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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The Four Week Itch

I can’t believe four weeks have passed since my operation!  I have had quite a busy week and I feel physically tired in the old familiar way I used to before my operation (although from a lot less activity!)

When I wrote my week three blog, I aimed to get more secure using one crutch, which I have but I am still using two for proper walking.  If I wasn’t doing very much I think I would be fine on one but I have spent a lot more time at the yard and doing other things which involve lots of standing around and walking and my leg gets tired quickly. When it is tired I can’t walk properly with one crutch, I guess it is just not time yet.

I am now able to walk up the stairs normally, just holding onto the hand rail which is amazing.  I take my crutch with me and put it on the steps my left leg goes on but that is only really because I need it when I get back onto the flat!

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The big aim this week was to get back to work.  I have done several tutoring sessions and one full day back at the shop where I work.  Everyone has been very understanding and considerate and it has all gone really well.  I did have a major brain fuzz when I was first in the shop but I soon remembered what I was doing! It isn’t going to help my tiredness but I need the money!

Another change this week has been that I have started to forget that I am on crutches.  Sometimes I find myself standing up and then realising I have to sit back down to get a crutch otherwise I can’t go anywhere!  As long as I don’t have to go very far there are some things I can do crutch free.. this morning I had a proper standing up shower (without the shower stool) and managed to get in and out without a crutch, I am also pretty good at grooming and tacking up with as little movement as possible!

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Things ARE still moving forwards but I’m feeling more and more frustrated that I still have two more weeks before things really change.  I still have to wait two more weeks until I have my next physio session and can (in theory) ditch the crutches, ditch the anti-embolism stockings, start sleeping on my side and start driving.  My parents will also be going back home to Devon in two weeks which is going to be a massive change for me.  My mum has done SO much for me and aside from the fact that she is helping, it has been so lovely to have them close by for a change and spending some time together with our patchy pets.

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I am predicting that the next two weeks are going to be quite tough, I am working a few days a week and resuming my normal tutoring schedule as well as spending more time at the yard and trying to continue to progress.  Mentally, the tricky thing is that I also feel a bit like being four weeks down the line means I should be just cracking on with life and that I shouldn’t still be all about the hip  anymore.  I don’t want to bore people, I don’t want to be a broken record but my recovery is the big thing going on right now and it is pretty all consuming.

Week Three – My Brain Has Come Home!

Yesterday marked three weeks since my operation.  This week has whizzed by but it has been a good one in terms of progress.  I am feeling much more like myself which has allowed me to get back to some more normal activities like doing yard things and reading (though that is usually strictly a holiday activity) and some slightly alternative ones like watching football!

Aim one was to get off the codeine.  I haven’t taken any codeine this week and I have coped without it just fine!  I am still experiencing pain from my wound and pain when I do my exercises (particularly in my knee which the physio said she expected) but it is nothing anywhere near like what I was experiencing before.  I am still very tired but no longer feeling like something else is in charge of my moods.  It is not too bad being tired now that I’m able to sleep on the sofa (which Mum has been photographing again!)

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My second aim for this week was to progress to using only one crutch when around the house.  It is amazing how much more I have been able to do for myself since I have been doing this, I can actually carry things from room to room which means that when I am home alone, if I want to get food or a drink I can AND I can comfortably stand and do things unsupported (including taking advantage of Mum’s top cooking!)  Groundbreaking!  On Tuesday, I took the one crutch strategy to the next level, although my aim was to only do it in safe places, I went down to one crutch while I was at the yard so that I could hose off Pea (whilst my mum held her), sweat scrape her and clean and carry my tack..  Not sure it counts as necessarily a safe place but it made me feel good.  This morning I actually picked out her feet and put her bridle on, if I’d be given pony care goals for recovery I would be winging through them this week!

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Aim number three was to become more independent which I was and am still sure is the route to feeling more like myself.  In the last week I have been left unattended outside of my house by my mum and boyfriend (my top carers) on four occasions; at the pub with my friends, at Hartpury Festival of Dressage for 15 minutes while my boyfriend went to the garage, at the yard for a while and at a music concert at the school where I used to teach.  Totally aware that these don’t sound like grand achievements BUT I’ve always been a person who does my own thing so being able to do some normal activities was exactly what I needed.

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This week’s schedule of activities has thrown up a lot of feelings for me.  Going to the Hartpury Festival of Dressage gave me a massive boost of ambition.  I have always been an average person, average at school, average at uni, a very average swimmer, an average waterpolo player and, lets be honest, an under average rider!  I don’t have the benefit of riding all my life, nor have I had weekly lessons for all of the four years I have ridden and, awesome and bombproof as she is, Pea isn’t exactly a push button schoolmistress.  I have struggled with my confidence for nearly the whole time I have ridden (as I said in Riding – How It All Started) and if you add that to the fact my left leg basically did nothing it should have done and threw the rest of me out..  I have always been pretty hopeless.  Back in the day I wanted to do everything, showjumping, cross country, the lot.  I can’t put my finger on the point at which I decided that actually I like hacking around and I want to do dressage.  I’m not fussed about jumping, I know what I want.  I’m not saying I’m suddenly going to become the next Charlotte Dujardin but the combination of feeling like my leg might work in the future and watching people at the top of their game made me excited.  I keep watching this video of my last lesson which I edited together on one of my down days and thinking of all the ways I can improve on it!

