In June, 2020 I was diagnosed with an anterior and posterior labrum tear in my left hip. My best option was surgery.
I'm determined to work my way back to pre-surgery conditioning (or better). This page will document my recovery, including victories and setbacks. I’ll also be sharing the things I learn along the way.
Hopefully, if you're in a similar situation, this information will help you to know what you might encounter. It always helps to know that you're not alone. Thanks for following my journey. And cheers to your recovery efforts.
I’m not going to lie. Recovering from a hernia operation is tough. I like to stay positive and look for the bright side in every situation. And there is a bright side here; once I’m through this I can get back on the fitness track that I value so much. But I can’t help but chirp a bit right now.
The big difference between the hernia surgery and hip surgery is I could use my core for the hip recovery. Yes, I had to take it easy for a couple of weeks before starting hip PT. With the hernia, I’m benched for quite some time; Probably 4-6 weeks. And here I must avoid using my core. I admit, it’s a little disheartening because I’m pretty much sidelined beyond walking and there is no PT here. In fact, I can’t go back to my PT for my hip until I’m much more recovered from the hernia surgery. What I thought would be a bump in the road is more like an uphill climb (without using my core).
I will say in the beginning, everything hurt. It’s been about a week and a half and I’m definitely in less pain. At first, every clearing of the throat, cough and unintended shift was an adventure. The first night, I had a two-and-a-half-hour case of the hiccups. Oh, so fun! Fortunately, I was able to keep myself from sneezing for a week. Thank goodness.
So now what? Well, I wait. I’m doing things to keep myself motivated. I’ve started to acquire hardware for a garage gym. A very good friend helped me build shelves in the garage prior to surgery so I could clean up and organize to open up some space. We’ve managed to acquire single and pairs of hex dumbbells in various weights. We also purchased used 35# and 45# bars and have some plates on backorder. Once those are all here, we’ll look to acquire a rack that works best in the space. So, I’m planning to be back and am making a commitment to it.
Yes, it’s tough at the moment but I’ve said many times that I’ve been playing for the big picture and must continue to do so. I fully plan to compete next year both in running and CrossFit and must (and will) play it smart so I can realize those goals.
As I sit in anticipation of another late night, I have that all too strangely familiar feeling that you get before you know something unpleasant lies just ahead. As I’ve known for some time, in order to achieve complete recovery and be able to improve from there, I must address my hernia.
So, tomorrow that will be addressed. And from there, another lengthy recovery. This isn’t a complaint. Rather, it’s just the reality and facing that reality is important for my overall health in the big picture. The dividend is I’ll soon (relatively speaking) be back to “normal” workouts, only without experiencing pain.
I’m grateful that I could do full mobility workouts again, with the help of Dr. Jon at my PT, even if only for just a few weeks. I even got to do my birthday burpees tonight. Yes, it’s a few days early, but having the ability to do them is a victory.
In the meantime, as far as tomorrow is concerned, I won’t be able to eat after midnight. So, I will wait until about 11:30 and have my nutrition coach-approved late-night pre-surgery meal…pizza. Sort of feels like college again. And tomorrow, I’ll do what must be done.
I’ve had three sessions at my new PT location, Prime Physical Therapy and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in this entire process. Dr. Jon means business, and I mean that in a good way. I had known that they understand CrossFit here, as many athletes I know go there and have had great results. However, I did not know the extent of their knowledge until I got started. They’ve been working with me on my movement and are helping me improve my range of motion.
Dr. Jon has also done a couple of dry needling sessions with me. I’ve never had that done before and it’s been a unique experience. Those of you who have had that done before know what I’m talking about. Those of you that haven’t, the best word I can use to describe it is “funky” but it’s helping to get the desired result.
Dr. Jon has had me doing a lot of squat work. I’ve had that familiar feeling of my quads being fried just like after a workout. I have to say it’s kind of nice to feel that again. Although, I’m sure the novelty will wear off very quickly.
In my first session he had me doing air squats while holding a plate in front of me. In the second session he had me doing back squats (with a little bit of weight), single leg kettle bell deadlifts and wall balls. I ran through the movements for 5 rounds It was a workout! The last session was an EMOM of cleans and front squats.
I love that my recovery is centered around my goals to return to CrossFit and to run again. I love that my physical therapy is largely CrossFit movements. And I love that there’s a detailed focus on proper form. Dr. Jon has helped me to improve issues with my form that have been there for years. It motivates me and gives me confidence. In short, I’m happy with how things are going right now.
Ah, but let’s not forget there’s another surgery less than two weeks away. With the way things are going at the moment, I’m sure I will be back to my recovery quickly and will be able to slowly and properly work my way back up.
