19 for 2019 (Facts About Us)

It is a new year and I think it is a good opportunity to introduce myself, Pea and our blog to followers old and new. Here are 19 key pieces of information to get you up to speed!

  1. My name is Poppy!
  2. I am 27 years old
  3. I live in the Cotswolds with my boyfriend and two guinea pigs Peter and Patrick
  4. I work in primary education
  5. I have UKCC equestrian coaching qualifications (which I don’t currently use) and a horse care diploma (which helps me to look after my precious pony!)
  6. I started properly riding 5 years ago after childhood hip problems (Perthes Disease) restricted my activity options when I was younger
  7. I now have a ceramic left hip (as of June 2018)33a757f8-1f48-446a-9e89-5dc267ac27e9
  8. My pony’s normal name is Pea but her posh name is Scarlet Sweetpea
  9. She is 14hh
  10. She is passported as a Welsh Cob but has gypsy origins!
  11. She is 13 according to her passport but could be several years either side of that
  12. She is barefoot (and always has been so it is not something I have changed)
  13. I started riding her at my yard (Bourton Vale Equestrian Centre) 4 and a half years ago and then bought her 3 years ago
  14. She lives at the same yard that I bought her from (although we did move for a while) and lives out 24/7
  15. My chosen discipline is dressage and we hope to do more of it this year 42867B0F-2D8B-48B1-9806-399F9DEB9C27.jpeg
  16. I started my blog to share my experience of having a hip replacement at 26 and returning to riding afterwards
  17. I put out a new blog every weekend
  18. I have an Instagram, Facebook page and Twitter feed linked to my blog if you want to see more photos and tales
  19. Most of the video footage and photos of both of us were taken by our top supporter, my non horsey boyfriend

Hip Hacks!

If you think this is going to be a post detailing the gruesome reality of what they do to your hip during a hip replacement.. don’t worry, it isn’t! Most of my followers are not about to have replacements, lots may never have one, either way here are a few things that have made my life easier post op just in case it might help someone else!

Special mentions go to the raised toilet seats and ‘helping hand’ (see Self Preservation And Perspective) which I believe to be standard NHS issue – or certainly were from Southmead.  Although trying to go to the toilet anywhere other than my own home is a major issue, at least I’m sorted at home!  A special mention also goes to my drugs organiser which I talked about in The New ‘Normal’.

I have spent most of the last two and a half weeks sat in a chair.  One of the key things I was told I would have to do post hip replacement was to only sit in chairs with a seat height of 47cm or more.  I can tell you now, pretty much 99% of the chairs in the world are lower than 47cm.  Luckily, when my mum came up to stay she brought with her ‘the tie dye’.  ‘The tie dye’ is a big foam cushion that 15 years ago, after a family tie dying session (yes, that is the kind of random activity my family did once), my sister re-covered it with burgundy and white tie dyed material.  As a family of six, there were never enough sofa spaces for family TV watching so someone always ended up on the floor on the tie dyed cushion.  When we all left home I think it went into garage retirement but it has had a new lease of life in the last few weeks.  Not only does it boost my main home chair (which was very kindly given to me), but it has also been to two pubs, two BBQs and two dressage competitions and provided me with a bit more height and comfort than I would otherwise have had even if I do have to share it with my littlest four legged sister sometimes. Top tip – get yourself a booster cushion and take it EVERYWHERE.

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It took me nearly a week to crack sleeping and not waking up with my back aching and the muscles in my tummy hurting.  I just couldn’t be comfortable either lying flat or with my upper body raised by pillows (trying to mimic a hospital bed).  The groundbreaking moment was when I realised I could lie flat on my back with my legs bent up in front of me and it wasn’t breaking any of my hip precautions.  I have always slept best when curled up in the fetal position, having my legs bent gives me a small feel of that.  The whole thing about sleeping flat on your back is that nothing is going to move while you are asleep in that position so my concern was that in my new position something would move and I’d be at risk of dislocation.  The ultimate solution was a pyramid of pillows that my boyfriend creates which means I have some flexibility to bend or straighten my legs but they can’t move outwards and I am pretty secure.  Not only that but I can sleep!  Not all night, not seamlessly but it is so much better.  It might not work for everyone but it works for me so top tip – pillow supports!

