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.