Thursday, 9 April 2015

Hip replacement recovery - the early days

I had my left hip replaced on Wednesday 1st April 2015. More superstitious people might have wanted to avoid that date, but it didn't bother me. The odd joke relating to "which leg" and even "which eye" certainly helped to lighten the mood. I have to say that I surprised myself with how relaxed I was about the whole thing.

I opted for a spinal epidural and sedation rather than a general anaesthetic purely based on the advice of the anaesthetist relating to better pain relief in the first few hours and less nausea. As it turned out, I apparently became a bit fidgety during the operation so was given a general anaesthetic too at that stage.

The first day I was quite sleepy and fairly pain free whilst the effects of the epidural lasted. I wouldn't realise how much help that was giving until later! There were some frustrations in those early hours as I was unable to move my toes, feet or legs due to the epidural. I did notice that I was wearing some rather fetching Paula Radcliffe style long compression socks. These are intended to help fight off DVT but I'm sure they will also make me fast like Paula!

The first night was horrible. The effects of the epidural had worn off, regular doses including 7 different tables, plus liquid morphine were not enough and sleep was impossible. That bit wasn't at all nice. It was a very long night!

The day after the operation I knew a Physio session was due and that they were going to get me out of bed for a walk! Perhaps word hadn't reached them that I just had a new hip and they were still dining out on the "which eye " April Fools Day gags! I have had a lot of muscle injuries in my sporting life and plenty of Physio as a result, but somehow I really built up how hard this was going to be in my own head. My obs were taken and all were apparently very good/normal. 

My first period of standing wasn't particularly successful. It was successful in that I was able to be positioned in a standing position, though my role in the action of moving from lying to standing was purely limited to being there. I had a Zimmer frame and clutched it firmly. I had a Physio on one arm and my wife (Charlotte) near to the other arm. I was asked if I was ok and recall saying "yes", shortly followed by "I'm going".....

The next thing I remember is being held by Charlotte and said Physio, lots of shouting for more hands on deck and basically looking up at the ceiling with that Zimmer frame still gripped firmly in my hands but pointing slightly too far away from the ground to be of any use. I had feinted! My fingers were peeled from the handle of the Zimmer frame one by one with a fair degree of resistance from me, and I was relocated to the bed. The oxygen mask went on and the Physio session was abandoned until later in the day....something to look forward to!

Physios and nurses agreed that the feinting was probably due to the double morphine concoction that I was on, but personally I think I had psyched myself out by over thinking it. I was just stunned that they wanted the hip to be weight bearing less than 24 hours after the op. 

The afternoon Physio session arrived (oh joy!) and this time my years of sporting determination and willingness to push through the pain barrier were brought into the equation. Just before the process started I gave myself a few slaps around the face and even a little Andy Murray esque "come on!". I was determined to succeed this time, after all I bet the old dears manage this first time!

Standing position was achieved...I'll let the Physio's take credit for that again, and with Zimmer frame in hand the marathon into the corridor (just outside my room) commenced. Much pain and grimacing later I reach the middle of the corridor, at least 5 metres from where I had started! Immediately the Physio upped the ante and had the Zimmer frame replaced by crutches. Not playing fair! I then somehow managed to walk back into my room with the crutches. Boy was that hard work! I don't think I sweat that much on a summer long-run!

On the next day I was out of my room with the Physio for a longer walk with the crutches and shown some standing rehabilitation exercises to start on and to build up the number of repetitions over the next 6 weeks. At least this part I was used to from all my injury recoveries of the past. To a runner, this type of repetitious exercising is our bread and butter!

The next few days saw increasing distances with the crutches and finally stairs as I built up the confidence and mobility to be allowed home, which is where I am now.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Return of the stats - parkrun milestones

Since I was last blogging regularly, back in October 2013, there have been some amazing parkrun milestones. So in case you have missed some of those, here is a quick update....

Weekly finishers in the UK: 
Back in October 2013, the highest number of UK parkrun finishers in a single week was 35,518. That was an impressive record, but just 18 months later and the record is now a staggering 61,754 and it has been well over 55,000 every week since January. Given recent yearly trends, I wouldn't be surprised to see a new record in excess of 70,000 within a few weeks as the Spring weather lures out some parkrunners from their Winter hibernation as well as attracting a few that have been waiting for some nicer weather before making their parkrun debut. 

Number of events:
There are now 621 registered parkrun locations worldwide.
In the UK we had just over 220 parkrun locations back in October 2013, but we have added nearly another 100 locations in the last 18 months with 319 UK parkrun locations currently.

Registered runners:
When I was last blogging we hadn't yet reached 1 million registered parkrunners and now we have well over 1.5 million people registered with parkrun worldwide.