I’m optimistic that I can be back at CrossFit and working hard by the end of the year. For now, the biggest job I have is remaining patient and trusting in the process.
I wish I could say the first part of PT was exciting and there was a whole lot to write about. However, it wasn’t and there wasn’t. There was a lot of stability work at the PT facility and at home. You’ve probably seen some of my social media posts about my independent workouts. They’ve been at least something like a “normal” workout to me.
A few days ago I met with the surgeon again. He’s very personable and takes the time to answer any questions I fire at him. He checked my range of motion and assured me that any pain and discomfort that I’m still feeling is normal at this point. Apparently, that ball and socket joint has a suction to it when everything is working perfectly and that has to be reestablished, and that’s part of what I’m feeling. Not terribly comfortable but we press on.
The surgeon also cleared me for my next phase of PT, which is full range of motion strength building. That doesn’t mean I can go back to full-on CrossFit workouts. In fact, this is a critical time where I might want to overdo it and feel more like I could. However, I know I must temper my enthusiasm. The last thing I want to do is set myself back. So, I’ll keep doing my own workouts in my friend’s garage but I’ll keep it light. I must remind myself to listen to my body.
Another bit of good news is I’m going to switch my physical therapy provider. It’s not that the first one wasn’t good. They were very good for what I needed at the time. However, there’s some people at this new place that understand CrossFit and have worked with CrossFitters. I’m looking forward to that. They will know what I’m working towards and help me to pace myself properly.
And for the good news/bad news, I have my surgery date for my hernia repair. It’s in just a few weeks so, the good news is it will get done and I can move forward. The downside is it will slow my hip therapy and will be some additional recovery. I look at it this way; it has to get done and I can’t make the kind of progress I want until it does. So, I’ll do what I must and advance from there.
I started physical therapy about a week and a half ago and have made some pretty good progress. Fortunately, a couple of slots opened up and I got a call to start PT a week earlier than originally scheduled. I can already tell my balance is improving. Strength is coming along slowly but it’s coming along.
I’ve been averaging 2 days a week at PT and doing the same exercises at home each day. They’ve already started adding complexity to the movements that I began with, requiring greater strength and balance.
At the end of each session, the therapist has worked on my quad muscle. It’s been very tight since the surgery. The therapist says that some of my quad muscles are connected to my hip and that’s why it tightened up. He’s really been working it, which is good because it’s not as tight as it was even last week. He says if it’s still being stubborn in another week he might do some dry needling. However we get the result, I’m fine with it.
I also had the opportunity to do some upper body workouts, other than the push ups and light dumbbells at home. My friends have a rig in their garage that they’ve been kind enough to let me use. I’ve been able to do some dumbbell high pulls with some heavier weights than I have at home, some pull up work, barbell shoulder press and some bicep work. It’s quite limited but far better than nothing. It feels like I’m doing something and, given my other options at the moment, that’s significant even if just for my spirits.
Finally, I started walking more significant distances. I’m up to about two miles. On my most recent outing it was clear my mind wanted to go further but my body said it might be pushing it so, the body won. I don’t want to do too much too quickly which, anyone that knows me knows that’s a big deal. I usually enjoy pushing it. Probably because my mind still thinks my age starts with a 2 or a 3 instead of a 5.
I’m going to keep pressing on. I’ve got some goals in mind to work towards like walking a 5k and increasing the scope of my CrossFit movements. I’ll clear it all with the PT folks and keep progressing as quickly as is prudent.
The other day I went to see the orthopedic surgeon for my first post-op visit and get my stitches taken out. He said the surgery went very well. I asked him about there being only one labrum tear rather than the initially reported two. He said it was really more about the size and shape of the tear. But it’s all fixed and the impingement on the ball joint has been smoothed out to what it’s supposed to be; round, not round with a bump.
I was also cleared for physical therapy. It’s not going to be a short affair. It will be four weeks of PT for motion and movement, followed by another six weeks of building strength and stability. There will be another visit with the surgeon in between. PT starts in about a week and I’m most definitely looking forward to getting to work.
While there, I asked about two things. First, I wanted to know if it was alright to do upper body CrossFit work. He said that I absolutely could. I’ll be limited to pretty much everything above the waist but something is better than nothing. I’ve been doing minor work at home but it’s time to step it up.
Second, I asked about when could get the hernia repaired. He said I can make arrangements for any time after four weeks from now. So, I’ll set an initial appointment with the general surgeon that was recommended to me and get those wheels rolling. This will mean a setback in my PT schedule at some point but I’d rather be recovering from two surgeries at once rather than completely recover from one and then have to recover again from another. The only thing that might delay the hernia surgery is my work schedule. We’ll see.
