Monthly Archives: January 2014

Losing my Purr

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  • I’m managing to do a bit more exercise wise each day and must try today to blog about it more regularly so I see progress. I’m not sure what will happen now with physiotherapy though as the private physiotherapist I saw last week said he couldn’t help while I was in so much pain still.

    I saw my surgeon on Thursday. I knew things were not right but I didn’t know why. There are things I could do – lying on my side, lying flat on my back, lifting bent knees up – walking! – that I just cannot do any more without a lot of pain. He could barely believe what I had been told by the physiotherapist – especially one who was being paid privately.

    Anyway, it wasn’t very good news so I’m feeling a bit low just now. My hips are fine – he got me to lie down and moved them in the socket – no pain and therefore not the problem. It’s my spine. He thinks that I have had a back problem for a while but it has been masked by my arthritic hips. Now they are repositioned correctly and I have been relearning to walk after surgery my spine issue has flared up instead. We can’t see my spine on the hip x ray, and so that will need to be done, but we can see that my pelvis is crooked. Now I think about it, I have had back ache for many years, but it was just aching and usually helped with some yoga stretching and occasional pain relief. This is a whole different ball game now.

    He said it was unlucky to need both hips doing but to have pain in both sides of my back is very unlucky. It seems the pain I have in groin and stopping me increasingly lying flat on my back and on my sides is referred nerve pain from vertebrae that are more than likely crushing them. My 2 inch height loss is and the movements he did with my legs certainly point to loss of cartilage in, and collapsing of, my spine and possibly slipped discs.

    My knee is also bone on bone – I saw the pictures! No point in that being touched for now as it is just adding further stress and strain, and if it isn’t going to help my mobility overall there is little point in going through yet more major surgery.

    I have to see my GP about scans and different anti inflammatories – although that’s a story in itself. To book an appointment ahead there are 3 early appointments a day. These are booked up for the next month. I can no longer book online anyway without going to the surgery, that I can’t get to because I can’t drive, to fill in new forms. I have to telephone on the day at 08:00. If I don’t get in early I won’t get an appointment and chances are I may not get to see my own doctor who knows me and what is going on. If I can’t get an appointment that day because they have all gone, and chances are they will because my doctor is on a course, is only in for 2 days anyway, and so it is a short surgery, then you go through the whole process of joining a queue to try to get through the next morning. It is a system prejudiced against anyone who works or has a family to get ready for school in the morning, or who has a long term condition and needs to see the same GP regularly.

    Anyway, as I said, my surgeon couldn’t believe what the physiotherapist told me last week and has referred me to someone else, though it will be also be private. I’ve cancelled the NHS appointment with the physiotherapist who told me he couldn’t help. Quite honestly I don’t care so long as they get me walking and moving. The spine issue is just a fact of life now – probably not operable, a matter for ongoing pain management – and I feel a bit as though a life sentence has been passed. However, you never know what medical science will come up with in the future and perhaps I won’t spend the rest of my life deteriorating quite as my mother has. I rather hope not as I have an adult son with autism to care for for as much of his life as I can. I just have to find a way to make the best of a bad job now but I’ve temporarily lost my purr. For now we’ll see what the new physiotherapist  says next week and keep up the Pilates. I am slightly motivated by a Pilates teacher years ago who told me she had been in a car accident and told she wouldn’t walk again. With Pilates she was not only walking but teaching Pilates!

    However just now I can’t face the forum and all their lovely positive stories – I’m too disappointed that my life is not going to improve so much after all. Goodbye the chances of fell walking and climbing Snowdon with my lovely cousin 😦 

The Blue Goddess – laid bare!

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I don’t know how much you want to really know about this – there may be just a bit too much information here – but I’ve discovered the best time to do my main exercise is after I’ve fed the family but before my shower. This did mean previously I was still in my blue nightie, but it was so restricting and uncomfortable that, in the privacy of my own bedroom, exercise is being done in my ‘blue’ (Brrr!) birthday suit. I have a full length mirror in there. This is NOT a pretty sight! I’m so hot by the time I’m finished though that having nothing on and jumping straight into a nice hot shower to loosen up all the morning stiffness.

So the exercise regime to date:-

Before getting out of bed – knee tightening, straight leg raise, legs to side, knee bend and raise., lie flat as long as possible (5 minutes max at the moment).

I can now get down to the floor with a roll down to hands and knees without holding onto anything else. I can’t do full pose of a child because of the arthritis, but I can get far enough to stretch my lower back.

Move out to Table – raise left first then right leg, either holding or gentle pump up and down for 10.

Lie  down flat on front – L1 Swim for 100 each leg.

L1 Cobra – x 3 and hold for 10.

Onto side – Clam x 25 then straight leg side raise x 15 – sides are hard because it hurts very much to lie on my side, hence this is all I can do.

Onto back – knees bent and arms in front clasped – feet together drop knees apart and raise arms over head for gentle back stretch x 5.

Bridge x 5 and hold for 20.

Onto other side and repeat side exercises.

Onto front – Cat x 5

Up to Downward facing dog

Back to forward stretch and raise arms behind to stretch.

Up to Chair.

Up straight to Mountain – stretch back in Sun Salutation …

climb puffing and tired into shower!

The physio I will be seeing next week has also added a need to walk – just as much as possible – 200 yds if that is all I can do – every day (but it’s raining again!) – I can use sticks or walking poles if I wish, it being better to be able to do the exercise. There is a difference between what I should be able to do and what I can do! Also to also to lie flat on front (better than back apparently) at least twice a day for as long as possible (3 minutes for now) – a good reason to put away the laptop and rest 🙂

So – onwards and upwards from here!

The Blue Goddess

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An optimistic title! When I was younger I remember following a lady on television called the green goddess and doing her exercise regime. Well my joggys, nightie …. whatever I end up doing my exercises in – are blue. 

Exercise has varied since my second hip replacement. I was I admit a bit more complacent having done it before and just tried to get on with things as normal. However, I have been in varying amounts of pain since week 3. It got worse around the time of the arthroscopy on my knee and physio following that suggested that I had been doing too much and in the wrong ways. The walk up Malvern probably hadn’t been one of my better plans. She tried to help but strictly speaking she was only supposed to talk to me about my knee. I think the tears swayed her!

Since then I have tried to make more time to rest and also to allocate to exercise. Some days are better than others. I had done the set standing leg raise sideways, back and knee lift forward and carried this on on both sides, mostly in the mornings to relieve the stiffness of overnight. When sitting or lying I would add in some leg raises and outward knee bends, but I admit it was a bit erratic.

What alarms me most is that things got worse rather than better. I had been able to sleep on my side for example, but now I can’t do that at all again as the pressure through my hip is extraordinarily painful. I used to lie flat on my back twice a day to pull the muscles/tendons at the front of my legs, and this worked very well the first time round and at first after the second op, but now I can only do it for 10 minutes without severe crampy pains that seem to be right inside my joints. My entire lower spine and pelvis ache all the time and the ache goes down my legs into my calves ankles and feet. 

I have slept well for a couple of nights. I have gone back to lying completely on my back with pillows piled up under my knees. However, while I’ll wake lovely and relaxed and pain free after 2 – 4 hours sleep, I then can hardly move at all. Last night was not quite so good and today I am trying to work in a lot of pain. It feels as though the pain is right inside my bones.

I have taken to doing most of my exercises in the mornings to try to ease the stiffness and pressure from lying all night. I do the exercises as above 10 – 15 times each then add in some gentle Pilates. It seems the yoga wasn’t a good thing either and the bending was simply putting pressure on the smaller hip flexors in front rather than mobilising my buttock muscles. I have tried hard since to identify and isolate these muscles when I exercise to try to build those instead, but it is actually quite difficult to do that alone. I wonder how many people have these same problems given that we have no physiotherapy following hip replacements and so no real guidance about what we should be doing and doing it correctly other than a photocopied sheet of exercises. It feels as though the NHS is saying – well we’ve given you a new joint what more do you want? It’s up to you whether you work out how to use it or not!

The gentle Pilates involves the trying to isolate those bum and side leg muscles (you see I know all the technical terms!) the physiotherapist mentioned when she saw me about my knee, but could not do much else. I do 100 L1 (I think) swim, 15 clams either side, 10 side straight leg raises, 3 bridge counting to 12 each time, 5 leg opening stretches (don’t know if it has a name). On my back leg raises are still a problem. I do 10 but isolating the right muscles to do them is my problem, and the right leg is much easier to do than the left. I do my knee exercises too – pushing back into the floor and holding and also bum tightening. I end with some cat stretches on all fours. I have absolutely no idea if what I am doing is too much, too little correct, helpful or not. I do know that when I am finished I am grateful to climb into a hot shower – though feeling a bit pathetic for the hour of fairly intense yoga I used to be able to do. 

I keep trying to remind myself on the days that I regret ever starting this that it was getting so much worse anyway. The yoga was getting harder, the joints were no longer moving as easily, the getting up in the mornings to do breakfast were just as they are now – stiff and painful. It is not worse, just not better – yet.

I asked for physiotherapy and am having to wait until the 30th for an NHS appointment. This morning I have called again and decided to pay. It will hopefully be worth it for assessment and advice now. Amazingly when I pay myself I will see someone this evening!

I hope tomorrow the Blue Goddess can really say it is a new day and a start finally to feeling better. Girls_-_Blue_Dress

The Hippy Blanket Continues

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I found following my first hip replacement that I got so bored I needed something else to do. I decided to teach myself to knit and so armed with new multi coloured double knit, a pair of size 4mm needles and a website that showed me over 50 different patterns I could create with just knit and purl stitches, off I went. cat_tied

I now have over 20 – 50 (ish) stiches by 60 (ish) rows – squares in red, jade green, purple and multi colours and also numerous hearts which some days will be appliquéd and other days will become an edging – depending on how many  I can manage to make. Most of the patterns I have done are seen here on my Pinterest page, and are added to every few days as I complete another. I even have some sparkly wool in red and purple and have made a point of using these the past few weeks so that later I know I did those squares over Christmas 2013/2014.

The plan is to turn them into a blanket, so there is some purpose. Whether they fit together yet I really don’t know. Due to the nature of patterns, some ‘squares’ need to be made from a certain number of stitches in a row, and also require a number of rows to complete them, so some variety. However, I have black sparkly wool to look forward to using to blanket stitch them all together.

None are flawless. I learned how to cast on and started simply with stockinette and garter stitch and advanced a little at a time. I learned how to count stitches and use a row counter to suit me, so I knew where I was up to. I learned what knit and purl stitches looked like, so I could count where I was when I lost count – and how to find my way back to firmer ground. I got past complaining at my husband every time he spoke to me and I lost count and can now (mostly) manage to count and watch tv, or listen to music – or my husband talking – at the same time, though requests for me to respond may have to wait until the end of a row! 

I can follow a chart as well as traditional instructions. My first efforts only elicited a couple of rows before my hands ached, but now I can do 20 rows and more while still concentrating and able to pick up the needles again without problems at any time during the day.

I have areas where tension varies greatly. I have learned how to hold needles and wool to suit me, though a little unconventional to others. I have lost and dropped stitches, I have taken back a few when I have lost count or whole rows with bigger mistakes in the pattern and have got a bit carried away. A couple of times I have done too much incorrectly and had to give up and go all the way back to the beginning and start again. I have found ways to adapt patterns to accomodate mistakes or simply accept the flaws and my limitations. Each pattern I have done is of a slightly increasing complexity – progress and learning one step at a time.

My hearts have shown me how to count and work out centres without counting every row, to increase and decrease in a couple of different ways, and also how to scale using different stitch numbers and needle size and still produce a feasible result.

Ultimately I will have a selection of pieces which will hopefully fit together in some way, perhaps not perfectly, to create my metaphorical journey through the process of two hip replacements and the progression to having to deal with the arthritis in my knees too. The process of creating it is almost a metaphor of my own progress and will be a hippy blanket with a colourful story to tell.

journeys