Hip Replacement and Tango: 6 months

It’s been interesting the way the targets have sort of spread out and become less noticeable during this 6th month since the operation. The pace, whilst never ‘linear’, has become steadier with fewer clear cut markers or events.

However! The six month visit to the surgeon, Mr Phong Tran, was reassuring in that he is very pleased with both the placement of the new joint and the bone growth around it. I hadn’t been thinking about bone growth so it’s good to have had something happen without me consciously making it happen! I don’t need to see him again. I left with instructions/permission to do as I wish but not to fall over and break my hip.

Pilates continues to be excellent and I love it. Apart from obvious strengthening work there some very enjoyable balance work. I’ve had a couple of massages by the physio to loosen the hip area now that I have some muscles there to loosen. That was good.

My muscles continue to be sore and tight but are improving. Pool walking seems to work very well. This work will go on for about a year at which stage people tell me their bodies suddenly feel normal again. I still get tired but apparently that diminishes too.

Tango is going really well. I’m stronger than I was even when I started a few years ago. I seem to be taller. I can do a whole class now quite easily and have a few dances afterwards at the Practica. It’s terrific!

 

 

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Back to Tango after Total Hip Replacement: 5 months

It’s been about 4-5 weeks since my last post about actually getting back on the dance floor and a lot has happened. I’m now at the stage where I can do a whole class and a few dances afterwards at the Practica and feel tired but happy. My legs are tired and thighs fairly tight the next day but the tightness goes with some exercise and stretching.

My new hip has made a huge difference to the strength on that leg even though the muscles are still tight and not terribly strong. Generally, my dancing is developing back to being smooth with some very occasional little bits of wobble and loss of control.

Interestingly, I’ve found that my concentration is harder to maintain but that’s improving. I think it’s because I’m still a bit anxious about ‘how I will manage’ and how I will go with different partners.

What has helped me hugely has been Pilates. I found a physio who specializes in hip and core stabilization and have been going to her small, 3 people, classes once a week. She works gradually and progresses the exercises at a really good rate. I have a set of exercises to do at home. She told me to be really careful about the dancing but recognized my need as a ‘mental health’ issue and therefore important to do.

It’s been important to loosen these muscles as they work and strengthen so I go and have a monthly Remedial Massage.

I’m back to taking a low dose anti-inflammatory once a day to help the knees which still have remnants of tenderness from the bursitis and to help the hip joint itself settle down. That helps and, if I need to, take an occasional Panadol Osteo to remove the pain of tightness if I’m going to exercise and want to do that properly.

All in all, I’m at a good stage of strengthening and feeling normal life returning. I do get tired though. The physio says that it takes 6 months to gain strength in the muscles and another 6 months to develop control.

 

Who would have thought I would love my mobile phone so much!

 It was 4.31 am. I was lying on my back, wide awake in a hospital room. Both feet were in booties attached to a pressure pump, my two legs were safely strapped to a sort of block cushion and the pain relief was not exactly working. My new right hip joint was exactly thirteen hours old.

Aha! I switched on the light, picked up my phone and sent a rather grumpy text, full of emoticons, to my daughters. That felt good. I knew their phones would be turned to silent but just after 7 o’clock I heard the welcome pings of their replies.

That’s one reason why I love my phone. It provided comfort and relief from the claustrophobic post-operative three days in hospital.

That period was an extension of the almost daily contact that I, living in Melbourne, have with my daughters via text and Instagram. My son, in Perth, is more reticent . We text less and talk more. Our oldest daughter and her partner have recently adopted a rescued greyhound, Toby, who is now our designated grandpuppy. I receive pictures and comments about him and his enormous cuteness. We exchange chit chat about work, the weather- she rides her bike to work- plans, the TV we watch. Our younger daughter has two small children aged one and nearly five and lives on Phillip Island. Practically every day we talk via text. She sends pictures of the children, herself at Surfing Mums, shares stories about them and shows what she’s picked from the veggie garden.

I think back to the late seventies when I had the two girls and the late sixties when I had my son. My parents lived in Eaglehawk, one hundred miles north of Melbourne, and I would ring Mum once a week on a long distance call. It felt special as it was expensive to us at that time and I would have to wait for the cheaper evening rates. I would have loved to have had the casual, instant, easy contact that a mobile phone offers, especially when we went to the UK for three years with my two year old son. There were times when I really wanted to share something special or was lonely or bored and wanted to just talk to her about my children. Email would have been wonderful.

