Just before I went into the operating room, a friend who has had multiple surgeries, told me that the hip was his toughest to recover from. Now that I’m one month from my surgery date, I can understand why. It is a slow, arduous recovery, and it requires a lot of patience.
The last month has been nothing short of surreal. The first two weeks were a painful blur. The third week was the exciting trip to the West coast for my wife’s Jeopardy appearance. This last week has been, in many ways, the toughest of all, because I’m starting rehab while returning to work on a mostly full-time basis.
I also have a better understanding now of what actually happened in the operating room. Since they didn’t do the full repair, recovery could have been quick. If it were only the debridement and clean-up, I would probably be getting back into the swing of things right now. The big difference was the microfracture. They essentially broke my hip in order for it to heal correctly. I’m going to keep the details of how they did this to myself, as even thinking about it makes me squeamish. Thankfully I was out for that part.
Because of the microfracture, I won’t be able to start putting weight on the hip for at least 6-8 weeks from the surgery date. That means it’ll be two weeks from now at the earliest, and based on what I’m feeling now, I have a suspicion I’ll be towards the end of that window.
The reality check was when I started physical therapy. They heated my hip and did some stretches, which felt great when I was there, but caused me some of the worst pain afterward. I have trouble taking pain meds without getting sick, so that made it even tougher. There was one day that I had to come in late to work just so I could eat and take enough anti-nausea medicine in order to handle my pain meds.
Even though it is slow and I can barely notice slight changes, it does get better every day. On most days, I feel far better than before surgery as long as I rest enough and don’t engage the hip too much. I also know that I’m at least halfway through the bone healing process. Once that starts healing, life will get a lot easier. I’ll be able to ditch the nasty pain pills for good and replace them with ibuprofen and naproxen. At that point, physical therapy should get easier and I can start regaining my athleticism.
Full recovery is up in the air. Microfractures are complicated. I’ve heard from some that it could be four months; others have said six months. I’ll probably get a more accurate timeline from my surgeon, who I see the week after next.
For now, I’ll keep resting, watching TV, managing the pain, and keeping in mind that relief is coming soon.