July 26th 2012

Durolane Injection #2, 6 Weeks Later

Here I am, 6 weeks on from the Durolane (hyaluronic acid) injection I had at the beginning of June. Durolane can take upto 6 weeks to act within a joint so I thought I would give it the full length of time before passing my final judgement on how successful the treatment has been this time around.

Right, on to the all important question: how has my hip been holding up? Honestly, I’ve found there have been a few more ups and downs in comparison to the first injection I had.

Firstly, when I was discharged from hospital this time, my post-injection notes stated that I had to avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise and work for 2 weeks. On arriving home from the hospital, I went to hunt for the final cane I was given when I spent 1997 learning to walk again. Slight flaw there. I’ve grown since then (though some would argue not by much!) and it was too short, so I had to borrow one from a relative.

My hip continued to be rather stiff for the first couple of weeks though I only used the cane for 6-7 days while my leg felt a bit weaker (and yes, I was subjected to a number of Greg House jokes*). I found that wearing my trusty 14-hole Dr Martens helped me walk better in that time too. I think it’s a combination of the bouncing sole and the fact that they’re slightly heavy boots- they almost force you to walk correctly.

In addition to the joint stiffness, I had some nerve pain. As I’ve previously mentioned, the needle went through one of my old scars which is nerve damaged anyway. This manifested as a sharp pain around the scar site so I can only assume it was the nerves being a tad narky. I ended up taking my painkillers every day which subdued the pain but had the added effect of making me a little sleepy. I’m glad I was ordered to take it easy for a couple of weeks- it definitely helped. For starters, it gave me the opportunity to catch up on some films- I seem to have watched a lot of Batman in recent weeks!

By the end of the 2 weeks, I was eager to resume all normal activities. Earlier this year I decided I needed to become healthier and had previously been spending 30 mins on the cross-trainer 6 nights a week. It turns out this is something I enjoy (well it gives me the opportunity to listen to classic 80s songs/cheesy rubbish/classic tunes on the iPod while I exercise so no complaints here). On the first day after my 2 week rest, I went for a 60 min walk on the local nature reserve *and* did my 30 mins on the cross-trainer at the original intensity level I’d been using pre-injection. I tried to continue at this intensity for a few days but I realised my hip joint still felt spikey. I know what you’re thinking: “hmm, that was a bit foolish”. I’ll hold my hands up now and admit that I tried to do too much too soon.

During weeks 3-4 post-injection I almost had myself convinced that the hyaluronic acid hadn’t worked fully. Of course that sent me into a panic. If the injection hadn’t worked then I would have to either a) continue relying on strong painkillers or b) have a hip replacement and become the bionic woman. I still continued with the cross-trainer but toned my efforts down. I only used it twice a week with a lower intensity. Slowing the pace down solved the problem though. Between weeks 5-6, things improved dramatically. I now have no doubt that the hyaluronic acid is doing it’s job. My hip feels so much better now and I’m off my painkillers- something I’m sure my body is grateful for.

Now for the million dollar question: how long will it last? Again, I don’t know. Last time I got a good 9 months out of it. Since this is my 2nd injection, there is the possibly of a cumulative effect which would be fantastic. One thing to note is that I’m probably being harder on my hip than ever before by using the cross-trainer 30 mins/5 days a week. Will the extra exertion cause the beneficial effects of the hyaluronic acid to diminish at a higher rate? I don’t know.

What I do know is that right now, I feel much happier. My hip joint no longer aches while I’m lying in bed and I can walk around without sharp pains shooting across the joint. I don’t know if it’s noticeable but, minus the pain, I seem to be in a more positive mood. Let’s see how long that lasts, eh?

 

*No, I don’t have a “bitchin'” cane with flames on it. Yes, I did make several “but I’m a cripple” jokes at my own expense. Oh and yes, I have been wearing Nike trainers. Ok?

March 9th 2012

Durolane Round 1 Update

Apologies- I meant to update my blog regularly with news of how my hip was holding up following the Durolane injection I had in June 2011. My 3 month check-up was in September and that went very well.

How are things now? Well, there’s good and bad news.

