I went to see my favourite physiotherapist, John Manley, the other day. He asked me how I was doing, I responded that my hip's feeling good, but I'm getting impatient. He said I've been impatient as long as he's known me. Maybe it's just the changes I've been going through in that time...
Put a Pebble in my Shoe
I told John about the one leg longer thing, and he seemed unsurprised, and furthermore, unfazed. He left the room for a minute, and came back with a chunk of insole and some scissors. He asked me to cut it to fit in my shoe, and feather the straight bit close to the instep. He said to try not to make a mess. John has rather a dry sense of humour.
So I cut it to fit, put it in my shoe, and we went out into the big room with the mirrors to test out my walking. I've been focussing on keeping my gait even and my feet mostly parallel. I've been encouraging my hips to swing side to side a bit, but they're not very willing - yet. Turns out I've been missing an important detail.
John says my pelvis still has an anterior tilt of about 30 degrees more than it should. It's how my body has learned to move to avoid the pain in my hips. He asked me to walk and tilt my pelvis. Then to tilt it more. It felt like I was tilting A LOT! As if I were Steve Martin doing the pelvis forward walk for his character in Two Wild and Crazy Guys on Saturday Night Live in the 70's. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpFNC7puU2M
As I walked forward and backwards up and down the room, tilting my pelvis and relaxing my shoulders, I could feel a subtle response in my lower back. John said this will open up the fascia at the front of my hips, and bringing the vertebrae into alignment at the L4, L5/S1 juncture. This will in turn bring my thoracic and cervical curves into line. Once I'm past my restrictions, he'll give me some exercises.
Range of Motion, Clamshell and Mini Bridge
After that, I lay on my back on his massage table, and he checked my range of motion. He says it's exactly as it should be at the moment. He checked the activity of my external rotators by having me lie on my side with my knees bent, and open the top knee. He suggested I do this exercise, gently, to strengthen them. I remember he had given me that exercise before, but I'd forgotten to do it. Damn!
John also asked me to lie on my back and lift my pelvis, coming up to a small bridge. He invited me to lift my right foot a little off the table, which was hard to do. Then I did the same with my left. Not quite so difficult, but still challenging. In fact, after a few reps of each side, my left hamstring started to cramp up. I have been noticing when I walk uphill that my hamstrings and glutes are weak from my long recovery period, and they need work. After I walked up the long set of steps from the beach the other day, leading with right foot, the top of my right hamstring was sore for about a week.
As for the impatience - yes! I am very impatient, and for good reason. Almost 4 years ago I moved back to BC from Montreal. A few months later, I met my now partner, Zack, along with his kids, Noah and Piper, then 12 and 9. At first, we were a very active family, hiking, biking, swimming, diving, boarding, skiing, etc. etc. But it was soon after I met them, that I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Over time, my pain grew, and the list of fun activities I could do, shrank. No more running, jumping on the trampoline, and playing Survival in the forest for me.
Also, with one hip surgery last year, and the second this year, that makes 6 months, or half a year of movement restriction. Last year, as I was rejoicing in the new movement potential of my right hip, my left hip started to give me trouble. Just as i started to rev up my movement potential, it slowed back down again. Compared to my old life in Montreal, where I rode my bike everywhere, taught three yoga classes each day, danced contact improv and attended regular contemporary dance classes, I live the life of a slug.
So, of course it will be SO AMAZING when this last month is over. Which is still a long way from the end of the healing journey. John says it takes 18 months all told to heal up after THR. But, to be able to move for the rest of my life, or until old age slows me down, the wait period is short. On the other hand, it's been so long, and most of my time with my family I've been hampered by arthritis. To be able to stretch and bend, run and jump, turn cartwheels and stick handstands. To be able to teach, to dance, to ski, surf and bike with my stepkids - I can't wait to have my life back!!!
Today's quote: "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain." ~ Vivian Greene