First of all, apologies that this is so long. It's info that I wish I'd had before my surgery. So maybe it'l be helpful to someone else.
Every surgery is different. I read about others' before I had my own total hip replacement, I talked to people who'd had it, I talked to people whose friends and relatives had had it, I poured over web sites (the most helpful by far was Dr. Todd Swanson's hip replacement site and you can follow him on Twitter at @tvswanny), I asked questions of the right people. I thought I was prepared. I definitely was not. What I learned was that the only experience is experiencing it.
Night Before Surgery
The night before my surgery, I couldn't eat or drink anything, even water, after midnight. I ate a Dannon coffee yogurt about 11:45. Wasn't all that nervous, more excited to finally be getting this done. Slept okay.
Tuesday, Day of Surgery
The day of surgery, Tuesday, June 9, my friend Mary Ann drove me to the hospital and stayed with me the whole day. I knew I was in good hands -- think Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment -- and I knew she'd scream for whatever I really needed.
Beforehand, I'd asked my surgeon's nurse and the hospital nurse if I could 1) keep my rings on, 2) wear light eye make-up, and 3) keep my contact lenses in. In essence, I got mixed yes and no signals. Wasn't looking good for any of them, but as it turned out, I got to keep my eye make-up on and keep my contacts in. I had to surrender my rings to Mary Ann but I got them back later in the day.
My surgeon came in to the holding room about an hour before surgery and chatted with me. He asked what activity I missed. "Sex!" I declared. He and Mary Ann laughed. He said, "Usually we ask people to bring in pictures of them doing the activity [to help motivate them to heal], but in this case maybe that's not such a good idea."
My anaesthesiologist came in and told me what he would be doing as he led me into "twilight sleep" while I had my surgery with an epidural. I asked him if I could keep my contacts in and he said he thought it would be okay. I was thrilled! As anyone with 20/400 vision like me knows, it's a fuzzy, fuzzy world without contacts.
I was wheeled in to the operating room and I frankly can't remember much until I woke up on my side, looked around, realized I was in an operating room where things were relatively quiet, and I said, "Am I supposed to be awake?" to whomever might be in the vicinity. It's okay, I was assured; the surgery's over. Sigh of relief! The whole surgery took a little over an hour. Amazing!
Was rolled into the recovery room for an hour or so. I was the only one in there for most of the time. They covered my shivering body with wonderfully warmed blankets, and I felt a tiny bit of fear of the unknown but mostly just like it would all be okay.
Mary Ann was already in my room when I was wheeled in. I was awake, unlike the grogginess I'd experienced last time I had a general anaesthesia. But I was scared to move. I had a little pain pump, which they said to push even if I wasn't in pain to stave it off after the epidural wore completely off. So I pumped to keep ahead of the pain. I didn't move much.
I don't remember much about that first day except being glad I didn't have to get out of bed. I had a catheter, and the anaesthetic and pain medication are guaranteed to constipate you for days, I was told. (How right they were!) They also made me quite nauseous for awhile. Not as bad as general anaesthesia, but miserable nonetheless.
I wasn't very hungry but I was allowed to eat a normal dinner. I have no idea what I ate but it was pretty good.
The only BAD thing that happened was when my IV got clogged and I needed another one. But...their IV nurses -- yes, special IV nurses -- weren't available for a loooooong time! Three hours! Then one came and stuck me four times and couldn't find a vein. She was a bitch, besides, so I was mighty unhappy. Another long wait. Second IV nurse came and stuck me unsuccessfully another three times. I was going crazy. But at least this nurse was very nice, conscientious and empathetic. I just have tough-to-find veins, I guess. Feeling like a pin cushion, I called time out and phoned my spiritual advisor, who's sort of my minister. She did her prayerful magic, as I knew she would, and the very next stab was a success. It all took 4 hours. I asked for the nurse in charge and gave her an earful.
I was told that I wouldn't sleep much the first night because they'd keep waking me up to take my blood and my vitals. Not true. I slept very well and they were only mildly intrusive.
