Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2 years post surgery - a different perception...

It has been a little over two years since my surgery. It's crazy to think how much has happened over the past two years. Recovery has been a long and frustrating road. But, along with that road has been learning experiences, self discovery and growth.

My overall physical recovery is still a work in progress. I am back to my usual activity - albeit with limited strength in my surgery hip. I still suffer from weakness in that muscle area and frankly I doubt it will ever return to full strength. However, I do feel fortunate that I can still cycle and practice and teach my yoga. I know that I am demanding a lot of my body - but I was never one to sit around and let life happen around me. I want to do all that I can with what I've got. This life is NOT a dress rehearsal.

My emotional recovery is subject to my ability to accept that what is. Most days I don't even think about the past two years of my recovery and embrace my blessings with love and compassion. Other days when I'm feeling discomfort or limited to what I want my body to do versus what it can do - I still find myself attached to the past and all those feelings of suffering bubble up. But fortunately those days are few.

My yoga continues to provide me with the physical and spiritual nourishment that my mind and body need to stay healthy and sharp. I can't imagine where I would be without it. When I find myself wallowing in my misfortunes, I reach for those things which I know to be true and that I have learned through the disciplines of the yoga:
  • Judgments and negative thoughts are harmful to you and others - get rid of them.
  • Be kind to myself and love me and everything that I am right now - even the imperfect being that I am.
  • Anger is a waste of energy - love, compassion and kindness make this human life worth living - share that everyday, all day with everyone you meet.
  • My attachment to the way things "used" to be is my main cause of suffering. Be grateful for the things I have right now at this moment - because that is all that matters.
  • Worrying about the future is futile. Every second I spend worrying about tomorrow is a second that I am not present at this moment. I don't want to miss a thing.
So I will continue to forge ahead. Knowing that there will be good and bad days - just like everyone else in this world. Instead of commiserating about these unfortunate events that changed my life and the path it was on, I try to look forward to my continuing journey on this road to recovery. I've met so many great people and learned so much that I would never have learned if this misfortune had never happened. It's funny how a different perception of things can truly change how you look at life.

You should try it...

Namaste'

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

19 months post surgery - many questions...few answers


I was recently contacted by an on-line medical device recall website. The editor had read my blog and asked me to write an article about my metal on metal  (MoM) total hip replacement revision surgery and subsequent recovery for their community forum.  I was happy to do this since there is little useful information out on the internet about this type of surgery and recovery.   
I began by going back and re-reading my blog from the very beginning of my hip revision ordeal.  I realized, that while I am on the road to recovery - I have not recovered as I would have expected to be 19 months post surgery. In fact, I think I feel even more betrayed by the medical industry since I am still not whole - not mentally or physically as a result of the defective MoM hip implant.
Many questions - few answers...
I am 19 months post surgery as I write this. I still suffer from leg, muscle and joint pain as a result of the second THR revision surgery. As of October 2013 my Chromium levels are still elevated ( Cobalt is in normal range). I will have new labs taken in January 2014  to see if there is any change.
While the pain is not excruciating, and at times is just a mild discomfort -  it is always present. The Doctors in their infinite wisdom (sarcasm) say the hip is stable and everything looks great! But I’ve found that the Doctors really don’t understand – because their knowledge comes from a text book – not from a real life experience. They are doing the best they can (within the confines of managed health care and their experience) – but I live in this body and I would really like some answers as to why I feel this way.
  1. Why would after two surgeries and 19 months of recovery would I still have hip weakness, joint instability and pain in the surgery area and leg?
  2. I’ve been working hard to recover – I am not just sitting around waiting to get stronger! I am physically and mentally working every day toward 100% recovery – why then I am still struggling and having issues?
  3. What are the long term affects of the high levels of chromium and cobalt? No one seems to know the answer to that question. What will this mean to me long term?
  4. I can’t understand why the doctors aren’t more interested in these questions as well?
  5. Wouldn’t this knowledge help them as they treat future patients?
Some days all of this makes me angry, some days I learn to accept and let go and other days I wonder when and if I will ever feel normal again. But the fact is I worry – A LOT - about my long term ability to stay active and lead a normal life.  I worry that this new prosthesis is bad or incompatible (even though the doctors say it is fine) and perhaps that is why I feel all this pain. At other times I chalk it up to my active lifestyle – I still continue to cycle and do yoga (These two activities help to keep me sane and strong).

My hope is that all these muscle pains are just my atrophied muscles coming back to life – a little at a time. Perhaps these pains are compensating muscles that now have to overwork to make up for the muscles that are not working properly?

As always...Many questions – few real answers…

Namaste'

Monday, November 4, 2013

17 months post surgery - recovery so far.

Random Thoughts...

Two days ago would have been my Dad's 87th birthday. He's been gone three years now and I miss him everyday .

I often wonder what my Dad would think of my life these days, the fates that have befallen me and the life choices I've made since he passed. He would have totally freaked out that I quit my good stable job to start a yoga studio. I know he was proud of my Yoga accomplishments - but make a living at it? He'd be skeptical at best. - and would have tried his best to talk me out of it.

I know for sure that he would have been so pissed about my faulty hip. He probably would have led the revolution to sue the hell out of the maker of that hip. Bill Cox would not have rested until his daughter was compensated for all her suffering and those poor bastards said they were wrong. Just the thought of my Dad's indignation at such things makes me smile. He always had my back - that's for sure.

Recovery Progress

Anyways - here I am at 17 months post- hip revision surgery. There becomes less and less to report on my progress— since progress at this point is slow. Any improvements now come at a snails pace. However I am finding out what is still not fully recovered and wonder if it ever will be.

Right hip external rotation is still very compromised. The weakness in the right buttocks (gluteus maximus, medius and minimus) is still weak. This causes instability in that hip and surfaces any time I walk for extended periods of time especially on uneven surfaces - like hiking.  Boy oh boy does my back and hips get angry when I hike. It takes me a good two to three weeks to recover. It makes me incredibly sad to think that I may never be able to hike again. Yosemite, Hawaii, the canyon below my house - potentially off-limits. I'll keep good thoughts that I can overcome this obstacle and that I will be able to hike in the future.

The 1/2 inch leg length difference seems to only exacerbate the hip instability problem and jack up my back. So I have to make sure that every pair of shoes I own has a 1/2 inch lift or the heels altered 1/2 inch to accommodate the leg discrepancy. The guy at the shoe repair shop knows me by name now. He asked if my insurance was covering the costs of the shoe repairs - I laughed - um No.

So I continue to work my Yoga practice to repair what the surgeons had to mess with to take out my metal on metal hip. Some days are good - I feel like I've made some progress and other days not. The good news is that there are more good days now than bad! As a result,  I am feeling more ready to MAYBE re-start up my yoga studio soon. I'm actually considering looking at places to lease. It's kind of exciting - but a little scary at the same time. I'm only able to teach so many classes a week - and I worry about that. What are my limitations and can I run a successful Yoga studio within them?

Awww...burning questions with no real answers...yet.

Namaste' Friends


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Just when you think you have moved on....

September 11 - of course we all know the significance of this day. Probably know exactly where we were when the horrifying image of terrorism attacked our United States. Of course we will never forget this day, but for the most part we move forward the other 364 days in a consciousness that doesn't dwell on those awful hours and days. But this one day, the events bring us back to those feelings, sadness, suffering, shock, anger,  fear of the unknown - and it dredges up all the feelings of suffering we experienced -  just when we think we have moved on.

And while my hip situation can nowhere compare with the suffering experienced by the millions of that day, a simple event in my life - one day - can resurface all those feelings of pain associated with the surgery and misfortunes of that event.

Just when I think I have moved on, a simple event like a blood test that shows that my Chromium levels are still 5 times too high sneaks in. A doctor appointment with a new Orthopedic surgeon, to re-hash all my THR revision story so that he can be brought up to speed on my situation. A fear inside - that I try to NOT think about that maybe again, something is not right with this new hip. Or what affect these high Chromium levels will have on me long term. Ah yes, these things dredge up all the suffering I experienced - Even as much as I try to NOT let it affect me it does. I withdraw, I avoid, I shut down. I imagine the worst - just when I think I have moved on. 

Do we ever really move on and completely let go of those past experiences that define our lives? Should we? Desperately not wanting to let them define us or rule how we live our life, but the reality of the situation somehow does indeed set a direction for us.

I tend to look at my life events as lessons, what can I learn from this so I can understand - become wiser- except sometimes I can't see the lesson. What was the lesson from September 11? What is the lesson from my ill fated hip? How can I let go of these torturous thoughts for every single minute of every single day 365 days a year so I can find peace - so I can move on?