Going back to the school where I taught for four years was another biggie.  A year ago I was preparing to move house, move yards, move to a new and exciting job.  Some of the parents whose children I used to teach weren’t aware of the roller coaster that I have been on for the last nine months and it is a bit of a weird one to explain.  Also apparently when you are on crutches and are wearing knee length hospital socks you are not meant to answer the question

‘How are you?’

or

‘Are you ok?’

with

‘I’m fine!’

I have no regrets about the journey I have been on, I wish that I hadn’t had to leave the job that I so enjoyed but moving back to the place I know and the place Pea is sorted was definitely the right decision.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about the past this week.  I’ve also done a lot of thinking about the future but very very short term! The aims for this week are to get more secure on one crutch outside of the house as well as in it, to develop my stair climbing and to get back to work!!  I had physio yesterday and I’ve got some more strengthening exercises to do, some of my muscles are very tight and overworking whilst others aren’t doing enough so I need to try to change that.  Walking on one crutch and stepping up the stairs in different ways is going to help.  I was initially told to do the stairs good leg up first going up and bad leg down first going down but the physio has told me to switch it up and I’m pretty sure with the help of the banister I’m going to be stair walking pretty normally by four week mark.  Getting back to work will help that as the shop I work in has some very steep steps!  I’m a bit worried about going back as I’m still sleeping in the day most days at the moment but unless somebody is going to hand me a winning lottery ticket, I need to do it!

 

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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Sleeping, Scoffing And Stepping Through Week Two

I did pretty well with week one (The Highs And Lows Of Week One), week two has been a little more challenging.  My goals for week two were to be less tired, eat proper meals, walk more and be allowed to shower.

I hoped that I would be less tired but what has actually happened is that I am just as tired but I am sleeping more.  Considering recovery is meant to be an uphill climb I felt a bit miffed to be going back to bed in the day on Friday (for the first time since I left hospital) although a. that had more to do with my dad watching tennis on TV downstairs and b. I felt much better for it!  I am following the old adage of ‘listening to my body’ and while I’m still drugged up, sleepy and not at work, I am resigned to the fact that whether I like it is not, I clearly need sleep so I should just do it.  It is still frustrating though, the simplest things knacker me out – yesterday I went to see my zebra pony for over-the-gate cuddles, cleaned my tack, was completely whacked and spent the rest of the afternoon asleep!

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I have completely smashed the eating thing.  I watched a few old episodes of Supersize vs Superskinny at the beginning of the week and seeing people munching down takeaways seemed to relight something in me!  I’ve had a Chinese takeaway, fish and chips and a meal out in the last week (and a whole host of much healthier things).

Walking more was another of my aims.  My ‘hip replacement bible’ booklet said to walk at least 100 yards for weeks one and two, progressing to at least a quarter of a mile from week two.  I think if I stuck to that my walking would be done just by trips to the toilet and my chair!  I have been averaging between one and two kilometres each day and it still feels like nothing!  Although it is more than the booklet says, I’m certainly not overdoing it on the walking.  Walking from the house to the car and from the yard to Pea’s field is fairly effortless racking up of steps.  In addition to doing a bit more walking, my physio gave me a few challenges to add to my normal hip exercises.  As well as doing my standing exercises with my ‘new leg’ she suggested I also do my standing exercises with my other leg while standing on the new one and gripping onto a sofa/chair/anything!  It feels very weird to be putting so much weight on it for so long but it actually feels ok.  What doesn’t feel good is using the ‘yellow band of pain’ (an elastic resistance band) for my hip abduction and bridging exercises.  This is definitely one of those ‘no pain no gain’ things!

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Today I went to the nurse so that she could take off my dressing and see whether I needed a new one put on or whether I could go bare and have a shower.  The dressing came off almost perfectly clean – a good sign.  The poor nurse then had to contend with the worlds largest collection of steri-strips.  She kept apologising as they were stuck very well and quite tricky to peel off but I couldn’t have minded less..  I was so excited!  She was really impressed with how neat the wound is and although there are still some scabby bits, gave me the all important news that tomorrow I can SHOWER!  She said I have to be careful of it, pat it dry and apply Vaseline to the wound afterwards but that I should be all good to keep it uncovered.  Before my operation, my surgeon told me that as he would be opening up the top of my old scar, he would try to neaten it up when he stitched it back together.  I said I didn’t really mind as to me a scar is a scar; it is a record of something you have been through and it is nothing to be ashamed of but he did what he said he would and it looks amazing!  Look away now if you don’t want to see it!

