Surgery Recovery Chronic-les: Week 3 thru 5

Week 3: Yesterday marked 3 weeks post op…breaking news – today I sneezed for the first time since before surgery. Ha! My hip (bone graft) has been surprisingly painful, to the point where I didn’t want to sneeze in irrational fear that my incision would rip wide open. True story. So I’m using this as a healing gauge… I sneezed as I normally do and my hip incision is still intact, therefore my body is healing! In other news – everything in my cast itches, good thing we have an air compressor to blow air through my cast. Also, sometimes I limp if I’m putting too much pressure on my right leg, but I haven’t needed my cane.

Week 3: Today I put my slouchy beanie on. Sounds super simple, but trust me when I say it was quite the feat since my casted arm is bent 90 degrees and I can barely hook part of the beanie on my fingers. Took me 5 tries before I got it on my head, and probably 15 mins total. Looks like I’ll be wearing this for the rest of the day. Which I feel good about, partly because I didn’t have the energy or the patience to shower and wash my hair today.

Week 3: In the spirit of Thanksgiving… Some of the things my soul is thankful for on this day, and always…
Those who believe in me
Chronic illness/autoimmune community
Running shoes
Good surgeons/doctors/nurses
Heating/cold packs
Chasing dreams
My fight, my struggles
This life
My titanium body parts
2nd chances
My bike

Week 3: Today is Thanksgiving! Every year on Thanksgiving, I turkey trot. Whether it’s at a race or on my own. This year, I’m obviously not supposed to be running just yet – however I couldn’t bear to break tradition. So, I took my two turkeys for a trot (Sharky & Izzy). And by trot I mean a long brisk walk…and it felt wonderful. My heart is full, and soon my belly will be. This is only the 2nd or so time that I’ve taken the dogs out for a walk on my own, which is awesome. I know my furbabies are loving having me home so much – which really just means they get lots more cuddles and walks than usual. Not going to lie, I’m loving it too.

Week 3: Netflix & chill. Thank goodness for The Blacklist, because I am horrible at this whole rest & recovery thing. I will say though, that Netflix makes “resting” much easier. SO much to watch, and I love a good binge for a couple weeks. I’ve also been filling my free time with reading – almost done with the Maze Runner. And yes, my home is in full-on Christmas mode because I needed something to lift my spirits and keep me busy. PS – my Christmas décor has been up for 2 weeks already (took me days to decorate with one hand, but at least it helped keep me busy).

Week 3: Santa & two reindeer (Sharky & Izzy), did some Christmas shopping today. It’s like I’m a real adult! Don’t worry, I’m not driving with my right hand. It’s funny how many things I had actually already been doing with my left hand before I had the surgery. Guess it goes to show how bad my right hand/wrist was for so long. Definitely made the transition to using my left hand easier post-op, I think. In surgery-recovery related news, I’m sleeping and eating a lot. More this week than previous weeks. Seems weird, but Mom says it’s good for healing. Fingers crossed that she’s right.

Week 4: RA and its insane unpredictability. A funny meme, but a serious topic. This can be one the most difficult aspects of the disease to explain to people who do not have it. To family, friends, employers, and strangers. It can also be the cause of feeling guilty, misunderstood, lonely, and even unhappy with yourself. We all know this can be especially challenging during the Holiday season. Please remember that YOU are enough, and that you’re not alone. Be kind to yourself – love yourself… your mind, body and soul are listening.

Week 4: Drinking from my Wonder Woman travel mug always helps me feel stronger on tough days. My elbow is flaring inside my cast – extremely frustrating because I literally can’t do anything to help it except eat anti-inflammatory foods (which works when my body lets it). Knees are also flaring, probably due to the rain. Come to me Wonder Woman powers!

Week 4: Fatigue. I’ve been so tired, the kind of tired that no amount of sleep can cure. Guessing this is due to the RA + surgery combo. PS – elbow is still flaring in my cast and other joints are angry, as I’m still not taking any meds that help control/slow down the disease. Every day I feel anxious about my wrist/hand. My mind is like: Is it healing like it’s supposed to? Is the itching feeling normal? Is the tingly or warming feeling normal? Should my hand still be a bit swollen? Should it hurt like that? Does my reaction site look normal yet?

Having an anxiety problem doesn’t help, obviously. Have I mentioned how badly I crave to train? I know I won’t be able to swim like in forever it seems, but I will be able to run and bike (on trainer) at some point. Hopefully sooner than later because walking does not cut it for me. I’m an endurance athlete after all. In other news, leggings = pants. All I can wear are leggings which is actually the norm for me anyway. Can’t wear pants yet because it hurts my hip bone graft site and it’s really hard to zip and button jeans with one hand. Result: I now own more leggings than jeans.

 Week 5: So today I had an unplanned appt with ortho because the cast was too loose around my wrist/hand which was causing pain on the sides of the wrist. Originally I was just going in to the cast room, perhaps for a new full-arm cast. Turns out my surgeon was there and had the cast taken off and sent me to x-ray. Good news: the metal and screws are in the right position and he graduated me to the half cast (elbow is out thank goodness!). Bad news: A. too early to tell if its healing because of my autoimmune disease, B. 6 more weeks off of my methotrexate and Orencia infusion, because my body needs to heal, C. RA is still flaring in elbow (swollen, loss of range of motion, pain) and in my hand (especially knuckles), D. won’t be cleared to go back to work until beginning of January (hopefully). The BEST news: I’ve been cleared for running, cycling (indoor on trainer), and body weight strength training (nothing that involves using my right hand). SO STOKED!!!

Week 5: Dear flaring, angry, golf ball, swollen, painful, RA filled elbow – I’m very sorry for trapping you in a horribly uncomfortable cast bent at 90 degrees for 3 weeks. Please accept my apology and help me help you get us both some relief, so that I may place you lightly in my Specialized Shiv’s aero bars ASAP. Your immediate cooperation is of utmost importance. Best, Dina (impatient/desperate triathlete)

Week 5: Ran for the first time post op!! PS – got my hair in a ponytail for the first time post op, thanks to my half cast! Very exciting (it’s the little things). 2 little miles, at an easy pace had me feeling like Wonder Woman. I think it’s been 7-8 weeks since I last ran, and I definitely felt it. Knees and ankles were screaming at me, and hip where bone graft was taken started hurting at 1.5 miles. Wrist didn’t bother me at all, although arm and elbow is still sore. But, truth is none of that matters because it felt like pure glory to run again.

Interested to see how my body feels tomorrow. That will help me gauge where I go from here and what I can handle. Slowly but surely I’ll be back. I’m no stranger to fighting like hell for something I love, getting knocked down, having that something taken away, and then enduring the suffering all over again to get it back. Somewhat of a professional endurer of all things pain if you will. It’s going to be one hell of long road, but I’ve got this.