Monthly Archives: May 2013

Lions and Tigers and Bears – oh my!


Lions and Tigers and Bears on my path! I was feeling a wee bit scared yesterday. Many years ago I was persuaded by my parents to train to be a nurse. Needless to say I was useless and didn’t last long, but that’s another story. When I qualified I worked in anaesthetics in theatre – including orthopaedics. Well you can imagine, my experience of orthopaedic surgery more than 25 years ago – of course nothing is different (!!) – even though, logically (and realistically) I know of course it is.

lion 2

Hip and knee surgery …….. well actually I’m trying not to remember the noise, the smell, the frankly barbaric pulling apart of joints – ok I’m lying – but I know it’s different now. I know all those elderly people (because it wasn’t done for younger people then usually) who were in bed for a week and more, then were still in pain, were an unfortunate product of quarter of a century ago.

tiger 2

So I’ve been looking at a newsletter I was sent weeks ago and hadn’t properly looked at because knowing too much and reading too much might make it ‘real’. I’ve been thinking very much of this in the 3rd person – as though it were happening to someone else.

It’s very interesting and about people who have had the surgery by the person who invented the procedure I will be having.


It all sounds very positive! 

I also did a search for the surgeon who will be doing my procedures. He trained with the man who invented the Birmingham hip replacement, works at the same surgery and seems to be quite experienced (thousands of procedures done successfully!)

Then I posted what was happening on Facebook. I hadn’t wanted to tell anyone before. I suppose it felt as though it was a really big thing and I wanted to keep it to myself. I also wanted, if I was going to say anything, to be heard – and I wasn’t sure I would be and didn’t want to risk being ignored over something so important to me.

I was also aware I was in denial. It wasn’t really happening to me; it was ages away; if I buried my head in the sand it would go away …..

I wasn’t ignored, and lots of the feedback was about just how great it would be afterwards (well if I behaved myself and did my exercises anyway) and what good results people they knew had.

So my lions and tigers and bears ….

now look a bit more like this …..lion   tiger   teddy_bear

The Owl and the Pussycat 2


Ok – so they’re a bit twee, but the owl and the pussycat are a godsend. It’s a rainy day (again), I still have student portfolios to mark, but I’m sitting with my feet up and my laptop. The owl is toasty and warm behind my back and the cat likewise under my left knee. I might have got them a bit warm an hour ago but the heat from them now is seeping into my joints and making me feel much better.

I’ve been finding recently that the pain is much worse. For some time I have had to think about how far I can manage to walk to do something – and it isn’t far, but in the last couple of weeks I can only describe it as though something has ‘gone’. Firstly it was my right hip on the stairs. It was about 3 weeks ago and I placed my foot down and there was a sudden sharp pain which now doesn’t go away. The left hip happened about 10 days later when there was a similar feeling. The pain on walking is not so sharp, but there is an ache, like toothache, all the time now in my back and groin/abdomen and down my left leg into my ankle and foot. 

It wakes me during the night and I am almost too stiff and sore to turn over. It helps if I have a pillow between my legs from groin to feet, but that wakes my husband when I try to turn over with it during the night! In the morning I wake feeling ok – but by the time I have got to the stairs it is a 1 stair at a time walk to get down. By the time I get to the kitchen I can feel my muscles in my back trying to pull me over and my knees bending to compensate and try to stand up. I am doing some yoga stretching to try to get myself upright again, but it is as though I can feel myself shrinking.

And worryingly I am. I’m not tall to start with – 5’2″ = 62″. I thought I felt shorter somehow so measured my height about 2 weeks ago and made it 61″. Today thinking that couldn’t possibly be right I measured myself against a door with marks that I could use to make sure I wasn’t accidentally moving the tape measure and made it 60″. That means I’ve lost 2″ in height!

I guess having my hips and knees done I could ask him to add a few inches in at the same time to make me the willowy 6′ I would really like! I wonder if he might do a bit of liposuction while he’s at it?!

