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Elizabeth
January 14, 1966 - June 28, 2002

My sister died thirteen years ago today (?).

Someone asked me recently whether I have any siblings. That question never gets easier. I can't say no, because I had a sister for 32 years of my life. Technically, she's still my sister; her lack of availability doesn't change that. But if I say yes, I drop a bomb on someone who asked an innocent and usually harmless question. How do I answer that question with consideration for both the asker and the askee? I wonder every time.

She was sick for a long time, I said gently. Thanks. Do you have any siblings?

We love you, Liz. We miss you. We remember you. We honor you.

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Elizabeth
January 14, 1966 - June 28, 2002

My sister would be 49 years old today (?). Happy birthday, Lizie! We love you and we miss you.

I have never forgotten the sound of your laughter.

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Elizabeth
January 14, 1966 - June 28, 2002

My sister would be 48 years old today. (?) Happy birthday, Lizie. We miss you.

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Elizabeth
January 14, 1966 - June 28, 2002

My sister died eleven years ago today. (?)

I wonder what you'd be like now, if getting older would have eased the torment and let you relax. My own life has evened out, and I'm happier than I was eleven years ago. I hope you would be, too. You know I'm an agnostic and don't believe in an afterlife, but I'd love to be wrong; I like to think that you're happy somewhere now.

I wear your rings, at least one of them every day. I like having a little piece of you with me. I'll clean your favorite silver ring today. It needs some love.

I can still hear your voice and the sound of your laughter. I hope I never lose that.

We miss you and we never stop loving you, Lizie.

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I miss writing in my journal.

I miss keeping a record of my life. I miss other journalers, especially ravengirl and nanila and ernestinewalker. I miss core-dumping the contents of my restless brain in over 140 characters per line.

* * *

For a while, my journal turned into less of a life journal and more of a hip dysplasia journal. My life was all about my dysplasia, too. With the exception of occasional check-ups with my surgeon and yearly exams for a long-term study, I'm done. My time as a hip patient is over. There isn't a catch. The surgeries worked and my hips are fine.

My right PAO was two years five months ago, my left one year five months, give or take a few weeks. I don't know how long they will last. I don't worry about it. I'm just living again. And walking.

* * *

Three things are different this year:

1. As I mentioned, my hips are healed. I don't even need a cane. I was evaluated as not having a limp. I have two free hands for the first time in five or six years.

2. The National Hockey League has just ended a long lockout. I'm a season ticket holder. I'm used to going to games when it gets cold. I was surprised by December because hockey hadn't started yet. I was confused by opening night because it was January. I'm really disoriented, but I missed my team.

3. Inspired by ravengirl, I started volunteering with cats at an animal shelter. I was encouraged in this by Seatmate and aided by the awesome volunteer who introduced us to Rocky back in May 2010. I started about three months ago and I love it.

There are several volunteer positions available with cats. I decided to help with cleaning (cages, litter boxes, floors) because I knew the shelter had trouble getting volunteers in the morning. Within a couple of weeks, I was doing whatever needed to be done: feeding, washing dishes, folding laundry. (I get a lot of love for doing laundry.) And spending time with cats.

One of my favorite things about the shelter is that I'm not a hip patient there, or an Ehlers-Danlos patient, or anyone but another volunteer. A few people know about my hips, but I don't talk about EDS. I like that people don't know. The hard floors are tough on my knees and I'm sure everyone's seen me limp, but I'm 42 years old, and so are my knees.

The community of volunteers is strong and welcoming and I fell right into it. We're all satisfied in different ways by what we do, but we're all there for the same reasons: to help cats get through being in the shelter and get them adopted into new homes. We thrive on updates and photos sent by adopters. When you're used to seeing a cat in a cage, it's so great to see him sprawled on a bed.

* * *

So that's my story at the moment: cats, hockey, mobility. I hope you're all well. I've missed you.

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Elizabeth
January 14, 1966 - June 28, 2002

My sister would be 47 years old today. Happy birthday, Lizie. We miss you.

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for ravengirl

I'll be back soon.

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Elizabeth
January 14, 1966 - June 28, 2002

My sister died ten years ago today. (?) We miss you and love you lots, Lizie.

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I have been back in Boston for a week.

