Surviving the summer and deciding whether to have screws removed

It’s been so long since I’ve written in my blog I can’t even remember the last time.  I know it was before school got out in May because once that happened things got crazy here.  The good news is I survived the summer and the trip to Guatemala!! Pre-trip I was hurting pretty bad even with minimal activity.  The travel as expected was hard and it took several days to recover, but by the end of the 3 weeks in Guate I was able to walk about ½ hour with pain, but it was tolerable pain.  That was a first in a long time.  We had a lovely time with my hubby’s family, with my sister joining us the last 2 weeks of the trip.  The trip home I was alone with the kids (Yago had flown the week before for work), and it was hard because I had to carry my carry on over my shoulder (which was heavy and affected my walk and I didn’t think about that pre-trip when I was packing) and manage the suitcases off the conveyer and through customs in Houston.  The trip went as perfectly as it could, my body just wasn’t up to all the walking and sitting and carrying. I stuck to my exercises and could feel my muscles getting a little stronger through the trip and after, but I was also having an increase in pain at the front of my hip.  Not in the joint, but more superficial.  It feels like a screw head jabbing my muscle.  I get it the worst when I activate my hip flexors (like when putting on pants, going upstairs), but I also feel it anytime my hip flexors are tight and working hard to stabilize my pelvis (which is a lot of the time) as well as when I am sitting.  It’s very frustrating to say the least.

I went to Columbus last week to see my PT and he said I am testing strong in all the muscles, except the hip flexors, which I am stronger in them than I was in June (my leg used to fall pretty quickly without resistance when he put me in the testing position, where now I can hold it against gravity and a little bit of resistance) but still weak.  He was very pleased with my progress this summer.  I can walk up to an hour most days with my Brooks tennis shoes on with a tolerable pain level before it gets bad and I start to limp.  Looking back to 3 months ago and 6 weeks ago I went from only being able to walk 10 min to 30 min and now up to 60 min (most days, I do have off days sometimes) with tolerable pain and not a bad limp.  I do see the progress when I look at things this way, it’s just super slow progress.  My PT had me stop any exercises a few weeks ago (we communicate by email in between visits) that really activate my hip flexors due to the new pain in the one area.  I told him I thought it was a screw head, because when I look at my x-ray there is a screw head there, and it told him all the things I mentioned above.  He didn’t want to make guesses, but told me to write everything down and tell Dr Ellis when I see him on the 24th.  He said if that is the case, if I get the screws out I should make even better progress.  He added a couple of core exercises that I wasn’t ready for until now.  That is a good sign, as before he told me he didn’t want me doing any core exercises until my glutes were getting strong, so now I am slowly getting there, yeah!

So now it’s a matter of continuing to very slowly increase my activity levels as I continue with my glute and start my core exercises.  I still limit how much/how many days I can be more active.  I’m learning when it’s ok to push myself a little, and when I need to stop and rest before it’s too late.  My big prayer that I’m circling these days around my orthopedic issues is for God to show me if getting the screws out this fall is the right decision or not.  I never planned to have them out going into the surgeries (my surgeon doesn’t remove them unless they are bothersome, so I was hoping they were not going to be), but now with the pain/issues 2 of them are causing I don’t see how I can ever function semi-normal with them when just walking up the stairs feels like someone is poking a screwdriver in the front of my hip.  Typically my surgeon has people wait a year to get them out, but he will consider it after 6 months if the bones have fused together well (which mine have).  I don’t want to have surgery close to the holidays again, so ideally I would want it in October, but I am worried because getting a little bit of strength has taken me so long that I don’t want to go backwards too far and be in miserable pain for weeks or months again.  If I wait until January or anytime in 2016 we have to start all over again with the deductible.  Money shouldn’t drive surgery I know, but looking at the numbers it will be a hard hit if I wait until 2016.   My PT said because the surgery doesn’t involve going into the joint (like my scopes did) or breaking the bones (like my PAO’s did), it’s literally just pulling screws out, that the recovery is quick and much easier.  He thinks I am strong enough and that it’s a good idea because of the pain the screw is causing.  However, I know more cutting means more scar tissue and my muscles getting confused and weak for a while again.  It will involve pulling muscles and fascia and things aside to get to the screws, and as deep as they go into my pelvic bones, I can’t imagine they will be easy to remove.  It all freaks me out, not to mention the risks associated anytime you go all the way under in surgery. Theoretically it should be an “easy” surgery and recovery according to my surgeon and PA, but nothing has been easy for me.  I am usually the normal recover time doubled or tripled to recover.

Anyways, I would happily accept any prayers you have as for wisdom with this decision.  I go Monday and need to figure it out by the time I leave his office that afternoon. I keep praying daily for wisdom from God as to what to do about this.  I’m really trying to put it in his hands and not let fear and anxiety take over.  I so badly would love this 4.5 year journey of chronic pain and hip surgeries to be over, but it’s not time yet I guess.  Two of the versus in the bible that speak to me over and over these past couple of years that I’m clinging to lately about this are the following:

Romans 5:3-4 says “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”

James 1:3 says “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”

Well my choices have been to throw in the towel or trust in God and have patient endurance.  Not easy when battling awful pain daily that limits life year after year, but I must say through it all I have seen God answer so many prayers through this, and although sometimes the answers were not the ones I wanted, He has answered them and been faithful in being by my side through it all.  My faith and trust in Him has grown tremendously as a result, and I daily remain dependent on Him (which is a pretty good thing I know).  Thanks for any prayers for this upcoming appointment, I’ll update sometime after next week.

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