The good news: my hip felt great over the winter. The cold weather usually irritates it but due to the combination of the mild winter and the Durolane, I barely felt it. In fact, I’ve hardly taken any painkillers at all (though I am still remaining teetotal as I have done since 2008 😉 ). My hip did have the occasional day where it hurt but those were days where I’d overdone it. Overall, my hip has been fantastic and it’s been nice to go out for walks without the need to take painkillers first.

The bad news: all good things must come to and end. This is now the beginning of March, 8 months on from the injection and the Durolane is wearing off. I’ve already been to speak to my Dr and have been referred for another injection. Whilst I’m dreading the thought of being back in the operating theatre, getting stabbed with a javelin, I know it’s worth it. Anything to stave off the inevitable hip replacement.

October 2nd 2011

Durolane 3 Month Check-up

As the title of this post suggests, yesterday (Friday) I had a 3 month check-up at the hospital following the Durolane injection I had in June.

So, how did it go? Well. Really well.

My consultant asked how I’d gotten on post-injection and I was pleased to tell him that I thought it had worked. I was really unsure for the first few weeks, and I found it difficult to quantify how well it was working. He explained this is normal as the hyaluronic acid can take as long as 4-6 weeks to interact with the tissue and cartilage surrounding the joint.

I was also asked if the pain got worse in the week after the injection. This didn’t happen to me. I said that I had expected a rough week post injection (I had 1 particularly bad day after the steroid injection in Feburary) but it didn’t happen. My hip felt a little bruised but then again, it had just had a needle stuck in it.

Durolane appears to have been a success for me and has greatly reduced the pain in my hip joint. My hip isn’t perfect and it still has it’s off days where I need my painkillers. Thankfully, these days are few and far between. I think the real test will be how well it holds up over the winter as it usually feels more painful in the cold weather.

The only catch with the Durolane injection is that there’s no telling how long it will last. It could be 3 months, 6 months or even a year. It’s different for each individual. It has certainly lasted longer than the steroid injection I had: the steroid injection- 6 weeks. Hyaluronic acid: 3 months and counting. Apparently, upon multiple injections of hyaluronic acid, there can be a cumulative effect which is a huge bonus!

What does this mean for me? Well, it means I can delay my inevitable hip replacement surgery for a bit longer. Durolane was effectively my last shot at keeping my original hip and there was no certainty that it would work. Unlike steroid injections, there are no finite amount of hyaluronic injections a person can receive, since the substance occurs naturally in our joints anyway. When I feel real pain again, I just have to go to the doctors and I’ll be sent for another one.

For the first time in a long time, I left the hospital feeling much happier. Unfortunately, because I can delay my hip replacement, there will be no bionic Lynsay for quite some time. I know a few people were looking forward to that 😉

PS- For more info on Durolane, visit their website or twitter account.

July 17th 2011

Two (and a bit) weeks

Two and a bit weeks since …I last saved the world? Two and a bit weeks since…I returned from my latest space mission? Two and a bit weeks since….No. I’m being silly. The title of the post refers to the date I got my Durolane injection. How am I doing? Well, I’m alright thanks.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, the injection into my hip joint was rather sore. I spent Wednesday and Thursday resting it, as I was told it might become more painful within the first 48 hours (local anesthetic wearing off).

To be honest, my pain levels didn’t really spike. My leg was achy but I would expect it to feel like that. Just think how your arm feels after having a vaccination. I was speared! Slight exaggeration there.

Admittedly, I was limping quite a bit from Wednesday-Friday. Painkillers helped and I went out for a few short walks to keep my leg moving. Lazing around 24/7 is unhelpful- it’s important to keep the joint mobile.

I got through my graduation ceremony minus painkillers (they tend to make me a little sleepy at times) but I could feel my leg hurting. That’s fair enough, these injections do take time to settle in. Following graduation, I continued to take small walks and the last time I took painkillers was a week ago. To fully “test” my hip, I did a 30 minute circuit, covering the west side of the village couple of days ago.

You might be wondering why I didn’t give an update on my progress sooner? Originally, I intended to write a blog 1-week post-injection however, I didn’t know what to say. At that point, I was unsure if the injection had worked. Some days were better than others and I was undecided. So what’s my verdict now?

