Monday, June 4, 2012

My final free day

Saturday marked the end of the 12th week.  I've come full circle.  And tomorrow I will, reluctantly, go back to work.  Today is my last free day *sniff*.   I intend to go down to cafe for one last cup of coffee and granola cookie, then I will bake a cake to take to the office tomorrow, as a thank you, mainly to my replacement.  And if time allows, I will go to the gym for one last unrestricted (time-wise) workout & jacuzzi soak.  Hopefully that will gear me up for re-entry into the rat race.

One day last week, I was at the gym and headed towards, what I thought was, an elliptical machine.  Given that the three month restrictive period was now over, I was keen to take on one of the aerobic machines that I've avoided for quite some time now.  On the machine next to mine was a woman of similar age.  She was strongly built, wearing a bandanna and sweating up a storm.  A real amazon.  As I stepped up onto the machine, she looked over at me and said "Have you had a hip replacement?"

What?!  How on earth could she possibly have known?  I was stunned but admitted that, yes, I had.  She asked me how long since my surgery and I told her "12 weeks, but how did you know?"  She explained that she was an instructor at the gym (she gives an elliptical class and showed me the right machine & how to use it) and that she needed the same operation but was afraid to take the leap.  Funnily enough, she said that someone had recommended that she see Prof. Palmtree.  Needless to say, I spent the next 40 minutes encouraging her to do it.  "You won't regret it." I said "I'll see you here in 6 more months, when I come to your class!"

After talking to her, I realized how far I've come in the past 3 months, so today, I thought I'd sum up my experiences and give some advice to anyone who stumbles onto this blog:
  • If I knew beforehand just how much blood I would lose and how anemic I'd become, I would have prepared a unit or two of my own blood for a transfusion.  That was one of the most debilitating things about my recovery. 
  • In the hospital and at home, I walked barefoot always. (All my PT's agreed on this point.) But for going out walking, get elasticized shoelaces (for triathelon runners).  They were the smartest thing I got. In fact, I'd recommend this to just about anyone who can't bend over.
  • The raised mattress and toilet seat were a must.  I like them so much, I think I may keep them like this.
  • Use the medication wisely.  Taper off the pain killers gradually (In hindsight, I think some of my white nights were actually due to stopping (i.e. withdrawal) the Tramadol all at once). Take sleeping pills if you need to, in order to get as much sleep as you need.  But get off the meds are quickly as possible. 
  • I saw this as a project and I was determined to walk and exercise as much as possible. So it was depressing and disheartening when I just couldn't do that. As I've said, you never know when you've done too much, until it's too late. It's important to find a balance between pushing yourself and not overdoing it. Walk as much as possible and exercise as long as you have no pain. But try to do a little bit more every day.
  • Comply with the restrictions, no matter how tempting it is to start doing things early.  The last thing you want is a set-back or dislocation.  Have patience.  When I stopped obsessing thinking about and anticipating certain goals, I often found I could do them when I came back to them in time.
  • My most invaluable tip of all would have to be - get a Bear!  And by that, I mean ensure that you have a really good support system of people around to help you do the little every day things (cook, clean etc) so that you can focus on recovery.
  • Lastly, be good to yourself!
I leave you today with a before & after pic:

(Day 1: immobile )


(Day 90: after 3 km walk)

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