I want to move on....

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The "Lost & Found" year - 1 year post surgery

Today marks one year since my total hip replacement revision surgery...There are so many thoughts racing around in my head. Which ones will show up in this post? Which ones will stay securely locked away? I could rant & rave about all the crappy things that have happened or I could practice acceptance and surrender to what this last year has given me and rejoice in that. Hmmm neither sounds very attractive.

It is sad to say but I truly feel that I have lost a full year of my life - and the worst part is I am not fully recovered yet. I know things happened in this year that I would not have experienced without this life event. Things that made me a more "whole" person -brought a new understanding and compassion into my life. So how can I feel I lost a whole year - when I know that I have found new insights and understanding?

These conflicted feelings are not unique to me or my situation. We all feel this way at one time or another. It is the source of much suffering in our daily lives. Our minds replay the tragedy over and over trying to find peace with what is, never really able to let go of the anger, sadness or loneliness.  We find ourselves somewhere in the middle (like I am) with conflicted emotions.

 I have found that my yoga practice has brought me great peace. Not so much the postures (they can be grueling and not very peaceful at all sometimes) but the residual effects of the yoga. The great stillness I feel after my practice, reminds me that everything is temporary and that this too shall pass. I found that my body awareness, as a result of my yoga practice, helped me to intuitively know how best to approach my recovery and conversely when things were just not right and to slow down (although my stubborn mind does get in the way!).

So I now embark on this next year with continued conflicted emotions and a not quite healed body. I will turn again to my yoga practice as a source of physical support and wisdom to silence the mental chatter. In the Yoga Sutra's (the book outlining the art and science of Yoga) Sutra 2.15 says: The wise man knows that the fluctuations of the mind (good & bad) are tinged with sorrow (attachment)  and he keeps aloof from them. Acquire right knowledge and it will root out the seeds of pain and pleasure (regular font are my interpretations added to the sutra).

I'm hoping in this next year, I can find the right knowledge to free me from my conflicted feelings and to strengthen my body, so I can move forward into the next 1/2 century of my life.

Namaste'

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Attention and Awareness - a path to a better life

I have just returned from a week long Yoga conference. And while we all went there specifically to practice our Yoga or to become better teachers of Iyengar Yoga - we spent a lot of time in our breakout sessions discussing our consciousness. Consciousness when we perform asanas (poses), in our bodies, in our daily life, in our spiritual life and so forth. But what really began to resonate with me was that we as humans mostly spend our human life "unconscious" - unaware of how our actions or better yet - reactions, affect others and ourselves.

To many the word unconscious conjures up pictures of someone laying on the ground unresponsive - but I found a definition that better communicates where I am going with this:

The unconscious mind (or the unconscious) consists of the processes in the mind that occur automatically and are not available to introspection, and include thought processes, memory, affect, and motivation. It contains thoughts, memories, and desires that exist well under the surface of conscious awareness but that still exert a great impact on behavior.

These unconscious thoughts manifest themselves through what Yoga practitioners call Samskaras - impressions formed with each life experience. Some even believe that we are born with these samskaras from previous lives. To a more western mind this is called the "old brain". Every experience - no matter how minute leaves an impression in our mind and our brain uses these to judge/experience/react to our present occurring events. Herein lies the problem - with our unconscious thought, we do just that - react - and often times not well. These reactions affect our relationships, careers, and more importantly our relationship with our self.

How do we change that? These samskaras are embedded deep into our unconscious - some are good and some are bad. To really affect change we have to pay attention and be more aware of our unconscious thought patterns. 

Birjoo Mehta -(Sr. Iyengar Teacher from India) facilitating at the conference described attention and awareness as this: Attention - an action directed towards a specific point. Awareness is what happens after you bring your mind to that specific point. 

By practicing these two mindful actions, we can begin to facilitate positive steps in changing our behaviors and lessen the affect of past samskaras (impressions) so that we may participate more fully in the moment instead of letting past impressions color our  present experiences. 

We can start practicing attention and awareness very simply. If you're a yoga practitioner - start by bringing the attention away from that part on your body that is talking the loudest to you (hamstring or lower back in forward bends perhaps) and then bring the attention to the opposite part of the body - the area that is quiet. Notice (awareness) how the mind and the body react to this attention and awareness. Often times a peacefulness arises and thus a new  awareness/consciousness in the pose. If you're not a yoga practitioner, but maybe you practice another sport (golf, cycling, running, etc) you can do the same but coming at it from your sport's perspective. Become aware of any new feelings, sensations etc. and by doing so, say hello to a new consciousness!

