The prisoner is free!

Hi! So sorry for the lack of updates these past few weeks. I am well aware that when I go too long without checking in, people start losing sleep, agonizing in the middle of the night, “But what about Jen’s hip?? If only I knew!” Ok, ok maybe not. But still, I honestly didn’t mean to let it go so long.

No sooner had I ditched using the crutch in the house and switched to a cane for my excursions into the outside world, than my whole family got sick. All that forward momentum, all of the things I was going to get done with my new found mobility came to a screeching halt as the family was laid low by various nastiness like sinus infections, strep and pneumonia. I actually came out of it pretty unscathed which is good since, mobile or not, I am the caretaker – the taker of temperatures, the holder of barf buckets, the keeper of the medication charts (I know I’ve mentioned that I’m the daughter of an engineer. You bet your sweet spreadsheets we have medication charts). I am finally getting my voice back, which is good because I have a lot of phone calls to return. I found out the hard way that if you try to call people when you barely have a voice, they think you’re pranking them and they hang up. Not productive. And is it too much to ask to at least sound like Kathleen Turner when you lose your voice? Apparently it is, because I’ve been talking like Marge Simpson for the last two weeks. It’s funny for about two days. And then it’s not.

So anyway, this week when the last sick kid went back to school I had a rheumatologist appointment, followed by my 6 week post-op check with my orthopedist. The rheumy appointment was easy enough, pretty much a, “So you had your surgery?” “Yep.” “It went well?” “Yep.” Now that the surgery is over, we’re going to try humoring my oncologist by going halfsies on my Plaquenil. The rheumy gave me some literature on another medication and told me to discuss it with my oncologist at my next visit, at which point I pouted and began to whine like a two year old, “Why can’t yooouuu do it?” It’s ok, I composed myself (big girl panties on!) and rephrased it to sound more like the intelligent adult woman that I pretend to be. I explained further that the only time I get to see my oncologist is at the end of an emotionally and physically exhausting day, and at that point I’m only concerned with hearing one thing: that my scans are clear and I’m not dying any time soon. I really couldn’t care less about the potential retinal toxicity of Plaquenil, or anything to do with my joints at all, really. I just want to call my kids and my parents and then go home and have a drink. Or two. He listened patiently and then told me what I pretty much suspected all along – it’s not easy to get through to Mayo docs, even if you’re a doctor yourself. He said he would try getting a message to my oncologist, but that it would take four weeks. He knew this because he did his training there. Four weeks. But he was game for trying, and I appreciate that. My next trip to Mayo is about five weeks away, so there’s a chance they will have communicated before I get there. Here’s hoping.

So I’ve been smugly waiting all through this blog entry, getting through the sick family stuff and the rheumy stuff, knowing that I have AWESOME news to share, and I can’t stand it anymore. Wait till you hear this…