This family contact via smart phone continues with Instagram. I have a whole three followers, my two daughters and the friend who showed me how to do it. One daughter, who I introduced to Instagram, now claims that I have made her addicted to its curious pleasures. My friends are strangely uninterested in my Instagram efforts! My initial focus was plane trees and paths, both of which I, at least, am interested in. I’ve gradually extended my range of images as I developed my interest in urban nature on my writing website.

My daughters are polite with their ‘Likes’ but themselves are very unrestrained with their posts about family, dogs, guinea pigs and whatever they’re doing. I learnt how to do hash tags and was amazed to discover the number of people who are unable to resist #sunset and proceeded to ‘like’ my image. I then realized that I felt uncomfortable with complete strangers looking into my world and stopped hash tagging. Three viewers are fine!

I have two games I play by myself, Solitaire and Mahjong. These have filled in a lot of time in waiting rooms and so on. More fun is Word which I play with one friend living just 40 metres away and the other half way round the world in Wales. I enjoy sitting up in bed in the morning seeing what astonishing word my Welsh friend has produced overnight.

Mostly, however, I love and value the way my phone has enabled the relaxed, close contact with my family.

 

 

 

 

Return to Tango: 4 weeks after total hip replacement

This week, I actually did ‘return to tango’, on day 22 to be precise. Sidewalk Tango resumed classes on Wednesday, Feb 4th, after the summer break and Nick did the Intermediate class and I watched.

It was a quiet, reflective class with the last of the daylight filtering rosily through the drawn back curtains. The couples gradually became silhouetted against the last of the light as they worked on musicality and fluidity. Towards the end of their lesson, I put on my tango shoes for the first time in months. These are flat shoes as I have trouble with my metatarsal arches and don’t go near heels. It was achievement to bend enough to tie my laces.

During the twelve days since my first tentative steps at the Australia Day Milonga, my normal walking had freed up, my balance strengthened and I was more physically confident.

I stood in the embrace, waited for the lead and felt quite strong. And I was. I could step back, straighten my leg (no more creeping, Di) and feel spring in my feet and calves. I felt better than I did in my last ‘dance’ before stopping completely last year.

At one stage, Nick inadvertently led me into a little ocho – I flipped around automatically! What have I done!! I shoudn’t be doing this yet! Yet it felt fine, no pain, no strain, just a neat,quick ocho – straight and strong. Well, I’d better put that away for a couple more weeks.

I managed three pleasurable dances, a full song each, but just one at a time with a rest between. Two were with Nick and the third with a friend who led me around carefully and safely. That was another milestone.

———-

As a background to the actual tango, this is what was happening.

Stretches increasing and improving. Aiming for standing knee lifts, pulling knee into chest on floor, loosening tight hamstrings, thigh muscles, lower back. All still pretty tight but improving.

Strengthening: balancing, squats and increasing walks up stairs. Can do 5 flights of 11 steps up and down in one go now.

Walks. Can now do the 5 minute walk around the block quite comfortably and have today tried a different bigger block – 10 mins – good until the last couple of minutes. Tired and noticeable in the right glute.

Tightness easing in thigh muscles and I can now squat on my heels- just.

Back ache still there first thing as I wake. It goes during the day. It will gradually ease as all this tightness eases.

Started to reduce the Targin by a third during the day, ie down from 15 to 10, with the 15 still at night.That seems ok so far. In a couple of days, I’ll drop the night dose to 10 and see what happens.

———–

I wonder if anyone is reading this! I would have liked to learn about the rehabilitation process before my hip replacement, which is part of the reason for writing these rather navel/hip gazing posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to Tango: 3 weeks after hip replacement

Briefly, for my record as much as anything.

My mobility is much improved. I walk everywhere without crutches. Walking feels smooth and natural  for a few minutes. I find that my right leg (new hip) gets tired on a walk outside after about 5 minutes. Lots of muscles are returning to work. I can balance on that leg for about 10 seconds. 

Physiotherapist has confirmed that there are ‘no restrictions’ and that I can stretch, mobilize the joint gently and continue to work on strengthening. It feels so good to get down on the floor again and start stretching. It’s only in the last day or so that I have felt confident enough about getting up from the floor even if I’d been able to get down there. Now that the incision has closed, I’m allowed to start doing exercises in the pool. 

Pain relief is working. I had a go at dropping it a bit a week ago, but that was not a good idea! Will continue for 2 weeks and then have another go at dropping it.  My GP has been very helpful. The pain is back pain which I’m pretty confident will gradually diminish as I regain fitness and continue with back massage.

The tight swelling around the outer upper thigh is diminishing. I’m massaging and icing it.

Generally, I feel good. It’s been therapeutic to regain independence around the house- today I have returned the hired shower chair. I’m cooking, carrying around cups of coffee and so on. However, I get tired quite quickly and it’s good to go off and rest. I’m still loving sleeping!