Wednesday, 1st Day After Surgery
Breakfast came. Who cares? But it tasted okay. Cookies came. When my mom and her significant other said they wanted to send me flowers, I asked if they'd send cookies from Cookies from Home instead so I could share them with the nurses and others who tended to me. Great move! They were such a hit with those great caregivers who get such little acknowledgement. Flowers came, too. They lit up the room. Very much appreciated!
The nurse took the catheter out and I admit that I panicked. There was noooooo waaaaay I could get out of bed. She assured me it wouldn't be necessary any time soon.
Two people from Physical Therapy came. They got me up and standing. Wooooo, a bit lightheaded. They had visions of me walking and going for PT. Didn't happen. My body just wasn't up for it yet. I saw the look pass between them, and they told me they'd be back the next day and would arrange for a bedside commode for me. I knew I'd failed.
Ooooooh, no, no bedside commode for me! It arrived and I couldn't fathom getting to it, getting down onto it and getting up from it, let alone in a room where people come barging in with no notice. Talk about incentive! A couple of hours later, I requested that a nurse help me walk to the bathroom, I made it there, and that was the end of the bedside commode! I was walking back and forth like a (fairly) old pro. I joked that the nurse would have to write a note for the PT folks verifying that it was really me, the same person who could hardly stand up in the morning.
Thursday, 2nd Day After Surgery
My surgeon came early to see how I was doing and he was pleased.
More flowers arrived, these from my dentist! How many people's dentists send them flowers? I was delighted! More walking. Bedside commode long gone. Caregivers were still loving the cookies.
PT people came and were delighted and relieved to see how I'd progressed. I walked with the walker to "Independence Square" on the same floor, where they have a whole setup of kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, stairs, curbs and a car. Probably spent half an hour there and they discharged me from PT and in essence said I could go home! What?!? I didn't feel at all ready to leave the hospital and, fortunately, my nurses agreed with me so I spent another night. Minimal intrusiveness, good sleep.
Friday, 3rd Day After Surgery
Nurse showed me how to inject myself with Lovenox, an anticoagulant to prevent deep vein thrombosis, once a day in my belly for the next eight days. Didn't bother me, did it without flinching. Mary Ann came to pick me up and I was outa there. Felt shaky walking slowly to the car with the walker. Gingerly got into the car with a plastic bag on the seat for easy swiveling.
Home looked good! People brought food and cards. Too exhausted and woozy and a bit nauseous to fully appreciate it, but it was so good to be home.
Several people told me I wouldn't have much pain post-surgery, especially since I'd had so much pain beforehand. They either lied or I'm super sensitive. There was definitely pain! I took Dilaudid, a narcotic painkiller, which made me mentally cloudy but it did take the edge off the pain. Put ice on my hip to help the swelling and pain. Was surprised and not happy about the pain!
Slept half-sitting, half-lying down. Uncomfortable but I was mocus enough to sleep anyway.
Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Days 4, 5, 6, 7 After Surgery
Home physical therapy was supposed to come Saturday, Sunday or Monday, but by Tuesday afternoon I still hadn't heard from anyone, despite calling the home care service twice. Geez, can't get good help! I did the exercises the hospital had taught me and was careful not to violate the 3 rules they beat into my head: 1) Don't cross your legs, 2) Don't turn your leg inward, 3) Don't bend over more than 90 degrees. I'm so glad I did the exercises every day; it really helped since the home PT person didn't come. Very discouraged when I weighed myself and saw that I'd gained 10 pounds since last week. Surely my new ceramic/titanium hip doesn't weigh 10 pounds!
People where I live brought me more cards, flowers, books, and more food, including complete dinners! I love where I live!!
Didn't feel much like walking outside my apartment, slept a lot, and fought swelling in both legs. Friend who'd had the surgery the year before said he'd been swollen more than he thought he should be and it lasted longer than he thought it should, so I didn't worry about it. It sure was ugly, though.
Still having pain, took Dilaudid only when I needed it, soon switched to Tramadol, another painkiller, but this one didn't fog my head. Took the edge off of the pain but didn't give me any other side effects (that I felt).
Worst part was dealing with the TEDS, high-compression stockings that go to the knee. They are a bitch to put on, like trying to move a size 6 stocking up a size 10 leg. Can't do it myself, so Mary Ann volunteered to put them on each morning, take them off each night, wash them and bring them back to put on again the next morning. She and I both hated them! They aren't uncomfortable to wear, just to put on. Torture! And I'm supposed to wear these for six weeks? No freakin' way! But for now, on every morning and off every night.