So how do we practice this attention and awareness in our relationships? Much in the same manner. In everyone's  life there are people who challenge us - naysayers, victims, complainers, polyannas, children (!) - you know what I'm talking about. The best place to practice attention and awareness is with them. These people need us to be present with them. When we are not, we actually create more of what annoys us about them.  When this person starts to exhibit the behavior that sends you over the top - bring your attention to that feeling you have about them (judgement, annoyance, irritating, mayhem - haha) and then bring your awareness to that person. Listen to what they are "really" saying. The behavior exhibited by this person is really deeper than what is on the surface. What are they really looking for? Love, compassion, trust, acceptance? Can you just be there with that person in the moment? You may become aware of a new understanding, a different side to that person (just like a different side to your yoga pose or golf swing). A new consciousness that brings you into the moment - and really no other moment matters - but this one right now.

Remember - practice is just that - practice - no one gets to perfect the first (or thousandth) time. But each practice gets you closer to a more fulfilled life

Namaste'

Monday, April 15, 2013

10 months post surgery update NEWS

It has been 10 months since my total hip replacement revision surgery - and almost 2 months since my last blog post. Here is the latest on my progress. I'll discuss the news, then the better news.

News -
I am still struggling with full use of my right hip. Muscle atrophy as a result of the metal ions that leaked into my hip area, have caused some external hip rotation issues that continue to plague me. I'm getting more strength little by little, but it is a slow and frustrating process. Thank goodness for my Acupuncturist Lester Bahn - his 2x monthly sessions continue to break up scar tissue and improve my circulation in that area. I can now go for almost two weeks between sessions and feel relatively normal. Stairs are still a struggle and some standing yoga poses test my strength limits. Hiking and being on my legs for an extended period of time causes a lot of discomfort and frankly is not worth the pain and suffering for days afterward. Hoping that gets better so I can get to Yosemite again and enjoy a day at Disneyland!

As a result of the revision surgery, my right leg is now about 1/2 to 5/8 longer than my left leg. The surgeon was unable to put the new prosthesis in at the same angle as the last which resulted in a significant leg length differentiation. Because of this, my hips are out of alignment and my sacroiliac joints hurt most of the time. My sciatica on the left side has been flaring up as a result of the issue and has been causing me some pain. I've had to have most of my left leg shoes lifted by 1/2 inch to compensate. This is starting to ease some of the discomfort in my back, but seriously limits the kind of shoes I can wear. No more sexy high heels for me!

Better news - 
With the help of a Senior Iyengar Teacher - Manuoso Manos, I have been working with my atrophied muscles and they are getting better! My knees feel better and I can move in and out of my Yoga poses more easily (still not great - but much better)  :) This is such a relief because I was almost ready to give up my standing pose practice as a result of all the pain I was having on the right side and SI joint.

I'm back to teaching at the YMCA (4 classes a week) and started teaching a Mature Learner class at UCR. I'm slowly starting classes at my home studio (as I feel better and stronger and more capable of teaching additional classes). I won't be looking for a new place to lease for a "real studio" for a while. I am just not healed enough to sign an extended lease and stress my body by teaching more and running a business. Maybe in 2014? Who knows?

I do know that I am a little anxious about starting another studio for fear that something will go wrong again and I'll have to close another studio. I feel like my initial momentum has been completely interrupted - and getting that sense of purpose and drive back to open my studio again eludes me right now.  I'm hoping it comes back about the time I am healed so I can re-open my studio and work towards a fulfilling and financially secure future.

Until then, I'll keep working on my own enlightenment. Pushing through the mental chatter that tries to sidetrack me and push me down the path of negativity. When those thoughts come up - I've learned to breathe and think how blessed I am that I came out on the other side of this whole catastrophe. My surgeon told me at my last visit about a lady in Canada who died from the metal poisoning from her metal on metal hip. Yes - my story could have been much worse - although there are times that I want to give up especially on days when my body feels 800 years old.

Will I get all my strength back? I don't know. Will I re-open my studio? I don't know. I will persevere - that much I do know.

Namaste' Friends.