Return to Tango: Sidewalk Tango Australia Day BBQ and Milonga.

Nick and I are on the dance floor at Sidewalk Tango. Around us, couples are waiting for the music. We move into the embrace and, on the beat, Nick takes a small step . I step back, feeling the weight on my new hip. It’s alright. I transfer to the other leg and we are dancing. It is very modest. I’m not to straighten my leg on the step back, nor step back very far because of the pressure it puts on my still healing incision. So I’m ‘creeping’ – Don’t look, Di! – but a creep is better than sitting on the side. The embrace feels comfortable and Nick leads me into a little fake. That’s a bit harder but I can do it safely. And so we progress! This is Tiny Steps Tango and I last about half a song. I’m so happy.

Back in December, when this Australia Day BBQ and Milonga was announced after class, yet another one I had watched, I did a quick sum. Thirteen days after my hip replacement. I should be able to get up the stairs and just be there.Yes. I’d aim to do that.

This afternoon, I got out of tracksuit pants and into tango clothes, left one crutch behind and we drove through the quiet, public holiday streets to Swan St , Richmond. The music spilled down the stairs and out of the windows of the Tiki Bar onto the empty footpath. Through the tall wooden doors were the stairs, quite a long straight flight but now, not as insurmountable as I thought they might have been. Up I went, one step at a time with Nick following in case I decided to plunge backwards

No such drama. There I was, up in the Tango world. Couples quietly danced, people chatted, the BBQ on the roof outside the high back windows sent down good smells and our tango friends were there. Food descended from the BBQ, more food appeared from the Tardis like kitchen and we ate and talked and caught up with Christmas and New Year stories. Nick had a few dances with people who could do more than tiny steps and he and I had another short dance.

It was a perfect occasion to emerge from two rather claustrophobic and self absorbed post operative weeks  I spent the entire afternoon with a huge grin on my face.

 

 

 

Tango,Arthritis, A Total Hip Replacement and a Return to Tango

 

Who would have thought that just walking backwards around a dance floor would be so fraught with complexity!

The first two years of learning tango had been so full of new ideas, names, people, music and movements such as ochos, the Lady’s Basic and walking, that it was often difficult to recognise that my brain and the body actually had a connection with each other.

By the third year, 2014, I decided to consciously turn my brain off and let my body do what it had been practising and repeating. It seemed to work. I stopped leading, though in class it had felt like ‘anticipating’, and enjoyed just waiting to see what happened. I felt that I was starting to get the feel of the dance and was enjoying the never-ending refinement of the most simple elements-such as the walk!

The lady spends a lot of time balancing and turning on the one leg, and I became aware that my legs and hips were not as strong as they might have been. My right hip was getting sorer and sorer, feeling weak and it was painful to step that leg across my body. I stopped doing the classes, hoping rest would help.

I sit in one of the big armchairs in the darker bar section of Sidewalk Tango watching the brightly lit Intermediate class, with my husband in it, work on the figure for the night. David calls, ‘Change partners,’ and the women move to the next man in the line of dance. My friends are practising their ochos and adornments while I sit and tell myself that it’s quite good to learn by watching. Hah! Who am I kidding? I long to be out there with them.

Rest, Pilates and the Physio seemed to be getting me nowhere so towards the end of October, I took myself off to the GP. My hip movement was restricted enough for her to write two referrals, one for an Xray and the other for an orthopaedic surgeon. She was certain that I had osteo-arthritis and would probably need a hip replacement.

I was shocked but she was absolutely right. By November, I’m sitting in the rooms of the surgeon and holding a surprisingly heavy ceramic and titanium replacement hip joint as he explains how it works. Up on the screen, my right hip joint showed as an amorphous, grey shadowy mass.

‘It’s bone on bone,’ he said. ‘I’m surprised I haven’t seen you sooner.’

I had been surprised too. Up to that point I had had no direct pain in the hip but a lot of what I now realize was referred pain in my hip flexor and glutes.

I was almost too afraid to ask if I’d be able to return to the balancing, turning and twisting of tango, but did. Yes, I will. The physiotherapy will get me there. I can’t wait!

The surgeon has a really good website,which has an animation of the Anterior Total Hip Replacement operation. After the incision in the front of the hip, the muscles are drawn aside in turn, getting ever deeper and deeper to reveal at last, the star of the show, the arthritic hip joint, whitely gleaming. I’m reminded of the series of curtains being drawn at the cinema before the screen appears with the promise of real action. Here, the action continues with the hip being dislocated, the top of the femur sawn off and the replacement inserted into a hole drilled into the femur. A new socket is cemented into the old one, and the replacement ball placed into it. The muscles are released to return to their tight overlapping pattern, enfolding and protecting my new hip.

