she said I was maxed out on all the current anti-nausea meds (zofran and other IV bolus’). She agreed to call the Resident on call to see what can be done. I explained to Irene I had phenegran in the recovery room and it was effective.

Irene came back and said that at first the Resident said, “well, she will just have to get used to the nausea.” Not easily intimidated, Irene proposed my suggestion of oral phenegran, and finally the resident conceded.  I started to feel better, but was still not 100%. The thought of getting in a car for 30 minutes to my sister’s house seemed impossible. They let me stay another day.

Day 5: On the mend from the extreme nausea, I felt my appetite return and I was determined to regain some of my strength. The nurse told me my systolic blood pressure (the “top” number) had to get  above 90 in order for me to get discharged. I decided to distract myself by making my stuffed animal cat dance to Journey songs on the Mp3 player and it made me laugh.  That odd trick worked with raising my blood pressure. Perhaps laughter is the best medicine.  Once PT cleared me, my discharge was in process. When it was 4:00, I was feeling ready to move on to the next phase of my recovery, at Chez Sudre (my sister’s house).  It was time.

Overall, my hospital stay was quiet and comfortable. The Stanford nursing staff is second-to none. Dr. Bellino visited me every day except for once. My room was awesome with that garden view, and the food was actually not half-bad. In a way, I was sad to leave but I had to continue on the road to recovery.


Anyone who knows me knows I am a highly organized person.  I attribute my organizational skills to my lists.  I have lists for everything: ranging from managing my 3 businesses to personal to-dos.  I am old-school with my lists, I have a yellow legal pad of paper and I write things down as they come to mind.  I take great pride in crossing off the completed task with a thick black sharpie marker.  Some people may think I am borderline OCD, I call it being on top of things. After all, for me, if I don’t write it down, its not going to happen. Being 7 weeks out from my left PAO surgery, I have a new set of lists.  I have the “to-do list before March 26” (that is my departure date) and the “ultimate PAO surgery trip packing list”. Below is my PAO packing list (does not include personal items for the week before surgery).  It is a bit unique as I am flying to California for my surgery. My recovery will be split between my sister’s house in California and my home in Colorado, and I am buying two sets of a few things to have in each place.  I have compiled my list from referencing my friend’s PAO  blog and from my hip dysplasia reference book. If you are soon having PAO surgery, I hope you find the below list useful!  (note: most of the items that I noted as “order” –  I am ordering from Amazon.com, they seem to have the best prices.  I provided links when available) Packing list for surgery and hospital stay:  (REVISED 5.22.14 to actual items I used)

  • Photo ID and insurance card
  • Toiletries: favorite facial cleansing wipes,  favorite lotion, lip balm, deodorant, brush
  • Hat (wear from hospital)
  • shirt and loose PJ pants – wear to/from hospital
  • slip on shoes – wear to/from hospital
  • mp3 player, headphones and charger
  • cell phone and charger
  • eye-mask and earplugs
  • throat lozenges (throat may be sore after breathing tube)
  • few personal trinkets: my favorite crystal and stuffed animal
  • crutches and walker
  • Bag to carry everything
  • A nice comfy, soft blanket

For Home Recovery: