Things I Didn’t Know Then But I Know Now (One Year)

There are a lot of things that I have realised since my op that either no one told me or I didn’t realise before.  Obviously not all of them would be relevant to everyone’s THR recovery but they were certainly relevant to me!  Obviously I’m not a medical professional either but this was my experience!  I started writing this post just after my hip replacement and there has been plenty to add to it since.

The Hospital Stage

  • A general anaesthetic can make you puke.  Lots.  I should have known this but when it happened I was completely mentally unprepared.  Since I’ve spent the last 10+ years successfully avoiding being sick, it wasn’t great.
  • I had to have an oxygen tube to start with. This surprised me!
  • The whole puking thing also meant I didn’t want to eat because I knew it wouldn’t stay down long.

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  • I got painted in red antiseptic which made me wake up and think I had something wrong with me.
  • I was really swollen near the incision.
  • Regardless of what I was told before my op, I still had to wait two weeks to shower.
  • The car journey home felt like the worst rollercoaster I’d ever been on!

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The Early Stages

  • Anti-embolism socks made my heels sore.  I used cotton pads on my heels which helped (although it is not medically recommended).  Someone moisturising my feet helped even more!
  • I completely lost my appetite.
  • Whatever I was told before my operation, regardless of having a raised toilet seat, I could find NO way to go to the toilet without breaking my 90 degree bend restriction.  Sorry.
  • I got SO tired.  Doing basically nothing.  But I couldn’t necessarily sleep at night because it was just so uncomfortable lying flat on my back.

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  • As well as being tired, my brain was generally very fuzzy (probably the painkillers).
  • When I went out in the sun I had a fair few faint moments (woops!)
  • My scar pulled the skin around it tight, making a bit of a crater in my flesh!  This happened a little bit with my original scar from my childhood operations but it has been far more significant with my hip replacement scar.

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  • I had to repeatedly explain why I had had a hip replacement!

The “Crutch Free” Stage

  • Post op. walking was not walking.  It was a funny cross between shuffling and marching.

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  • When I was still on bending restrictions but with the crutches and socks gone, everyone else thought that I was fully recovered.
  • Or rather, most people thought I was fully recovered APART from the people who saw me carrying around a pillow so that I could sit down without breaking the aforementioned restrictions.

The Later Stages

  • Little things reminded me that I had a false hip but everyone else had forgotten it even happened.
  • I started to want to do things that I never planned to do!  The perfect example being my decision to run again.
  • I keep discovering things which are a hundred times less painful than they were before I had my new hip – no stirrups riding anyone?

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‘Go And Live Your Life’ – Three Month Check Up

‘Go and live your life’ were the words uttered by one of my surgeon’s team on Monday when I went for my follow up appointment.  I had been sent straight to X-ray when I arrived and once that was done I went to Trauma and Orthopaedics for my appointment. I was slightly sad that I didn’t get to see my surgeon but I guess his work is done! Anyway, the doctor said that my X-ray looked PERFECT, that people like me are the reason they do hip replacements on young people and that now I can go and live my life (as long as my life includes lots of physio) – it couldn’t have been much better than that!

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I asked her to measure my legs to see if I am even now or whether I am still shorter on the left. She said my ‘true’ measurement is equal but my ‘apparent’ shows I am still shorter on the left which could be due to wonkiness in my spine, pelvis or just due to my muscles. Either way it sounds like it is better than it was before!

I now won’t be seen until June 2019 but finally I can feel confident that things are ok on the inside in terms of my bone/ceramic! Time to get on with my life!

Totally Hands Free And Tall!

Today marks FIVE days of being completely crutch free.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to maintain it so I am very proud of myself for keeping it up and the slightly scary thing is that my step count has not gone down!  I’ve walked around the farm at my old place of work and been to visit a friend’s new livery yard as well as walking to work and at my yard so I’ve tackled a range of terrain too!

It hasn’t been easy.  I have to concentrate on every single step and I feel like I am walking quite stiffly.  I have been getting tired as the days have gone on but I haven’t got to the hobbling stage so it isn’t too bad.  I had a bit of a scare today – I did a funny step on the pavement walking home from work and it felt like my hip tried to pop out..  It didn’t pop out so the muscles must be good but I’m a bit worried now – I think a call to the physio is in order to check that everything sounds ok.  I’m not sure whether I am trying to do too much.

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The other revelation this week is that common opinion suggests I am taller since my operation!  I saw friends from my old job (who I haven’t seen since my operation) and everyone thought I was taller.  I’m not sure whether that is as a result of my slightly lengthened left leg or whether it is because I am walking straighter and not sticking my bum out so much!  Either way the longer leg and the straighter walking are good things – I can’t wait to try out my leg and altered seat on Pea in a few weeks time.  Here’s a hint of my old leg wonkiness in pictorial form!

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I am seeing the physio on the 28th and I am going to ask her what she thinks of me riding again.  If she says yes I’ll do it – I feel ready at the moment but I just don’t want to risk undoing all the hard work and I am still on hip precaution restrictions.  If she says to wait until 12 weeks then so be it, I’m hoping to have many more years of riding left!  For now I’m spending more and more time looking back through pictures of me riding.  I made this collage for the two year anniversary of owning Pea – I hope that by January I’ll have plenty to add to document my third year of pony ownership!

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Week Six – (Partial) Freedom

Lets just take a look at this picture for a minute.

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That’s right, no socks and no crutch – you would almost be forgiven for thinking that this is a pre hip replacement picture.. except for the fact that I have the most fantastically brown knees and the whitest shins!  And I’m wearing a dress at the yard still.

Let’s not get too excited.  I am 100% sock free but I am not 100% crutch free.   I was so panicked in Week Five – Owning My Own Recovery, thinking I would not be able to walk by the six week mark but things have steadily improved since then.  I went from standing on my left leg, to doing tiny steps across the room to being able to walk across the yard or the field.  Yesterday it was six weeks since my operation and my physio okayed me to walk unaided when I feel I am walking properly (or as properly as I can) but advised me to use my crutch when I am feeling stiff or tired.  I know all too well the damage caused by walking incorrectly so I am quite accepting of this.  I don’t want to hobble and limp around and do myself more harm than good.

My physio is pleased with how I am doing, particularly my ‘normal person’ stair climbing.  She has given me a few extra exercises to do to continue to build my left leg strength and suggested I try cycling since due to the other medical situation of this week (see here) I am not allowed to swim at the moment.  There is quite a big part of me that thinks I’m more likely to fall off a bike than Pea but I’m adamant not to ride her until I can get her in from the field and do all the pre and post ride pony care stuff myself.  I’ll let you know how cycling goes when I give it a try!

Being six weeks post op also means I’m allowed to sleep on my side (although I am playing it safe with a pillow between my knees).  I cannot describe the difference it makes to have bare legs and be able to curl my legs up on my side in bed.  The weeks of dreading going to bed are OVER!

In other news, I drove for the first time today.  I’m fine.  My leg is fine.  I may have given my boyfriend whiplash from practising my emergency stops!  I didn’t go on the road today, just the track to and next to the yard, but I’m confident that I am road ready now!

The toughest six weeks are out of the way, I can now carefully negotiate what I am calling part two of my recovery.  Pea seemed to genuinely notice that I wasn’t wearing my socks, I’m hoping I’ve got plenty more surprises in store for her in the next few weeks!

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VIP – One For The Girls

I try to keep my blog on focus – my hip and horses.  Today I’m going to talk about cervical screening.  I’ll try not to go into too much detail, I’m not going to be gross but this is something I feel passionate about and if I can make just ONE person listen to me on this subject, it will have been worth writing.

First, a fact: cervical screening (or smear testing if that’s what you want to call it) is offered FREE on the NHS to 25-49 year olds every 3 years (and less frequently for older women).  Not only that but follow ups and treatment are also free, should you need it.

In 2009, school girls in the UK up to the age of 18 were offered the HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer.  I was in the right age bracket and I had the series of jabs.  In the same year, the very sad passing of Jade Goody was well publicised in the media and as a result of this, smear test attendance nationally went up.  When you are 18, 25 seems a long way away and having had the vaccine, I never thought I would have an issue.

Last year I turned 25, I had my letter, I rang the GP, I booked a convenient evening appointment which wouldn’t affect work and I went for my cervical screening.  Having spoken to a few people about it beforehand I was expecting it to be a traumatic experience.  I can honestly say it was fine – yes, mild discomfort for a tiny amount of time but really fine.  I was pretty sure that that would be the end of that for another three years.

A letter in the post a few weeks later told me I had to have a colposcopy to further investigate my cervical cells – this time at the hospital.  I won’t lie, I was completely freaked out and pretty nervous about the whole thing.  My friend took me so that I had some pre and post appointment moral support but the whole experience was nothing like what my brain had built it up to be.  If you think of American TV shows that feature gyno visits, they are pretty bang on (on your back, legs in ‘stirrups’!)  I had a specialist nurse doing the procedure, a further nurse helping her and then another one stood by my head chatting to me and making sure I was ok.  Again, slight discomfort, took no time at all, minimal after effects.  And again I was sure that would be the end of that.

The letter in the post diagnosed CIN 1 abnormal cells which means unlikely/mild risk of developing cervical cancer.  No further treatment was needed, it said the abnormalities should go away by themselves but I would be invited back for a cervical screening in a year rather than three, just to make sure.

This year, aged 26, I got another letter.  It was just as easy to book my cervical screening appointment, it was just as convenient time wise and it was the most insignificant doctors appointment I have ever had.  I’m pretty sure when the nurse was done I said ‘was that it?’  Obviously a colposcopy is a bit more of a big deal than a basic smear and I think I had forgotten how quick and simple it was.  I was fairly sure that the abnormalities from last year would be gone and that I wouldn’t have any come back this year.

The letter inviting me for another colposcopy came three weeks before my hip replacement date.  Cue major panic.  Judging by normal appointment wait times, I wouldn’t be able to have it before my operation.  A quick phone call later, the team at Cheltenham General booked me in for an emergency appointment in a weeks time, before their clinic actually opened.  That’s right, they essentially made an exception for me in order to get it sorted – if that doesn’t show how important this stuff is, I don’t know what does!

This time I wasn’t worried, I went on my own and went straight to work afterwards.  I had the same team for my second colposcopy, it was quick, simple and fine.  The longest part of the appointment was sharing my concern with the specialist that I was in the same position a second time in the space of a year.  She said that the likelihood was that stress had stopped my body from kicking the issue and that’s why I was still in that position.  When I look at the year, a full time teaching job then moving jobs, houses and yards, getting put on the list for a hip replacement and moving jobs, houses and yards again is probably enough to consider the year stressful!  It has certainly made me think about my health when considering my future ventures.  The specialist said that if my cells were mildly abnormal this time they would be left for another year and if they were still there then, they would be removed.

In the early stages of hip replacement recovery, I got another letter.  This time the letter in the post diagnosed CIN 2 which means moderately abnormal cells.  Not only had the risk not disappeared but it had increased.  The letter told me I needed to have the cells removed and gave me an appointment date for mid July – less than a month after my hip surgery.  It was quite clear that getting these cells removed was a sooner the better kind of situation.  I checked with both my physio and my consultant (poor guy, he wants to know about my hip not my cervix!) about the logistics of getting in a position to have the procedure (American TV show style) which wasn’t deemed to be a problem.  Unfortunately, I would still be on blood thinners in mid July so my appointment was pushed back two weeks.

Today I had the abnormal cells removed.  I had the same team as I had for my colposcopys, the format of the appointment was the same and the only difference was that instead of taking biopsys of my cells, they were being removed.  I had Loop Diathermy (LLETZ) treatment which involves having a local anaesthetic in the relevant area (which I did NOT feel) and then having the cells removed using a thin wire loop which is heated with an electric current.  Sounds not particularly nice but again, mild discomfort was the extent of what I felt.  The worst part of the appointment was being told I probably shouldn’t go to work for a few days and that I might have bleeding for quite a few weeks.  Some studies say that having abnormal cells removed can lead to a slight increase in having a premature baby and others say that can be the case if you have ever had any pre-cancerous changes in the cervix.  I can’t really comment on the after affects of the treatment as I only had it today apart from feeling a bit lightheaded directly afterwards and the expected tummy soreness etc.  I can’t predict whether this will be the end of my dealings with the lovely ladies at the colposcopy clinic in Cheltenham, fingers crossed for my results letter in five weeks time and my next screening in six months!

Why have I written a thousand words about the adventures of my poor cervix I hear you cry!  Simply because the ‘Jade Goody effect’ is long gone.  So many people, friends, mums of friends and obviously many many strangers, don’t go to cervical screening appointments when they are invited.  People even ring the hospital clinic to refuse treatment of their abnormal cells!  Here is my plea.

If/when you are invited, go.

  • A few moments of awkwardness/discomfort/bleeding is nothing compared to what you would have to go through if you developed cervical cancer.
  • If you are old enough to legally let a male (or female) near your private parts, you are old enough to let a nurse!
  • The horror stories aren’t all true, the equipment used these days has improved significantly since screening was introduced.
  • You will generally be well informed about what to expect and can therefore mentally prepare yourself. With each letter and appointment I have had leaflets about what to expect.
  • The appointments are quick and easy, the NHS want you to attend so they make it as easy for you as they can.
  • Set a good example for your friends/Mum/sister/daughter. You may never have an issue but you might be saving their life by getting them to go.
  • Not all cancers can be predicted or tested for in this way. If you can do something to reduce the risk of getting cancer, why wouldn’t you?

If anyone has any questions about anything I have written or actually wants to know the gory details so that they know what to expect, contact me .  Like I said, if I can help one person, writing this has been worth it.

Finally, whether you are pre smear or having further investigations, don’t google it.

www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk/cervical

www.jostrust.org.uk

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Week Five – Owning My Own Recovery

I wasn’t going to do a five week update as all the important next steps are earmarked for the six week mark HOWEVER this blog wouldn’t accurately document my journey if I missed out the feelings of this week.

Up until this point I have been really pleased with my progress, the op went well, the wound is good, the physio is going well, everything has been getting easier and I have pretty much smashed all of the goals set out for me in the generic hip replacement document and those I have set for myself.  That is until this week.  I have been panicking about the fact that six weeks should be the point at which I can walk unaided but I can’t see how that is going to be possible.  I can speed along with two crutches or one as long as I’m not tired, I am walking 2-4km a day but when I try to take a step unaided, I just can’t keep my right leg (my good leg) off the ground for enough time to take proper steps.  I just can’t do it.

My boyfriend has reminded me that in the space of a week (last week) I went from lying on my side and not being able to lift my left leg off the other one at all to being able to lift it right up several times.  My mum said that it doesn’t matter how many weeks I am on crutches, my brain will let me walk when my body is ready.  My top visitor Rachel (from My Last Week Of Pony Freedom), who has visited me every other week since my operation, said that it is just like when you are running up a sand dune; you start off with good forward momentum and then at some point it gets hard-going but you can work through it and get to the top eventually.

All this, and reading people’s words on the Facebook support group, reminded me that this is my journey and that each hip replacement recovery is individual.  It doesn’t really matter what it says in the book, it doesn’t really matter what other people do.  I desperately want to walk next week, I even had a dream last night that I could, but if I can’t, it is not the end of the world.

At the school I used to work at we used to talk about the children owning their own behaviour (essentially taking responsibility for their own actions and not getting bogged down in what other people are doing).  I have decided to embrace my own journey and own my own recovery!

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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!

Thank You NHS!

Today is the 70th birthday of the NHS and I don’t feel I can let it pass without some acknowledgement for how the NHS has helped me.  I’m not here to get political (I don’t know enough to do that) I’m here to show my appreciation.

Whilst on the waiting list for my hip replacement I looked into the costs of private surgery which are just not realistic for normal people.  I feel so lucky to be living in a country with the opportunity to have surgery on the NHS.

The surgery I had as a child was never going to make my leg perfect, or give me the same physical abilities and opportunities as my peers but I was told that it was going to make it better than it would have been without the surgery.  Similarly, I could have struggled on without having the hip replacement but I know that once I have recovered, my life will be so much better for it.  I actually can’t imagine how frustrating my life would have been if these opportunities hadn’t been offered to me on the NHS.

Quite aside from me, even just in my closest family, my mum had four children under NHS care, my sister is an NHS midwife, my nephew was born under NHS care, we’ve had vaccinations and (some of us) physiotherapy and cervical and breast screenings on the NHS.  None of these things are insignificant.  If it wasn’t for the NHS care my dad received when he was rushed to hospital critically ill nearly two years ago, he wouldn’t have made our family Christmas walk that year (pictured below) and he certainly wouldn’t have made his birthday which we celebrated on Tuesday.  As well as that, I can’t even count the many other friends and family who have been well served by the NHS due to motorbike accidents, heart conditions, riding accidents, cancer and so much more.

