Jo's Story - Part 2 Preparation for Surgery

As I mentioned in Part 1 of my story, I was diagnosed with femoroacetabular impingement (FAI). Once I was diagnosed and made the decision to have surgery, I actually felt a huge sense of relief. I wanted to be prepared for surgery, I’m a planner, I like lists and I had a focus.

The only treatment that gave me any kind of relief was Kinetic Chain Release (KCR), see more about KCR here.  So I continued to have treatments and see a personal trainer, who specialises in remedial work. I wanted to get into the best possible shape for surgery, I wanted to make myself strong and fit to help speed up recovery. I had a few PT sessions and worked out everyday at home using a swiss ball, I also went to yoga twice a week and cycled to work a few days a week. I wasn't told not to do any of these things.

What I didn’t realise at the time which is so obvious now is that I was pushing through pain when I worked out. There wasn’t a time when I wasn’t in pain and I loved to exercise so I carried on. I had tried exercising a little, exercising a lot, not exercising at all and the pain didn’t really change.

My diet was pretty good but there was room for improvement, particularly my sweet tooth! So I ate clean including food in my diet to help fight inflammation and to help me lose a bit of weight,  I wasn’t  overweight but didn’t want to put on too much weight after surgery and be able to carry myself around on crutches. It was at that point that my whole attitude and outlook towards my diet and exercise changed. I was no longer eating or working out to lose weight and look good. I was eating to nourish my body, heal from the inside and working out to build and strengthen rather than just to get fit or help me to lose weight.

I took supplements of arnica and strong bones but I was advised to stop taking these 10 days before surgery. I started these again the day after surgery.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to move much so I armed myself with a pile of books. Especially books good for my mind and soul to help me get through my recovery - one of my favourite books which I had read before but planned to read again was mind over medicine, I also had the healing power of the mind which I borrowed from a friend.

Some of my essentials for post surgery recovery;

I borrowed a seat for the shower from a friend, I bought a 5ft body pillow, ice packs and a lavender wheat bag which can be warmed up in the microwave.

  • Grabber (I never thought I would have used this)
  • Seat for the shower (you will need this!)
  • Books
  • Netflix, Sky TV or something similar
  • Friends
  • Healthy snacks
  • Ice packs
  • Microwaveable heat pad or hot water bottle
  • Extra pillows
  • Notebook (to record your thoughts and progress)
  • Make meals in advance and freeze

My advice so far

No matter how optimistic or determined you are, be realistic and open with your employer about how long you could be off work. I thought I would be back to normal in 6 weeks. I was still on crutches at that point.

For thoses of us who are physically active, or generally lead busy lives, it's a real struggle not being able to do anything but read books and watch TV. Be prepared for this and turn it into a positive - there are lots of fab, motivational and uplifting books out there - perfect for this situation.

Start a meditation practice, before surgery, then you have a bit of an experience beforehand. If you’ve never done this before, don’t underestimate its benefits - it will help you heal and deal with frustrations while you are recovering. The surgery can also trigger stress responses in the body so  it will help to improve the immune system and create more positive thoughts making your body stronger. Meditating before surgery can help make the surgery more effective, and meditating after surgery can speed healing.

Keep a record of your progress, some small notes, photographs. Small goals are really important to recognise and you must be realistic about what to expect, it's a long slow healing process.

In my next post I'll talk about the day of my surgery.

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