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Dr. R's Story Two Years Later (07/05)
tree pose Everything got a lot better after my second anniversary.
My post-surgical physical regime:
My expectations of myself as a 55 year old athlete are very different from the ones I had at 50. I have completely retired from dancing. I am sure I could do competitive ballroom dancing with my new hip, but too much time has passed since I was in top form and I will never be the dancer I was previously.
Nor am I any longer interested in weight training. Although I still admire the body builder aesthetic, I am unwilling to put that kind of intense stress on any of my joints.
So I have gracefully moved on to other endeavors.
I do Iyengar style yoga every day. Although it is less dance-like than other yoga styles in that there is no "flow" from posture to posture, I appreciate the Iyengar emphasis on careful anatomical placement and use of props. The style is designed to provide stability and ease in the asanas to attain the full healing benefits of each pose. Working slowly and carefully in this way I have steadily improved my hip range of motion and muscular strength. I started in the beginner level one and have worked my way up to being able to do some of the level 3 poses and can hold them for longer periods of time.
I never had great turnout, but even last year I could get into Lotus Pose (Padmasana) - although I am not comfortable enough to choose to work in that posture. I can get my operated left leg in high passé as in Tree Pose (Vrksasana)as you can see in the photo above, and also get my leg above 90 degrees for such poses as Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana), seen in different views here:

Left standing leg
extended left leg pose
Left working leg side
extended leg pose
Left working leg front

Looking back over my complaints from last year, two out of three are resolved:
Back pain:
I still do have back pain. Part of it can be attributed to arthritis I have in my spine, and part to the arthritis I do have in my un-operated hip. However the pain and limitation of movement, especially in rotation and flexion of my lumbar spine, has not kept me from pursuing my physical goals in yoga. As discussed elsewhere in this website, the choices for treating inflammatory disease of the bone are limited, especially after the uproar about Cox-2 inhibiting non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs like Vioxx. Currently I take a whole regime of natural anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory supplements (fish oils, Kaprex, flax seed oil, etc) and Relafen, an old fashioned NSAID and get acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments.
But no fatigue!
The best part about starting the second year was that my energy began to return. I am still shocked at how drained I felt from the surgery and that it took far longer than the predicted six months for me to do a full day of activity. Slowly I am able to resume many of my previous activities. Even today though, I never feel like I have enough energy to do aerobics just for the sake of getting my heart rate up, but I do walk a lot and in New York City that means quite a bit.
And no depression! I am not sure at what point the depression lifted, but I feel better than I have for years. In part, I am sure that being out of pain is important, but I am sure that my continuing improvement in movement ability is a major contributing factor.
In truth, the biggest changes I have notice in myself now are on the psychological and spiritual levels. Some of these changes may be characteristic of a contemplative middle age, but I feel quite altered by having faced this surgery. I believe my current point of view is the culmination of the whole process: the slow years of painful decline starting from my late 40's when my arthritis first became apparent, the period of acceptance of my limitation due to the arthritis, deciding to have THR surgery and finally the two years of post-surgical recovery. There has been a lot of learning to live Life on Life's terms.
These days I am cultivating my growing interest in yoga and I find myself strongly drawn to meditation. I took a yoga teacher training (with Erich Schiffmann) and I am exploring ways to introduce meditation practice as a stress reduction modality to my patients.
I am excited to see what the current year will bring.
Written 07/11/05
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