Day 38 – Almost back in the game!

May 26, 2019. By Alison Pignolet

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. Mother’s Day, two family birthdays, and my youngest child graduated from college. The demands of life forced me to ramp up my activity level on a daily basis. Things had to get done. Somewhere in there I had a follow-up appointment with the surgeon’s PA. Everything looks good from their perspective.

I started outpatient PT with Kelly Fieseler. I’ve been working with Kelly weekly for years to keep me strong and able. She helped me go into the surgery in good shape. It was great to start back up with her. First order of business was addressing the scar tissue that made me feel like I had a fat wallet in my front pocket. What a relief! I wasn’t sure if it was ok to massage at it. She was and it helped me get so much more movement and comfort. We are now working on range of motion and strength.

Signal Mountain, Grand Teton National Park

My daughter, Isabel, is working as a wrangler on a guest ranch in Wyoming this summer. On Wednesday, she packed her car and the two of us set out for the west. We drove 1900 miles in 2 ½ days. I was pleased that I could get comfortable in the car. At every stop I walked until the stiffness was worked out and did some exercises. We saw some beautiful country. And the best part is, I was able to get out and do some easy hiking in Grand Teton National Park – woo hoo!

So, I’m back to being able to live my day-to-day life (almost – still no hot tub). I still fatigue easily and when I’m tired, I limp (kind of like before the surgery – lol). I’ll start thinking it’s all good and then I’ll try to do something where the right leg needs to be strong or move in a certain way and it JUST DOESN”T HAPPEN! But one day soon, it will. Patience is still the watchword. I’ve been able to do a few easy yoga poses and sequences and am looking forward to getting back to teaching. I miss you guys!

Day 25 – Things Feel Good!

By Alison Pignolet

This week has been good. I can do so much more. I drove myself to Heinen’s today (Happy Mother’s Day?) and pushed the cart through the store. Thursday, Andrew and I went to the Art Museum to see the Shinto exhibit. Yesterday I took Mia for a short walk. I’ve added some upper body weight work to my exercises. I can get up and down from the floor and feel strong on the stairs. While I still get a little shaky after doing a lot, I have moments when I’m doing something that I forget about the surgery.

The thing that still vexes me is socks. I just can’t figure out how to put a sock on my right foot.

The incision still burns and stings, and my thigh still feels funny.

Overall, I’m now looking forward to getting myself back in teaching shape. I confess to being a little stir crazy. Just a few more weeks and I’ll be back in the yoga room with you all.

Day 17 of the Bionic Woman

by Alison Pignolet, May 5, 2019

I’m beginning to get glimpses of “normal” again! I can walk around the house unassisted. When I go out or want to move fast I use a cane. This week I shopped, cooked a whole meal, did some laundry, figured out how to get down on the floor to snuzzle my dog AND put on and tied shoes? These flurries of activity are usually followed by an overwhelming need to rest. Which I do. I’m listening to my body as it sorts out these new parts it needs to relate to. But overall my energy level is improving, and my mind is shaking off the fog.

There isn’t much pain. There are still grumpy muscles. And the incision will occasionally burn and sting. I’m down to one Tylenol at bedtime and the required 2 baby aspirin a day to help prevent blood clots. I’m using the Coregeous ball on the grumpy muscles and rolling my feet and back.

I also did a Downward Facing Dog!! It felt amazing.

Yesterday we trekked to a car dealership and traded in my 2011 Subaru Outback for a 2016 Subaru Outback. Now when I get back to the studio, there will be a new color (silver blue) car in the lot. It’s kind of crazy since I can’t drive yet, but this car was a really good price, so we jumped on it. Send me you bumper sticker suggestions — you know I’ll have to put some inspiring reading on the car.

OK. looking at this I wish I’d distributed my weight better – I’m totally standing on my left leg. My right hip isn’t really THAT high.

And since I’m kind of homebound, when my sister sent me this really interesting recipe for Chocolate Mousse using only chocolate and water, I had to try it. It’s amazing. And easy. Just watch the videos and you can make some too.

10 Days post surgery

By Alison Pignolet

Me and my healing assistant – purr vibrations are excellent therapy!

This patience thing is HARD! I don’t know what I expected to be able to do 10 days out, but I think I imagined I’d be awake, energetic and comfortable enough to treat this like a stay-cation. Maybe that will come but not now. Now I need several naps a day and still occasionally have the foggiest of heads.

There’s been a lot of progress in the last week. We took the bandage off on Thursday and I got my first look at the incision. I’m sure most of you are grateful that I’m not posting a picture (but I’ll gladly share with any of you who ask to see one). They used glue to close it, so it looks quite neat and clean. It’s a relief to have the dressing gone – moving is freer now. AND I could take a shower. Best feeling ever.

My movement is improving steadily. I can comfortably walk (slowly) without the walker but keep it close by for security. I can use the leg to help me maneuver in bed a little. The hip flexors are still mostly off line. They took the brunt of the shock of the surgery, so I expect they need more coddling.

Jerry and I took our first outing yesterday – to Costco. Woo hoo? Our 25-year-old blender smelled like smoke when we blended. I love my morning green smoothie, so we set out to replace it. Rode the little cart and all. It was a little nerve wracking, but people were very polite about making way. Riding in the car was a bit uncomfortable, but it felt good to get out of the house and see forsythia and azaleas and lots of signs of spring.

If you’re reading this, thanks for your interest. I’m happy to receive phone calls and visitors! I’ll check back in next week.

3 Days Post Surgery

By Alison Pignolet, Sunday April 21, 2019

The surgery on Thursday went well – or so they tell me. I don’t remember a thing. It’s kind of crazy to think about all that happening to your body with zero recollection.

Since I was awake, responsive and able to wiggle my toes when I came into the recovery room, they agreed to evaluate me for going home that day. I rested up for several hours at the hospital and then a PT and an OT visited to show me how to get in out of bed, get dressed and use the walker. We went up to their little gym where I practiced on stairs, in a hall and getting in and out of the car.

We left the hospital about 6PM, 12-hours after we arrived!

My own bed felt really good.

Here’s a little picture of me walking at home the day of the surgery:

Everyone told me to take the pain pills on the recommended schedule for the first 24-48 hours. I did for about 36. But yesterday afternoon when it would have been time to take another there was so little pain I decided to “wait and see”. It never really got bad. So now I’m taking a prescription NSAID and over the counter Tylenol.

A PT came to the house Friday. The first exercises are mostly designed to reestablish the neuro-muscular control around the new hip. The leg feels super heavy because the muscles have gone off line. I can lie on my back and lift my left leg, no problem. Then I try to lift my right and nothing happens. So getting the muscles to work again is step one. I’ll keep you posted on step two!

Now its time to be patient and let my body heal.

Into the Mystery

By Alison Pignolet

I’m having a total replacement of my right hip April 18. It’s been a long journey to making the decision. Even further to saying it out loud.

After all, I’m a yoga teacher, movement educator and body nerd. I live healthy. I love nature. I wear minimal shoes. 

I worry I’ve let you down. How can I need a hip replacement? What did I do wrong?

The truth is that I’ve lived the life I’ve lived in the body I have. And I believe I’ve been able to lessen discomfort, delay the surgery and prepare this body for the best possible recovery.

Which is why I keep wondering if I am doing the right thing. Because some days, my hip feels good. Maybe it knows the surgeon’s knife and saw are coming and is trying to stay in my body.

I was diagnosed with arthritis in both hips more than 10 years ago when I was also diagnosed with a torn labrum in my left hip. I was told to come back for plastic and metal if physical therapy didn’t ease the pain.

I did the PT. I became a yoga teacher. I studied anatomy and therapeutics. I found Yoga Tune Up®. I learned to see and understand movement and the importance of strength. And I reduced my pain.

But I still had ornery hips.

Over the last year, my right hip has become increasingly stiff and dysfunctional. My range of motion has declined. I have pain ranging from mildly annoying to occasionally severe.

I started not doing things I enjoy to avoid problems with my hip. Instead of finding joy in movement, I became fearful.

So I scheduled the surgery. Now it is around the corner. I still have moments when I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing. That makes me uncomfortable.

I’m afraid my students will lose faith in me and what I teach because I couldn’t yoga/move/strengthen my way to normal functionality.

But in truth, I believe my movement practice and what I teach have kept me agile and mostly pain free as the joint disease progressed. If I didn’t do what I do, I don’t think I’d be wondering if now is the time to replace the hip. It would be obvious.

I also believe I aggravated or accelerated the wear on my joints with the way I practiced yoga early on. In those days, I reveled in my flexibility and ability to go deep and hang out there. I didn’t think strength was important. I ignored pain, thinking it meant I just needed to stretch more. To try harder. I didn’t believe yoga could hurt me.

I don’t do that anymore and I don’t teach that.

Yoga brought so much to my life. I don’t question whether it was and is good for me. This is why I now encourage props in class and we always find strength in our poses. This is why I teach you to feel and map your body with therapy ball work and to notice what’s moving when you move. I believe these are the components of a lifetime yoga and movement practice.

So, here I am. On April 18, I will be having a total replacement of my right hip. Is it the right thing to do? I think so. Will it be worth it? To quote Geoffrey Rush’s character in “Shakespeare in Love”: I don’t know, it’s a mystery. I certainly hope so. I’m choosing to step into the mystery with the intention of regaining my joy in movement.

Off I go, into the mystery

PS. For those of you who want nuts and bolts: I’m having the anterior approach. My surgeon’s name is Michael Bloomfield with the Cleveland Clinic System. The surgery will be robot assisted. If all goes smoothly and I come out of anesthesia well, I will be able to come home the same day. But I’ll be prepared to spend the night at Hillcrest.

I welcome your calls, texts or emails!

I will miss you all and look forward to returning to the yoga room with you.