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Recovery Blog

January 6, 2007 (day 8): Return to Beijing
We arrived in Beijing about 4:00 and were met at the airport and taken home. The trip was no problem - I flew business class for the extra leg room. Aaron and Lin flew economy. At home I felt fine, but stuck to using a crutch to move around

January 9, 2007 (day 11): Physical Therapy Appointment
My first PT appointment at AEA. The therapist, Julia, was impressed with my progress, and suggested I speak with Dr. Brockwell about ditching the crutches, which I really felt I did not need. Dr. Brockwell's reply: "I am happy for you to reduce your crutch use as strength and balance allows - don't fall over!". Since then I have not used the crutches (and have not fallen over).

January 10, 2007 (day 12): Walk
Monday and Tuesday I escorted Aaron to the bus, perhaps 1/2 km there and back, but used crutches. Today I walked to the Club and back, a little over 1 km, with no crutches and no discomfort. In fact, the leg feels quite strong, and I don't feel at all unstable. The main problem now is the leg remains swollen, which should last about 3 weeks. That, and the danger of stress fracture. While I feel I could start jogging already, Dr. Brockwell has been very (very!) clear that it will take 6 weeks for the bone to heal past the danger of a stress fracture of the femoral neck, and that until then no exercise beyond normal daily activities is permitted. Those are consequences I can understand, so the trip to the club was at a slow walk, and once there I didn't lift a single weight or row a single stroke.

January 14, 2007 (day 16): Setback
When I saw the PT she pointed out that my right leg was not short, I was habitually standing and walking at a slant, with my weight centered over the left leg, as a result of years of not being able to use fully the right one. I realized she was right, and have made a point of trying to straighten out. It is improving, but at a cost. My lower back has felt stressed, and I am a little worried that I might damage something. Today I saw a friend-of-a-friend Chinese massage doctor, who said he didn't see any structural problem, so I will just go ahead and see what my PT says on Wednesday. Too bad my old massage guy, Dr. Chen, returned to Luoyang in September and never came back. Though if he had continued treating me I doubt I would have gotten the surgery done yet.

March 28, 2007 (3 months): review

Careful readers might notice a gap in the reporting. An earthquake in Taiwan messed up the network connection to my server, and posting was a slow, frustrating experience, so I fell out of the habit. For anyone curious, here is a summary:

I was good about limiting activity for 6 weeks. While I did take a couple strolls around the compound in that time, mostly my activity was walking Aaron to the bus stop in the morning, walking around inside, and every week a trip to the PT. I felt great, and it was a real strain to limit activity, but Dr. Brockwell was pretty firm about it, and all-in-all it seemed better to play it safe. I sure did look forward to mid February though.

My original plans were not to try running until March. The weather would be cold, so I figured to start exercising indoors forst, resuming the pool and weights, for a couple weeks, and then move outside. The weather did not cooperate. It was mid 50's and mild from early February, so I couldn't resist getting out running.

However, it was not as easy as I had thought. The first day out, aside from breathing a lot harder than I remember, within not much more than a kilometer the hip stiffened up just like before the operation, and I had to walk home.

This was discouraging, but at least I noticed the distance increasing. For last week I was running about 6 miles a day, out 3 miles, resting for half an hour, and then 3 miles back - or, 1 1/2, and a bus.

This lasted until 3 days ago, when I went on one of my old routes, probably for 7 miles, stopping twice for short breaks, but finishing hard. Then, yesterday, for my 3-month checkup, I ran into AEA without stopping, probably around 6 miles.

Also from week 6, I started attending frisbee practices again. While I was good about not playing, I was doing pretty vigorous throwing sessions, and felt strong. The coordination is still there, even if the quickness is not.

Neither is flexibility. My standards are very low, but even they are far from met. After a couple weeks I joined in a marking drill at practice. To mark, the defender spreads his feet wide for balance and squats down to get his arms low. My feet wouldn't spread wide at all, and when I went to squat I thought I would tear myself in two.

At home I checked - my feet could only with difficulty get 50 cm apart, and certainly had no freedom to squat at that great distance. I started a serious program of stretching. Of course, PT had me stretching all along, but there is nothing like a limitation to get one serious about it.

That was 2 1/2 weeks ago. Now I am out to about 80 cm, and at 60 can squat down and move side to side. Progress is encouraging.

There have been only a few downsides to the recovery. One showed up at yesterday's checkup. The doctor feels my left hip is not looking good, and is not so far away from wanting its own operation. For now, it is not a problem, so I won't look ahead. But this time as soon as I find I can't run or play disc I will know not to wait.

Second is arthritis in my feet. Both big toes have been sore, and I asked the doctor. He sees arthritis there too, and I know of no operation to fix that.

And, the third dark lining (every silver cloud has one, or three) is that my knees, which for 3 years have been uncommonly good, are now complaining again. In fact, after yesterday's run, I found I cannot put weight on my left knee when bent, which makes stairs kind of awkward. I took today off, maybe will just lift tomorrow - but should be ready for Saturday's practice.

There was good news too. One question I had for the doctor had to do with how soon I could resume playing. He had told me 6 months, but our big tournament in Tianjin is the end of May, 5 months, and I wanted to find out what I would be risking if I played. Dr. Brockwell kind of smiled when I told him about 6 months and asked where I had heard that. "You told me", I replied. He said it was no big deal, that (after 6 weeks) as soon as I felt the leg to be stable and strong enough I could play, though recovery will not be complete for some time yet. This means I should continue to improve, which is pretty good since I am not so quick anymore, especially moving to my left side.

Stick around, I will try to be a little better about updating this.

April 18: Day 120. The last week has been a good one. In the last 10 days I have had 3 runs of over 8 miles and 2 of over 5, 3 hours of ultimate, and a bicycle trip to the Great Wall (Huanghua Cheng) of 80 miles round trip, half of it on mountain roads. Of course the running is not exactly fast, and the ultimate was definitely not where it used to be.

View from top of mountain on trip. You can see the road going down on the right, and a village near the bottom of the mountain towards the center

The ultimate was a joint practice with my Beihang team and the expat team. We started with a game, which went OK (we lost 8-1), and then merged teams in practice. When a good player covered me I was too slow to do much, but if they tried putting a weaker player on me I did pretty well. There were 2 really nice chances for dives, but in neither case could I get myself to go down for it. I need to be running faster, or else those horizontals hurt.

September 15: all-day pickup tournament. Last week in preparation I ran 8 miles to Air Khazak practice and then played with them for 2 hours. On the 15th I bicycled 15 miles to the tournament, played 3 games, and bicycled home. It went well - I threw and caught several goals and played reasonable strong defense. Highlights included one catch over a 6'1" 22-year-old athlete and actually being quick enough to jump in front of a pass I anticipated, which I haven't been able to do since recovery.

I think the recovery blog endeth here. There is not really any more recovery to document - in fact, while the other hip occasionally gives a twinge to remind me it wants a BHR too, there has been nothing to remind me the right hip is cobalt and chromium.

Anyone with questions feel free to write using the box on the left. Otherwise, until the next one, I'm signing off.

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