My father must have been kicking some bacterial ass, because after twelve days of IV antibiotics, tests showed conclusively that he was winning. The home care nurse came stopped by that evening and took out his PICC line, which is like a long-term IV. The living room was cleaned of its medical workstation and returned to its rightful status. Dad started braving the basement stairs to do laundry (of course I would have; he didn't tell me) and found my missing sock. And I started thinking it was time to go home.

I kept feeling that way. My parents were doing fine. Something in me was out of gas. I took a shuttle home last Saturday and was sick and coughing twelve hours later.

It's just a cold, but I'm grateful that I didn't get either of my parents sick. I'm still taking cough medicine.

More recent tests show that my father is continuing to kick the crap out of whatever was trying to kill him. He keeps getting stronger, through probably not fast enough for him. I finally had time for a haircut and am slowly starting to work on the mail piles and paperwork around the apartment. I've gotten on the stationary bike a few times, gently, and my hip seems to be tolerant, if not enthusiastic.

Being in DC was like boot camp for my hip. I hadn't walked so much since before surgery. I certainly hadn't climbed stairs every day. By the time I left, I could climb them one after the other instead of right leg, stop, right leg, stop.

It's a huge mental boost to be so much stronger. I can't imagine my surgeon won't clear me for physical therapy now. I still have to get the screws taken out (outpatient procedure, several weeks of mild soreness in the hip bone) and the psoas tendon issue will probably limit me in little ways for another couple of months, but I feel like I can see the road stretching ahead of me for the first time since I decided I had to see a doctor four years ago.

What a long, strange trip it's been.

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For the longest time, I didn't post because I didn't have anything to say. My hip was unchanged. My life was stuck. I didn't want to hear myself whine.

For the past month, I haven't posted because I've been busy: my father got very sick in the span of ten days. He landed in intensive care and I took the next plane to DC. He was in the hospital for three weeks, during which time my mother and I were either at the hospital or sleeping, and sometimes both.

Now he's home and getting antibiotics three times a day through an IV. We take very short walks in the early spring sunshine. We talk about skiing dreams and the evils of condo developers and whether the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" has a more iconic opening guitar lick than "Gimme Shelter." He is slowly, slowly getting better.

I haven't really processed that I nearly lost him.

But I didn't.

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So... I got depressed and the words turned off for a while.

I'm feeling better, but I'm still blue. My left hip has run into a complication and my recovery has stalled. I got *thisclose* to being able to walk out of my home on my own, and now I'm waiting again.

I discovered the problem right after I was cleared for full weight bearing at thirteen weeks post-op, which was in early December. My surgeon studied my x-rays and watched me walk a bit without crutches and told me I had no movement restrictions. "Don't do anything crazy," he said sternly, and I threw my arms around him.

A few days later, I did two minutes of tendus (a basic ballet exercise, sans turnout and pointe shoes) with my kitchen counter as a barre. I'd used tendus to strengthen the right hip last year. Something in my hip made a loud snapping sound, audible to anyone near me. Then it started to hurt, and then it swelled up impressively, pushing my femur outward to make room. Whoa.

I told my surgeon. He knew exactly what it was -- my psoas tendon -- and restricted me from physical therapy until further notice.

Here's the deal. There's a big muscle in the hip called the psoas. The tendon that attaches it stretches over a pelvic bone called the superior pubic ramus. When you move your hip, the tendon slides back and forth along that bone.

One of the bones cut in a PAO is the superior pubic ramus. The bone is healed enough for me to use it, but not healed enough to be normal. The tendon bumps up against the rough patch where the bone was broken and gets all upset. No walking for YOU!

The psoas tendon complication is apparently reasonably common. As the bone finishes healing over the next year or so, it will smooth out and stop bothering the tendon. I don't know how long it will take. It could be a year. It's not up to me.

This is where I got depressed.

I know I'm lucky. I avoided worse complications and my recoveries have been relatively smooth. All of my plans are still viable. I'm just not on the schedule I expected. As REO Speedwagon said, roll with the changes.

(Yeah, I know. I'd forgotten that song too. Then it popped up on a documentary TV show and it's been stuck in my head. I don't love it, but it's good advice.)

