New Hip — Week Three

i survived

Well, it’s been three weeks since I got my new hip.  The operation I needed a year ago- but put off and put off, has finally happened.  I’m so glad it’s over, so glad I survived, and so glad this surgery was available to me!   Prior to the big day, I said lots of prayers and was given a great peace about the whole situation – I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying or dreading the operation.  On the way to the hospital that bright sunny morning of July 1st, I thought I’d want to grab the steering wheel and turn the car any direction AWAY from the planned destination…. but I didn’t.  In my logical mind, I knew I was headed to the exact place I needed to be.

Everyone was quite pleasant in pre-op, except for the IV nurse.  Oh, she was okay too, but I couldn’t help but say something when she decided to put the IV in my antecubital area (front of the elbow).  I said something like, “you drew the blood and kept the IV in the antecubital?”  She said, “well yes, is that okay?”  I then said, “everytime I bend my arm this is gonna bug me…..” so she suggested she take OUT the IV and put it somewhere else.  I wasn’t too keen on that plan either, so I decided to grin and bear it.  Before I knew it, they were wheeling me to the O.R.  I remembered in the pre-op class I took, that to avoid the possibility of infection, nobody gets catheters anymore.  They said (in the class) to be sure and use the restroom before you enter the O.R.  So, I had them stop in the hallway outside the surgery department while I hopped off the gurney and visited the ladies room.  Then it was back up on the gurney for a ride into the operating room.  Funny thing, when I got in there, First thing I saw was a large whiteboard with my name, birthdate, and etc written on it.  First thing they asked me was to state my name, birthday, and what surgery I was having.  I laughed and said, “if I didn’t know, all I’d need to do is read the board!!”  Before I knew it, they were putting in my spinal and next thing I knew, I was out.  Like a light.  Until… until I woke up!!  Yes, I woke up during the surgery!  I was warned by the anesthesiologist that that could happen, so I wasn’t in total shock when it did.  Weird thing, when I woke up, I could hear hammering.  Yup, hammering.  I couldn’t feel anything – for all I knew they could have been hammering on anyone or anything.  I decided that I better somehow let the anesthesia doc know I was awake, so I opened my eyes and started looking around, and may have lifted my head a bit.  I remember he saw me immediately, made eye contact, and zapped me with more of the happy medicine.  Next time I awoke it was in recovery.

I was up later that afternoon to use the bathroom, since nobody gets catheters!  That was okay, I wanted to be up as soon as possible.  Everything they say about sleeping in hospitals is pretty much true.  They have to do their checks, give meds, and do vitals, etc.    I have to say that my pain was fairly well controlled, even though I found out that taking any sort of narcotic was not in the cards for me.  Yes, I had a day of feeling sort of queasy and nauseated, but I’m sure that’s fairly typical.  I spent two nights in the hospital and was EVER so happy to come home on the third day!  The first thing I did was TAKE A VERY LONG NAP!  I was so tired – from the surgery, from the anesthetic, and from not sleeping well in the hospital, that I couldn’t wait to have some uninterrupted sleep.  I slept three hours that afternoon and then, after dinner went back to bed and slept pretty much through the night.

The first week I maneuvered around the house using a walker.  By the end of week one, I was pretty much through with that cumbersome thing, and got the okay from the Physical Therapist to use a cane.  After three weeks, I’m still using the cane.  Not quite sure when “most” people give up the cane and walk on their own, but I’m not there yet.  I still have pain in the operative leg, although the surgery site is nicely healed.  I’m working on building up the strength in my leg by doing the exercises that the PT prescribes.  It’s possible that my recovery may take a bit longer than some because I was SO weak on my “bad” side for so long, but I’m hanging in there!  One other thing I’m struggling with is LLD — Leg Length Differential. My operative leg is now longer than my other leg!  Sometimes “they” say it’s a perceived thing, but it’s a fact with me.  The PT measured both legs and the right one is 3/4″ longer than the left. One more thing to adjust to.

I’ll have more updates as the weeks progress.  I do not regret this surgery one little bit… I needed it so badly – my only hope to be a regular mobile person again!  I have great faith that in the coming weeks, I’ll be walking without any assistance (i.e. cane) and doing normal things again……….. like walking around Chateau Ste Michelle in September, enjoying a concert with friends and family!!!

