22 weeks post op. 5 months.
It’s another Thursday morning and another week has passed. Almost half way through my year of recovery. When I first started considering what year of recovery would look like before surgery I couldn’t even START to imagine it…. I really couldn’t imagine anything other than the pain I was in, or the life I was living. I had no idea what would happen or how it would look. When I first started moving in those first few weeks after surgery it seemed like a year would never be enough… that an active life would be crazy… While the pain was less, I couldn’t figure out what life would be like. Then as I started making gains early in in months 2 and 3…. I really started thinking… hey some of these exercises are getting easier and maybe this will really only take me 6 months… I won’t need the whole year…..
Reality strikes… I am going to need the whole year. You may wonder why… I am trying to being muscles back from a sleeping beauty type sleep…. so many are weak and so many others are tight. I said early on I felt like a baby, a newborn learning to walk…. well – I’m still learning. To watch me on any given day you would have no idea that I am not “doing it right” but there are still imbalances that pull everything in me toward the middle of my body…. I have also been asked why I don’t leave PT. It’s a reasonable question. I guess my answer has multiple facets. I haven’t’ reached my goals – I am not at the level of active life, I am not as strong as I want to be, my insurance is still willing to pay, and I am learning tons. So until stuff stops pulling in the wrong ways and my pelvis remains neutral without me thinking about it constantly or my PT thinks it’s time to give me my cap and gown. I’ll keep showing up.
What’s my day to day like….
I get up with the kids in the morning, and stretch before I leave the room. I handle morning chores, sometimes the bending is easier than others ( feed the zoo- load of dishes). Drive kids to activities. Sit in kitchen and answer e-mails, play on facebook, make phones calls, do more learning about SIJD online, ect – toss in a load of laundry. Lunch for the kids, errands ect. Around 3:00 I start to get tired and I can feel muscles tightening up or throbbing…. it’s a high mild low moderate pain. It sometimes keeps me from doing more. I find some ice and lay down for awhile. 4:00-5:00 time for dinner and swim practice or meets or PT for me – then kids to bed and crash with ice.
NEVER could have handled a day like that before surgery in the last 4-5 years…. I AM better, I’m just not done. That makes me weary sometimes. Some days I feel bad because my daily life is taxing enough that I don’t get my at home PT done. I always feel guilty… I shouldn’t but I do… like I am not trying hard enough. I know in my heart that isn’t true, I do work hard and I do watch my body mechanics a lot during the day… I think I have already readdressed my pelvic position ( pelvic tilt) 5 times while typing this ;).
I am excited about the upcoming months. There are lots of fun and crazy ideas in the works from me going back to school to be a PTA, to all kinds of possibilities of how I can help others with SIJD. It amazes me the impact we can have helping and supporting each other.
My husband reached out to me the other day when I was struggling after my total physical break down last Thursday after PT….I wanted to share it. I love that he knows when I need some encouragement and knows just how to provide it…. here’s a little back story to put it in context.
Ok as you might remember if you have been reading along with me for awhile, I was a swimmer before I “got” SIJD. Back in my hay day I qualified for a national meet in Orlando Fl. It was a huge deal, super starts would be there… like Olympic swimmers and stuff. One of the people I looked up to at the time was a swimmer by the name of Janet Evans – she was gracious, worked hard, and swam gracefully and FAST!
Once we were in Orlando there were people everywhere and it was crazy intense. I swam 2 events and Janet Evans was in both of them! So technically I have swam against her…. She came in first I came in like 300th ( out of say 600) So ya know a good close to 300 people separated us and probably a good hour between the time we were both in the water, BUT it was the same event at the same meet 😉 So that’s always fun to tell… but anyway My hubby knows that I always love a good come back story….
Well after 15 years at 39 Janet Evans is back in the pool training and is going to try out for the 2012 games in London…. this gives me great hope and strength. She has already set records in her comeback and I can’t wait to see what she will do….. and when I let myself dream I kinda smile inside and think that maybe we will swim against each other again in the Masters ( old people) meet….. still separated by 300 people, but what an even better story that will make!
My freshman year in High School – 2 years before my Janet Evans experience. I’m the one with the glasses, and these other girls were my heroes. It was a HUGE honor to be a freshman on their relay!
22 weeks 1 day
Today wasn’t fun. My backtracking has continued. Pt this last week was all about trying to stop the cycle of inflammation and muscle breakdown. I am to stop all home exercises other than glute squeezes and cut back my daily living and rest more. While I can’t stress enough that I am still better than before surgery, I could certainly feel the cycle of muscle imbalances again. A moderate burning in the hips and low back off set by super tight hip flexors…. burning and tightness are really never a sign of anything good. Well my PT was successful at getting the burning in the hips to stop and admittedly I am glad about that and dealt with a lot of the tightness too. Unfortunately it would seem that now that everything has calmed down I am having some pain when I walk. Scary pain sharp and right near the SI joint when I walk mostly on the right side -I’m pretty sure its muscle…. and for those wanting to know if I called my PT, yes I did. I was told to rest ice and tens. So I set up a play date for my daughter, dropped off my son at cub scout camp, and got back in bed… all day…. you know what I realized. I DON”T LIKE THIS! It’s one thing to understand the process of what’s happening, I get it – I believe it, but the reality is I want it over! I kinda hate that I understand what’s going on in my body… bottom line… I am not strong enough and do not have enough endurance in the muscles to keep a 8-10 hour day on my feet. Really this shouldn’t shock me, but it does. How can it take this long to get stronger? Why are there so many other patients that it doesn’t take this long! I find it hard to complain, but I really dislike being trapped in my bed again, even if it’s self imposed.
