Showing posts from November, 2008


It may sound like an insignificant post-op worry, but let me tell you: Sneezing is not good. I've taught myself to stifle as many as possible, but there are times when it just comes out, ripping through my hip in the process. Ouch!

I think it was around six or seven weeks post-op last time before I could sneeze sans pain. Definitely looking forward to that! Luckily, I have progressed past the point when blowing my nose, coughing and laughing also hurt.

Ah ... ah ... ah ... ouch-choo!

Thank you

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but what remains is my gratitude for a number of people in my life. A PAO is not a solo endeavor. I've been very lucky to have so many people pushing for me and helping me through this process. Without them, I truly wouldn't have been able to had have surgeries, which have translated to new opportunities and a fresh outlook on life.

To my Hip Sisters: You informed me about PAOs and taught me how to handle this surgery and recovery. We share a bond that no one else shares. You know my physical pain and emotional struggles, and I'll always be grateful to your invaluable advice and support.

To my friends: You're always there for me. Thank you for being willing to talk about my fears and for not forgetting about me while I'm gone! You are my connection to the life I want back. For the gifts, cards, flowers, texts, e-mails and phone calls, I am so grateful. Thanks especially to Donna for taking care of my apartment while I'm gone!

To my …

3 weeks post op RPAO

I'm scratching my head wondering what kinds of noticeable progress I've made in the past week. With the exception of taking a step on my op leg, things have stayed largely the same since my 2-week progress report.

Super glue is gone from the edges of the incision and only remains on the incision itself. I also was finally able to gently rub Dr. Mayo's initials off my hip!I only take a Tylenol PM at night to help me sleep. Otherwise, I'm off all painkillers.Speaking of sleeping, it still takes me a long while to fall asleep, but now I only wake up about once or twice a night when changing positions.
Stamina is increasing. I crutched around a park and grocery store this week without losing breath or feeling sore.I started sorting through work e-mails and will return to a more full-time schedule (albeit from home) next week.Having gone off all prescription narcotics, my brain is much clearer and I'm talking to my friends from Colorado more often. This makes me m…

My misstep

Since my misstep on Friday, I have been feeling much more soreness and pain all around my hip joint.

Scared that I'd done some damage to the bone that's trying so hard to heal, I e-mailed Dr. Mayo's office to ask if I should be concerned. His patient coordinator, Keri, wrote back saying, "You should be fine; most patients who have taken a step experience more of a strain or soreness, nothing bone-wise."

Whew. While I'm disappointed to have regressed on my recovery, I'm relieved that things should be okay in the long run. I'm popping a few more Tylenol than usual, but won't let myself return to the oxycodone.

So please be careful, all you ladies currently or approaching recovering. Each step is important.

Left, left, left right left

If there's one drawback to having two hip surgeries so close together, it's that sometimes I get confused which hip is which.

I literally have to say "left" and "right" in my head before I rise from a sitting position so as to put my weight on the correct foot. Going up and down stairs is especially confusing. Not only do I have to tell myself "good goes up; bad goes down" but then I have to remember which side is the good/bad side. Switching positions in bed also is tricky, particularly when lying on my stomach, which makes things feel backwards.

Already, I've made two large mistakes. A few days ago I went up a stair on the wrong foot, and yesterday I put nearly all my weight on the wrong side. Pain and fear hit me at the same time, reminding me to be more conscious of the moves I make.

For more than 10 years I've had a "good" and a "bad" side. I look forward to the day when left and right are the same ... which luckily …

Celebrate good times ...

Tonight, a celebration of epic proportions. Well, maybe not epic, but pretty big, especially for someone who hasn't gotten out much in almost three weeks after reconstructive hip surgery.

The cause for celebration was actually much bigger than the celebration itself, but who's counting?

Anyway. The cause: finishing all 14 of my Fragmin anti-blood clotting stomach injections and one full day of no painkillers whatsoever. Not even Tylenol.

The celebration: Dinner out with the folks, an old friend, a Crown and coke, and a glass of red wine.

Good times, indeed. I probably could have taken a Tylenol today, but I wanted to see what my baseline pain was. It's still there, I've discovered, but manageable, even without painkillers.

2 weeks post op RPAO

I cannot believe how well I'm doing. I was hopeful this recovery would be as easy as the last, but better? No. I didn't know how that was possible until now. I hope the upcoming weeks pass as smoothly.