Advertisements

I’m having a total hip replacement!

cartoon

July 1st is D-Day for me.  I’m having my hip replaced.  Finally.  I’ve put this off for just over a year now, choosing instead to do a WHOLE lot of traveling during my first year of retirement.  We’re home now, to stay (for a while at least), so the time has come.  I called my surgeon’s office in April and said, “put me on the surgery schedule!”  July first was the first opening – so here we go.  Next I’ll do a Q and A regarding this operation…

1. Why do you need a new hip joint?  Several years ago, I had a tear of my labrum – a ligament in the hip, much like the rotator cuff in your shoulder.  This torn ligament caused irritation, which in turn caused arthritis to eat away at my joint. I’m currently without any cushioning in my hip, “bone on bone”.  It hurts A LOT.

2. How long have you known you’d need this?  I knew about three years ago that I’d end up getting a new hip, eventually.

3. Why did you wait this long?  I seriously considered having my joint replaced last year (2013).  After a visit to my doc, he asked if I’d like to try a different pain killing pill to try and put off the inevitable a little longer.  I said “yes” I’d try the new pill (well, it was new to ME, not a new drug). I started taking two Diclofenac every day and WOW what a difference it made!  I felt so much better, I decided to hang on to my own joint for a while longer.  Plus, we had a LOT of traveling planned (and paid for).  We had a big family vacation last May/June in Palm Springs.  Then in early September, we had a Mediterranean cruise planned for just over two weeks. In October we had plans to travel back to Palm Springs & stay till January 1st when we’d start our cross-country RV trip. We accomplished all these wonderful travels and returned home just last month.

4.  Have you tried anything else?  Yes, I took the Diclofenac until May of last year (with great pain relief) until I found out that it had adversely effected my liver.  My liver enzymes shot up (they had always been normal before), and I knew it was a result of this drug. I had to stop taking it.  When I quit taking it, – no surprise – the big time pain returned.  I also had a cortisone injection in this joint about 3 years ago.  That was a miracle pain killer – for about a MONTH.  Then it was all back with a vengeance.

5. How did you choose your surgeon?   One thing I know for sure, after being a practicing RN for 35 years, NURSES KNOW who the best doctors are. They know who does the best work & who has the best outcomes.  I had a contact at the hospital in our town who knows the nurse manager for the Joint Replacement ward.  She asked the nurse manager (very discreetly) who she would use, if she needed a new joint.  I was SO happy that she named the doctor who had done hubby’s hip replacement 4 years ago.  I know him and trust him. I feel even better, knowing that he is officially “nurse endorsed”.  🙂

6. What sort of prep do you need to do, prior to the big day?  I must say, our local hospital and the joint replacement center specifically, are VERY organized.  I received a notebook of information about an inch thick.  I have exercises to do, a class I had to attend with my “coach” (hubby), instructions on how to prepare our home, equipment I will need for a few months afterward, etc.  They even encourage you to eat healthy foods, high in protein and iron – which I’ve been trying to do.

7.  Are you worried/concerned/freaked out about it all?  At this point, I’m truly not.  On the day of the surgery I have no doubt that I’ll be nervous for sure!

8.  What about the pain?   Pain is no fun.  I’ve been in A LOT of pain now for a long time.  I know I’ll get a “PCA” for the first few hours (patient controlled anesthetic) and afterward, I hope they’ll find a pill that’ll work for me.  I think I’m more worried about the nausea, but they have medicine for that as well.

9.  How long is the rehab?  From what I’ve read and heard, I will have to be very cautious with my new joint for three full months. I’ll be going to physical therapy twice a week for a few weeks.  I’ve also heard that I could be feeling pretty darn good and fairly mobile in a couple weeks.  Hubby was, with his hip replacement.  I hope and pray I am able to do as well as he did.

10.  What do you hope to gain?  I hope to be able to walk a block or a mile or more, without being in crippling pain. I hope to be rid of this awful limp that makes me look like I’m 95 years old!  I want to be able to reach my right foot again, clip and paint my own toenails again!  I want to be able to bend over, feed the cat, put on socks and pants without a huge struggle, get in and out of the car like a normal human, and get back to KAYAKING again!!

So, there it is… all laid out.  I’ll write more about this huge journey after my pre-op appointment with the surgeon next week, so stay tuned to find out how it all pans out 🙂