Nine days ago I had my right hip replaced. I'd been experiencing worsening pain in my right hip, lower back and left knee for three years. When X-rays this May confirmed "severe degenerative osteoarthritis" in my right hip as the primary cause of my pain - not my back or my left knee - I decided to have the hip replaced.
It's been an experience.
- I wasn't nervous or worried. I'd watched a YouTube video the night before the surgery so I could see exactly what happened - an actual filming. I thought it was pretty interesting. It would be an anterior approach - a four- or five-inch incision in the front of my upper thigh. In this method, the muscles are moved aside for the surgery, rather than being cut. It makes for a quicker recovery time.
- I checked into the hospital at 10:30 a.m. and left at 10:00 p.m. A day surgery!
- None of this counting backward from one hundred from the anesthesiologist. He gave me a spinal injection, I felt my leg getting numb, and that was it.
- I'd had a tooth pulled last month so that when I was intubated for the surgery I wouldn't have a risk of aspirating the tooth. Needn't have worried. I wasn't intubated.
- For the first 48 hours after the surgery I was slightly loopy, but felt good enough for a visit from my sister and brother-in-law. We ordered takeout from a local Italian place and the lasagna was delicious.
- Days 3 and 4 were horrible. All the medications from the surgery had worn off. The medication I'd been prescribed for afterwards didn't seem to be working. This was the first major surgery of my life, so I didn't know there would be a lot of pain. The doctor had warned me there would be some, but I had forgotten. I was supposed to hydrate, but if I did I'd have to get up and walk to the bathroom. I hated when the physical therapist who came to our house the day after surgery told me I needed to walk at least every two hours. Didn't she know how much it hurt? I needed help getting into bed and getting into the shower and putting on my pajamas. The grab bar by the toilet was set an inch too far back. Stepping into the shower with my right leg meant I had to lift my foot a little, and that hurt.
- My husband Art was my primary caregiver. Two months past his own back surgery, he did the best he could but it wasn't enough. I yelled at him twice - and I'm not a yeller. I remember saying, "Right now this is supposed to be all about me, not all about you." That was because he took a nap one morning and couldn't hear me when I called for help. I'd needed him for five days to cook, prepare the ice machine, help me into bed, get me water, do the laundry, cook the meals, feed the cat, supervise my shower. My control issues were on full display, and they were not pretty. At all.
- On Day 5 things turned around. The physical therapist who came to our house watched me walk and recommended a couple of simple foot exercises to tweak my gait. And the nurse who called to review my medications adjusted what I would take, and when. Fine tuning of my PT and my meds made a huge difference.
- Each of the last three days has been a little better. I cooked one night and did the dishes another. I can take my own shower and put on my own pajamas. Two days I got dressed. Today Art and I went out to brunch. I'm reading for pleasure again and watched TV last night. Yesterday my walker and I took a bag of trash up our hilly driveway to the curbside bin. My PT is getting easier. Tomorrow I go to the clinic for new exercises and reinforcement.
- My friend Gail had asked how she could help. She visited me four times in the first five days: made a pot of steel-cut oats, fixed a big bowl of quinoa with fruit and nuts, changed the sheets, spoke in a quiet and friendly voice, and listened to me complain. As far as I know, she is still my friend! Another friend, McKenzie, stopped by with Starbucks and orange juice and homemade zucchini bread. Each time I've posted on Facebook I've gotten encouragement and congratulations from friends from all over. I've gotten phone calls to check in on me and brighten my mood. I've been counseled by my nurse sister Alyx and my nurse sons Russell and Peter.