And at some glorious point in the undetermined future, I will be able to go back to physical therapy and work my ass off. Then I'll be able to walk back to the T (Boston subway) and ride home like a normal person. This isn't forever. It just feels like it.

I do hope I never forget how hard it is to be disabled, and that I find a way to advocate for those who will never get out of their wheelchairs. I haven't figured out the best way to do that, but a year and a half in a wheelchair has changed me, and my respect for people who live this way every day is crazy huge.

Okay, enough earnestness. Today's excitement: UPS is bringing me Burberry's Pale Barley eyeshadow and Rosewood lip gloss. I still want the Rosewood lipstick, but I put it off for next time. I should probably explain my love for high-end makeup, but that's another post.

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Elizabeth Mary
January 14, 1966 - June 28, 2002


My sister would be 46 years old today (?). Happy birthday, Lizie.

I've been thinking of you so much lately. I have that great photo of you on my fridge from one of the Race for the Cures you did in the 1990s. You still have red hair and you look so happy. I liked your pixie blonde look, but I always missed having us look alike, our matching straight red hair against the world.

Then again, the world always thought we looked more alike than we did. They saw our similarities, we saw our differences. Your eyes baby blue, mine army green. Your narrow shoulders and tiny bones, my muscular build. Your bright colors, my neutrals. Sometimes Mom quotes cummings to me: "Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands." But yours were always more delicate than mine. Somehow, your ring survives on my finger every day.

We meant it when we said we would miss you forever. We love you so much.

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I'm still angry about yesterday.

It was the biggest game of the year: Vancouver, who lost to Boston in the Stanley Cup (National Hockey League) finals last June, was back in town and looking for redemption. The arena was sold out.

Big games are good times for season ticket holders. We know where we sit, the people who sit around us, the path we take from entering the building to watching the game. We know the ushers and the elevator operators (since I'm still using a wheelchair while my hip heals) and the guy who serves fries at the nearest stand. We were psyched.

The first suggestion of trouble came from the elevator operator, who informed everyone that hers was the only one running. There are only two elevators in the building (who builds a 17,000 seat arena with two passenger elevators?) and one was down. She was taking disabled passengers and people going to the Promenade level, for which there is no other access, and that was it. Everyone else had to find their way via the (extensive) series of escalators. The collective tension and anger hung in the air like smoke.

We escaped the elevator at the fourth floor and went to our section. As I crutched down the row, I heard the people behind our seats say something about a problem. And there it was: disaster. My seat, the end of the row against the wall, was destroyed. Not just broken. Wrecked.

Seats at the Garden are long rows of steel chair frames bolted into the concrete with individual seats for each chair. Once before, I had arrived to find the seat part broken. We called an usher, who called maintenance, who fixed the seat before game time. It rode a little low, but it was safe.

This time, not only had the seat been pulled out and left sitting on the floor, but the steel frame of the chair had been ripped out of the concrete as if by an angry giant. Inconvenience aside, it was an impressive sight.

My seat -- the seat -- had been getting weaker and more damaged in the couple of years I've known it. It's never been in good shape. Seatmate thinks the bolt holding the frame was probably loose and maybe someone more amused by vandalism than I am gave it a kick from behind. Once it came free of the concrete, the vandal probably figured he'd finish the job. The Garden will have to replace the whole row (about ten seats).

Seatmate went off to lock up the wheelchair and, not realizing the extent of the damage, pick up our usual pregame food. We both separately called ushers, who called maintenance. By the time a maintenance guy showed up, the pregame montage had started. Maintenance took one look at the seat and said he couldn't fix it (duh). We sat in a couple of empty seats in our row (no doubt held by people arriving late) while the game started and the Garden staff tried to figure out where to put us.

Finally, an usher came to get us. I put on my backpack and grabbed my crutches; Seatmate carried my seat cushion (one of the bones broken in surgery is the the "sit bone") and the tray of cooling food. We followed him to the other end of the ice, where he gave us folding chairs at the far end of the handicap seating area, a large flat section for people in wheelchairs.

A side note: whoever designed the wheelchair seating area didn't consider the possibility of the audience in front standing up. When they do, the people in wheelchairs see nothing but bodies standing in front of them. I can stand up, but the people for whom the section was built lose their view of the action as soon as anything exciting happens. Seriously bad design.

Hockey is played in three periods. In the second period, the goaltenders switch sides, but there are still two periods in which the home team's action is concentrated at one end. We chose our season seats at the end where the home team shoots twice, and we paid extra for it. Now we were at the other end of the ice, with the action close to us for only one period. Not happy.

I decided to make the best of it by doing what I always do: shooting the game. Technically, my long lens is against Garden rules, but the rule is never enforced. Of course, I'm not usually exposed on an open platform where I'm easily visible to any bored security guard. Halfway through the second period, sure enough, security tapped me on the shoulder and told me I had to put away my "professional" lens or he would kick me out. I argued briefly and pointlessly, then shut up and put down my camera.

Then I cried. It was the biggest game of the year, we had been looking forward to it for months, I'd been sick all week and was still sniffly and tired, and the whole day was just fucked. I put my face in my hands and sobbed.

Eventually I got myself under control, wiped the migrating eyeliner from beneath my eyes, and took my long lens off my camera. As I sat there feeling sad, the Bruins mascot Blades sat down on the stairs right next to me. Without a word, I leaned my head over onto his furry shoulder. He tipped his head down gently to touch mine. After a moment, I straightened up and smiled, the first real smile I'd had all day, and Blades got up and headed down the stairs to make someone else happy.

After the game, we went to the Guest Relations office to file a complaint. The woman working there had heard the story from half a dozen ushers by then (we're always there; the ushers know us) and was very apologetic. I told her that I didn't expect her to have answers, but I had questions: why was it my responsibility to find my broken seat and report it right before the game? why had no one noticed the broken seat until I arrived? why was this the second time this had happened to me? how do I know this won't happen again?

So now we wait. Seatmate has sent an email to our ticket rep, letting her know about the problem and asking her to make sure we have functioning seats for Tuesday night's game. If they have to reseat us again, I'm not going to be happy, and it's going to take more than an apology to get me to leave the Guest Relations office. As it stands, I think they owe us at least a refund for Saturday, but we'll see.

I've left out a few little details, like the time the flimsy folding chair folded when I sat back down (because everyone in front of me had stood up) and I almost fell backward onto my carefully-broken-and-healing pelvis, and the fact that teams of people clean each section row by row after every event and must have seen the broken seat and ignored it, and how badly I wanted to feed the security guard a straight right to the nose, and how people cursed at the elevator operator (who we love) because she could not take them with all the wheelchairs that don't fit well on escalators, but I guess I can't tell everything.

And on top of everything, the Bruins lost.

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Post-op week 19.

I miss my journal.

My recovery from my second hip surgery has not gone undocumented. It's in my emails to my surgeon, my boyfriend, my parents, my friends, Twitter, and some message boards. It's not the same without the tags and easy access and stupid jokes.

It was the same old story. I got all uptight about posting complete journal pieces and the words stopped coming. The lack of (self-imposed) pressure makes words flow more easily in correspondence, so of course my emails are nightmares of unchecked verbosity broken only by paragraphs. (I try to avoid the Wall O' Text.) Somewhere in the middle is my journal.

I started this journal in August of 2000. I can't stop now.

Some of you started your journals around the same time, or a little later. I miss you too. I've been pulled away into other things -- a hockey message board, my Flickr page, freaking Twitter -- and I've stopped keeping in touch with your lives. I miss that. You're all so interesting.

One of you disappeared in the middle of the year. You may be on Dreamwidth, but I don't know your name there. I hope you're okay. I think about you and your husband and your cats.

I should be sleeping. I have a cold, and when I lie down, I can't breathe. Fifteen minutes and I can take some NyQuil. Then I won't notice that I'm breathing through my mouth and drooling on my pillow.

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Post-op day 57 / week 9.

Left hip at eight weeks.

I had a great eight-week post-op visit. Everything is fine and I'm healing really fast. Two of the bone cuts are almost healed (preliminary healing; the bones will continue healing for about two years, but I should be able to walk in four to six weeks). Only the cut in the ischium, also known as the sit bone, remains noticeably open. "Does your hip ache at the bottom?" I was asked, and I nodded. "That's why." Still, I was promoted to 50% weight bearing, which is a relief for my hands and wrists.

