I am now in the 9th week ( it’s 12 weeks today but wrote this 3 weeks ago and didn’t post!) of recovery following a hip replacement. What can I say? Ouch. I am still in quite a bit of discomfort and pain and shouldn’t be according to the visit I paid to the lovely doctor last week! Everything has gone to plan, X-rays looks fine, I must continue to do my exercise and be patient. It is will get better. Apparently I am a slow healer. Ha!! A Slow healer. I can’t sit still. That’s the problem.
So let me look back over the last 8 weeks, which have flown by, and give a potted account of the trials and tribulations of a hip replacement! I’ll break down the process as simply as possible so if you are reading this and heading for a replacement soon, it may help you! Or not!
The pre op assessment was plain sailing and included a group school tuition afternoon. My sister accompanied me to this just in case my menopausal memory was unable to retain all the important information! Unfortunately she had a bout of uncontrollable coughing that obviously irritated the gentleman sitting in front of us so, out of politeness, she left the room!! When she came back in she hadn’t been sitting for long before the uncontrollable coughing started again, but by now the giggles had set in and the situation became quite farcical with said gentlemen looking as if he were about to burst a blood vessel in his temple muttering words such as germs, ridiculous etc etc. I found a breath freshener spray in my bag which my sister started spraying into the back of her throat and lo and bold the coughing abated somewhat and peace was resumed. We were shown examples of the new hip, watched a video, given a step-by-step explanation of the process, information on post op recovery and an opportunity to ask any questions. We were there for 3 hours but it was all worthwhile so I would advise you to attend joint school if you are given the opportunity, although with my sister’s absence and my limited retention ability, I forgot a lot of what was said. Fortunately you get an envelope full of info, anyway!!
The big day arrived and I was at the hospital by 7:30am again accompanied by my younger sister. We were directed to Ward A where we sat quietly for a while and where nerves began to kick in and with me wondering if I had time to change my mind. Then a stream of individuals invaded my room (yes, not a ward, I had a room of my own on Ward A, en suite – the lot) I lose count how many times I recited my name and date of birth that morning!! There was Josh in a dark green uniform needing to fill in a general admittance file, this being his first day he was not entirely familiar with the forms and it took a little while longer to accomplish this task but fair play to Josh, he had to deal with a stream of interruptions and was thrown out of the room each time someone came in! There was a nurse in a blue uniform first, then another in a white uniform taking bloods, then Josh came back to try to finish the admittance forms. Another doctor in light green uniform whom I believe was the registrar came next armed with the same identification questions – name and date of birth. Next the anaesthetist popped in, name and date of birth, but by now I didn’t make a note of his colour uniform. Josh reappeared but had no time to find out where he last left off before we were interrupted by another blue to take blood pressure, name and date of birth first. Then there was one more visit after my sister’s departure by yet another doctor whose opening greeting was, sorry but name and date of birth please, then finally Josh again who managed to complete the admittance forms in peace! I had an hour to myself before my friend arrived to take my mind off the very imminent procedure!! After taking a tablet in preparation for the operation, the consultant himself arrived for a chat and to say that I would be ready to go down very soon. There was a little bit of a respite now but the tablet started kicking in and I found it difficult to stand, walk and talk. A porter arrived with a chair and pushed me to theatre! The rest is a daze!! I went from lying on my side in a room with 4 individuals around my bed, crammed into what seems like a very small space, with a bearded and seemingly young gentleman in a head scarf asking my life history, to opening my eyes in an empty space and feeling all alone!! Where had everyone gone? Feeling confused and out of sorts I heard the words “Sleeping Beauty is awake.” It was all over! I was in the recovery room and I hadn’t felt a thing and everyone was gone!! How did that happen?
I returned to a ward some hours later but was completely out of it, unable to keep awake and hold a conversation and make sense of anything going on around me, so my visitors all went home and I was left to sleep. I slept on and off until the very early hours but by the morning I began to feel human again and was able to eat a little breakfast. I elected to stay in the following night again although I had been discharged that day after a brief physio session, but as there was only one other lady on the ward I stayed to keep her company ( that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) and I felt safe at the hospital!! There was a wonderous electric storm that night and as it had been such a hot and stuffy day we decided to sleep with the windows and curtains open so I had front row seats at the viewing of the storm all over the bay. It was well worth staying in for. By 10:00 am the next morning I went home complication-free, armed with 3 crutches and a bag of iboprufen, Omeprazole, paracetamol and codeine tablets to take every 4 hours.
Back home I was very surprised and shocked at how much care I needed!! Getting in and out of a car, getting in and out of bed, sitting down, getting up, climbing up and going down the stairs etc etc and I was constantly tired! I really felt my age. My 96-year-old mother was more nimble than I!! However, I soon settled into a routine and I was so grateful to my sisters who rallied around to help me during those first 2 weeks. Sitting still was a very difficult for me and to be waited on hand and foot was totally out of character! I had conjured an image in my head that after a few days I would be up and about, albeit on crutches, and seeing to things as usual, but heaven forbid!! No way was that happening. I had pain, swollen legs and ankles, pains in the groin and let’s don’t mention the nights!! Now, they were the real living nightmare hours. I had no idea the pain and discomfort being in bed would cause! Sleep evaded me for the next 3 weeks. Lying on my back was the hardest part of all and didn’t help. After a few hours of lying in this fixed position, my leg and groin would begin to ache, then my knee and heel, and then I would be awake and have to take tablets again to knock me out. Let me give you a tip here – ALWAYS carry a bag around with you so you have your tablets, a bottle of water and your mobile to hand. There was nothing worse than waking up at night to take a tablet and find that you had no water. Keep a water bottle handy at all times as getting in and out of bed was knife-edge pain!! After 2 weeks of constant help I was suddenly left alone to manage! My mother went away for 5 days so I didn’t have to worry about her so it was just me and my son. That was a very difficult time. Trying to get around a home and do everyday things on crutches is exhausting and especially when, 3 weeks after major surgery, the recommendation is to rest and take it easy! My friends were wonderful and I had visitors every day to help with the washing and the cooking. I thank the wonder of Tesco, Dominoes and the local Chinese Take Away for home deliveries and my young son who kept an eye out for his mother all week.
I am now at 12 weeks post-op, and only just beginning to feel a significant improvement but I will leave this next chapter until the next time!
………….to be continued!