So it looks like I need to back off from some of that living stuff, go back to resting (read laying down) more again. I can’t say I am excited about this… it feels like a big step backward. The little backward steps are hard enough… but this really feels inconvenient. It will require more self -control than I think I have. Because the reality is with teh burn and the tightness – I didn’t really realize that it hurt too bad…. until it was gone…. I was functioning – not properly, just like before surgery… bad habits to keep going… gotta stop the cycle, change the habits, and keep on keepin’ on. Sigh… So for tonight I’ll just keep telling myself that it took 18 years to get to where I was …. 22 weeks is probably not long enough to undo that many years of misuse… So to battle the frustration I’ll go over in my mind all of the gains I have made since surgery and try to stay focused on that.
22 weeks 5 days
Frustration…. it’s the first word on my lips today. My best friend has a saying that has come to mind many times this week, ” Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” What does it mean… when we hope for something, look forward to it and we have to wait for it… it doesn’t feel good. That’s me all over on my physical journey right now. When I felt the zings in my rear end on Thursday I tried to stay calm and work out the problem in my head with what I knew… but the fire and the zings are similar to before surgery – NOT the same… far less severe, but they are reminiscent…. so I tried really hard to stay calm… I did ok until Fri morning when I woke up and put my feet on the floor and was still getting zinged when walking… so I did exactly as you all would… freaked out and called my PT 🙂 He was compassionate as always, reminding me of things that are true – mostly the fact that he told me he could understand that I was worried, but that it would be ok and if I wanted he would call Vicki. TO be honest I don’t remember what I said… just hearing that it was ok that I was having a freak out moment was enough to at least get me to take a nap. So Friday and Saturday I spent in bed, resting, reading, working on online projects… but it wasn’t the same as a few months back… now it really felt like my life was passing me by again. Can’t say I like the way that feels. I really don’t, it feels bad… lonely…. isolating, and frankly a tad bit depressing.
At this point – the pain is frustrating and limiting only in the fact that I can’t use the muscles – they are in spams… I need that to stop to move forward. It’s a new pattern of dysfunction – awesome. I have just traded one pain cycle and pattern of dysfunction for another. Sigh… It IS progress – it IS forward movement… but to have a taste of life again, to hope, to make plans, to LIVE and then have to come to a dead stop again even for a short time…. well my PT took the words right out of my mouth when he said your probably thinking… I don’t have TIME for this! He was dead right…. I have plans, hopes, dreams, dishes, laundry…. kids to drive all over…. I don’t have time for this…. but if I don’t make time I can’t make it stop.
So I guess I will make time. I will try to be patient with myself. I will be thankful my husband looked at me and said, How can we help you through this… what can we do? I am thankful that he is frustrated WITH me and not at me. I will be thankful that ice puts the burn out, that rest helps the pain, that i will still be able to sleep tonight and if anything keeps me up it will be my emotions not my physical pain. I will be thankful that my problem is that I am trying to live too much too fast….
So I will not lose hope, I will not give into the idea that I am a failure just because I am having a set back. I will NOT be sad that I may have to wait to drive my “new to me car” until my flare up settles down. I will be thankful that my biggest problem is trying to do too much too soon and hold on to that and figure out how to readjust my life once again.
I like words, they have such impact. I like when my kids use them in funny ways, or make up new ones. For instance my son, who is ten, likes to use the word verse… as in… Mom will you Verse me in mario kart… he means VS… but says it like it’s a word, makes me smile every time. Another word that makes me smile is a verb… Googling…. really.. 10 years ago that wasn’t a word you would have heard… googly eyes yes, but as an action.. to google something… never.
Lately I have noticed that i amusing the word frustration a lot to describe my mental state… so I looked it up.
Frustration: b : a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs.
Yeah – that’s just about right… dissatisfaction from unresolved problems… stupid si joint that caused issues…. and unfulfilled needs… I wanna be “normal”!