A stormy weekend


I haven’t posted for a couple of days because I feel a bit mixed up with lots of things. I’m aware that I have probably upset both my mother and mother in law – and my husband isn’t thrilled either. Everything just felt too overwhelming – the sudden descent into plans to come to look after us all post op, what I would have to do, what it was going to be like – a sort of do this and do that – and it’s not as though I have anyone who can just pop in. We have no family of friends close by so it would be people coming to stay. Then it got complicated with others wanting to come and see those who were staying with me and my husband having to drive my mother 100 miles to meet up with her lift home …………… It felt so out of control and stressful for me that I had a bit of a paddy on Friday and stopped everyone coming. 

Having then upset everyone my husband would like to know why  can’t cope with people and want anyone around, and why I won’t accept help – this is all another story I think! The result though was that once that layer of worry was removed I suddenly found I had time and space to think about what was actually going to happen to me. A long time ago (and another story) I used to be a nurse in theatre doing anaesthetics, but obviously some of the theatre work I did was orthopaedics. Well, you can probably imagine where we’re going here. It might have been lots of years ago but hips and knees are still in the same places and the procedures have not changed that much. It kept me awake a good deal of Friday night anyway!

I’m also finding more and more this week, I’m getting up in the mornings and I can feel as though my vertebrae  hips and knees are – sinking for want of a better word. Even though I stretch them out and try to stand up straight, I can feel something trying to pull me down and over as I get down stairs one at a time and hold onto benches to get around the kitchen to make breakfast. The microwave is definitely higher and further away from me than it used to be!

The owl and the pussycat have turned up. They don’t get as hot as my old heat packs, but they are warm with heat seeping into my joints instead, and they smell gorgeous! One of these will certainly be coming to hospital with me. And my husband din’t have a fit – although he was pre warned. He just knows I’m weird I guess 😉

Today we are going to see some friends for supper. 1 1/2 hour drive for pizza! However, they don’t know about my arthritis yet, never mind my impending block of super dooper new and shiny joints.

The Owl and the Pussycat


I’ve just heard today about a distant in law family member who had hip resurfacing 12 1/2 years ago and says it has been the best thing for him so far. I’ve also heard from another lady I contacted yesterday who had some problems with the muscle coming away from the bone post op and having to have further surgery – and found that she is finally improving too. All good news generally.

The resurfacing procedure will not take away the top of the femur just yet, so long as it is good condition. This will leave it intact for future revision and full replacement, which will hopefully be the case. However, I also heard today that anti-inflammatory tablets over a long period of time will soften the bone. In addition I know there is osteoporosis in my family in addition to the osteoarthritis I have apparently inherited so it is quite possible my surgeon is going to get in there and find my bones are falling to bits. Let’s hope not though!

I suppose this first hip will at least give us a very good idea about how the next op and recovery will go and also then I will find the knee replacement easier. I’m told there is a better success rate with hips and more obvious improvement altogether, and so more motivation to carry on. 

I’ve bought heat packs. I know summer is supposed to be coming up – but it’s cold, wet and windy again. My husband is going to have a fit when he realises the heat pack covers are an owl and a pussycat. I’ve also been looking at walking sticks – I quite like the green and silver with ivy growing up it. Difficult to make a wheel chair look pretty though – but also buying or borrowing one of these might be the only way of getting out of the house and avoiding cabin fever!

Measuring the height of furniture this weekend! I know how to have fun smiley wink

Sunshine on a rainy day


I’ve found a website are loads of people there who have been in my position looking towards and working through their first hip replacement.

I must admit, I was a little doubtful about searching the internet for other’s stories in case I found things that were going to terrify rather than inspire. There are some stories that concern, and certainly my greatest fear just now is the new joint dislocating. There are also people talking about 12 week or more recovery rather than the 6 I’d expected, but I guess it is an ongoing thing. I am reading about major muscle being cut to do the operation, which i suppose I should have realised before, and how long it takes for that to heal. There is a lady who works with horses talking about how long it takes horses to heal after muscle, tendon and ligament damage, so I wonder why I would expect a human to take less time.

