Tag Archives: balance

12 Weeks Later

Honestly, I don’t know what the hell is going on.

My 12 week post-op appointment was last week. At that point, I was feeling great, healed even. I was experiencing little pain, just hamstring aches that were improving, and thought it might be what recovered felt like.

I was supposed to see my surgeon, but instead, his PA greeted me again. This was fine, though she was unable to provide any real wisdom or answers on my hamstring pain. She did not seem too acquainted with my file. I didn’t expect her to remember my mediocre case out of her entire patient load, but it would have been nice if she skimmed the highlights before coming in. She examined me and agreed I was healing exceptionally well.

At the end of the appointment, I asked her if I was cleared to run. Without hesitation, she said yes and gave me a plan on how to ease back into it with 1 minute on/1 minute off intervals. I asked very clearly if I still had any restrictions. She said I could not do extreme sports but I could SLOWLY return to any activity.

Naturally, I got home from the doctor, laced up my running shoes, and put in two rough and slow miles of micro intervals.

It felt GREAT! It was slow and awkward and barely a run, but I was out there. I even celebrated by listening to my own audiobook on the miles. My hip got a little tired and achy, but there was no real pain. It felt like I was finally getting back to myself.

The next morning, I went to physical therapist, and my therapist freaked out. He was very nervous about the idea of my running and interrogated me on why I would do that. He said the recovery plan always included waiting 16 weeks (another full month) before any impact, especially running. He resolved to test me out on their anti-gravity treadmill then allow me to continue to follow the doctor’s orders, provided there was no pain.

I haven’t been able to try running again.

The next day, I tweaked my hip. I got a little overzealous dancing, and it hurt. So I stopped. I went to barre for the first time the next day, and it felt fine. It was still a little achy from the previous day. I made modifications and did less. Certain positions aggravated it, so I skipped those. The pain seemed reasonable for getting back into activity and also seemed to be improving.

Then, as advised by physical therapy and as I had been doing frequently the past couple weeks, I spent some time on the massage ball on my hamstring attachment, my hamstrings, and my IT band. I worked it all a little longer than normal, hoping to compensate for tweaking my hip and the new, added activity. Then I stretched it out, like normal.

This made my hip livid. It hurt as bad as it did after I started walking on it after surgery, as bad as it did before surgery. The pain got me out of bed for the first time in weeks.

Cue my panic. I tried to remain calm and rational, but any reemergence of the pain makes me stupid. So I did nothing. No activity. No massage ball. No stretching. The hip still hurt, a lot, but seemed to be improving.

Tonight, I went to my belly dance class. I did not intend to really dance and did sit out or modify the majority of class. I have been attending class since before I could participate again for the social aspect. Mostly, I just stretched. And my hip became angry again. Worse than when I tweaked it. Worse than when I massaged and stretched it. Worse. It got worse.

So, I have no idea what’s going on. Am I supposed to be running or not? Am I recovering or not? Did I hurt it or not? Is stretching the problem? Why does it hurt? Will it ever stop hurting? Will it ever get better? I have no answers. I have had no answers this entire recovery, but now, I have severe pain again.

I can’t go back to the pain all day every day again. I would have preferred no oasis from it. Even dipping a toe back into that misery destroys me. Two and a half years of suffering and desperation and hopelessness surge back over me instantly. I cannot go back there.

I also cannot continue to be inactive. Again, I would have rather not got to taste it again. Having this tease of being able to run (twice) and being able to really dance and go back to barre just to land back here is excruciating. It was all just a tease. My mind is not balanced without exercise. I am not myself without exercise. I have been waiting three months, and it has been rough. The thought of continuing on so stagnant is terrifying, especially since activity now ended in pain.

Or stretching did. Stretching that was fine every week before this.

I don’t know. All I have is the panic. Panic at the idea that surgery didn’t work. Panic at the idea that I hurt myself again. Panic at the idea that my hip might be like this forever. Panic at the idea that I might never ever get to really return to my activities.

Panic is where I am 12 weeks later.

 

Christina Bergling

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Six Weeks Later

Six weeks later, the first phase of my recovery from hip surgery is done. In some ways, it flew by must faster than I expected; in others, it has been brutally slow.

After surgery, it took a good three days to detox from the anesthesia. I did not move from the couch much. I slept a lot. Though I did not take any pain medication because I did not have any pain. Despite the numerous warnings and promises of how miserable recovery would be, I began mine with six days pain free. I didn’t really feel any discomfort until I started moving around.