I have no complications and no major complaints so far. I have one very common side effect: my left leg now feels longer than my right leg, which is a strong sensation but all in my head. The hip team tells me that every few months, a patient will literally make them measure their legs to prove that they're the same length. It's incredible how strong the feeling is, but the more I walk, the more normal it feels. The doctors don't know why it happens. They think it has something to do with the brain being confused by the joint suddenly being solid instead of unstable. In any case, it's fascinating and amusing and getting better every day.

So much has happened since last I wrote. My father's mother died on her birthday at either 104 or 105, depending on whom you ask. She was my last living grandparent. She had told everyone that she was ready to go and didn't understand why God was keeping her alive for so long. It's strange to be relieved that someone I love has died, but it's what she wanted, and she had a long, full life before going peacefully in her sleep. I hope she's partying with my grandfather somewhere now.

We took a day trip to the funeral. My sister is buried in the same plot. I left a stone on her grave and crouched there with my hand on the headstone for a long time. I know she's not there, but a grave is a powerful symbol, and it was hard to leave. I always want to sit down and stay with her for a while when I'm there.

Seatmate and I had our picture taken with the Stanley Cup, which was a brief but awesome experience. Nothing really prepared me for the immensity and intensity of the trophy. It didn't matter how many photos I'd seen; it was bigger and more amazing in person. In our ninety seconds or so with the Cup, Seatmate pointed out the new engraving, and I managed to get my fingers on it, and over my favorite player's name, before we were escorted out.

The Bruins' opening night was (mostly) wonderful. The new Stanley Cup Champions banner was raised to the rafters by members of last season's winning team and of the 1972 team, the last Bruins team to win the Cup. Along with the other presentations, a video montage of fan photos from the Stanley Cup parade was shown on the big screen at center ice, and two of my photos were in there. One of them got a good three seconds of screen time. (Here's the other one. It's only onscreen for an instant, but I'm glad they liked it and included it.)

Then the Bruins lost, but what the hell, it was a good night anyway.

I'm still tired from recovery, but I'm getting stronger. I was able to manage both a post-op visit (x-rays first, then waiting, then finally meeting with the team) and a Bruins game on Tuesday night, though I slept through half of Wednesday. The Bruins are home tonight and Saturday. I'm so grateful hockey is back. I can mostly forget about my hips when I'm in my home away from home and watching my team.

And for an extra touch of awesome, World Cup skiing starts again this weekend. I already have the DVR set. So psyched.

I had an amazingly vivid dream on Tuesday night. I couldn't remember which hip was the bad one and didn't know which to favor. I leaned my crutches against a wall and took a few steps, assuming that one hip would feel weak, but they both felt normal. I felt terribly guilty for walking without crutches, knowing I was putting too much weight on healing bone, but I couldn't figure out which hip needed the help. When I woke, I couldn't stop smiling. I'll get there.

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Note: we regularly throw small toy mice for the cat, one after another. I refer to it as skeet (the first time we played, she meowed when she wanted the next mouse), or as throwing passes for her to receive. Sometimes I do this sort of distractedly, and the mice don't end up where I planned.

SCENE
SEATMATE and ME, INT BEDROOM, lights ON

SEATMATE
Did you water the plants?

ME
Which ones?

SEATMATE
The ones in here. Specifically the pothos on the top shelf. It looks... fluffy.

ME
No, I didn't.

(pause)

ME
But I should probably tell you something about the pothos.

SEATMATE
What?

ME
There's a mouse in it.

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Post-op day 34.

I took my last clot shot this morning. No more waking up to inject myself; now I'll just take low-dose aspirin daily for three months. Hooray, progress.

But not before I had a funny interaction with the pharmacy. Seatmate picked up a prescription for me, something I've taken before, and it came home with a new sticker on the bottle: DO NOT USE THIS DRUG WHILE BREASTFEEDING.

I am not breastfeeding. I am not a mother. I have been awfully careful over the years to make sure I don't become a mother. I have nothing against kids; I just don't want any of my own. So we were puzzled and amused by the sticker.

Later, I did a Google search for Lovenox, the anti-clot drug I've been taking, hoping for tips to prevent bruising at the injection site (black and blue and purple and yellow). The answers came not from orthopedic surgery forums, but from forums for women who were trying to conceive.

