Just Keep Swimming!

I actually feel amazing today, probably for the first time in a long time!  My wound has healed up really well into a pretty neat scar.  The horrible scabby, bumpy indented wound with the swollen, numb skin around it that I showed in Sleeping, Scoffing And Stepping Through Week Two is amazingly well healed.  I don’t think I even need to warn you not to look now.. unless you don’t want to see bare skin!

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My physio had okayed me to go swimming but I have been putting it off until my scar was good.  Today was the day.  As I mentioned in My Hip Journey So Far, swimming used to be a big part of my life and has been slightly pushed out by horses in the last few years.  Even so, every time I go, I love it.  This time last year I joined a team in an overnight 12 hour swimathon and racked up over three and a half miles of swimming in four sessions.  I hadn’t trained or prepared for it, it was knackering going through the night but it was amazing.  Today didn’t quite feel as triumphant but it was pretty good.

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Part of the reason I wanted to go swimming was to have a go at walking in the pool.  Although the resistance is greater in water, you are supported and it was so much easier to walk in the water (unattended) than it is on land.  I also did my standing exercises in the water and didn’t have to cling onto anything for support like I do normally.  Aside from all that, I swam, normally, just like I used to.  It felt incredible.  I also used my kick board to just do kick – with all this crutch work my arms don’t need anymore of a work out!  It would have been far too easy to overdo it but I made sure I didn’t do too much and I rested up and floated around the rest of the time!

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It is worth me mentioning that as amazing as the swimming was, getting changed and negotiating the wet changing rooms on crutches wasn’t easy.  Luckily I had my mum with me to help me with my stuff and to give and take away my crutches at the right time.  My local swimming pool has steps with a handrail in the shallow pool too which meant I could get into the pool myself once I was at the top of the steps!

Not quite sure how I’m going to feel tomorrow, if I’m not too knackered I’m definitely going to go swimming again this weekend.  Without sounding completely big headed, being the best swimmer in the pool even though I’m five weeks post hip replacement was great for my ego!

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.

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!

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