So yes , I slide in and out of frustration as I tend to this flare up… I know it will pass eventually, it’s less now – we were at least able to stretch today at PT… that made it feel better.. and I continue to ice down a lot. I adjust life to be more laying… WHY must it be postural muscles… you need those for EVERYTHING… so I guess I am glad we didn’t move the computer from the bed side yet! did however give up on that dieting thing… it honestly amuses me. What seemed so easy a few weeks ago when I was gaining life rapidly is now a huge burden I can’t even consider… I am back to watching movements, limiting trips up and down stairs… considering this activity r that activity… and yet if you asked me ice cream or cake I would say YES ! Food is once place we tell ourselves we don’t HAVE to choose. It’s one of the few things that we feel we have control over. We can chose what we eat, and often when we are in pain, we use the food to comfort ourselves. This hasn’t really grown into anything other than an observation.. but I do wonder why I put coffee, carbs, and sugar into my body when it hurts and a good portion of these things do nothing to actually feed the body to make it better… but it soothes the mind/emotions somehow…
So I figure this week instead of being frustrated I am going to try and move forward and let go of all that dissatisfaction and work on being satisfied. This right here is me being satisfied. This is me in my new to me car, a 2005 PT Cruiser- that is a convertible. This is a hopeful me. I am an extremely practical woman, I manage our household and our budget, and while the car is within our budget it FEELS like a huge luxury. I have wanted a convertible as long as I can remember… a VW bug… 1974 red was my top choice, followed closely by a VW rabbit – also red. So when my husband told me I could take this one for a test drive, I fought with myself… it’s not practical.. we live in the midwest… it’s cold here way more than it’s warm… it’s got to last us a long time…. on and on… but this voice inside me said… risk… not with money, but with hope… this car says I will be having fun, I will take the top down and drive it places, I will be healthy enough to ENJOY this fun car. To wrap my brain around the idea that I have a life right NOW that allows me to drive a “fun” car…. it’s easy to forget or to think that it’s temporary and right around the corner everything will fall apart again and I won’t be able to enjoy it. But that’s not real…. this set back.. is just that… a small set back in a very well paced recovery… besides the new car has seat warmers that go up into the lumbar area…. what more could an SI patient ask for!!!!!!!!! Plus, It’s a stick shift… I couldn’t have driven this car prior to my surgery., but I can now! I can enjoy it and so much more.
23 week 3 days
I hit a first today. For the first time that I can remember I sat in a folding camping chair. I took my daughter on a girls night out, you know dinner, sweets, and our activity was to go see a local High school production of Seussical. Every other time we have gone to this lovely little outdoor theater I have laid on the grass on a blanket, it looks like I am hanging out with my kids, but truth be told, I simply couldn’t sit in the chair. It was like a mid-evil torcher chamber for all my SI issues… talk about unsupported sitting! I tentativly took two chairs out of the car for us and walked into the theater thinking like I always do… what’s my back up plan, what can I do if I can’t sit in the chair – what if I spasm and can’t get up or out of the chair. It was just Erin and I… how would I get us home…. then I realized, before my surgery I never would have attempted something like this… it would have been to risky. Too many things could go wrong, I wouldn’t even have taken her out to eat just us. But tonight was different. We put the top down, turned the radio on, we laughed and sang ( I am thrilled that she loves 80’s hair bands as much as her Mom does!). We laughed at dinner, we enjoyed the play, we cuddled, it was a really great evening – and at no point in the evening did I think may day mayday…. I can’t handle this.
23 weeks 6 days
The worst of the “set back” “flare- up” “injury” or return to bed rest is mostly over. What I mean by that is that I can be upright again more of my day. and the fear, burning and wanting to curl up in a ball in fear – that part s over. While PT over the last 2 weeks looked more like a medical spa trip… the results of my trip to “the spa” and rest = loss of muscle strength. yet another reminder there is a long way to go to truly functioning. As a former athlete, I get it, you practice, you get stronger, you get sick or inured you have to take it back a notch and build up again. We went back to non-weight bearing at PT and I was very thankful for that…. I needed it to shore up some stuff that wasn’t used in my “down time”. I am not a blob again, I can still be upright for multiple hours, but I am icing after most activity. So a few hours up2-3 and then back on ice… another 2-3 hours up back on ice…. repeat until things get done, or I am out of strength. I can still do laundry and dishes – I load my dryer ( front load) very carefully – tight abs and very conscious of bending…. sometimes I drop the wet stuff into a basket and sit on the floor and load it… I can last longer that way.
My PT also knows that I speak of him pretty often here in my journal, and he insists that I tell you the “truth” and include all the less than pleasant things that happen at PT… I feel I have been every even handed in my retelling of events that unfold at PT, but to keep my word I have to tell you, if I haven’t’ already – I HATE HAVING MY IT BANDS WORKED ON! For the first time in our 3 year relationship I cried due to pain CAUSED by my favorite PT… I think he got a little delight out of doing it… not making me cry… but working those IT bands… THAT should be used as a torture devise… has to be more effective than water boarding!
Really they don’t hurt, other things hurt much worse than my IT bands… but then he explains that the tightness of these muscles is pulling my knee cap out of it’s groove… which will cause me more pain and is not how my body is suppose to work, and that it’s just another compensation for….. weak glutes… great. So part of my at home stuff is that I am suppose to ask my husband to bruise my legs and deal with my IT bands… yeah that went well when I started crying….he loves me too much adn just couldn’t do it….I was left to do it myself! What kind of insanity is that?! Causing myself that kind of pain…. I REALLY hate SI issues right now- a friend suggested I use a rolling pin to roll up and down on in place of a foam roller…. I was warned if I didn’t come in bruised to PT next time he would be forced to do it for me… anyone else want to go to my PT appointment for me – I think I am bringing a leather strap to bite on!