Someone at the pharmacy thinks I'm trying to have a baby.

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Post-op day 30.

I asked my doctor whether I'm allowed to tie my own shoelaces, in case he didn't want so much hip flexing at this stage. He said I had no movement restrictions.

Just in case, I asked whether I could sit crosslegged. No, he said immediately. Then he took a moment to disambiguate crosslegged (kid on a floor) from crosslegged (woman in a chair). Then he said no again to both, at least temporarily.

So does that mean I have no other movement restrictions?

I gave him the look you're picturing. He said, "Just don't go putting your legs behind your head." So I'm sort of guessing at what other unrestricted movement might be restricted and resisting the urge to cross my legs (kid on a floor).

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Post-op day 28.

Yesterday, I had my first post-op appointment and x-rays. Check it out:


I have a hip socket.

It was pouring when we left for the hospital yesterday. I had the hood up on my rain jacket (read: no peripheral vision) and whacked my head on the roof of the car trying to get in backward. As soon as my head hit, my knees buckled, and I dropped into the seat with my legs still outside the car.

I just sat there for a minute, surprised, my head aching, then blinked a few times and pulled my legs in. My ponytail took the brunt of the impact with the car, so I didn't even have a bump. Seatmate was afraid I had dropped right onto my post-op hip, but my hips were fine, somehow. Next time it's raining, I'm wearing a ball cap.

At the hospital, we pulled into the valet area so we could unload the wheelchair and hand over the car. Other cars were apparently undecided on their plans, so Seatmate got as close as he could to the curb and said the hell with it. Then a cab wedged itself between our car and the curb. "Hey! Excuse me!" I called to the driver. "We need to get a wheelchair out!"

"You should pull over to the curb!" he yelled back.

I'm not printing my reply, but he pulled the cab forward and got out of our way. Rough start to the day.

Radiology is always first. Lying on the table for the x-ray was seriously awkward. My hip is still too swollen and freaked out to straighten easily, so it wasn't happy with me. But the doctors are happy with my x-rays and my hip will calm down and loosen up with time.

The doctors bumped me up to 25% weight-bearing, which is a little tricky to figure out. We figured it out by having me walk back and forth on my crutches while the hip team coached me: "No, put more weight on your leg. More. Straighten your knee. There you go."

I've learned that my left knee doesn't straighten completely. The shape of my hip sockets (I know, what hip sockets?) prevented my femurs from going all the way beneath me when I stood, so for probably thirty years, I've been standing with my knees slightly bent. As my hip heals, both the hip and knee will have to learn how to straighten. This is probably a job for my physical therapist.

I'm amazed by how much my hip sockets affect the rest of my body. I bought new shoes over the summer, cute black and white sneakers that look kind of like Chuck Taylors. The first time I wore them, I ended up with a seriously sore butt and hamstring on my right side, where my hip has been reoriented and healed. The new motion of my hip + new shoes = different muscles moving for the first time. I was thrilled. Bring on those sore muscles!

For now, it's back to rest and crutches and tiny, gentle physical therapy exercises. I was also cleared to use my exercise bike (with no resistance on the pedals), which is awesome. And we're thinking about going to the Bruins' preseason game on Friday. Hockey is a great motivator.

So far, so good.

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Post-op day 22.

I slept straight through the night last night. I fell asleep somewhere around the 7th inning and I woke up around 6am, cheerful, rested, and not in awful pain from missed pills. I took my 6am pills and went back to sleep until 8:30, when Seatmate woke me to help with my clot shot before he left for work.

(Clot shot: subcutaneous injection of anticoagulant to prevent clots. The syringe is preloaded, the needle is tiny, the whole thing takes thirty seconds and doesn't hurt. I am about halfway through my thirty-day prescription of clot shots.)

Last night was the second time since arriving home from the hospital that I've slept through the night. It's clear and definite progress, especially the part when I woke up and wasn't in terrible pain. You have to count every little victory in a recovery this long.

But no, it hasn't escaped my notice that I haven't updated since September 4th. Where did the time go? How did it get to be three weeks after surgery?