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Wednesday 4th was my first shower in two weeks.  Luckily I already had a shower stool (ironically from a previous relationship) which I have kept for about six years on the off chance that someday I would need it myself!  Fitting me and the stool into the shower cubicle and being able to close the door was one challenge, the next was being able to access the many lotions and potions that edge the shower tray.  Before I turned the shower on, I had a practise run of picking up the shampoo with my litter picker which was quite successful – it was a rather different story with the shower on!  Luckily super mum had ordered a little basket to stick on the side of my shower and it arrived in time for Thursday’s shower number two.  No need to try to pick things up off the floor – trust me, even with a litter picker, picking things off the floor in a confined wet space without twisting or bending is basically impossible!  Top tip – shower basket!

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Before my operation my lovely boyfriend made a new hutch for Peter and Percy, my two year old guinea pigs.  They needed a new hutch because a. I had to put a false floor in their old bedroom because it was falling apart and b. they were having wet floor issues every time it rained.  When we were deciding what the new one would be like, I asked if it could be off the ground – not just slightly, properly!  What he made was not only beautiful and functional but has also meant that I have been able to muck my guinea pigs out myself since I left hospital.  It does a lot for my head knowing that I can do some things independently.  Top tip – arrange things at standing height.

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When my sister came to visit me in hospital (An Even Bigger Day!) one of my goodie bag presents was a sparkly unicorn cup with a screw on top and a straw.  This was amazing for the first week when pretty much everytime I moved I knocked something over – drink in a glass would have been lethal.  In addition to this I have never been that good at drinking but it was an important part of my initial recovery and having one particular thing to drink from really helped to measure how much I was drinking.  Now that I am hobbling round the house on one crutch I can carry my cup around – a spillable glass would still be a bad idea, I’m stable but I’m not that stable!  Quite aside from the practicalities of it, pink, sparkles and unicorns is pretty good for my mood!  It is the simple thing that make such a difference.  Top tip – get yourself a sippy cup!

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I hope these tips help anyone who has had or is getting a hip replacement, if anyone has anything to add I would love to hear it!

The New ‘Normal’

Now that I am back in my own environment I am starting to get into the swing of a new routine.  My daily routine now revolves around my drug times and exercises.  I have written everything I need to take and do all down on a whiteboard in the hope that I can keep myself topped up with pain relief and spread out the physical demands on my body through the day.  My mum went to get me a drug organiser so I spent a good half an hour decanting the various drugs I am on into the little plastic cupboards.  I love a good bit of organisation and at least that way it is easier to keep track of what I am taking.  My exercises are hard work.  When I did them before the operation I could do the standing ones at work or whilst brushing my teeth, now I need to build up to each set and then have a good rest afterwards.

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The biggest challenge I am facing is that I am just so tired.  I went back to sleep this morning after one lot of drugs, woke up a few hours later and went back to sleep again.  I know my body is trying to cope with upheaval but as well as everything being so much effort because of my pain, stiffness and hip precautions, I literally feel like I could fall asleep at any moment.

I am almost too tired to be frustrated at how little I can do.  Mum helped me loads this morning by unpacking my hospital bags (and putting everything back where I told her it belonged) and setting me up for my ‘stagnant shower’ (new name for a strip wash – essentially scrubbing myself raw using soapy water from the sink and getting it all over the bathroom!)  She also washed my hair over the bath for me which felt so good and washed my lower legs and feet before putting my DVT socks back on.  It took pretty much all morning to get up and get ready for the day.  I hate being so dependent but equally I am so lucky that I have got the support I do.  I’m hoping I can get some energy back and will then be a bit safer to be more independent.  I’m too wobbly to do the stairs or basically any moving without someone close enough to save me if I need saving!

