Recovery Road

Bob Bryan of the tennis doubles fame had hip surgery in 2018. His YouTube rehab videos became my inspiration, knowing that my own left hip was diagnosed as arthritic and headed to replacement. I saw him play at the BNP Paribus tournament the spring of 2019, less than a year after his replacement!! Bob and Mike Bryan are twins and world class dominating doubles partners and my secret wish (maybe not so secret) is that my own twin grandboys do something similar. Isn’t that every grandparent’s dream? OK, my other wish is that they grow up to be self-supporting and contributors to their communities, but that’s another blog, right?

So when I tore my gastrocnemius (aka calf or “gastroc”) my thoughts went back to the Bryan videos. Of course Bob Bryan was a world class athlete (I am not), had money to have a personal physical therapist (I do not), and had a goal to return to playing tennis (I do, too. I include skiing in my goal.), at a world class level (I do not. Greens and blues and maybe some blacks ? would be fine).

I tore the muscle while skiing a small bowl at Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico. I had ridden a ski patrol toboggan many times when I was a patroller and I had to learn to take a toboggan down–we’d play the roles of patroller and patient as we practiced. Once when snowboarding at Afton Alps, MN, I got hit hard by another snowboarder and had to take the toboggan in for observation–but there was really no damage.

This time I knew there was damage, and the toboggan was a wonderful way to get down the mountain. It’s kind of like the fact I don’t really like hospitals but they are wonderful places when you need them.

The injury happened on February 21. I had a wedding in Savannah I didn’t want to miss, so the medical care I got was minimal due to my own unwavering need to stay on my own schedule. My leg hurt like the dickens for two weeks–one week in Santa Fe and one week in Savannah. To get to Savannah I drove six hours from Santa Fe to Denver, parked and took a shuttle to the airport, flew from Denver to Savannah. I luckily rented a wheelchair in Savannah that probably saved my sanity and the sanity of everyone around me. I hobbled around using one crutch (I left the other one back in Denver because I thought I was healing up), and discovered Savannah is best seen while walking.

I have since learned there’s a high risk of blood clots flying so soon after a bleeding injury. I didn’t know that at the time. Thank god for Uber, because I took an Uber when I would have normally walked everywhere.

I feel as though the trip set me back significantly in my healing process. Once I got back to Minnesota, I found out about our orthopedic urgent care centers. I went in the day after getting home and they issued me a boot–which I should have had from day 1. The relief was almost instantaneous.

Then the physical therapy started. Not the daily, world class type that Bob Bryan did, but enough to get me back on the path to recovery. I started PT at about week 3 of the injury. By week 5 I was feeling pretty good, and by week 6 I felt it was pretty much healed except for the muscle being really tight.

The bruising went away by week 6, too. I had a black and blue ankle for five weeks! My left leg was also swelling regularly, so I continue to wear a compression sock.

At week 8, two months after the injury, I played tennis for the first time. I only played an hour in a drill, but I felt great! No pain at all, except for now my hip is begging for attention.

Oh, yeah, did I mention I have degenerative arthritis in my left hip? So through this whole process, I was consulting doctors about hip surgery. I am schedule to have anterior hip replacement May 10. OMG, that’s tomorrow! And hope to attend a wedding in Montana June 3.

It’s not that I aspire to be Bob Bryan, but maybe I am. It seems I am on track to emulate him although he had his right hip replaced. I may miss the tennis season. I plan on doing a lot of walking at my new home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

And look for me on the slopes early 2024. That’s my goal.


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