In addition to the mounds of progress I've already made, this week I can add:
Using a regular-height toilet seatDriving my car (I only went a little ways, just to re-park it at my parents' place)Getting along splendidly on crutchesTaking only oxycodone in the morning and at night and a couple Tylenol during the daySitting and rising without using my arms to lower/raise myself into chairsChanging positions in the night fairly easilyMoving without much stiffnessGoing up stairs easily. Down is still a little tricky.Not needing the colace and metamucil anymore, thank goodness.I still don't have a lot of stamina or energy; that will come in time. I'm probably a bit anemic from the surgery and have some blood to make. I'll continue with my iron supplements for the ne…

More progress

Today we packed up the cpm! Tonight I will attempt to sleep with my leg in the bed, not whirring up and down in some silly machine. Lots of pillows under my knee and at my side will be my friend.

I'm also off the oxycontin! Just the oxycodone to go. I accidentally forgot to take it last night and woke up with the worst withdrawal symptoms: shakes, sweats, all-around craziness. Popped a pill and felt much better. I can't believe I'm addicted already and will be going off them in a couple of days after I'm used to being off the oxycontin.

I also put my own socks on today!

And I can reach stuff on the floor both from a sitting position and standing!

And I'm overusing the exclamation point! That's what happens when you make so much progress!

I miss the nights

Except for the obvious fact that I don't have the use of my leg, there is one thing I miss most while being in recovery.

I miss the nights when I would wake up, notice I needed to use the restroom, and then stumble there in the dark, feeling my way there and back and then falling back to sleep with no trouble.

These days, when I wake up in the night (which is a lot) and notice I need to get up, it's a big production. The lights go on; I have to shake off the sleep so I can get lift my leg and myself out of bed. I reach for my crutches; they clang together. After I've woken a bit, I work myself to a standing position and then I'm off. By the time I return to bed and reverse the whole process, I'm too awake to fall asleep again.

Sigh. It makes me tired just thinking about it. Just not tired enough to fall back asleep.


Today was the first day I've spent more time in the living room than in my bedroom. After sleeping in late, I hung out on the couch with Mom doing a word puzzle all afternoon and spent only a couple of hours in bed in the cpm in the late afternoon. I even helped in the kitchen a bit preparing and cleaning up after dinner.

Other milestones:
I've maxed out the cpm, getting my hip to a comfortable 90 degree angle. I'm going to spend the night and a few hours in it tomorrow and then pack it up on Monday. Yay!

After painstakingly watching my brother's new puppy from afar the past few days, I finally had enough. I made my way to the floor, using my ever-so-toned triceps and the recliner to ease myself down. The puppy and I were both thrilled to be seeing each other eye-to-eye. And after we were done, I was able to work my way back to the recliner.

I'm almost weaned off the pain meds. Tonight (I hope) will be my last oxycontin dose, which is the long-acting drug and the oxyc…

Post-op restrictions and goals

For the next seven weeks I am to:
Not put more than 44 pounds of weight on my leg. (This is the weight of my leg plus the slightest bit of pressure. We tested on a scale before I left the hospital.)Not actively move my leg, especially straight leg raises or side to side. This means Mom lifts my leg into the pickup, into the cpm, or that I lift my own leg with my hands or by hooking it with my other foot.
Not sleep on my operated sideRun my cpm until my hip easily bends to a 90 degree angleWhile the number of restrictions is few; their reach is far. Being on crutches for eight weeks presents plenty of interesting challenges ... and even more interesting solutions. Let's just say that the items I've placed in my shirt, pants, pockets, etc. so I could have my hands free for the crutches are items that should never be in such places.

I may not be able to escape the eight-week restriction, but I still have goals. Last go-around, I just let things happen as they may. This time, I'm…

My next 30 years

I think I’ll take a moment, celebrate my age
The ending of an era and the turning of a page
Now it’s time to focus in on where I go from here
Lord have mercy on my next thirty years
~ Tim McGraw, "My Next 30 Years"

I don't know which makes me feel older: making mom go on an emergency Metamucil and prune run for me or turning 30.

Either way, I have turned another decade older and now have two reconstructed hips that I hope will hold me for the next 30 years.

Twenty-nine was quite a year for me, with two major surgeries and the lessons that followed. I see so many opportunities in the next year that it's hard to be sad about turning 30.

I am thankful for all I've experienced, learned and loved in three decades. My PAOs have been a giant part of the person I'm becoming, and I'm proud of the scars and strength I've gained in the process.

