In the course of my 39 years I’ve had surgery a bunch of times. My first foray under anesthesia (unless my parents are hiding something from me) was at age 6 when I fell out of a tree, broke my arm and had to have it surgically re-set. Hey, when I do something, I do it all the way! Considering I was only 6, it’s amazing how much of that experience I remember. I remember being asked at one point what flavor I preferred; chocolate or vanilla…apparently I was going to get flavored oxygen or something. Anyway I never answered and I remember being wheeled into the OR with a mask on my face and thinking ‘I forgot to say chocolate’ then waking up lol.
Anyway this is not my first surgery, not even my first one to require a multiple night stay in the hospital. I’ve never had a pre-op like the one at this hospital. Usually you go get lab work done somewhere, then go to the hospital to have a breathing test, have you physician say you’re well enough for surgery, and answer a million questions on paper. Here though, everything is done in one place at one time. Don’t get me wrong, I much prefer that and with my gimpy state, the fewer places I have to go, the better.
Parked, and hobbled into the entrance. I should have used the Valet, but I didn’t. Walked back farrrrrrr to the surgical interview area. I was greeted by George, who it turns out is retired AF and apparently runs a tight ship. George put a patient wristband on me, checked me off all my personal info then walked me to the lab. Oh sweet mercy. He did offer me a wheelchair like 4 times and I should have said YES but I’m an ass. Also, it seemed like a waste of time to have someone come and wheel me a hallway over and then wait on me to be done or worse, or me wait on them to return to wheel me back. So I said no. First stop: urinalysis.
A urinalysis isn’t that big a deal. About 10 or so years ago I had surgery and had gotten into a pretty nasty car accident 2 days before and couldn’t really bend much or at all or move my leg well or anything else and it ended up in the most horrifying yet hysterical urine sample story. It’s better if I tell it in person. Also much funnier if we’re all drinking but I digress. Anyhooo let me say this…if you’ve never had hip issues you cannot begin to imagine the way your body moves or is limited in movement. It’s pretty bad. And with 2 bad hips, and a messed up back I’m a wreck. There’s a storm coming and I think that’s the reason I’m so incredibly crippled right now.
Into the patient bathroom I go. Wasn’t sure I had to pee so I turned on the water to encourage my bladder, then unzipped my jeans, pulled everything down, and sat on the cold toilet (why are hospitals so cold???? I mean, I know the reason but still, annoying). I stared at my thighs and cussed at them. Don’t get me wrong, I love my thighs. But when you have hip problems your groin muscle is almost always a mess. If you’ve never pulled a groin muscle…wow. The pain…she is like fire. (Yes, I did just give pain a feminine pronoun) You cannot move your thighs…despite whatever trying you do. So I made an agreement with myself; the right hip is going first so it should be the one to suffer and have to move. Slooowwwly I willed my hip to move my thigh. Nope. No siree. Up yours.
By this point the signal has gotten to my brain that I’m sitting on the toilet and YOU MUST PEE NOW. I was holding every muscle so tightly to avoid peeing so I can get it into the cup, I managed to spread my legs enough to get a cup where it needed to be…but the bending thing was a challenge…you have NO idea how much your hip is involved with bending…even when already seated. I finally get the cup right and start to pee. Only the cup wasn’t in the right spot so I peed on my hand then the cup side was wet and it popped out of my hand against the edge of the toilet. GAH! I grab a hold of it at the same time I force my body to stop peeing. I get it back in place and notice that the sink is quickly filling up with water!!!!! I can see if from where I’m sitting and know I’m in trouble.
I pull the cup up…NOT ENOUGH PEE. Put it back down (Ok shove it between my legs because there was no way my body was going to move my thigh again. I’m freaking out now because the water is about an inch from the edge. Finally, get the right about, finish up put the lid on…then put the lid on again, this time correctly. There’s nowhere to put the cup while you finish the toilet stuff. They need to correct that.
Managed to not get pee on my clothes. Success! And even better, I managed not to flood the bathroom. That would have been embarrassing, what with me blaming someone else.
After that, I headed down the hall, like 5 feet to the lab to get my blood drawn. Now, I don’t remember the phlebotomists name but he was a big dude and I was mostly struck by the fact that the lab was making my OCD itch. There was shit stacked everywhere. Seriously. Lately I have been insulting everyone and my filter is stuck in off. As he was preparing the tubes and I rolled up my sleeve I blurted out “This place looks like the free clinic in the ghetto, what’s up with that?”
He looked at me as if to say “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Anyway turns out they’re doing construction and re-building the lab. In the future I will just keep any situational observations to myself while in the hospital. These people will have control of my pain lol. I am not going to piss anyone off.
After the bloodwork I went back to the Surgical Interview suite…except I got lost. Of course. By the time I got back, I flopped into the first chair by the door. George came by to tell me who I was going to see next. A couple came in and sat next to me. Sometimes I enjoy listening to couples – older couples interact. I can’t decide if it makes me sad or happy. When the woman (the patient) got up she looked at me and said “you are just beautiful!” her saying that in the waiting room caused everyone in the vicinity look at me. Mad awk.
