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 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.