I did my two weeks in the brace and on the crutches. These were definitely the longest and most irritating days in my recovery so far. I loathed the brace and struggled to keep it on. I also never mastered the crutches.

When pain started with walking on the crutches, I was confused. In a typical case, the patient would wake from surgery and be utterly miserable for several days; then the pain would reduce to an ache as they started moving around. In my case, I woke pain-free for the first time in over two years; then my pain increased as I started to move again. Did that mean the pain was getting worse? Did that mean I was finally aligning with a normal track? I didn’t know. And my doctors and physical therapists didn’t seem to know either since, as always, I’m atypical.

I didn’t let the pain or the crutches stop me. I continued with life and activities as much as I could. The crutches were endlessly inconvenient. I could not carry anything, which is especially challenging as a mother of young children. I moved very slowly, again rough with little kids. I hobbled on through life and physical therapy.

After two weeks, I was liberated. It was near blissful to be free of the brace and the crutches. Again, my pain increased though. It was only a fraction of what I was experiencing pre-surgery, but the pattern was definitely increasing. Yet I still did not know if that was a bad sign. I resolved to just follow the rules and wait.

I also finally got to remove the tape and see my stitches. Then the nurse promptly cut them out. They are tiny little marks that may even vanish in time. Amazing they could do all the repairs to my hip joint through these two small holes.

While I was liberated of the physical restraining devices, I remained held back by multiple movement restrictions. At this point, my brain decided it was an apt time to remind me that I’m still bipolar as fuck. I have managed my cycles effectively for years using routine, exercise, and infrequent therapy. And it has worked. More than I even thought it had been. Once these systems were impeded, I got to fully experience what I have been suppressing.

I knew this was a risk so much so that I made multiple contingency plan to deal with it. I knew my system is what kept the symptoms managed and that when I would not be able to maintain it, I would see some reemergence. Unfortunately, the depression still managed to descend on me before I could enact them.

The prolonged anesthesia detox really derailed me. I planned to focus on writing and tasks and being productive with sedentary tasks. Instead, I experienced some of the deepest depression I have experienced in years.

I surely did not miss it. I was working, mothering, recovering, and I felt like I was drowning. I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to see anyone. Textbook symptoms I know well. It made the holidays a struggle, to feel so weighted and disconnected. I powered through, well I think.

I resigned myself to the suck. I knew I was going to be low. I knew why I was low. I knew I had to ride it out. So I did. I missed out on some festive fun. I ruined some minor moments. Thankfully, it was nothing too traumatic. Mostly because I didn’t resist, and I remained communicative about it.

When I returned to work after the holidays, I was able to snatch at some normalcy. Though I still could not move much, I finally launched into all my productive plans. Working made me feel less worthless. I forced myself back into my new novel (and actually enjoyed the progress I made). I wrote multiple short stories and even some horror poetry. I loaded on the tasks and fixated on them.

And it helped. Even still immobile and devoid of the endorphins I needed, being busy and focused tamed the beast.

The pain also leveled off then began to steadily decrease. My body recovered. I do believe the pain was a large contributor to the depression. Whenever I hurt, the base part of my brain panicked that I was returning to my pre-surgical pain. As that threat dissolved, my control over my mind returned.

As I have reached the six week mark, my movement and activity restrictions have been lifted by degrees.  I can now go for short walks or hikes, belly dance gently, move my hip and stretch however I want, carry moderate weight (read: my four year-old). These minor things make a world of difference. Doing gentle yoga and fully stretching my body was near orgasmic. Dancing , even if it was slow and labored, made me feel like myself.

I am still itching to go for a run or do anything until I hit a sweaty high, but that will come in time.

I am proving challenging for my physical therapists. Atypical, as usual. I hit full mobility effortlessly by my six week check. They cannot seem to provide me stretches that actually stretch me. Especially after they have spent so much time smoothing my hamstring with some bizarre butterknife-like torture device. The exercises also do not challenge me. They don’t hurt; they aren’t hard. Yet I’m not allowed to do more. So we go through the motions with no effort and just wait.

Now, I have six weeks to go. Six weeks until I can run, dance, go back to barre, do whatever the hell I want. If it continues without pain, perhaps it will go even faster than the six weeks I have already pushed through. I’m excited, anxious, but at least waiting is easier with the surge of depression fading behind me.

In the meantime, as a teaser to myself and full activity, Pratique Photography finally edited and released my Pennywise belly dance video. It was nice to see what I was able to do in constant pain so I can plan on what I can do when I’m finally healed. Check it out on YouTube.

 

Christina Bergling

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