Called back to do an EKG and the EKG tech said looking down at my paperwork as I approached “Pamela?” I replied yes and she looked up and said “You are gorgeous!”
Uh. Ok. Whats funny is I’d seen her walk by earlier and thought she was elegant. I know that’s a weird adjective to use but she did…almost regal. Anyway she had to take my blood pressure; I warned her it was sky high post exertion so she agreed to wait. Then I pulled my shirt over my head, and then laid back on the bed…omg…the pain. I couldn’t get my legs up on the bed So embarrassing. I know they deal with this every day and that makes it better but it still sucks. She stuck little things all over my chest and a few on my legs, connected me to the EKG machine then undid me and took my BP.
My blood pressure is generally steady at 118/68. A few times it has been weirdly high. When my mom was super sick last year my chest was hurting and it was like 150/90. Yesterday it was 161/78. I told her to take it again and it was the same. So…yea. I told her it was probably the pain and exertion. She was very kind and let me sit in a chair near the exam rooms so I didn’t have to walk back to the lobby. A man came to talk to me…but I’m not sure what his purpose was. Maybe he was just checking on me?
Next up: Physical therapy. The Physical therapist who said when I walked in “well aren’t you beautiful?”
At this point I wanted to look in a mirror. Not like I never get complimented but it was so many so close together. Anyway I LOVED the PT. we had such a lovely conversation. By the time we were done, she joked she was going to schedule future visits for 2 hours; 1 for therapy, 1 for talking. We discussed my stubbornness, my living arrangements, my post-surgery accommodations and such. Sooo much to think about.
Living alone without a partner is an issue. My mom wants me to stay with them for 2 weeks post-op. My dad said he will bring me after I’m released to their house or stay with me, whatever I want for as long as I need. I’ve been through a hip replacement with my best friend, I got to her house the day she was released and stayed with her and she pretty much didn’t need me or at least wouldn’t take any help from me.
There will be a nurse at my place once a week and the physical therapist 3x a week. The only thing ‘m remotely concerned with is the compression stockings which are damn near impossible to get on with 2 people much less one. I helped my best friend with hers. I may have hindered her more than helped actually. But since I won’t be allowed to move more than a bare lean forward, meaning I have to be upright all the time for about 6 weeks post-op. I’m supposed to wear those stockings for 4 weeks post-op. Now, my best friend didn’t follow directions because she is stubborn like me, also we did a lot of walking and going places after surgery so it seemed she was safe from a blood clot.
If I go to my parents’ house it wouldn’t be for long, which would mean I’d have to re-start my Physical Therapy once I got back to my place with a different therapist and I’d rather not do that. If I stay with my parents, either bed I’d sleep in is horribly uncomfortable. I mean, they’re not bad mattresses but I still have a messed up back and a bad left hip…that means I’ll be fine on the right side and dying on the left.
Ok after PT, I got called for another EKG! This time with a different person, I guess the one in charge. I was terrified…EKG is no joke. In the end, they assured me the original results were messed up because of the new machine and the tech not waiting long enough after the ready light to run the test. As soon as she left and my shirt was back on the physician came in and asked me a million questions about things I had already been over a dozen times. Oh side note, I may have a UTI – not that any of you needed to know that but whatever. Guess I’ll find out on Monday. I was considering trying to see my GP today so he could do a quick test, go ahead and get me medicated but I don’t want to stray from the path I’m on with a different doctor…besides, I don’t know if I can stomach another urine sample.
When he was done with me, I saw the nurse case manager – yea – can you say overload? She was very friendly and helped me through what was going to happen on the day of surgery, during my stay and what to expect post-op. She asked a lot of questions about my aftercare, my living arrangements and she setup a company to do my PT/nursing after I am released. She answered some questions, settled my mind, spoke very highly of my surgeon and his skills. I was experiencing some trepidation…I just didn’t get the warm fuzzies I felt I needed from him. But according to her and one other person I talked to there, he has an amazing bedside manner. Guess I’ll find out. I had a pretty major surgery 10 years ago or so and it was the most awful experience…I can’t help but feel panic thinking about it and worrying about surgical pain, and the anxiety of just having it done.
She said one thing that made me suddenly realize how awesome everything will be: I will be able to put ALL my weight on my right leg! I can’t even imagine! She swore I would be begging them to do the left leg by the time I was done.
She assured me about the level of care and that they don’t release anyone until they’re able to go home alone – BUT they should have some help.
I still need to get a few things to accommodate me post-surgery. Like a grabber/reacher. An elevated toilet seat. I have a shower bench…yea I haven’t used it yet. My ex-boyfriend got it for me and brought it over a month or so ago…I was mortified. Mostly I was thinking ‘well now he’s definitely not trying to get back with me. Haha’.
February 20, cannot come fast enough. Today has been so awful pain wise. My hip feels like it popped out of the socket and my ankle hurts so bad it feels like nails being driven in the ankle bone every time I take a step.
Chronic pain is so very personal. You know other people have it; but you feel really isolated and really alone with it. I can’t wait to have even one good hip…I won’t know what to do with myself.