One week post-op/Incision pic

Seven days from my RPAO, I am feeling very good overall. I can already do some things that it took me weeks to be able to do after my LPAO. While I am tired and unmotivated, I can tell that this recovery is on the road to being even faster than my last.

Warning: 1-week incision pic follows.

At one week I can:
Feel pain ranging from a 1-5, depending on the delicate balance of drugs vs. activity. Joint is stiff and painful, especially when moving, and also hurts down my leg and on on the back side.Lie on my stomach for 15 minutes before needing to turn. Mom has to help me into position.Lie on my un-op side for about 15 minutes as well. I can get into position, but not easily.Crutch around the house at a slow and steady pace.Get in and out of bed by myself if needed. Painful and a little risky, so I usually wait for Mom.Stand for about 10 minutes before needing to sit. This allows for a quick teeth brush, face wash, hair brush and deodorant/lotion smear. I am winning no beauty contests thi…

Random thoughts while on narcotics

Ever think about how many different kinds of sandwiches there are? All you have to do is slap two slices of bread around anything edible, and you're good to go. Hot, cold, elaborate, simple, thick, thin, foreign, American ... there are no limits.

But I just realized today there is one sandwich that not once in my life have I seen.

A pickle sandwich.

Why not? Even though it's normally a secondary ingredient, there's no reason a pickle couldn't step up to become the featured item. I think I'll have to try it one of these days.


I remember feeling surprisingly "untired" after my last surgery. Day after we got home, I was ready to travel and get out of the house.

After this surgery, I probably will recall the opposite. I'm drained and just want to lie in bed and sleep all day. Outings sound utterly horrendous, mostly cause that would mean I have to put some effort into my appearance. No, thank you. That would cut into my lazy time too much!

I've started to wean off the pain meds, too hastily it feels at times. I'm taking 20mg of Oxycontin twice a day and about 5mg of Oxycodone and 25mg Hydroxyzine a few times a day as needed. The narcotics are starting to give me hot flashes and stomach upset, so I'm hoping that Tylenol will fill their shoes.

Still not steady on crutches, so it's slow going physically as well as mentally!

Hospital recap

Below is my truncated version of my truncated hospital stay. While I am very optimistic and light-hearted about my upcoming recovery, explaining some of the hospital details in that way simply isn't possible, I'm sorry!

Surgery and recovery (Monday)
Woke up in a lot of pain, tried to throw up a couple of times, needed a breathing treatment, very groggy. Rolled into room, pain under control, very dry mouth. Start with ice chips, then a bit of water. By midnight, I've also had a small bit of orange sherbet.

A long night. Both legs are numb. Wait for almost four hours for my knee cpm machine and then transfer into it. At this point, nurses notice my right foot is cold as ice and they can't find a pulse in the foot. They call my PA, order a doppler scan on my feet and load it up with warm blankets in the meantime. I have less than one hour's sleep at a time.
Above, new hospital policy meant Dr. Mayo had to initial my hip before surgery.

Day 1 (Tuesday)
Pulse is back, though …


Hi everyone,

Just a quick post to say we got back from the hospital late last night. The trip was long and not particularly easy, so I'm thrilled to be back in my own bed.

Doing well overall, just need a lot more rest. I will update more later, lots to catch you up on.

Thanks for all your encouragement!

Epidural comes out

Cassie had a very busy day, she started oral meds at 10:00, the epidural was turned off at 11:00, and in two hours her PT, Vanessa got her up for the 2nd time and Cassie asked if it was ok if she took a few steps...we were amazed, she is definitely a ROCK STAR!!! That is three days earlier than the last surgery! She then went to X-ray for an ultrasound to check for blood clots in her leg; and got the all clear for take off. Her pain was pretty much under control until this evening, when all the activity of the day started catching up to her. Even though the meds make her groggy, she is having a lot of trouble getting rest. She says she is SO ready to go home! They started a transfusion this evening, and hopefully by 10:00 she will have had both units, (that is a whole other story that I'll let Cassie tell you). Looking forward to tomorrow, I know she will continue to push the bar, and we will be going home on Friday!

