My recent surgery repaired a torn muscle in the hip abductor group, as well as removing a large bone spur. Now I'm counting the days to a recovery milestone--being able to ambulate without a walker. As I was waiting in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) after my surgery, the PT folks arrived to see if I could manage the required "touch-toe" routine to let my repaired muscle heal properly. The technique is to use my left toes for balance and bring the other foot forward while holding onto the walker. It didn't go well, as all I could manage was a little hop forward. The physical therapist felt that it was not safe to discharge me, so I was admitted for an overnight stay. Next morning, I had to demonstrate that while I was not able to do the "touch-toe" dance, I could scoot around seated on the walker Andy had gotten for me. I demonstrated getting to the potty and back to my hospital bed. This satisfied him and we headed home, just 10 minutes away.
It wasn't until I got home that I fully realized there would be very little I could do for myself. My daily routine consists of getting from bed to bathroom to lift chair in the family room. Fixing meals, doing laundry and doing any kind of household tasks were out of the question. Fortunately, our son Pete was on hand to help with all of these things and got very skilled at whisking me around the tight corner into our bedroom. Soon I was able to do it myself. Andy had to help me get in and out of the shower, where a non-wheeled walker gives me stability. I figured out the best way to get dressed and learned the most economical way to get through the morning routine and reverse it at night. It was all pretty exhausting, though.
One night we decided to get out for some Mexican food. Pete loaded up the wheelchair Andy rented and off we went. It was a little complicated getting me into the restaurant, but what struck me were the stares I got as we headed for a table. "What's wrong with her? Does she have cancer? Did she have a heart attack?" I just smiled and ordered a virgin margarita and some guacamole.
A few days before my two-week post-op visit with the surgeon's PA, I decided to try the standard walker and voila! Now in less pain, I quickly mastered the touch-toe routine. This has given me a bit more freedom. I'm able to get outside on the patio for some fresh air or take the dog out the front door so he can see the world. I switched to using the wheeled walker to get around. Still hard work, but faster. If fatigue sets in, I can always sit down for a few minutes. The surgeon had already told me that I would need six weeks on the walker, so it was no surprise when the PA confirmed it. In 24 days, I'll see the surgeon and get started with PT.
I was sometimes depressed, tearful and even angry in the early days of my recovery. Then I reminded myself that I have lots of help from family and am in generally good health despite two trips to the OR in ten months. I know this frustrating situation is temporary and within a few weeks, I'll be pretty much back to normal. I've known plenty of people who never got the chance to regain their health, so I try to keep my head on straight and stay focused on better days to come.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.