Six weeks ago, I said “buh-bye” to my right hip – and good riddance! hahaha It just wasn’t doing its job. In fact, it was causing quite a bit of pain as it sat there, useless. So, I let it go. And how did that work out for me? Just dandy, as I often say.
No pain since the surgery. I did not live on Percocet or Oxycontin in order to manage the post-op pain. There really wasn’t anything to complain about. The nurses in the hospital were standing by as the anesthesia wore off after surgery. They were ready to load me up with painkillers, if I needed it. And I didn’t. I don’t know why. Believe me, I’m no sadist. If it hurt, I would have taken something for it. I just hope my left hip recovers the same way.
My physical therapist cautions me to not expect the same [relatively] quick healing I’ve experienced with my right hip. She doesn’t want me to feel frustrated or overly concerned if/when I experience pain as my left hip recovers after surgery in a couple of weeks. I can see her point. In fact, just by writing about my current state of recovery, I’m probably jinxing my left hip. Oh well.
Five years ago, when I researched on the ‘net what it meant to have a total hip replacement and how long recovery might be, the news was rather depressing. Precautions abounded – do not fall – and recovery would be about 3 – 6 months! How does one recover for that long with two young children and their myriad activities?
And it has. New materials in artificial hips coupled with different approaches in surgery have given me a target of 25 years (maybe even 30 years!) for this first set *and* an expected recovery period of 3 – 6 weeks! That’s essentially the time it takes for bone to heal.
When I woke up in my hospital room after surgery, my legs were strapped to a large soft, triangle-shaped foam “pillow” and wrapped in rubber sleeves that applied waves of pressure to help minimize any risk of blood clots forming as I lay motionless for hours. I imagine that 10 years ago, this is how hip patients had to remain for days, even weeks after surgery. But these days, my doctor warned me that he would want me on my feet the day of surgery. Walking might be optional but I would certainly be out of bed.
And I was. After the singular experience of having to use a bedpan, I was determined that not only would I stand that day, I would walk to the bathroom (with the assistance of a nurse or a walker, of course). That tiny bit of independence in going to the bathroom was a tiny victory toward normalcy after the major surgery I’d just had.
The day after surgery, I gave up the walker and started using crutches after the in-hospital physical therapist visited. There were certain things I had to do by myself before I could go home: manage my pain, get in and out of bed, know how to dress myself, go to the bathroom, and go up and down stairs. The occupational therapist helped me with the fine points of getting up and getting dressed. She recommended a long-reach grabber and a commode for home (both of which turned out to be critical).
For the most part, I’d passed all of my “tests” for leaving the hospital and was a candidate to go home that day after surgery. But I knew that I was still a bit nervous about climbing up and down stairs. I stayed another night, largely to practice with the physical therapist again.
That afternoon, I went home. Home therapy began the following day and would continue for about two weeks until I was released to outpatient therapy. The physical therapist helped me with doing little exercises to get me moving safely (with respect to my restrictions), putting more pressure on my hips, and checking the wound/surgical incision. My occupational therapist helped me with more “daily living” things like dressing, showering and getting around. I never really understood the difference between a PT and OT but now I kinda do.
- No bending at my hips over 90 degrees meaning I could not pick up anything from the ground, lean over to put on socks or pull my pants on. A long-reach grabber was critical to my being able to do the most basic things in the house;
- No crossing legs or feet, which I haven’t been able to do for a long time anyway;
- No external or internal hip rotations;
- No adduction and letting my leg go behind me – this is just for me because I’m special (read: my hip was worse off than expected and more material had to be removed than usual).
Can I tell you how annoying those restrictions are? That 90 degree one is the most limiting, in my opinion. Just imagine sitting at the dinner table. My hips are already at 90 degrees when I sit all the way back into my chair. This means that I cannot lean forward to reach for anything on the table. It means that if something is just a hand-length away, I have to ask for someone to get it for me. Essentially, leaning forward was not a recommended position.
What I didn’t expect was that I wouldn’t be able to sleep very well those first couple of weeks post-surgery. With these restrictions in the back of my mind, I was extra mindful of the position of my hips. It was a production to try to change positions or roll over…and when I did, I completely woke up. Ugh.
Anyway, I really couldn’t complain despite the lack of sleep. The restrictions were only for the first six weeks after surgery. I did have to give myself injections of Lovenox (blood thinner) for the first two weeks post-op as a precaution against blood clots forming but even then, that was really no big deal. My biggest advantage, luckily, was that I had no real pain to manage. Yes, there was a bit of soreness but pain? Nothing compared to what I had been living with…and certainly nothing that required a dose of painkillers.
Fast forward to today… My restrictions have been lifted since I had my 6 weeks post-op appointment two days ago. This means I can essentially do…anything. That might be a bit misleading, however. Getting all of my strength back will take time and a lot of hard work. My hips have been in such pain for so long that muscles have had a bit of time to atrophy. But in my mind, that is the least of my worries. Soon, both of my hips will be free of pain and functioning normally. I can’t wait!
An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.
To see all of my posts related to my hip surgeries and recovery, check out these posts: