“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
We all knew this day was coming, physical therapy, better known as torture hour was bound to resume at some point following my leave from rehab; that day was yesterday. In many ways I am glad to be back and actively working with another person to facilitate the best recovery possible for both of my hips. I have been working on my right leg/ hip on my own since being home from rehab, but there is something about working with someone, collaborating if you will on making the recovery not just mediocre but optimal. Of course there is the trade off of increased pain, but its all a welcomed challenge.
Yesterday, was my second day driving (the first was Monday to meet a good friend for coffee and then to drive up to the
clinic), which has a certain freedom with it. Its unbelievable how good it felt to be the one that got myself from point A to point B. It’s a big milestone in all of this. I pulled up at the all too familiar PT clinic (I’ve been here since I was 15– of course this has been interrupted by my few months here and there at PT in VT, but overall I have been at this clinic), and headed in through the front door; it was as though I has never left. Everyone said “hi” to me except for the few new faces that I didn’t recognize, which made me feel welcomed and cared for, more than just a person. Some commented on how they had watched me on the Today Show in June and others asked how the recovery was going. I filled out the all too familiar paperwork, with all my previous surgeries, the functional analysis sheet amongst the signatures for consent to treat and such. Then my PT came out front to meet me and I could not have been happier to see her. “Did you miss me?!” I said with a big smirk, and she just gave me a hug, and I thought to myself everything is going to be ok, I’m “home” in a sense of where I am for the rehab aspect of this.
We went through the ROM of both my legs. One thing to understand is that I used to have far more flexion and external rotation (ER, flexion at 90, and turning the hip out) than a normal person due to the anatomy of my hip joint and I had almost no internal rotation (IR flexion at 90 turning the hip in). Now my ER is much less than it was, and the IR is increased and is slowly approaching the normal range (though not quite there). Flexion is decreased big time, where both legs just barely make it to 90… which is just enough for a person to function, ie sit, go upstairs, ride a bike. As she went through my functional analysis sheet, I said, “yup its kind of sad I am not very functional.” It’s a scale of 0-5 and I have nothing above a 3… and the only things at 3 are getting in a car, putting my shoes on, and sitting for an hour. She laughed and replied, “what?! You mean to tell me you aren’t doing squats?” Well… of course I do them every day I said joking along. I can barely walk let alone do squats! As she went through the strength testing with both legs, my right was much stronger than the left; with the left I can not even initiate most movements and I just got extremely frustrated with myself (a common feeling in this process).
While laying on my back with my feet flat, knees up she had me do a bent knee fall out with the right (simple enough) and then the left. All I could do was laugh as I tried to pull my leg back up and I couldn’t get it to budge. I pulled it up with my hand and my PT just laughed saying yup ok that’s an issue. Oops. She had me try doing a clam with my left while laying on my right side… hahaha that was not going to happen no matter how hard I tried. I just had to laugh again, but I think that those laughs were my way of choking back tears of frustration and disappointment; upset over the fact that I simply could not make that action happen without major assist from my PT.
Flipping over to my stomach I was able to move my right leg in extension fairly well and my left, well I barely got it off the table and my knee bent. Wonderful. UGH. That’s about the only work of frustration to describe the left at that point. She went to work on my spine and see if there were any trouble spots in my lower back. At one point I arched forward into the table cause it hurt where she pressed. That’s L3, my PT informed me that L3 is where the nerve root comes out that heads to my quad… hmm… connection? Maybe? Who knows at this point. Just something to keep in mind.
When I stood up and we worked on weight shifting my left crumbled under me no matter how hard I fought to keep my knee straight. We headed over to the leg press instead, where my right in a single leg press did really well with three sets of ten at 50, but the left… haha I just have to laugh again. Laughing cures all right? Well the left shook and didn’t even make it to being straight at 20. Flipping heck. I did really well with the right going up on my toes. You straighten your leg and let your heel hang off the leg press platform and then just raise up on your toes. Simple and familiar to a dancer and I was proud to see that I could do them. Of course getting from place to place in the clinic I am working on walking with a semi- normal gate, crutches, left, right. This is something that is going to become easier as my right one gets stronger and can bear full weight for longer periods of time. At the moment, that time frame is short. The left is just a source for tripping myself and that’s about the only purpose it serves besides helping me keep my balance. To facilitate walking as normal as possible with crutches, we lock my left knee back, and then do exactly as I said earlier, crutch, left, right. This will of course progress but this is the start and already I am going longer distances. There is a quick 30 second video clip below of how walking is going. My right is following a relatively normal gait pattern (no longer turned out!) and the left is braced to keep it from completely collapsing under me. Neither one really takes full weight at any time.
So all that PT stuff is fine and dandy and sure I can rattle off to you the facts of what happened during the session, but I want to focus on the feeling that I have in my hip. It does not move! Did you hear me world? MY HIP IS STABLE!! It is extremely hard for me to describe to any of you who have not been through the feeling of loose and unstable hips. For years I felt like everything was just moving around in my joint, never felt like I had a stable surface and I learned to adapt but it still felt all loosey goosey, and certainly created problems the more internal derangements it caused. Now here I was doing these exercises on my right leg, and my hip finally felt like it was not going to go anywhere! The pain is still there but it is very different from prior to surgery. To have two hips that are stable and feel like they are in place is incredible and I don’t know how else to say it. It is the first time in my life that I am feeling this in both hips. Its an indescribable feeling, one of the best things that I have had. I only wish the left one was in the same place as the right function wise.
So torture hours have begun, I am going to focus on strengthening the right and getting it to a point where it can be my main support again to not only go short distances but long ones as well. I am more than ready to push that one through recovery to make it the best that it can be. And in the mean time I need to try to not let the left one get on my nerves. I am grateful to be back with the same physical therapist that I have known for many years, and so thankful that she is here with me every step of the way to figure this out and to work with me to be as functional as I can.
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will”