Sitting cross-legged on the floor to watch TV. Doing child’s pose and feeling my bum gently touch my heels, without effort. Being able to comfortably fall asleep lying on either side of my body.
These are tiny, simple things that six months ago, even 18 months ago, were not possible for me.
My new hip is now just over six months old. Pre hip replacement, I’d had pain in my hip for much longer than six months. Years, possibly since 2013 or earlier. I’m fairly certain that the back injury that saw me stop teaching group fitness in 2014 was because I’d been overloading my lower back to compensate for my diminishing hip flexibility. It’s pretty easy to do a backbend with poor technique; it’s far more challenging to backbend with equal fluidity in all 33 vertebrae.
So how is life six months on from a hip replacement? It’s pretty damn good.
I can complete day-to-day tasks with ease, like squatting to plug a power cord into a floor-level socket. I’m not scared that I might, on my 900m morning walk to the train station, feel a sharp shooting pain in my hip crease that causes me to limp and lock my jaw in determination. I can sit and watch a movie on TV without fidgeting every 5 minutes to relieve the discomfort.
I can go about life without fear. It was fear, the fear of pain, that was so debilitating before my operation. Was the pain all in my head? No, but my perception of my experience of pain it definitely influenced my actual experience of it.
And there’s still niggles, discomfort and aches occasionally… which I put down to the side effects of being active (uhhh, DOMS anyone??). About four months in, a visit to the physio determined that I was probably “overloading” my right side while my left side was still regaining strength. The physio said that I may be subconsciously “looking for pain” – an interesting thing to consider for anyone who’s experienced chronic pain. Anyway, about a month later that pain seemed to resolve itself and balance returned.
In terms of exercise, I’m slowly getting my cardiovascular fitness back. Cycling to and from work a few times during the week and doing an outdoor ‘Pikachu workout’ (because Pikachus are small and powerful apparently) with my partner once a week.
The rest of it – strength and flexibility – is also a work in progress. But already my glutes are stronger than they’ve been in years! This is not without work though; weights 3-4 days a week, pilates weekly and yoga (mostly at home) 2 days a week.
It’s not cheap but it’s not extortionate – mostly it’s just time (hello gmail calendar!). I guess it’s all about priorities too; I could spend $199 on a set of eyelash extensions or I could spend it on 3 x physio-led pilates classes (and claim them on health insurance). The way I see it is that my body is my home, so I may as well try to make it a comfortable place to live.
Most people will rent or buy more than one house in their lifetime – we’ve each got our own meat sack for life, so we may as well make the most of it!