Day 2

Hi gals, just a quick note to catch you up...we may get enough wireless signal for Cassie to post a little later in the day - that's how it worked yesterday. She has a lot of feeling coming back in both legs, and has requested the epidural be removed today as soon as possible, they will start oral meds first to be sure they have some pain coverage before taking it out. The PT and CNA arrived together this morning and decided to make it a joint venture (oh, that's funny!). Together they were going to give her a bath and get her to stand for a moment on her good leg. Then later this afternoon, hopefully...she can try a few steps! Though much sleep deprived she is trying to be very sweet, though she has had the unfortunate luck to be next door to a little old lady with Alzheimer's who is very confused and cries and screams most of the day and night. Poor lady, (I mean Cassie, of course!). It makes her even more determined to get out of this place as quickly as possible! …

Day 1

Other than being pretty groggy and unbearably itchy today, Day 1 post-op has been successful and eventful.

Though my epidural has numbed both legs (the non-op side better than the op side, go figure), I was able to sit up and swing my legs off the side of the bed this afternoon, less than 24 hours post-op. Okay, so I didn't really swing my legs; it took Mom, Vanessa and me about two minutes to accomplish this!

Vanessa (my physical therapist) also had me doing isometric exercises, which caused a few tears to fall, not from pain, but from the heartache of not being able to move more than an inch at a time. It's hard to make the switch from strong and athletic to weak and incapable. Vanessa told me not to be so hard on myself and that with my determination, we should be able to make it home by Friday.

I think I'm going to go off the epidural tomorrow morning so I can stand and walk tomorrow. Yay!

My pain is at a 1 when not moving, a 3-5 when I'm trying to get up.

I am receivin…

Out of surgery

This is Cassie's Mom, after trying to connect to the internetunsuccessfully several times in her room, we have decided that Cassie will dictate to me and I'll try to keep you updated by taking the computer elsewhere in the building where there is a strong enough signal. Cassie's surgery took 5 1/2 hours this time, and Dr. Mayo said it went very well. He did find a cyst in the joint, in the same place as the left one...a matching set! He said that was kind of strange. She woke up in a lot of pain and Dr. Mayo said it took some time to get it under control, fortunately she did not remember much of that! She was out of recovery just 1 1/2 hours later and after a breathing treatment; into a room by 9:30, a little nauseas, and with a very dry throat. She kicked me out a little after midnight, and I took a cab to the hotel, since my carriage had turned back into a pumpkin. During the night they did a Doppler test because they were not detecting a pulse in her right leg, but they…

Note to self

A few hours away.

As I prepare mentally for my second surgery in seven months, I've arrived at one main conclusion, which leads my "Note to self" list.

1) Don't compare this surgery/recovery to the last one. I learned during my last recovery that every person is different, which means every recovery is different. Just the same, my first and second surgeries could be drastically different. Dr. Mayo has told me a couple of times that one recovery is always harder than the other. Which one will be which? It doesn't really matter, as long as I don't compare the two and simply heal at the pace that's right for Round 2.

2) Don't be afraid of moving around. Those screws are long for a reason, and my hip is not going to fall apart.

3) Don't take no crap from no nurses! You will not let the nurses make you cry, Cassie.

4) Make the operating room nurses and techs laugh. They give you Valium for a reason, and my reason is to be the comedian before they put me und…

Knowing what to expect

Got to Tacoma without any problems today. Mom and I are staying in a beautiful hotel right on the water. Wish I could stay here for five nights instead of the hospital!

No food or water after midnight. The food part I can deal with, but no drink till tomorrow night will be tough.

I'm feeling calm and prepared. Knowing what to expect has mostly been a good thing. There are a few things that I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then, but I'm okay with the tradeoff. I hope the things I learned during Round 1 will carry through to Round 2. I'll probably be a bit nervous tomorrow, buts that's okay too!

So thankful that my mom is here. We had a good night, a good dinner and hopefully a good night's sleep to come. Kind of a big day tomorrow. ;)

The day before the day before The Day

Something happened today that I never imagined would happen.

An elderly woman ("she was 90 if she was a day," Mom said) and I were trying on the same brand of shoes.

The brand was Strictly Comfort, and true to their name, these shoes had little else to offer but a smooshy sole. The nice, elderly woman was telling the sales lady that she wanted a slip-on, but something that would keep her feet dry when she went outside in the winter months.

Sigh ... That's exactly what I wanted. Luckily, the store had enough pairs so we both could make a purchase, but I was willing to fight her for them. I think I could have taken her. Today at least. Monday she would have kicked my butt!

So I got the shoes. (They're not too ugly.) And I picked up the other last-minute things I needed and got packed, checking my own "In my hospital bag" list to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything.

We land in Tacoma at 3 p.m. tomorrow and don't have to be at the hospital until 10:…