Walking better wih the walker, doing my exercises, can feel myself healing a tiny bit more each day. Still feeling the pain, though. Grabber (found in hip kits) very helpful for picking up dropped objects and putting on underwear and jeans. I'm getting good with it!
Tuesday night was invited to a neighbor's apartment just down the hall for dinner. My first big outing. Good, real food. But didn't last long, really pooped. No stamina. Ugh.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Days 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 After Surgery
Off all of the pain meds, walking with a cane inside the apartment for the first time on Wednesday, pain minimal, mostly waking me up at night. Permission to sleep on either side, though the side with the incision was too sore to really work. When sleeping on the non-incision side, had to put a pillow between my legs to make sure I didnt cross my legs or turn leg inward. Such a relief to sleep on my side again that the pillow didn't bother me much.
Still doing my exercises, still wearing the TEDS, still no stamina, still sitting and standing and moving gingerly. No energy, not completely clear-headed, still swollen in both legs and both feet.
Home PT person arrived on Wednesday and was shocked that I answered the door with a cane instead of a walker. Led me through exercises, was pleased at my progress. Very glad I'd been doing the exercises. But hurting Wednesday night and Thursday, probably muscles rather than incision, so went back to the walker on Thursday. By Friday felt okay again, went back to the cane and that was the end of the walker.
Friday evening went to a social event where I live. Lasted about an hour and that was sitting with people bringing me food! Just no stamina, still, and no interest in socializing. Just not up for any of it yet.
Sunday I started peeing every 2 hours, sometimes every hour, once in awhile every half hour. What is going on? Infection? No pain, just insane frequency, including all night long.
Sunday went to dinner at my neighbor's, had to go back to my place once to pee (on my toilet with the 5-inch-higher riser). Not only no stamina, also no patience for small talk. Just wanted to go home, so left early for the sanctuary of my quiet place.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Days 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 After Surgery
Getting better by leaps and bounds! Definitely have turned a corner. Zipping around on my cane, exercises are getting easier and I'm feeling my muscles getting stronger as I coax them out of the hibernation they've been in for the last year when I've been in such pain. Home PT person came and took me up and down an entire flight of stairs. Up with the good leg, down with the bad one. Cane on the current step when going up, cane on the step you're moving to when going down. And hold on to the rail.
Peeing every hour continued for three days, Sunday through Tuesday. Then ceased as quickly as it had begun. And I'd lost all of the 10 extra pounds, plus my swelling was gone. Ah, that explains it! Very relieved.
Still moving, sitting, standing with great care. Began washing my own clothes/sheets/towels again, retrieving my clothes from the dryer by raising my left leg behind me so I don't bend more than 90 degrees. Simple cooking and food prep appeal to me again. More energy, though still low on stamina. Still aware that I'm not back 100% -- maybe 75% at this point. Better than 20% I had when I came home.
Okay, confessions. No more TEDS for the last couple of days. Swelling is gone and I'm more active so I figure...I'll try it this way. And I'm supposed to be able to drive at four weeks. It's been two weeks and four days. I had cabin fever today and the weather was beautiful, so I very carefully got into and out of the car, drove to the grocery store, used the grocery cart as a makeshift walker, gleefully walked up and down the aisles. It was such fun! Don't realize what we take for granted until it's gone. So glad to get it back! Drove very carefully -- don't want any accidents. Was so good for my morale! The trip zapped my energy, am still working on my stamina.
Next is swimming, which I can do at four weeks. I may push it a day or two but respect that they want no infection and neither do I. Can't wait to do exercises in the pool! And can't wait til my stamina is back. I am looking to get my life back, and I can feel that it's close.
Musings on topics of small or large importance. Especially partial to subjects that include baby boomers, public figures, friends, Corporate America, the Denver Broncos, NASCAR, my previous home towns of New York City and Columbia (Maryland), stupidity (mine and others'), diets and health and who knows what else!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
First of all, apologies that this is so long. It's info that I wish I'd had before my surgery. So maybe it'l be helpful to someone else.