Saturday, December 26, 2009

My second best friend

Since just before I had my hip surgery I found a new second best friend. I am sure that without this new buddy, the time before and after the operation would have been a lot more difficult than it was.

I decided that if I was to have a new second best buddy, then I might as well have one that looked good, or at least stood out from the crowd.

Today I dressed up my buddy for Christmas; not too dressy, but just a little addition to show my appreciation.

A walking stick is a device used by many people to facilitate balancing whilst walking. When used as a mobility or stability aide, canes are generally used in the hand opposite the injury or weakness. This may appear counter-intuitive, but this allows the cane to be used for stability in a way that lets the user shift much of their weight onto the cane and away from their weaker side as they walk.

Some canes, known as "Tippling Canes," or "Tipplers," have hollowed-out compartments near the top where flasks or vials of alcohol could be hidden and sprung out on demand.

It may be used as a defensive or offensive weapon, and may conceal a knife or sword. Walking sticks come in many shapes and sizes, leading to their being collected.

Initially, I had no idea of the versatility of my walking stick; but as we have bonded, I can see that we could do all sorts of things together. Hhmmm …

You are possibly wondering who my first best friend has been? Well that would be my carer, or Himself as I sometimes refer to him as. He has stepped up to the mark 24/7 over the last 6 weeks (often with my second best friend in his hand) and helped me with tasks that he probably never considered he would need to do.

Thanks first best friend!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hobnail boots marching all over Pavlova

Yesterday I had an appointment with the physiotherapist. I would normally look forward to such an event as it is an opportunity for me to see how I am progressing, correct any problems with exercises and hopefully get a tick in my book. Apart from that the physio is a very nice person, who I have known for a fair time, and who quite a few years ago, helped me get over a back injury. She is also good at massage. So, as I had been feeling a bit down and tired for the previous days I was looking for a pick me up too, perhaps some gentle massage?

All my exercises were checked, some alterations noted and then I made the mistake of saying that my hip area was tight and hard and needed some help.

Shall I tell you that, once you are captive on that exercise table you can’t move too quickly to get up and run! So I let my chance go by. In the flick of an eye she had changed into hobnail boots and was stomping all over my hip! Well not really of course, but it sure felt like it. It felt like any of those remaining hibernating areas around the wound, and the wound itself, were really getting a workover.


She should have recognised the delicate ballerina on her exercise table, by the white hose she was wearing, but no. By the end of it I really felt like crumbled meringue.

Postscript: After a hot shower and rest, the hip area did feel a lot better this morning. The moral: No pain, no gain!

Thanks Heather!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

All I want for Christmas is …

At this time of the year we experience the arrival of the Christmas Beetle. Sort of like the birds flying south for the winter, the Christmas Beetle seems to fly here for Christmas. I am not sure where it comes from, or even where it goes to after Christmas, but it definitely spends the season here. It would appear logical to me that they would arrive somewhere for Christmas, otherwise why would they be called Christmas Beetles? They seem to use the lights on our terrace, a place where we tend to spend time on a hot tropical evening at this time of the year, as a type of landing beacon. They are quite an attractive beetle, as beetles go, but they have a rather unusual habit. They seem to spend a lot of time, after their arrival, lying on their backs, not resting, but trying to turn back over. We have ceramic tiled floors and that seems to make it even more difficult for them. I am not sure how far they have flown, but I guess after a flight of even a reasonable distance they would be tired and would feel like a rest. Their wings are not very big compared to their body. But you would think they could do a more graceful type of landing and skid across the floor and rest. But no, graceful they are not and they don’t seem to be able to execute that manoeuvre very well at all.

One absolute instruction from my surgeon, and reiterated regularly by the physios, was that I must sleep on my back for the first six weeks after my surgery. Let me advise you that sleeping on my back is not something I have ever done. In the hospital they have a special triangular cushion which is attached by velcro between ankles and knees to “remind” you not to roll over while you are asleep! I have been diligent and kept to this instruction, but I must tell you, I have not enjoyed it!

Christmas will be six weeks since my surgery. On Tuesday I see my doctor for a check up. I have been and had my “photos” taken for the event; I couldn’t find Santa to pose with me, but I am hoping they will be good photos and my doctor will give me the news I have been waiting for.