However, on the whole most experiences are very positive. Many people write about choosing resurfacing rather than replacement because of their age. The joint replacement will need to be replaced and so it is easier to replace a resurfaced hip rather than revise a replacement. It is apparently the same operation pretty much, without the head of femur as yet removed, just resized to fit a metal head and a metal cup fitted into the socket. A lot of these though have gone into surgery for resurfacing and come out with a complete replacement because, once work had begun, the bone crumbled anyway. I know I have been asked to consent to both and the decision will actually be made during surgery.

Most people say that, other than the night of surgery, they  no longer have any pain. They expect what they have had for so many years and find there is nothing. They are talking of a new lease of life, and being back and work and doing things they haven’t done in years.

So – some rays of sunshine, and that applies to today’s weather too! smiley happy

The paths between.


Today has been a much better day. The stoney ground of yesterday was greatly smoothed by my husband, who offered a shoulder to cry on and no advice, and a good friend who heard me and listened.

I found, when confronted by rocks, that when you climb up onto them you get a much better view – and also a view of the paths between. Not everything is a trial – sometimes it is just an opportunity to see things in a different way.

Today I have had to go to one of my regular clients and explain that, over the next year, I won’t be getting out much – including to see them. However, we have a plan. They will email things to me to work on and we can correspond by email and telephone. If they really need to put something into my hands then they will come to see me. We didn’t have to go to option 3 at all – which was to bypass me altogether and find someone else 🙂

Everything still hurts today. I have a sharp pain in my right hip when I walk – fortunately the first hip to be replaced next month, but an ache throughout my lower back and down my left leg. Oddly it is the inside of my left ankle and the sole of my left foot that are bugging me as much as my back. Isn’t it funny how all these things can be connected to arthritis in a hip?!

However, I’m looking forward again and at the paths through the rocks – to a year away when things are much better instead of much worse, and concentrating less on the rocky road between. 

Stoney ground.


I’ve put off writing today thinking that really I only wanted to write anything when things were good and upbeat. I’m not good at sharing when things are not, and prefer to just hide away. However, that isn’t really realistic and, come next year at the other end (hopefully) of this, then I need to see how things really were. 

I did a bit of housework yesterday. Not much – changed a couple of beds, cleaned a shower room and swept a floor or two. However, I was so stiff in my back and hips overnight I didn’t sleep well and am sore today. I have a pain from my left hip down my leg and into my foot – and it’s my right hip that is being done first. I’m thinking – how am I going to do the exercises and walk and strengthen my right side after my first hip replacement when my left side isn’t any better?

It also feels as though there is more to think about rather than less. I know parents mean well when they want to drop everything and come and stay to look after me, but actually it feels like extra responsibility for me. I have to organise rooms, and house and food beforehand. I don’t like the intrusion in my house and feel responsible for my guests. My mother is worse than I am and I expect an accident when I can’t do anything! It seems just now that it is adding to my jumbled thoughts and workload. I still have other real work to do – even when I’m recovering – that doesn’t stop. I’m not great at entertaining people – I am happier alone – and when I am ill I have not really evolved from a small furry mammal  – I want to curl up alone in peace to heal rather than be fussed, disturbed and talked at. I don’t like attention and I don’t like fuss.

I also feel in much more pain. I can’t decide whether getting this diagnosis and knowing something is to be done has allowed me to feel the pain – to be impatient to be better, and to accept that it hurts rather than putting up with it. Or whether, because it has deteriorated so much more quickly over the last year, that it is just in keeping time wise with what has been happening anyway.

And it makes me tired – the pain. It hurts and it feels exhausting and I want to sleep and have it go away. I just want to sit and cry.

It’s not a good day. It makes me feel bad to even think it, never mind say it. I feel guilty for being so pathetic over something that is not a big thing and will get better. But I’m scared – of the operations, the pain, the anaesthetic, the trying to be better afterwards and not being able to do it alone in my own space and time. I feel guilty when others want to help and I don’t know how to let them, and it feels harder.