I’m feeling stronger. I can do some more walking around each day. Still sore but that’s improving as well. Things are going pretty well and I’m happy that I can start making more substantive progress.
You can take that a couple of ways. It’s been a week since surgery….or….Man, it’s been a week! It’s really more the former, I’m pleased to say. Is it a slow recovery? For the most part. Has there been some discomfort? Yes, some.
I’ve been able to move better each day. I’m now able to get around without a crutch. All my steps must be slow and deliberate. Something that’s typically second nature now must be focused on. That’s to be expected. Now’s not the time to be careless.
My sore throat from the tube during surgery has finally subsided about a week afterwards. I mentioned in a previous post my leg felt like it was shot with Novocaine. Now it’s changed to a combination of burning and pins and needles. Fun! I’m surprised at how tired I’ve been. However, surgery is an invasive procedure and it’s not something you can bounce back from overnight.
One observation is around anesthesia and medication. You must be properly sedated for the procedure, of course. But there’s also antibiotics, pain medications, anti-inflammatories and more, in some cases.
I’ve found anesthesia stays in my system for a good 2-3 days after surgery. This doesn’t come without side effects. The same goes for narcotics. Everyone’s threshold for pain differs. However, I hate how washed out narcotics make me feel so, I try to stop using them as soon as possible, within reason. I stopped the narcotics two days after surgery. The anti-inflammatory has gone from once per day to “as needed”.
An early side effect from the meds is everything slows down. The anesthesia will require, a certain type of patience, or “pee-tience” let’s say. For the first few days you could be standing (or sitting) for minutes before you go and then stop and then go and then stop. This improves gradually. There’s also an incentive to stop the narcotic sooner rather than later. Did I mention everything slows down? You may have to wait a few days there. Your results may vary.
I’m now at the point where I’m tired of sitting still. I’ve started some very basic workouts; pushups, seated light weight dumbbell shoulder press, dumbbell high pulls and some other strict upper body movements. I’m being very careful but it’s something to make me feel like I’m doing more than nothing.
Stitches come out late next week. Hoping to start physical therapy from there.
I returned home around dinnertime. My most excellent wife, Amy had bought me some chicken noodle soup from a really good local market and maybe a cookie (because they’re known to have healing properties).
I was sent home with a couple of pain management medicines; Naproxen, which is like an industrial-strength Advil and Dilaudid, which is a narcotic. I’ve had Dilaudid in hospital IV’s in the past and it certainly does the job of taking the pain away. However, until now, I didn’t know there was a play-at-home version.
I was told to stay on top of the pain to start so, I took both medications in the evening. The Dilaudid makes me drowsy but not sleepy, so it wasn’t a very restful night. I took the Dilaudid through the next day but stopped it after that. I’m not a fan of how it makes me feel and the pain is not enough to really warrant it for much longer.
Ice is important. When I woke up from surgery, I had an ice pack strapped to my leg in a way that made it clear there was no modesty left to question during surgery. It wasn’t just a normal ice pack. It was connected to a cooler with ice that circulated the cold water. Very innovative. As it turns out, it was a big help. I left it on for the first few days; until I could shower and it did a great job of keeping the soreness in check. My wife changed out the ice 2-3 time each day. I could disconnect the line to get around. Now that the ice “system” is off, there is more soreness but it's not unmanageable. And, I’m still icing it with regular ice packs.
Before the surgery, the surgeon mentioned the area may feel numb for a couple of weeks. A few days out and my leg still feels like it’s been shot with Novocaine. I guess I just have to be patient.
Another fun post-surgery take-home is the anesthesia, which takes a couple of days to wear off. That makes trips to the bathroom more challenging. That could be a post unto itself.
Mobility has not been as much of an issue as was expected. I’ve been able to get around with a single crutch with no problem since the first day. While I’m not trying any acrobatics, I can get in and out of bed, up and down from chairs, up and downstairs, and to the bathroom on my own.
The surgery was on a Tuesday. I was allowed to shower on Friday (today). It was very nice. I was able to do it on my own but I had the wife in the room just in case. I would not have attempted it on my own on the first try.
I changed the dressing on Friday as well. It’s only a couple of incisions and they were only a couple of stitches each so, I could re-cover them with band aids. The good news here is they were expecting to repair two tears but as it turns out, there was only one. Hopefully, that will ease the recovery process.