Total finishers:
There have now been an incredible 6,568,367 parkrun finishers in the UK.

Different runners:
A ridiculous 660,225 different people have now completed at least 1 parkrun in the UK. Just imagine how busy all our events would be if even 25% of those all decided to turn up one week!

Highest attendance record:
As you might expect, Bushy parkrun (the original location and home of parkrun) still holds the record with a massive 1705 runners set on 4th October 2014. Back in October 2013 that record was "just" 1051, so quite an increase! Also, 26 different UK parkrun events now have an attendance record of over 500 and there are 5 more over the 500 mark in Australia.

Non-returning parkrunners:
This isn't a figure I'd like to dwell on, but some 307,088 runners have only ever completed a single, solitary parkrun. I'm hoping a big chunk of those were in recent weeks and will be back soon!

500 club member:
parkrun now has it's very first member of the 500 club. Just a couple of weeks ago, Darren Wood completed his 500th parkrun. Unbelievably, the second highest number of runs is currently 441, so it will be well over a year before we have a second member of the 500 club.

250 club members:
There are now 221 members of the 250 club - the club for parkrunners that have run 250 parkruns or more.

I don't think I'm exactly sticking my neck out to say that "I think parkrun might just be here to stay"!

My hips, my parkrun and me

Very roughly speaking it has now been 16 months since my last parkrunfans blog post. That period of time has coincided with a bit of a "falling out of love" with running. Don't get me wrong, I still love parkrun, but for a number of interrelated reasons I haven't been able to enjoy it like I once had. And it's fair to say that having less love for running had stifled my urge to blog about parkrun.

Now I really don't know how long this renaissance will last, but for now at least, I feel that urge again.

There have been some huge parkrun milestones in the intervening period, and I might come back to cover those in later posts, but for now I want to explain my falling out of love with running and the drastic measures I have taken to make sure I can get the greatest possible enjoyment out of parkrun again.

Let's start back at the beginning of my parkrun journey....

In January 2010 I was having significant hip problems due to a life of sport and probably some genetic pre-disposition. I saw a consultant and was told that I needed to have both of my hips replaced! I was only 35 at the time and felt "too young" to consider such a drastic approach. Instead I quit playing football and started the longest period of inactivity I have ever had...that lasted a couple of months and then in early April 2010 I found Coventry parkrun. 

Now running may not be what the Consultant would have prescribed, but I found that it didn't hurt like the football did, and I was ok at it. Within just a few weeks I was a sub-19 minute runner.

I caught the parkrun bug and it started to replace football for me.

Fast forward 3 years and I reached my parkrun and general running peak (to date - ever the optimist!), getting my parkrun PB down to 17:27 and PBs at every distance I attempted.

After that there was what started as a natural gentle slide from my peak, but  then with a gradual return of the old hip pain, this slide picked up pace (as I lost it!) and before long it became clear that this was not a temporary loss of form.

During the last 6-12 months I reached the point where I gave up running (except for parkrun of course) and took up cycling instead. And in the last few months, even parkrun had become agony. The first 5 minutes might feel ok, but the rest was just hobbling and grimacing and certainly not enjoyable at all.

This distressed me greatly!

Since "finding" parkrun I have hoped it would be a weekly fixture for the rest of my life, such is the positive way it allows my weekend to start. Not being able to enjoy it was not acceptable for me.

A couple of months ago I decided that it was time to cure the problem and contacted a consultant. Between us we agreed that it was time for a Total Hip Replacement of my left hip. The right one might be done at some stage in the next few years if all goes well I'd guess.

My aims include getting rid of all the pain experienced in the simple everyday tasks such as driving or putting on socks, but extends to a return to running at pace and with enjoyment rather than pain.

So, last Wednesday I had my new hip (ceramic-on-ceramic for a better expected life span for young active patients).

I am now a week into recovery and walking with crutches. My leg is battered and bruised, but I am walking several times a day and I can manage the stairs, albeit slowly. Running feels a long way off, I have heard mention of 6-12 months before proper running, but I believe jogging will be allowed way before that.

One of the great things about parkrun is that I don't need to be race fit to take part. I can certainly go once I can jog, and even as a walker I would be welcomed. To know that I have parkrun to help me return to running will be a real motivation for me. And even before I can walk I will be able to volunteer. I was a bit spaced out on the post-op drugs at the time, but I'm pretty sure I volunteered for a few weeks time, from the hospital bed the day after my op. I did specify a seated volunteer role though!

I'll probably try and blog again in the coming days, weeks and months to update on my post-op recovery. Hopefully it will turn out to be a very positive story on my return to parkrun from my Total Hip Replacement. I wonder if parkrun is prescribed by the NHS yet? And if not, why not? As I can't think of a better thing to aim for and to aid in post-op recovery.