Friday, March 25, 2016

Road to Recovery

My armor is languishing in the basement, desperately needing cleaning and polishing. I haven't worn it for several years and yet this blog sticks to me. I still consider myself a warrior, even though I do not stand on a battlefield.

I'm still fighting! Today, I'm fighting for my own recovery. Two weeks ago, I had my hip replaced. The previous two years have been a steady decline of my ability to walk or even stand for any length of time. The last month prior to surgery, I could barely bear weight on my left leg. My world shrunk very small. I lost all desire to venture out to visit, shop or travel. Ice and slippery steps became my nemesis. I envisioned a falling down my steps ending with a broken pelvis, months in rehab. I mentally shriveled like a raisin.

After two years of medical prodding, the diagnosis was suddenly straight forward, severe arthritis of the left hip. The pain was in my knees and lower back, not my hip. The only clear marker that the hip was involved was I had only 20% mobility on that side. When I got a good diagnosis, I was relieved. Hip replacement is common, straightforward and has great recovery rates. Every single person I spoke of it said, "Why did I wait so long?"

My first appointment with the orthopedic surgeon was so frustrating! I was hoping for a quick surgery date. He was preoccupied with the student interns with him and barely made eye contact with me. He said he wanted me to have ANOTHER steroid injection into the hip first. As he glared at me, he also said "I need for you to lose some weight". I was five pounds above his BMI threshold.

He looked up and down my frame and told me "This is serious, you need to treat this like training for an athletic event". I'm certain he meant this to intimidate me- since clearly someone of my weight was not ever athletic.

I mentally picked up my shield and sword right there.

Train? I would train for this. I am in pain, I can barely walk, but I am still a warrior. And I will train.

Twice a week, I worked out in a therapy pool at a local hospital. I cut out carbs, sugars. Started cooking  only fresh foods for myself. Stopped eating out. I sure missed Christmas cookies this year. The pounds started melting away, 10, 15, 20.

I went back two months later to the surgeon, ready to fight for my surgery date, to get my life going again. His eyes lit up when he saw me, and scanned my chart. "You are ready!" he said. I felt ready.

So two weeks ago, I took a cab to the hospital, all smiles. I recited my name and birth date over and over to every nurse, doctor and orderly. After my IV was put in, I don't remember a thing. I woke in recovery with a terrible nausea but no pain. I was wheeled to my room somewhere around seven pm. I didn't really sleep, and hardly moved in my bed, strapped in to not jar my sutures. By morning, the nurse asked me if I wanted to go to the bathroom. With a walker, I walked to the bathroom and several steps in the hallway- Less than twelve hours after being cut wide open.

I did my bed exercises, the foot pumps, the incentive spirometer. Kept the ice bag on my hip. Did PT twice a day, Occupational therapy once a day. Practiced getting in and out of bed and chairs. Getting in and out of a bathtub. Climbing stairs. Lots of stairs! I wanted to go directly from the hospital to home, and its 14 stairs to my apartment. I live alone. Lots of people tried to dissuade me, asking me to come stay with them. I knew I would heal best at home in my own bed.

Three days later, I climbed those stairs. Yesterday I climbed 10 flights (Not all at once!). I'm sore today, last night was a terrible nights sleep. But I'm healing! Recovering! I've mapped all the little goals, one by one. Return to driving, return to pool therapy. Return to work. Ride my bike again. Travel again. And maybe, just maybe fight in my armor again.