I woke up with the understandable nerves that come with surgery. I’ve had several surgeries in the past, so it wasn’t unfamiliar. My surgery wasn’t until 1:00 so, I was able to shower, shave, get some work done, gather what I needed and do my regular post to Drop-In Diary. (It was a review on nutrition bars. You should check it out - https://www.dropindiary.com/blog/powerful-portables.)
We left the house just before 10:00, as they wanted us there 3-ish hours early to prep and in case they were running early in the schedule. I remember feeling hungry as I left the house, as I wasn’t allowed to eat after midnight the night before. Consequently, I had a last meal just before midnight; nutrition coach approved pizza, as it had fat, carbs and protein (pepperoni) to carry me through much of the morning. As soon as we got to the surgery center, those feelings of hunger went away. There were many other things to focus on.
After signing in, they took me back pretty quickly. I got changed into my beautiful hospital gown and yellow “grippy” socks. I kind of looked like a strange duck. A nurse came back and hooked me up to an IV to stay hydrated, sat with me and started to ask me a bunch of questions. The more surgeries you have under your belt and meds you regularly take, the more questions you get. She was very nice and time went quickly.
Then the surgical nurse came in and asked some more questions and told me what to expect before surgery. Consequently, she was also a runner and her husband did CrossFit so we had some things to chat about.
The surgeon came in briefly to give me a little pep talk and told me what he’d be doing. He also marked the correct hip because, well, that’s kind of important to get right. He told me I’d feel stiff and sore after surgery and I’d have pain meds to manage it. He also told me not to drive for a bit and use crutches to help me get around. I’ll meet with him in two weeks, when I’ll most likely start with physical therapy.
Finally, I was visited by the anesthesiologist and one of the nurses on his team. This was where things went a little sideways. He asked if I wanted a nerve block for after the surgery. He said (with the nurse nodding next to him) that most people wake up in excruciating pain after the surgery. Sometimes they’re in tears. And 90% of people get the nerve block. I felt like I was being sold something. I had 15 minutes until surgery and I felt backed into a corner, having to make a decision with little information and almost no time. My wife was sitting next to me and she was concerned.
This was when I stopped him. I told him “no offence, but I feel like I’m being sold something.” The surgeon told me that I’d be “stiff and sore”. The anesthesiologist implied it wasn’t the surgeon’s area of expertise. But, at this point he could tell I wasn’t pleased and said that they could wait until after the surgery to see how I felt and, if I need it they could give me the nerve block at that point.
Here’s where I’ll say that all people’s pain tolerance is different. But hopefully, if you have to go through something similar you can look into it in advance. It is an extra cost and you’ll want to have the full picture. It turns out that I was only stiff and sore afterwards. I was in a little pain when I woke up but they gave me a little more pain meds and it was well under control.
I suggested to the surgical nurse, who was still there after the anesthesiologist left that it would be very helpful to know about the nerve block option during the pre-surgery call that you get a few days before the operation. This would give people time to digest the information and do any research they need to. She agreed and told me she’d pass on the suggestion.
After that, it was off to the operating room. To me, operating rooms have always been a little intimidating. I’m not completely sure why. Perhaps it’s just unfamiliar territory. But when you have to get up on a table and have your arms out to your sides, strapped down and you’re looking up at those big lights, it’s just a bit unsettling. I’m not trying to scare anyone. That’s just how it feels to me. The anesthesia nurse told me she’d start putting meds in my IV to put me out and within seconds, I was out….
I woke up in the recovery area and was definitely out of it. As I mentioned, I was in some pain but it was nothing close to “excruciating”. A little more magic meds in the IV and I was ok. My throat was dry and sore because they used a breathing tube during surgery. I had some water and some very dry pre-packaged cookies. I came to a little more as my wife came back. It didn’t take much longer before I was able to get dressed and get out of there.
I was wheeled down to the car. It really wasn’t very uncomfortable transferring from the chair to the car, we stopped to pick up some meds and it was time to head home and begin my recovery. But that’s a post for another day…like tomorrow.
Did you ever have to bring your car into the shop for a repair only to be told it needs to have two other repairs done? That’s kind of how I’m feeling at the moment. I said there’d be setbacks. This one’s just a little earlier than expected.
During my pre-surgery physical the doctor suspected I have a hernia and I went to a surgeon this past week who confirmed it. So now I get to have two (count ‘em, two) surgeries. This just means the road to recovery is going to be a little more complex to navigate.
I have full confidence that I’ll get back to the former me, but I’m shooting for an improved version. After all, if you had this much work done to your car, you’d hope it would have a little more get up and go. I'll just be careful not to accelerate too quickly during my recovery.
Hip surgery is in just two days away and the surgeons have told me to take it easy, which I’m doing…mostly.