Sarah K – Week 4

The past seven days I have reveled in the small advances I was making, whether it was climbing the stairs normally, not needing my Tylenol regularly (and then not at all), leaving both my crutches at home or taking the subway again for the first time in almost a month (funny how you can miss something like a smelly subway so much). I started to feel like the poster child for hip replacement surgery at the office and among my friends (“I can’t believe how normal you are.” Because, yes, my limp is normal). But more than anything these past seven days I looked forward to my 4-week post-op visit. The visit where, if all was going according to plan, I would be given the all clear to go back to the gym.

Well, I was given the all clear. To go back to the gym. To start using silicon patches to reduce the look of my scar. To stop taking my aspirin and to start going to PT.

I also, finally, got to hear about my surgery (maybe I heard about it before, but I was too drugged up to remember) and learn about what went where. I was relieved to know that the plastic cap standing in for my cartilage is the highly cross-linked polyethylene that others on this site have spoken.

The PA then checked my strength and my leg length and flexibility and noticed that I was strong, but tight. I asked her about yoga and she smiled and said yes, but nothing extreme. I got up and walked for her and she asked if I was limping a lot before the surgery. I answered affirmatively and she said, “sometimes it takes the brain a while to realize you don’t need to anymore. It also takes the brain a while to recognize that this metal and ceramic thing is now your hip. The PT will work on that. And work on fixing your gait for running.”

I smiled (and almost cried).

“But no marathons. Not yet anyway.”

I promised her.

“You need to look at this recovery time not as an athlete but as a patient. As an athlete, when you push yourself and it hurts, you ask is this a good pain or a bad pain? As a patient, every pain should be looked at as a bad pain. You are pushing yourself too far is you are hurting. Take it gradually.”

I promised her again.

She then said she would see me in six months.

I asked her what happens in six months and she told me that is when they lift all restrictions. Skiing. Parachuting. You name it. At six months you can do it.

“So what can’t I do in the meantime.” (I have no plans to ski or parachute in the next six months).

“Running.”

“But you just said I could resume normal activity.”

“Yes, but maybe give it a few weeks before you start running.”

I hate words like “few”. To me, few could be five. I feared to her “few” meant 20.

“Okay. But not six months?”

She smiled. “Maybe try cycling. Cycling is good.”

Which reminds me, in reading some of your posts, I noticed a couple of you were hesitant to get out on the road on your bike (opting for stationary bikes or trainers). May I ask why? Is there something I’m missing or was it just because it was cold/rainy/you are surrounded by ominous hills?

15 thoughts on “Sarah K – Week 4

  1. Stationary bike for me because of the weather. The stationary bike has now turned me into a Netflix junkie. I love watching a series from beginning to end on my stationary bike. Every other day I watch a 45 -50 minute episode. I finished Breaking Bad and House of Cards. Now I’m on to Mad Men. Your progress seems a lot like mine. I ran at week 7. It was -7 degrees on my first run day. Very glad to hear all is going great!

  2. Sarah-
    Why the trainer and not outdoors? I could blame wind, cold, bad weather in general but I would be untruthful. For me I was down right frightened to go back outside. Prior to my THR everything I loved about outside hurt me. Running, biking, hunting, etc. were all painful. It was hard to make my new found pain free brain transfer good thoughts about going back outdoors. I finally overcame my anxiety and road outside. BEST ride ever. My advice is to proceed as you feel comfortable. I still ride the trainer but have been outdoors a couple times now. And it gets better with each ride!!!!

    Happy peddling:-)
    Anthony

  3. Week 7? Really? My office is doing a 5k at week 10 and I thought I would be pushing it. I love to hear I might be ready-ish for it. I don’t need to win, it would just be nice not to finish last. Heck, at this point, I would even take a last place finish if it meant finishing.

  4. HI Sarah,

    As I reported previously, my recovery has been amazing, but my surgeon gave similar advice. At my 6 week check-up I felt ready to run. I had already been cycling a fair bit, walking a lot and feeling quite normal. He convinced me that the bone was not sufficiently knit to the implant at 6 weeks and it would be wiser to wait. How long? He replied, “6 more weeks.” That’s now down to 2. Time flies even when you can’t. I jog a few steps here and there and am very curious how my first run will be. I have an easy 3 mile loop I intend to run the very day I reach 12 weeks.

    As to cycling, no restrictions at all. I used a wind trainer starting day 3 post op and have ridden 3 or 4 times per week since, outside for the last month. I asked my doc whether I had any great risk of breaking my hip if crashing on my mountain bike on technical single track. He said, “Of course you do, but the risk of breaking your natural hip is greater!” Love it. At 12 weeks I can do anything. And he doesn’t want to see me for 2 years.

  5. He would have OK’d me for week 6, but that was over the new year holiday break. I started at a real slow pace. I’m still fairly slow, but getting better everyday. Read Patrick’s reports. We had the same surgeon. He was running 4 miles at week 8 at 8:40 pace. Not that everyone can do that, but it can be done.

  6. I’m under the 6 month no running direction and I thought it might be from my history having not recovered from the first surgery. I had/still have a lot of strength and flexibility to build in my right glute and hamstring. Like a few people on the board, I had my surgery over Christmas/New Year’s week and so my area + polar vortex or constant rain = 3 months of indoor cycling. Since Spring hit I’ve been out every weekend with my little bundle of a dog and riding an hour to 90 minutes and that’s only due to it being corporate financial reporting overtime season.

    On very long walks or on sidewalks that list to one side, sometimes I feel the surgery side tensing up to limp as if I were getting ready to protect my hip – it’s definitely something I didn’t think I’d still be working on this far out! I have to talk myself into relaxing and I didn’t realize how much energy it took, how far I tensed my muscles to limp until I tried to not limp, if that makes any sense.

    1. Lenore, that totally makes sense. After hearing that my limp could be just a bad habit, I have been so focused on not limping at times I struggle to remember how to walk. I’m really looking forward to PT to unlearn all my bad habits.

  7. Sarah-
    Why the trainer and not outdoors? I could blame wind, cold, bad weather in general but I would be untruthful. For me I was down right frightened to go back outside. Prior to my THR everything I loved about outside hurt me. Running, biking, hunting, etc. were all painful. It was hard to make my new found pain free brain transfer good thoughts about going back outdoors. I finally overcame my anxiety and road outside. BEST ride ever. My advice is to proceed as you feel comfortable. I still ride the trainer but have been outdoors a couple times now. And it gets better with each ride!!!!

    Happy peddling:-)
    Anthony

    1. Thanks, all. I miss commuting to work on my bike (on nice days) and I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing a obvious restriction in my joy to strap on my helmet. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

  8. Regarding your limp. I love the idea that your brain doesn’t realize you don’t have to limp anymore. I have that same problem. First, my surgery leg is still a little weak from restricting it’s use the past few years. So there is a big strength imbalance. Second, my strong leg isn’t as flexible as my new one. That’s because that leg is heading to the same fate as my new leg. Lastly, it’s mental, as your PT suggested. Once you feel comfortable to run, I’d run for a couple months and then find a good run clinic to analyze any imbalances you may have. The Langone Medical Center in NYC has a great run clinic. It’s pretty much an all day event where many experts work with you and give you the plan to straiten everything out. I think it’s a small hike from where you are, but should be well worth the trip and expense. I think it’s around $350.00. Google “Langone Runner Performance Program”

  9. Hi, Sarah
    I think back 4weeks post op, I was riding stationary bike. Reason, I hate traffic, just in case, If I can not release my shoes from the pedal on time. I did a lot of swimming and power walk (10 k). I think you are recovering very well. I did Santa’s run , jogging speed at 8weeks post op , But, I really felt I could not jog. 12 weeks time, I tested 5 k , 10 k, I started to feel much comfortable. you have got a running spirit, when the time comes , sure, you will start to jog or run. time being, you can try anything less impact sports to keep fit.

  10. That sounds like a great follow-up!!! I think everyone is different in how their body recovers and how they wish to approach recovery. And there is also a range of restrictions depending on your surgeon. I know some people here started up running really early on with doctor’s approval and some without. Others hesitate still. And a whole lot of in between. I had an epiphany the other day…it reminds me of what your PA said. Granted it was a personal epiphany and I would not impose it on anyone else 😉 Right now I am at the same point post-op as you…in terms of time and, it sounds like, mobility/movement. I realized the other day that the PT I’m doing right now is not intended to make me a better athlete…it’s to recover from a major surgery in which they sawed my bone in two and jammed a metal thing down my femur. It helps me to say it in a dramatic fashion because I used to be a national team athlete and drive myself through all sorts of hell to achieve my athletic goals. As I stand here admiring the view from my soapbox… There’s no rush 🙂

  11. Thanks for the update. Sounds like you’re doing great and on the right track!

    For me, I didn’t get back up on a bike right away because it was a bike accident that got me to the point of needing THR. I felt like I didn’t want to jeopardize my recovery with anything risky, and riding a bike felt risky to me. But, it wasn’t long before I realized the operation worked, and I felt much better and I began to day dream about being back up on a bike again. And so, I started shopping around and taking some test rides about 3 months after my surgery. I just got a new one a few weeks ago. I used to commute to work all of the time too and really missed that probably more than anything. It was the best thing for stress relief and it made me feel so healthy. It’s great to be back out there again 🙂

  12. My surgeon seems to be one of the more conservative. He says no bike for 6 months. When I grumbled he said it wasn’t because of the physical activity of biking but the risk of falling and the greater potential to dislocate/loosen components. Once dislocated it has much greater chance of dislocating in the again. (He’s ok with stationary bike before 6 mo)

    Keep working on the body mechanics. I’ve been focusing on that also. Walking stairs and doing squats etc with the simple goal of using my body in the right way not really for exercise or strength purposes.

  13. I had an anterior hip replacement in Philadelphia about two and half years ago. I was walking seven miles with a cane at day 6 and cleared for everything including running , squats and lunges at week three. I was so surprised that I asked again…he said yes everything as long as it doesn’t hurt. I started running and haven’t stopped. I do more inside on the treadmill or the boardwalk because it breathes… I find that sidewalks are harder on my body in general. I am 56 years old and lunge and squat like a champ. I was told that if I ran my new hip might not last me 30 years, to which I replied “who said I am guaranteed tomorrow.” i feel so great after I run and there isn’t much that comes close. I log about 40 – 50 miles a week at a better pace than prior to my hip replacement. My new hip is great , the other one not so good! I would do it all over again and keep running!
    l

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