What is Out of Range Now Won’t be for Long

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The 4 weeks from my 2-week checkup to my 6-week checkup were the longest in my recovery.  I was very diligent about taking all three daily walks, counting errands or other walking opportunities as part of my walks.  After 2 weeks I had gotten a referral for outpatient physical therapy and started working with a different physical therapist.  She gave me a completely different set of exercises, replacing all of the previous ones with more difficult exercises.

While I was still in the hospital my surgeon had told me that there was a slight risk of a complication: if the blood supply to the head of the femur was sufficiently disrupted I would develop necrosis in the head and require at least a partial hip replacement.  This has continued to be an important part of my focus, since I want to avoid a hip replacement if at all possible.  During my first session in outpatient PT I asked what I could do or not do, that was within my control, to have the best possible outcome with respect to necrosis.  My physical therapist replied matter-of-factly: Don’t overdo.  So I have been careful to follow all of my medical team’s advice with respect to advancing (or limiting) my activities, even though I have felt like I could tolerate more activity.

For my 6-week checkup I had another set of x-rays and met with my surgeon.  He said the x-rays looked good, meaning that the bone fixation was secure.  My physical therapy would focus on strength, flexibility, and stability.  At this point my baseline was 3 walks per day, averaging less than 15 minutes each.  At last I could start to make changes in my walking routine, but the restrictions were not yet replaced with an “as tolerated” guidance.

Instead, when I met with my physical therapist later in the week, she indicated that I should give myself another month “for the healing to mature” – medical-speak for progressing very gradually.  Because I was naturally walking more quickly, with her concurrence I started to track my daily routine in terms of time instead of counting houses.  With her approval I also began to consolidate my 3 daily walks into 2, one longer and one shorter but with the same total time.  Then I started to increase the total daily time by just 5 minutes every 5-7 days.  After I was comfortable with 2 daily walks I began to consolidate to 1 daily walk, while continuing to increase the time.

This process took the entire 5 weeks until my next PT appointment.  I could really notice my walking range increasing, even though I made these changes gradually.  Also, I recorded both distance and time data for my daily long walk.  Although I wasn’t consciously trying to increase my speed, I found that my time per mile decreased from about 17:30 to 15:30. So I was able to cover more distance in my allotted time.  And my strength and flexibility continued to improve – yes, even dealing with socks was easier..  I was starting to get back in my element.

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8 Responses to What is Out of Range Now Won’t be for Long

  1. Pingback: Rubicon Trail (northern portion) | trailhiker

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  4. Pingback: Back in my Element | trailhiker

  5. Pingback: Stop Sign | trailhiker

  6. Pingback: Rubicon Trail (northern portion) | trailhiker

  7. Pingback: Back in my Element | trailhiker

  8. Pingback: Déjà Vu: Stop Sign | trailhiker

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