I really haven’t got my appetite back yet.  I don’t know if it is because I am so sendentary or because of the anaesthetic and drugs but I don’t really fancy anything and what I am eating just doesn’t taste normal.  I have never been a food orientated person but with so little else going on in my day, it would be nice to enjoy meals and if I’m not careful, my mum’s homemade chocolate cake will be gone before I’ve had any!  I know I have to eat as it is important for my recovery so I am.. it is just hard work!

I hope I don’t sound like I am moaning (although I’m pretty sure I am).  I haven’t forgotten I am very lucky to have had this operation in the first place, or how lucky I am to be so supported.  I am lucky to have a comfy chair to sit in and a little dog and guinea pigs to keep me entertained from my seat.  I am going to go to the yard to see Pea later when my chauffeur gets home from work which should cheer me up and I’m hoping that I can start enjoying some visitors before long.  Not sure how I would be coping without this outlet for my feelings.

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Self Preservation And Perspective

Today I went for my hip education appointment at Southmead.  Myself and eleven other people (all, I would say, at least thirty years older than me) listened to the advice of a nurse and occupational therapists about what we need to do to prepare for our operations and what precautions we will have to follow afterwards.  Although I have read the booklet, looked at the pictures and endured my OH’s demonstrations of what HE has learnt from the booklet, it hadn’t quite hit home how tricky everyday activities are if you stick to the precautions.  Which I am going to do.  A good recovery is going to be absolutely crucial to getting the best I can out of this hip for as long as I possibly can.  Usually I live life at speed, I always have more to do than I can fit into my days.  It sounds like by the time I have got out of bed, managed to shower and dress myself it will be time to go back to bed!  Speaking of getting dressed, I now have a long shoe horn, a special sock ‘putter onner’ and what is essentially a litter picker – I think I’ve got a lot of practising to do in the next two weeks!

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After the talks and demonstrations we each had a short meeting with an OT to go through measurements of furniture and other information relating to home set ups.  We established that

  • My bed is too low so I am going to be provided with risers for it.
  • We are going to have to swap sides of the bed – just one of the many habits I will have to change and one that my boyfriend is certainly not going to like!
  • The sofa just isn’t going to work as my recover chair – I’m on the look out for an ‘old people’s home’ style armchair with a seat height of 47cm!
  • The toilets are too low (no surprise there) so I am going to be sent toilet risers
  • I shouldn’t drive for six weeks

Very crucially though – I am lucky.  I have a shower cubicle (people with showers over the bath aren’t allowed to use them for three months).  I also have a boyfriend who will feed me and help me in any way I need, I have parents who are coming to stay in the area for six weeks and I have friends who will make sure my pony is ok amongst other things!  Compared to the woman who has had two months notice that she needs a hip op, has a daughter with leukaemia and a three year old grand child who she looks after (and only a shower over a bath) I am VERY lucky and that hasn’t escaped me.

However lucky I feel, it hasn’t been a great week.  I have had one of those fluey colds, the kind I have had a million times over but rather than my usual ‘crack on’ attitude.  I’ve gone into self preservation mode.  I need to get over this cold quick.  I haven’t had time off work but I have rested, taken pills, wrapped up warm and not physically exerted myself which means next to no riding.  Pea has pretty much become a field pony and it shows.  She has got a major grass baby belly!  Again, I am lucky though, she loves being a wild herd pony.  Thank goodness I don’t have a sensitive stabled beast that needs riding all the time!  My leg pain has been worse because I’ve been all achy and rubbish.. not how I wanted to spend one of my last weeks.  I feel like I might actually be learning how to look after myself though, rather than just overdoing it like usual.  A lesson learnt just in time!

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In other news, even my guinea pigs are prepping for the changes ahead – they’ve got a new feeder that refills for a few days – one small thing to worry about less often!

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