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Everyone knows that the NHS are stretched.  Even in the beautiful new facility at Southmead it was clear that though their wonderful staff were giving all they could, each body was required to do the equivalent work of many.  Nevertheless, I wouldn’t complain.  I couldn’t complain!  We all owe a lot to those people – I know I couldn’t do their jobs!

On the radio the other day they were talking to a 93 year old man who still has the same left hip that the NHS gave him 70 years ago.  If mine lasts even half that long I will be over the moon!  Even if it doesn’t, I’ve got lots to thank the NHS for.

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The Highs And Lows Of Week One

I can’t actually believe it has been a week since I had my hip replacement.  Sometimes I think the days are speeding past but other times it feels like time is moving so slowly.  I feel really positive about some of the progress I have made and I have exceeded my own expectations in some ways.  In others I feel like I am going nowhere and I am worried about whether I am going to achieve the goals I have set for myself or whether I have been far too ambitious.

One of the biggest highs of this week has been the outpourings of support and encouragement I have received in such a variety of ways.  I have had lots of cards (some of which have genuinely made me well up) and my window sills and tables are covered with beautiful summery bunches of flowers that remind me of the beautiful outside world during the many hours when I am too tired to be out there.  Top tip for anyone having a hip replacement is to get some vases – we are using a teapot, pint glasses, a tankard and a biscuit tin!  The messages from friends, family, acquaintances and new online connections have helped to keep me sane and levelled at a time when I feel like I could easily have completely lost the plot.  I have seen the full contingent of my siblings and my mum has been an absolute godsend.  If I didn’t have her to help me get sorted in the morning and to take the pressure off my boyfriend, I don’t know what I would do.  He is doing an amazing job and gets the worst of me (morning and evening), it can’t be easy being at work all day and coming home to this!

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The other high has been being able to go to the yard every day.  I knew this was what I wanted to do and what I intended to do but I never actually expected to be able to manage it!  Obviously this is all down to my super chauffeurs but I cannot underestimate the healing power of breathing in that familiar horsey smell and putting my arms round that fat cobby neck!  If I can keep up my horsey fix I know it is going to help keep the frustration of not being able to ride at bay.

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Another high has been the progress I have made since my operation.  Considering on day one I wasn’t allowed to move and by the end of day two I had gone up stairs and been signed off from hospital physio, I have done really well.  I couldn’t drag my leg across the bed unattended and now I can lift it up and move it outwards.  My muscles are getting less stiff, my leg is starting to feel like my own and I am moving in the right direction.  I had physio at the local hospital today and she was pretty impressed with how I’m doing so it is onwards and upwards with my exercises.

The lows of hospital were documented in The Big Day and An Even Bigger Day!  I am so relieved to be away from the bedpan drama, the sickness and the out of control pain.  I am glad that I hadn’t realised that I wouldn’t be up and using the toilet the day of my operation and I’m glad I hadn’t thought of the sickness.  I think I would have felt far less positive going into the operation if I had known what the first 48 hours was actually going to be like!

I talked about my first home based down day in The New ‘Normal’.  I tried to roll with my feelings during the day but it all came out when I hit the keyboard!  Yesterday was another down day.  After having a good few days of visitors and starting to feel more and more normal with everything becoming easier and easier, I had a rubbish night’s sleep, I was late on my first painkillers, I felt sick when I got up and then things didn’t get much better later.  My visit to the yard resulted in a major dizzy, nausea moment – a blinding fog came over my head.  I didn’t actually faint but if it wasn’t for my mum and the YO sticking a chair under me and a drink in my hand I would have.  I think it was too hot, too much standing, I hadn’t done much walking but evidently hadn’t quite got the balance right.  I ended up having a two hour sleep to recover which my mum decided to photograph (nothing quite like showing the reality of the situation!) Little things like spilling apple juice all over me, my dress, my blanket and my chair in the afternoon was just the icing on the cake of another frustrating day.

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Although one of my highs was how much progress I have made in terms of my hip, one of the lows of this week has been how slowly I feel like I am progressing in terms of my energy.  I feel so tired and every small activity completely knocks me out.  Each time I think I have some energy or I think it is a good day, it quickly turns into a tired day.  I’m not getting enough quality sleep to get me through the day but I am assuming that the anaesthetic and drugs aren’t helping either.  I don’t want to plateau and I want to do more walking (which I should be doing), I just need to get past this energy block.