All this looks deceptively simple on the computer screen, with no blood or real body parts. This is where the huge, exciting leap happens as the surgeon’s skill, experience and expertise translate this cool, schematic plan into reality in the flesh and blood of my body. On my part, this is where real trust is needed.

By the end of November, I had a date for my surgery – January 13, 2015.

There’s now the prospect of returning to normal life. I’ve been living in limbo for months. I can’t tango. I can’t walk. I can’t sleep. I can’t think clearly. I’ve been holding pain at bay with pain killers and anti-inflammatories. My strength and agility have gone. I feel off-colour a lot of the time. I’m increasingly irritable and hard to live with.

But now I wait. By January I was in real pain within the hip and finding walking any distance at all extremely painful. There are two days to go.

I’ll keep you informed.

 

 

 

 

Tango, Arthritis, A Hip Replacement and a Return to Tango .

Who would have thought that just walking backwards around a dance floor would be so fraught with complexity!

The first two years of learning tango had been so full of new ideas, names, people, music and movements such as ochos, the Lady’s Basic and walking, that it was often difficult to recognise that my brain and the body actually had a connection with each other.

By the third year, 2014, I decided to consciously turn my brain off and let my body do what it had been practising and repeating. It seemed to work. I stopped leading, though in class it had felt like ‘anticipating’, and enjoyed just waiting to see what happened. I felt that I was starting to get the feel of the dance and was enjoying the never-ending refinement of the most simple elements-such as the walk!

The lady spends a lot of time balancing and turning on the one leg, and I became aware that my legs and hips were not as strong as they might have been. My right hip was getting sorer and sorer, feeling weak and it was painful to step that leg across my body. I stopped doing the classes, hoping rest would help.

I sit in one of the big armchairs in the darker bar section of Sidewalk Tango watching the brightly lit Intermediate class, with my husband in it, work on the figure for the night. David calls, ‘Change partners,’ and the women move to the next man in the line of dance. My friends are practising their ochos and adornments while I sit and tell myself that it’s quite good to learn by watching. Hah! Who am I kidding? I long to be out there with them.

Rest, Pilates and the Physio seemed to be getting me nowhere so towards the end of October, I took myself off to the GP. My hip movement was restricted enough for her to write two referrals, one for an Xray and the other for an orthopaedic surgeon. She was certain that I had osteo-arthritis and would probably need a hip replacement.

I was shocked but she was absolutely right. By November, I’m sitting in the rooms of the surgeon and holding a surprisingly heavy ceramic and titanium replacement hip joint as he explains how it works. Up on the screen, my right hip joint showed as an amorphous, grey shadowy mass.

‘It’s bone on bone,’ he said. ‘I’m surprised I haven’t seen you sooner.’

I had been surprised too. Up to that point I had had no direct pain in the hip but a lot of what I now realize was referred pain in my hip flexor and glutes.

I was almost too afraid to ask if I’d be able to return to the balancing, turning and twisting of tango, but did. Yes, I will. The physiotherapy will get me there. I can’t wait!

The surgeon has a really good website,which has an animation of the Anterior Total Hip Replacement operation. After the incision in the front of the hip, the muscles are drawn aside in turn, getting ever deeper and deeper to reveal at last, the star of the show, the arthritic hip joint, whitely gleaming. I’m reminded of the series of curtains being drawn at the cinema before the screen appears with the promise of real action. Here, the action continues with the hip being dislocated, the top of the femur sawn off and the replacement inserted into a hole drilled into the femur. A new socket is cemented into the old one, and the replacement ball placed into it. The muscles are released to return to their tight overlapping pattern, enfolding and protecting my new hip.

All this looks deceptively simple on the computer screen, with no blood or real body parts. This is where the huge, exciting leap happens as the surgeon’s skill, experience and expertise translate this cool, schematic plan into reality in the flesh and blood of my body. On my part, this is where real trust is needed.

By the end of November, I had a date for my surgery – January 13, 2015.

There’s now the prospect of returning to normal life. I’ve been living in limbo for months. I can’t tango. I can’t walk. I can’t sleep. I can’t think clearly. I’ve been holding pain at bay with pain killers and anti-inflammatories. My strength and agility have gone. I feel off-colour a lot of the time. I’m increasingly irritable and hard to live with.

But now I wait. By January I was in real pain within the hip and finding walking any distance at all extremely painful. There are two days to go.

I’ll keep you informed.