Tomorrow might have a different and better path.

Ups and Downs


Looking towards my first hip replacement in 5 weeks I am filled with feelings that are up and down. 

Even despite my first knee injury, for years we had holidays that involved fell walking and boating, and had no problems at all. I developed hypothyroidism and put on some weight and, while not easy, lost it running at the gym. Then came the micro fracture – and nothing was the same again. I was in pain all the time and over the years it got worse. I was really very envious of all the people I knew who were off walking and doing challenges and I felt that this part of my life was over.

Being increasingly unable to do much aerobic exercise, or anything that had impact on my knee I put weight back on again. Nothing too drastic you understand but enough for my GP then to tell me I was too young, there was nothing to be done but to lose weight. When you have hypothyroidism and a limited ability to move around much that is easier said than done.

The exercise I did carry on was yoga – I have been doing this regularly from being a child and my flexibility, if I say so myself is good. However, over the past year of losing a stone in weight (and you wouldn’t believe how hard that was – and how much harder it was when it stuck there despite all my efforts) I found that my hip and knee pain was getting worse and the yoga I used to do for relaxation was now something that was also very difficult. I could not stretch completely to one side or kneel at all. 

I first realised I was in trouble when I could barely walk back to the car after a quick walk around the Christmas market. I was finding excuses not to go out because I wasn’t sure I could walk that far and back again. By the time of the conferences I mentioned in  my last post, I could see my hotel from the conference centre and it was almost too painful to manage the walk. It was time to do something about it.

Now I research online and I find lots of people who have also been in this position. They have new leases of life. They walk dogs, walk fells, and I am especially inspired by the person who wrote, and I paraphrase, I don’t care about the possible difficulties of revision surgery when this replacement wears out, I want to live now.

So do I. I want to be back on fell tops, but even more just now, I want to park the car and know I can walk to the bank.

In the Beginning


This is mostly a journal for my own purpose to record and appreciate change. However, over time perhaps it will be found by others facing the same procedures.

In 5 weeks time I will have my right hip replaced, followed by my left hip, left knee and possibly also my right knee. The cause is arthritis. I am 48 years old.

My left knee was damaged first of all in 1983 following a fall skiing on Glen Shee – my first run down the mountain. It was not much fun being carried headfirst down a long slippery slope by two guys on skis, but better that than staying there I guess. I was in plaster for weeks, but mostly fine afterwards until I re damaged the knee running across a road in 2003. The following arthroscopy found very little cartilage and the surgeon tried to help scaring and manoeuvrability by drilling the bone (micro fracture). Things went downhill from there and there was increasing pain and decreasing mobility over the years.

Eventually it got to the stage about 6 months ago where I was feeling my right hip was worse than my knee. After conferences on consecutive weekends in February/March this year, I was in so much pain I agreed to go to see my GP – at least, I thought I would have a baseline from which to assess the conditions worsening.

I think the physiotherapist, on seeing my x rays and finding severe arthritis in both hips was as surprised as I was. I knew it was painful but had absolutely no idea it could have been so bad, and that this could be what had been causing years of increasing ‘abdominal’ and back pain too. 

It was a longish wait to see my GP about the results (a very odd appointment system which feels rather prejudiced against people who work or have families to care for in the mornings) – but was referred to orthopaedics. Another wait (simply because they cancelled my appointment at the last minute and failed to make another one until I queried it a week later) but was told that the arthritis was sufficiently severe (about 2 mm of cartilage in my left hip joint and less that 1 in my right when there should be 7mm) that they would have to be replaced. Subsequent MRI of my left knee showed no cartilage at all and a variety of other issues too. Lots of nice bony spurs everywhere. At least I wasn’t imagining the pain!

I’d honestly believed I would be told I was too young, there was nothing wrong with me, there was nothing they could do – lose weight and come back in 20 years ….. and here I am with a date for my first op with the others to follow, if all goes well, at 3 monthly (roughly) intervals. By this time next year I’ll be bionic!

So, here we are at the beginning – and off we go on a new adventure.