Hindsight

10Jun12

Now that I’m done with the acute phase of my recovery, I’ve thought a lot about things I woulda coulda shoulda done differently.

1. Pre-op baseline PT. I did PT, but it was more than a year before my surgery. I wish that I’d done some pre-op PT prior to the surgery, to have good data on what my pre-op range of motion, strength, and pain level was.

2. Surgeon selection. I only consulted with one surgeon. He was a great technician (confirmed by my mom’s spies in the OR at his hospital), but his pre-op and post-op care was practically nil. His advice for my post op recovery was basically not to mess up his repair. Beyond that – he had no specific recommendations for protocol, or even PT’s to do this very specific type of rehab that can make or break a repair. Luckily, I thoroughly investigated PT’s on my own, and found a great one.

3. Handicapped placard. “I’ll only be on crutches two weeks. I don’t need a handicapped placard.” BALONEY. Even if someone else is driving, it’s still a long hobble from the parking lot. Getting out and about sucked, because I had to get dropped off, and then my driver had to go park. And then even when I was driving, for at least another 3-4 weeks, I was pretty hobbled, and it was exhausting doing the simplest errand.

4. Start PT early. Not part of my surgeon’s plan. And it suuuuuuucked. Some people can handle sitting around catching up on all the TV they missed while they were out training for marathons, but not me. Even if it had been PT lite, I wish I’d had some outlet for my pent up energy, and someone to reassure me on a relatively frequent basis that I was recovering normally. Having some hands on massage and gentle mobilization would have been really awesome, too.

And things I did right:

1. PT selection. This has, by far, been the most important factor in having such a speedy recovery. Yes, I’ve worked hard, but without someone directing that work, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

2. Support system. Two kids + mom on crutches + dad recovering from hernia surgery = help. My parents live nearby which was great, but then they left for Antarctica for a month. That was not as great. But we have friends and neighbors willing to go the extra mile.

3. Stay active. I went to the gym 4 days post op. I didn’t do much, but at least I was trying. A body in motion tends to stay in motion.

4. Accept setbacks and plateaus. My surgeon did give me great advice about how I’d experience frustrations and setbacks. And he was right, but knowing that everyone experiences that made it easier to push through them.

5. Schedule surgery in the winter. Spring and summer are too nice to sit out. I’d be crying my eyes out right now if I couldn’t ride my bike to the pool with the kids. It’s a lot easier to sit on my duff indoors when it’s cold and dreary than when it’s sunny and warm. You’ll deal with whatever you’re dealt, but it makes it a lot easier if you at least try to accommodate your lifestyle when scheduling.

6. Have a flexible desk job. I had the luxury of working from home as much as I needed during my recovery. I only took 3 sick days, and I was happy to occupy my brain with real work right away. Of course, some may be looking forward to going on disability and relaxing on the sofa, but that just isn’t my style.

7. Have a buddy going through a similar experience. Thank you, IronMo. Not that I’d wish surgery on anybody, but it’s been so reassuring to have someone close to me dealing with the same stuff. Misery loves company.

8. Maintain a sense of humor. You have to laugh, or you’d cry your eyes out.

 

 

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