Hopefully by this time next week I will be less tired, eating proper meals, walking more than once a day without crashing and.. excitingly, I will have had my wound checked and will have the all clear from everyone to shower!  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Adjustments, Improvements And Paranoia

The last time I blogged I was feeling what can only be described as the ‘post op blues’.  The fantastic community on the Hip Replacement for Active People group on Facebook which was started by Avril from https://avrilsjourney.com/ confirmed that it is completely normal to feel really rubbish for the first few days.  It has been so reassuring to be able to hear from other people who have come out the other side of a hip replacement.  Top advice was to get outside, make small plans, focus on eating and sleeping and to get stuck into mindless TV until I can focus on reading and writing (which is what I really want to be doing!)

I’m not doing too bad.  Each day since I have been back from hospital I have been down to the yard to see Pea which involves a bit of walking, fresh air, sunshine and some refreshing human and animal contact.  It is really hard to see other people riding Pea, untacking her, washing her, taking her to the field and all of that stuff that I can’t do but I appreciate so much that she is being looked after and getting exercise. I am immensely grateful for everyone at the yard that is doing that.

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I have had my first proper visitors; my little (not very little) brother and his girlfriend.  As top blog readers I didn’t have to start at the beginning of the journey I have been on since Tuesday because they already knew what had been going on!  It was lovely to get out of my head for a while and to be able to talk about other things.  I’ve got more visitors due this week along with a BBQ to go to tonight and a dressage competition to watch on Wednesday.  It is definitely helping to have stuff going on!

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Eating has certainly started getting easier though I’ve still got a long way to go.  Two pizza slices and some carrot and cucumber at Saturday lunch felt like the biggest achievement ever!  Two Weetabix this morning was the next.  Those of you who know me know that at least six Weetabix each morning is my life blood so I’m definitely not there yet but I am moving in the right direction.

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Sleep is still an area that I am finding quite distressing.  I have always been a pretty good sleeper, I could curl up in a ball in the corner of a stable if I had to and would probably sleep all night.  Sleeping flat on my back with my legs straight is not proving to be conducive to a whole night of sleep or comfort when I wake up.  I have tried a variety of pillow formations to sit me up more or support me more but nothing seems to be working so far.  I have been waking up with back ache and a tight tummy.  If anyone has any bright ideas that would be amazing.  Now that I am a lot less sleepy in the day I really need to sleep at night!

I am not usually a big TV watcher, curling up on the sofa for a bit of evening TV is one thing but on the advice of the hip replacement community, I have allowed myself to mindlessly get lost in TV when I don’t have visitors or when I am not going anywhere.  Love Island was a standard anyway but my boyfriend and I have got several series deep in The Walking Dead (not sure how well that will go with sleep) and I’m finding things like Cops UK: Bodycam Squad and GPs: Behind Closed Doors sufficiently mindless.  I’m starting to feel more and more mentally with it so reading and writing is next on my list.

Although I am feeling less drowsy and a little more positive, the next stage of mental recovery has hit hard.  I’m calling it the paranoia stage.  For a few days I have been panicking that my left leg is now lots longer than my right.  It was 1.5cms shorter before, they said they had made up some length but that it still might be short but to me it just feels like it looks longer.  I obviously won’t know for sure until my muscles are more normal, the implant is settled (ouch) and I can stand properly but I am struggling to get it out of my head.  I am fully aware that my legs are never going to be the same length and that regardless of leg length this operation is going to have done wonderful things for me but in my illogical head I would rather I was still short on the left than wonked the other way.  Don’t know why, can’t explain it, just another thing for my brain to worry about.

The other source of paranoia is my wound.  I haven’t been actually showering, just my ‘stagnant showers’ in front of the basin but I can’t get out of my head what the HCA said about infection getting into my wound and going straight to where the metal is.  Every time I splash water too vigorously and water goes on my thigh or the dressing I go into supreme panic mode.  I think part of it is that for the first few days my wound was numb but now I’ve got that old familiar ITCHY feeling of the skin and flesh knitting back together (sorry for the mental image on that one!)  When I think clearly I don’t think anything bad is happening to it, I have vague memories of my wound healing up when I was a child and it feels just like those memories.  I can’t help but worry though.  I wish I could see what is going on under the big dressing.  In case you are interested, the bottom half of the dressing is covering my old scar.  On Tuesday they opened up the top of it and carried on up from there.  If you don’t want to see some exposed flesh, look away now!

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