The Durolane injection has helped reduce the pain. My leg hasn’t been aching at night time and although it’s uncomfortable (old scars), I can spend periods of time asleep on my left side. The pain hasn’t gone completely but it has been dulled considerably- I am yet to experience the old sharp “spike” pain going through the joint. It feels like the Durolane has turned back the clock a bit- my hip feels like it did 6/7 years ago. That’s fine by me- my hip and I got on quite well back then. It wasn’t perfect (and it never will be) but it certainly hurt a lot less.

In my opinion (non-medical opinion of course), it’s still early days and there’s room for improvement. The needles went though a lot of scar tissue and the puncture holes are still visible. When things settle down, who knows, maybe my hip will feel even better? It’s a matter of waiting. Here’s hoping the Durolane lasts a while. Next hospital visit is my 3 month check-up.

June 30th 2011

A Dose of Durolane

durolane arrow

Quick warning, if you don’t like medical stuff, this is not the blog entry for you. Move along!

For those of you still with me, hello. If you remember, back in April, I had a follow-up appointment regarding the steroid injection I was given in February. Since the steroid only provided relief for 6 weeks, my consultant suggested a different approach to managing my pain- injecting a substance called Durolane into my hip joint.

Durolane is a concentrated form of hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occurring substance in our joints. Receiving an injection of this into my hip should reduce/eliminate the pain by cushioning the joint. The hope is that I can postpone the inevitable hip replacement surgery for as long as possible.

So yesterday…

It was an early start again. Up at 4.45am for a light breakfast then we left the house at 6.40am. On arriving at the ward, I was given my own room (no.11 if you really wanted to know). My mum was told to phone at lunch and that visiting hours started at 2.30pm. Of course, this sent me into a panic. Why did I have my own room? I didn’t have one last time. Was I going to get an anesthetic? Why were visiting hours mentioned? Was I going to have to stay overnight?

To be honest, I panicked over nothing and I still don’t know why I had my own room but hey, I’m not complaining. After the nurse went over all my details, I was told I was 5th on the list so I’d have a bit of a wait. The nurses kept checking to see if a doctor had popped into see me. When my doctor did arrive, 5 minutes later some staff came to take me away to theatre.

Because everyone came at once, I wasn’t quite ready to go to the operating theatre. I had to get a fabulous arrow drawn on me to indicate which joint was getting the injection (that’s what’s in the picture for this blog). What is it Rachael shouts in one episode of Friends? “I AM A HUMAN DOODLE”. Me too. Whatever kind of pen it is they use, it doesn’t come off easily therefore I can confirm that I will not be wearing a skirt to graduation next week 😉

I think I was taken away around 9.50am but there was some sort of delay so I had to wait in recovery for a while. I was taken though for my injection 20 minutes later. Lying on the table, I had no clue where to put my hands, as I had to keep them away from the fluoroscope. I ended up having to cross my arms over my body, and keep my hands on my shoulders.

How did it go? Well, it was sore. Bloody sore. I had to grit my teeth. At least it was over really quickly though. The injections were in a different place this time- right though the big scar caused by operations 1-3 and I don’t like people going near that at the best of times (even when I was a child I point blank refused to put cream on my scar). Last time, the needles went through an area of my skin between the operation 1-3 scar and the operation 4-5 scar. That area is nerve damaged so I didn’t really feel it.

Anyway, after that, I was wheeled back to recovery where I was told I was really quiet (which I usually am). There was some concern over my cold feet but I had to explain that they’re always like that (because I’m usually cold!). It wasn’t long before I was taken back to my room and was served breakfast. Getting dressed again wasn’t too bad but I had difficulty getting the sock on my left foot- this is something I usually find a little awkward on a normal day. Shortly afterwards I was discharged and that was it!

I’ve got to take it easy for a few days and mobilise my leg as much as I can. I’ve been warned that I may feel worse for 48 hours while the local anesthetic wears off. I’ve devised a great plan though- if I feel a bit sore, I’m going to laze about and watch as many boxsets as possible. Genius!

I must give a big thanks to the team that looked after me at the hospital yesterday- they were all absolutely excellent. Several of them were the same people that looked after me back in February too 🙂

PS- A few people have asked me about Durolane and have wondered if they could get treated with it themselves. For more info, visit their website or twitter account.