I'll tell you where it's gone: I've been sleeping. Seriously. And when I'm awake, I've been using up my writing energy in long emails and messages, mostly to women preparing for the same surgery I had.

There's a great community of women online (hip dysplasia affects women disproportionately) who calmed me down, cheered me up, and got me ready for my first hip surgery. As a veteran, I like being able to give back to the community. I try to help out the next wave of scared women heading in to have their pelvises broken for the first time. It seems the least I can do.

Here's what you missed: Seatmate went back to work a week after my discharge, I slept through the night for the first time (and now the second), and my hands and wrists have started registering their complaints about weight-bearing. I have wrist braces, but they don't help very much. I can feel the bones slipping apart under the brace. But so far there's no damage, only annoyance, so I count myself lucky.

Last but not least, the Numb Spot has appeared. Most people who have a PAO end up with a temporary numb spot on their thigh, a result of pushing a nerve aside during the surgery. Last time, I didn't have a numb spot and my surgeon teased that he'd try harder in the future. This time, I didn't notice that I have a numb spot until the nerves started recovering after I got home. Hello!

It feels more or less like you'd expect: like small, repeated electric shocks in the numb area, lasting a few minutes to an hour or two, then subsiding back into numbness for a while. It's not my favorite feeling, but it's temporary. The numb spot will get smaller over time until it's either gone or mostly gone, taking the nerve pain with it.

So now you're up to date. What did I miss?

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Post-op day 11.

In addition to all the other ways to monitor my health, I have the Egg Meter.

I love eggs when I'm well. When I'm sick, or just off in any way, I hate them. The smell alone sets my stomach turning. I can gauge how well I am by my reaction to eggs.

Last year, my roommate in the hospital ordered eggs. It was awful. Think of a smell that makes you sick and imagine it on a plate in your room, inescapable. I remember hiding my nose under the covers and slathering hand cream above my lip in an attempt to avoid the smell. I ended up breathing through my mouth for a while. Thankfully, she was moved to another room and I was saved.

This year, the orthopedics ward was half empty and, by chance, no one had a roommate. My appetite came back quickly and I ordered hash browns and sad off-brand English muffins with butter and jam for breakfast every day. But no eggs.

I had only been home a day or two when I asked for an egg-and-cheese sandwich on a bagel. Now I've eaten three of them. They smell awesome.

HEALTHY, says the Egg Meter.

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Post-op day 11.

I got home on Tuesday and I've been sleeping and sleeping and sleeping.

I might have been discharged on Monday if not for Tropical Storm Irene, which I watched between naps from my 12th floor hospital room. The public transit system was shut down and the hospital had about half its usual staff. Whoever was doing physical therapy was too swamped to visit, so I stayed in bed.

I didn't mind the extra day of rest until Monday night, when my temperature spiked up over 101 degrees and resisted all efforts to drop. I knew the hospital wouldn't discharge me with a fever, and they kept waking me to confirm the bad news. But when Tuesday morning rolled around, my fever was gone like a bad dream. I demonstrated my stair-climbing ability to the cheerful PT student and she signed my release.

Memories of last year keep coming back to me. One of them, crystal clear, is of lying on my back and typing on the laptop on the over-bed table just above my head. I couldn't sit up at first last year because the cut in the ischium (the sit bone) hurt too much. I can sit up this time, at least for a couple of hours at a stretch, when my head gets tired and my butt gets sore and I have to lie down again. But like everything so far, sitting up is much easier than last time.

I wish I had been updating all week. I'll start now, but Seatmate has just brought breakfast, so more later.

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(Seatmate)

Squalls out on the gulf stream
Big storm's comin' soon
I passed out in my hammock
And God I slept 'til way past noon


Okay, so actually I fell asleep in my bed and woke up just after 9. But that's not nearly as lyrical....

So far we're okay with Irene related business. We have nice pretty fancy (expensive) curved windows in the living room so I took the a/c out of it to avoid shaking or whatever that might lead to breakage. And I made a run to the pet store yesterday to pick up kitty food. That was really the extent of our hurricane prep.

