06 January 2007

Type A Rehabber Forced to Face Facts

Dr. Whirlow gave me my wings back today. I can fly, as long as I wear a compression sock. I can do many familiar yoga poses, including pose of the child, because I am externally rotated in the hip when I do it (everyone is). I cannot: touch my toes with my legs straight, internally rotate my hip joint, pull my knee into my chest, cross my legs at the knee. This may be forever. This means I can't do "cow-face" pose.

I asked why I still limp and have some pain. She told me I ought to watch a hip surgery so I could see and understand what I have gone through. She said I was "cerebral" enough to understand.

Short version: I am doing too much. What a surprise. As more and younger Type A people have hip replacements, the doctors and PTs are going to see this again and again -- people who are not just thrilled to be out of paibn, but want to be NEW.

I guess I can't expect to walk perfectly at six weeks after collapsing into my hip for the better part of a year. And at this stage of the rehab, I should be doing more pool and less treadmill and bike. (This comes on the heels of a morning in which my new puppy ate the waterproof MP3 player that I was using to listen to podcasts while walking in the pool. It was a Christmas gift from Chelsea, but since we both love dogs we pardoned the puppy and I ordered another one.)

When I went this afternoon for the six week checkup, Dr. Whirlow looked at my still-swollen leg and told me it might be swollen for a year. Who knew? She looked for a clot as the cause, couldn't find one (she made me tense my calf muscle and asked it if hurt), and decided the swelling fell under "normal." She said it should be treated. Was I elevating it? No, no one really told me to do that. Was I receiving lymphedema massage from the physical therapist? No. I told her the physical therapist was working on helping me stretch my piriformis, which the PT thought was the source of some of my pain.

"You don't have a piriformis anymore," Dr. Whirlow responded. " I sent it to pathology. That's where I insert my chisel (or some tool like that)." What a revelation -- no piriformis on the left side!

So I am changing physical therapists. This is good news to me, because I thought the PT wasn't helping. And I am starting to go to a trainer who will help me work on my gait. I feel like a dog going through agility training.

Dr. Whirlow also said that it takes a year and a half to regain all function if you don't do the physical therapy. The therapy speeds it up a lot, but you can see where she's coming from. It's not a simple rehab.

Oh, and I need to walk more slowly.

And we will collaborate on a pamphlet of yoga poses for people who have had hip replacements. This is long overdue.

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