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One thing that I didn’t say I was going to do but I had decided to do was to start reducing my drugs, more specifically, my codeine.  In my discharge documents it said that I should take 30 or 60mg of codeine four times a day for two weeks.  For the first week I was taking 60mg four times a day without fail but I know what codeine is like and I don’t really want to be taking it for a long time.  Since Thursday I have been gradually reducing my doses and the pain still seems to be ok.  Fingers crossed I can kick the codeine completely this week.

On what I assume to be a related point to the drugs, my mood has been all over the place.  I have had some days where I have felt so rubbish with no real rhyme of reason to it but other days I feel good.  I think I’m being quite levelled and coping fairly well even when I feel completely down; I’m generally not screaming, shouting, crying, lashing out or anything like that, I am just quiet and flat.  It is horrible to feel so down when actually I’m on the mend, I’ve got fantastic support around me and I should be feeling good.  I feel a bit like I can’t control how I feel which is not nice (being such a control freak myself!)  I am hopeful that once the horrible drugs are out of my system I’ll start feeling a bit more in control.

I was told that the first two weeks would be the rubbish ones.  Although week one started off horribly, it improved massively whereas week two has been a bit more of a plateau.  I have high hopes for week three!  Firstly I’m aiming to get off the sleep inducing, mood altering codeine.  My second week three aim is to progress to using one crutch around the house and in safe places as I am now pretty stable and putting a fair amount of weight on my left leg.  With one hand free, this will also help with aim three which is to be a bit more independent; if I can prove that I am safe to do things myself and stop getting so tired, I might have a bit more freedom!  When I was at university we had the catch phrase of being ‘strong, independent women’ – I’m not feeling strong or independent at the moment but hopefully I will be soon!

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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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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Home Sweet Home

I was so tired last night – not surprising really! I’m still reeling from my progress. I actually managed to sleep through until six o’clock this morning and then, after some much needed painkillers, back to sleep again until about eight. My family have always been ‘fresh air, exercise and sleep are the best healers’ kind of people as I totally stand by that.

I enjoyed my toast breakfast for the first time, the pain was managed and I didn’t feel sick AT ALL. I’m guessing that the anaesthetic or the morphine were responsible for the sickness and they’ve been kicked now. Such a massive relief.

The other young doctor (not the Scottish one) came to see me and told me that my X-ray looked great and so did my bloods. Felt rather smug actually! He said that from their point of view they were done with me too. I said I was worried that I was finding it hard to move my leg to the side when on the bed but he said that wasn’t a concern as I am allowed assistance to get me going and it is just because of the tissue affected when they went in. Ouch! He confirmed that they managed to do a ceramic implant in a ceramic socket which means they followed best case scenario plan A!

Although the doctor said I could have a shower when I went home, a healthcare assistant said absolutely not until my wound is properly healed as if steam lifts the dressing and anything gets into the wound I am in big trouble. I was allowed to give myself a wash in the bathroom this morning. It was a massive mission! With no one to help me, I had to somehow carry all my washing stuff, clothes and litter picker/‘helping hand’ into the bathroom and then negotiate the whole situation without dropping anything on the floor. Typically I managed to drop the ‘helping hand’ on the floor! It is a good job  I can pick things up with my right foot toes! For the first time I actually thought I would be better off at home now as I will have people around to make things like this a bit easier.

The nurse confirmed that once my drugs had come up from the pharmacy (and someone had come to pick me up) I could go home. Thankfully I don’t have to have the horrible tummy injections at home, I’ve got tablets instead to thin my blood. I don’t know who was more pleased, me or the boyfriend. When he arrived he did have to put a DVT stocking onto my bad leg though as apparently I should have had one there already! That was trust test number 1.

Trust test number 2 was wheeling me through the hospital and in and out of lifts and doors as carefully as he possibly could. Not a bad job. Trust test number 3 was somehow helping me into the truck without any bending or twisting followed closely by trust test number 4 – driving as smoothly as humanly possible which isn’t easy in a big truck. I told him to imagine he was towing precious Pea in the trailer! I could feel every bump in the road but aside from that the journey was pretty good.

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Home is where the horse is so first stop was to the yard to see Pea. It took me a million times longer to get across the yard than normal but it felt so good to be out in the fresh air, with all my usual people and animals. I played it safe and cuddled Pea over the stable door – the best therapy there is.

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Next stop was actual home where my parents had already settled in. They are staying nearby (but not in the house) for the next six weeks. Considering I had to be completely independent this morning, suddenly having two active fussing supporters (Mum and boyfriend) and one more stationary one (Dad) is a bit strange (though obviously I appreciate it!)

I am so pleased to be back home. I can tell I am going to find it frustrating to be back in my normal environment but in a completely abnormal situation. Once I have established my new drug and exercise routine I suppose I can establish a new ‘normal’. I shall just keep counting my chickens that it is all temporary and that things will get better.

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