The patient is still doing pretty good all things considered. The epidural came out yesterday and she was out of bed and in a chair for the first time so that's a big step. We think they maybe made her sit in the chair a little too long so the pain in the butt got pretty bad but by the time I got there for the evening visit it was pretty much back down to a dull roar. Today's plans call for some more out of bed time and maybe a little walk around. I talked to her a little bit ago and she was doing good, had had some breakfast, but was going to try to grab some more sleep before they came to replace her iv (apparently you can only have an iv in for 4 days before they have to change it. Who knew?). I think I'm going to skip the morning visit because the worst of the storm is supposed to be here through 5pm or so and then go in again tonight after feeding the kitty (still not a euphemism).

But all in all I think things are coming along nicely. Perhaps most importantly she thinks things are going a little easier than last year (knock on wood) so we can hope that continues.

More to come....

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(Seatmate)

Hello again, hello. Just called to say hello.

We had a very nice visit again last night. I got there around 6:30 or so and the door was closed and blinds closed so I figured she was sleeping and crashed in the waiting area with my Kindle. I finally went in around 8 (it was a coincidence that the Sox game started at 8. Honest.) and she was still napping but woke after about 20 minutes or so and we chatted and watched the Sox and chatted some more. Apparently even though I briefly woke her to tell her what was going on she had no recollection of the orth tech being there and assembling it. So she woke up and was surprised to see monkey bars over her head. Funny stuff. She tried to play with the computer a little but but was having a hard time focusing and concentrating and had a mildish headache so we decided to put it away and try again tomorrow (today). To our pleasant surprise the night nurse was her favorite night nurse from last year (She remembered we were the people with the candy in the room - I said there are worse things to be remembered for.) so they bonded a little bit and chatted over ice checks and vitals. There was also a new nurse trailing the regular nurse so they of course went over all the differences between PAOs and total hips and all those kinds of things. She was starting to drop off around 10:30 or so so I took off for home and the kitty.

After a lovely night of sleep and a stop at Dunkin for coffee (size bigass) we had a very nice visit this morning before work. When I got there the nurse was outside her room writing down something important in the log book so I asked if she was sleeping. "Nope, she's up. And she just had a nice breakfast." So that's pretty exciting stuff. Apparently not only had she eaten (English muffin and some eggs iirc) she was actually hungry and wanted to eat and it wasn't because people were bugging her to eat. I'm trying to remember to last year and I'm pretty sure it was several days before she ate and then it was just chicken noodle broth. So we think this is a good thing....

While I was there the PA came in and checked her out (thumbs up all around) and removed her wound drain. The plan for today is to hang out in bed some more and keep doing her breathing exercises. Tomorrow the epidural is probably going to come out and they may try to get her out of bed for a little bit. Then Sunday we plan to hunker down together and watch Irene come to town.

I plan on stopping in after work and kitty time tonight and will take the laptop in again so perhaps we'll try again while watching Wake go for #200.

Cheers!

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(Seatmate)

Sorry for the lack of update last night. Apparently the mobile site isn't so good at actually posting things when you hit post. Ah, Betas...

Anyway, she was finally taken upstairs around 7:00 and promptly fell back asleep. Which is a good thing. Sadly she missed just about all of the Sox game but there will be more and sleep is a precious commodity when you're being woken up every 2 hours for ice checks. I stayed around until 10:30ish (the Sox game ended was a coincidence, I swear) then went home to a very confused kitty. We played a bit and then just as I was dropping off I got a call from work about an alarm on an incubator. Lovely. Because what I wanted to do at midnight after being up since 5 am was go change a CO2 tank. But my mother lied and everything isn't really about me so enough about that.

I dropped in briefly before work this morning and chatted with the nurse who said she (swerve, not the nurse) had a good night and seemed comfortable. Apparently she (still swerve) had complained more about pain in the right hip (where "all" they did was remove the screws) than the left which was odd to me but she (the nurse this time) said that the epidural might have been more targeted to the left hip. We agreed that was probably for the best. She (back to swerve again) briefly stirred when an ortho tech came to install the monkey bars/trapeze but I'm not sure she fully processed that I was there. Again, this is a good thing.

When I run over after work (after a stop at home to feed the kitty (not a euphemism) and change) I'm planning on taking her computer in so depending on how awake she is you might here from the rock star herself tonight.

Thanks for all the thoughts and notes. They're very much appreciated.

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