I had ALL my restrictions lifted! Seriously! After the rheumy appointment I went over to see my orthopedist for my 6 week post-op check, and let me tell you, I was ready to negotiate. I had it already worked out in my head: I was going to tell him that I wasn’t asking him to lift any of my restrictions early, just wondering if we could relax one of the limitations just a tad. Instead of not being able to bend more than 90 degrees, what if we made it, say, 120 degrees? 110? Fine, I’ll take 100, just let me sit in chairs and use normal toilets please! I totally had it rehearsed. I was ready. But as I was being led into the exam room, he happened to walk by. I smiled and did a little skip step (totally on purpose, showing off to give me some ammo for the Big Negotiation), and he stopped. “Wait a minute,” he called after I passed him, “You look fantastic. Do you feel as good as you look?” “Better” I grinned. Hello, 120 degrees! I went into the exam room and rehearsed my speech again while I waited for him. When he did come whooshing in (he’s always whooshing in and out – most doctors with a million patients do, I’ve found), he asked me some questions about my pain, then had me lie on the exam table so he could check for leg length discrepancies (I do have one, but he didn’t sound concerned). “So bring your knee toward your face as far as it’ll go.” Wait, what? I squinted at him. He wouldn’t mess with me, would he? “For real? Bend it all the way?” He laughed, “Yeah, all the way.” All the way turned out to be just about 90 degrees. “Pretty tight?” He asked. “Yeah,” I replied, still wondering when I’d have to start negotiating. “Ok that’s good. No restrictions then.” And he started talking me through some stretches, and I was nodding and looking calm on the outside, but inside I was screaming, “NO RESTRICTIONS! NO RESTRICTIONS!!! HOLY CRAP, NO RESTRICTIONS!” We talked about rechecking my metal levels and that if those were good I wouldn’t have to come back for four months. As he left, he looked at me, smiled and added, “And I don’t want to operate on that hip ever again.” Amen, brother! I texted Rich the good news, and he was immediately the protective husband: “What do you mean?” He asked skeptically. “The doctor was pretty firm about the 12 weeks when he talked to me after surgery. Did you ask him why he changed it?” Um, no. Why would I do that? I wasn’t about to challenge the best news ever. But I started to get uneasy as I thought about it. Shoot, what if he was in a hurry and hadn’t checked his notes? What if this is just temporary until he catches his mistake? Well then. There was only one thing to do: run home and shave my legs fast before he could call.

When a day passed with no phone call, we determined that my nimble walking and hip that was so tight it couldn’t get enough past 90 degrees to get me in trouble must have been what swayed him. I triumphantly packed up all my assistive devices and stowed them back in the basement, where I hope they get very dusty. And then I went to a spin class, where I’m sure I was the happiest person there. I was so stiff I could barely reach the handlebars, but it was delightful anyway. I’m going to try yoga later today, just in case you hear some really loud laughing.

Oh, and I kicked Jake out of the bed. To explain, after my first surgery we bought a body pillow to help me get comfortable sleeping, and at the time Rich complained that it was like having another person in the bed with us. So I named the body pillow Jake. I can’t remember why Jake, but that’s his name, and so when I had hip surgery part deux, Jake once again joined us in bed. Rich is a terribly good sport, but recently he had been asking if Jake would be leaving us soon. Soon was yesterday. Oh Jake, you’ve been a dear, and you’ve been so supportive, but I don’t think we can see each other any more. You’ve been coming between me and my husband. I’m sure you understand. It’s not you, it’s me…

So that’s the good news here. I had other things I was going to comment on, but they can wait till another day, because they’re of a slightly more contemplative nature, and quite frankly I don’t feel like being contemplative today. The sun is shining, my family is healthy and did you hear? I’ve been freed from movement jail! I have NO RESTRICTIONS!!!

Just in case you missed that part… 🙂

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“Self!”

Now one thing about having a blog is that whenever something particularly amusing happens, someone will roll their eyes and sigh, “Well I guess that’s going in the blog.” Yep, you betcha it is. For instance, my mom – she’s a serial butt patter. It’s just her way of showing affection, and she comes by it honestly. Her grandma was a sturdy, German farm woman who could send a child across the room with one of her “love taps.” Really, we lived in fear of them as kids. My mom’s love taps, however, are really just that – a loving little pat on the backside, reserved for her kids and grandkids. A sweet gesture, to be sure…unless she squares you on your incision. Not terribly painful, but it gets your attention. She felt so bad about doing it, but I reassured her I was fine, no big deal…until she did it again the next day…and the next…and the next. Ok, let me just stop to say this didn’t hurt me. To the contrary, it got funnier with each one. She never patted my good hip, just my bad one, and she always hit the bullseye with my incision. And, with each startled “Mom!!!” she’d always recoil in horror as she realized what she’d done. It got to the point that my gasp was more of a shriek, as I dissolved into laughter. Maybe I’d just been in the house too long, but it was funny to me. Probably because each time she did it with such a heart full of love. The last time, as I wiped tears of laughter from my eyes, she laughed too, and threw her hands up in the air, “Fine! Put it in your blog!”

So welcome to my little blog, full of hip surgery updates and fun times. With some cancer and RA thrown in, just for added material. So it’s been a little over three weeks post op and I’m continuing to chug along the recovery trail at a pretty good clip. My parents left the day after my last post, and Rich started traveling again this week. It has all gone just fine, but it was quite the luxury having my parents here. My dad fixed just about everything that was broken in our house, hung pictures and walked the dogs every day. My mom took care of packing lunches, going to the store, making meals and doing all the mending we’ve been saving up for her. They drove me to my doctor’s appointment and even patiently accompanied me on my pilgrimage to Whole Foods (it’s on the same street as my doctor! How can I not stop??). Seriously, they had everything covered. And it was nice having their company while I was stuck in the house.

Ok, on to updates…super exciting stuff, I tell you…I’m officially down to one crutch when I’m out and about – which is a little dicey with our weather, so I try to be judicious about when and where I venture out. “Crutches on Ice” just sounds like a bad Disney show, not something I want to experience firsthand. My lovely girlfriends continue to visit me, bring us meals and take me mall walking. “Bye! I’ve gotta go walk Jen!” is becoming a common refrain in various households. I promised to be a good girl and not stop and sniff everything… I’ve actually ditched the crutches around the house, since there’s always a counter or sofa or something within reach. “Old people call it furniture walking,” my mom informed me. Fine. Call it whatever you want, I call it the first steps to freedom. And my dogs have been terrified of my crutches, so they’ll actually come near me now. I’ve missed them, even if they’re total chickens. As I said earlier, Rich started traveling for work again this week, and it all went fine. Between Riley and my girlfriends everything was covered. Poor Tessa caught some really nasty bug and has been in bed most of the week, but she is still one of my biggest cheerleaders. And last night when she was feeling a little better, she set me up with my own Snapchat account. I’m still not sure what to do with it, but I feel very trendy having one. It’s good to feel trendy, because all I wear right now is sweatpants and slippers.

It really is a wonderful time in the recovery process, because improvements happen constantly. Every day I can do something new, or better or faster, which is encouraging. I know from doing this once before that it will plateau in coming weeks, so I’m enjoying it for now. I’m told that my incision looks fabulous (by people who don’t mind looking at incisions, a group of which I am not a member). And, I finally have all my steri strips off, a rather large accomplishment for me. Anyone who knows me is aware that although I’m pretty tough when it comes to pain, I am a puddle of weakness when it comes to things that gross me out. Like steri strips. I was told that I had to leave them on for a week, then they would start coming off by themselves, or I could gently take them off in the shower. I of course resolved to let them come off in their own time (um, because ewwww), but when making a mid mall walk bathroom stop this week, somehow one came off, only to reaffix itself on the backside of my pants. I didn’t discover this until I was home, so I have no idea how many people got to see me prancing around with one crutch and a steri strip on my behind. After that I resolved to get the rest off before they ended up in more embarrassing places. So that’s a little honesty for the “oh my gosh you’re so brave, so strong, etc” people: I am not always brave or strong. I have an inner weakling, and she’s grossed out by steri strips.

I also have an inner toddler apparently, because in my desperate desire to lose the helplessness that comes while healing from surgery, I’ve become prone to saying “I can do it myself!” quite a lot. And probably with the toddler-esque inflection sometimes. Rather ironic too, when it’s directed at one of my kids, who are just trying to keep me from falling down the stairs or some other catastrophe. One of my son’s first words when he was little was the defiant exclamation, “Self!” whenever I tried to do something for him. I am not a patient person, and it was just faster and easier for everyone if I took care of it. And yet, the other day, there we were: Riley biting his lip and trying mightily to be patient while I struggled awkwardly to carry more than I should with my free hand. “Can I get the rest of the stuff out of the car, Mom?” He asked. Gosh, he’s a good kid. “Yeah honey, you can. Thanks.” And I am reminded once again that while self sufficiency is a good thing, accepting help when you need it is good too.

Turning “Self!” into “Thank you.”

Yep. Think I’ll work on that one.