I don’t want to appear greedy when it comes to Christmas present wishes; as I have already received my greatest present of all. The pain that I have lived with (serious levels for the last 18 months and debilitating for the previous 18 months before that) is GONE! Oh yes, there is still hurt when I push the exercise envelope, but I call that gain pain, because everyday it progresses my rehabilitation. The first few steps I took post op felt like I was a baby struggling to get that “next” foot to move to the correct place and do what it should. It was wobbly and even looked quite weird as I walked towards a mirrored wall (strategically placed there) in the hospital. Specific exercise have helped build up those muscles which have been “resting” for about four years. Now my walking looks "almost normal”. There is still a way to go but it is progressing.

However, what I really want for Christmas is …
…to be able to roll off my back, onto my side and then sleep, on my side, not on my back, for Christmas; and not look like a newly arrived Christmas Beetle. AAhhh….!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

After hip replacement surgery it is important to get back on the bike

Days 5 to 25 (or thereabouts)

Now, think what you like, but I am not being risqué or even over the top with the exercise advice.

I am not actually suggesting bike riding, not even stationary exercise bike riding; but I am seriously looking at bike riding attire.

Let me digress… After hip replacement surgery I had a wopping great sutured wound from just below the waist to about half way down my thigh, about 25cm long.

Firstly I needed to get over the fear that if I moved at all, the wound will split apart and all that new metalwork installation would fall out and spill noisily all over the floor. Messy! I was assured and let me assure you, this will not happen. First point, it’s put together quite tightly. Next, there are lots of internal sutures between that metalwork and the skin, around 270+ in mine I’m told, all taking their job seriously. It is pretty secure. It will probably hold that metalwork in as long as I don’t do anything I have been told NOT to do.

Now back to the clothing… After a couple of days lying around gracefully attired in bed, being dragged out screaming (only kidding, they have drugs to prevent that!) and after having the first shower – be it sitting down at first – there comes the time to get some clothes on and get going again.

What to wear?

Remember the wound?

Let me tell you ladies, sexy little g-strings/thongs or even Bridgid Jones nanna knickers are not really going to be comfortable to wear. They are going to be too tight across the scar, particularly where the elastic runs, and will even cut in and hurt. Ouch!

However, I have discovered the answer to the post hip replacement patient’s dilemma regarding modesty. The bike pant; call it what you like, but get several pair in cotton elastane and a major problem is no longer even a tiny issue. They are the greatest thing because the waistband is above the scar and the firmness is supportive for you without hurting. Even on your trip home from hospital and for the time after, they will remain the most comfortable thing in your wardrobe. Well, they have for me. Remember that after a few days staying in dry Adelaide, I got on a plane and returned to the hot humid tropical north of the country. They were still comfortable, and have been worn under everything. Don’t forget that I will wear the white compression knee high socks for six weeks, so that needs to be taken into consideration when planning dressing.

So bike riders out there, when you need a hip replacement, take your knicks to the hospital with you, and they will be a great comfort.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

White Leghorn at the barre

Day 4

Successful recovery from a total hip replacement operation is a complex business.

Obviously, the surgeon has done the hard heavy duty work while I was resting. The nursing staff are there all the time to encourage, hassle and help and one could not survive without them. As mentioned before, next comes the physiotherapist, and, as the anaesthetist told me before the operation, he is not going to be your best buddy, arriving with a bunch of flowers in hand and smile on his face. Well, he did arrive with a smile on his face, but I did notice that the floral accompaniment was missing. Damm! I guess that means that he is there to make me work!

By day 4 I had managed most of the supposedly “easy” exercises fairly well, with due diligence, so it was time to get out the ballet shoes. Well, that is what I thought I should have packed, when the physio pointed me towards what I thought was a decorative rail running the entire length of the corridor outside my room.

Practice at the barre was what it turned out to be.

Perhaps not even quite so elegant as your average seven year olds ballet class but effective nonetheless. Just for a few seconds I saw myself starting a new career … but that thought was shortlived as the exercises were strictly supervised and those hibernating muscles were invited to come out to play. Ouch … and to think that it wasn’t too long ago that I had a fairly flexible exercise regime operating. How easily that hibernates.

Any illusions of grandeur were very shortly completely shattered, when, after the physio left, Himself said that, decked out in my elegant white Ted anti-embolism stockings, and missing a tutu, I looked more like a white leghorn chook than Margot Fonteyn!

Oh well, I guess it’s back to the exercises and back to the office and no chance of a part in the corps de ballet in Swan Lake.

Sorry Barb, I will have to leave that up to you, and later I’ll have to try for the salsa classes!