Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hip, Hip Hooray

I've been having quite an adventure. Two weeks ago, I had a total hip replacement. My adventure actually started three weeks before surgery when I donated a pint of my own blood to be returned during the operation. Two weeks before surgery, I discontinued all the pain medication I was taking. As the pain and stiffness returned with a vengeance, I remembered exactly why I was having my severely arthritic left hip replaced.

To prepare for surgery, I got my hair cut, shaved my legs, gave myself a manicure and pedicure and went shopping at Bealls (pronounced BELLS) where I bought new underwear, a robe and PJ's, several pairs of cropped knit pants - the kind that just pull on - and some pretty new tops to match. A couple of the outfits were a size larger than I usually wear so I could get them on and off easier after surgery. I didn't realize at the time how important these new clothes were - but nothing makes a gal feel better than putting on new pretty duds - even if you haven't taken a shower in 4 days.

Wednesday morning arrived and I was ready. After a short drive to West Marion Hospital, we checked in and the nurses began their prep. I guess I was nervous as I needed to make several trips to the bathroom - and I felt nauseous. They assured me they had not started the drugs yet and did we need to postpone? Did I have the stomach flu that Bill had had the week before? My gut has always been my weak spot so we decided to go ahead. I had no fever - just a bad headache.

I have no memory of most of the day as I had a spinal for pain and the same type of medicine they give you when you have a colonoscopy that makes you sleep. My surgery was a little different than most hip replacement surgeries done around the country. There are three types: posterior, where the incision is from the back and lateral  where the incision is from the side. Both of these methods involve cutting muscle away from the bone and necessitate a longer recovery period with restrictions on what you can do for up to 2 months. I had the third type - anterior approach, where the incision is smaller and on the front of the leg beginning just at the crease at the top of the leg. Muscles are not cut so rehabilitation is shorter and less painful. The chances of dislocating the new hip are almost non-existent.

I didn't respond well to the pain medication (or did I have the stomach flu?) and was pretty much out of it for another 24 hours. They tried several times to get me out of bed - but it just wasn't happening! I couldn't get my head off the pillow. A change in meds and by late in the afternoon of day two - I was ready to try again. The Physical Therapist wasn't available for another hour, so nurse Carol tried to help me get to my feet. Try as she did, my leg was not supported enough and I spewed 4-letter words that I'm sure people on the next wing heard. Carol decided it was best to wait for the therapist - but not before she lovingly told me I needed to clean up my potty mouth and call for Sweet Baby Jesus to help instead of yelling obscenities.

Joel arrived ready to do battle. He had been warned - but was so gentle, I didn't scream or anything - and as soon as my feet hit the floor and I stood up - I felt 1000% better! With his help, I walked out to the nurses station, down the hall and back to sit in my chair. I had survived! I actually started to cry when I realized my back no longer hurt and I could stand up straight. After a sponge bath and new clothes, my spirits were soaring and I was ready to begin the rehab in earnest.

These are a few of my assistive devices. My "getter" is probably the one I use the most. It's the gun-looking thing in the middle of the picture that trains me for a future collecting trash on the side of the road. The back-scratcher helped in the couple of days post-surgery until the anesthesia (that made me itch) left my system. The thing on the right helped to keep my lungs healthy and the blue miracle device on the left still allows me to put my socks on all by myself. These along with my ice-machine, walker and cane get me through my days in comfort and allow me to do almost everything for myself. I also have a 3-in-1 chair that helps in the shower and gives me arms to push up from the toilet.

I was home in three days and able to walk a half mile in under 2-weeks. I do my exercises at least twice each day, ice and elevate often and work with my trainer 3 times a week. I gave up on prescription pain pills as soon as I got home and just take Tylenol 3 or 4 times a day. Bill has been amazing - OK, even more amazing and has taken over my chores and helped with ....... everything. I'm so lucky to have him!

Next week I start water aerobics and I'll begin walking without a cane. Life is good!!