You shall have a bionic hip and you shall be a superheroine – Part 1

Well, it’s been 2 weeks since my surgeon sliced me open. Figured it was time to write a blog about the fun times.

First, never, ever have surgery at a later time in the day.  Mine was scheduled for 12:30. Dad arrived to pick me up at 10 and I signed into the hospital at 10:30. I remember the pain I had walking in there and my dismay that there were no seats close to the front desk…I had to walk so far it seemed, limping along and barely able to tolerate the walk and cursing out a woman who took not one, not two but THREE seats near the intake office doors!!!  I was irate.

Dad was parking the car and I was called back. The admin told me surgery was covered 100% with my insurance…yay! She offered to get me a wheelchair, and remembering the time a few weeks previous when I had to walk and walk and walk I took her up on it.

A little bit later I was wheeled back to have my blood cross type and match done…I thought I’d had that done 2 weeks before. In fact I remember being told I was having that done then.  The nurse could not get blood from me.  Her job was to draw blood and put in the port for the IV. She managed to get blood but could not get the IV needle in.  I was pretty dehydrated. By this point it was 11 and it had been a full 12 hours since I’d consumed anything to drink. They wrapped my arms in heating pads then I was wheeled into another office for my vitals and the nurse gave me oxycontin and something else pain related. I thought that was weird – they were getting ready to operate on me and pump me full of drugs. Are pills necessary?  I was annoyed on behalf of the very kind nurse when she was interrupted by another nurse to fax something.  My nurse offered to fax it since the fax machine was in the office we were sitting in.  The second nurse interrupted again to collect the faxed paper then made a snotty remark about how my nurse had not stamped the paper faxed. As soon as nurse 2 shut the door, I said ‘That was rude, is she always like that?’  My nurse was very professional and said simply that she had failed to stamp the paper so she deserved to be called out for that. Can you imagine?  I was annoyed at being interrupted.

Then I had to give a urine sample which was less traumatic than my previous urine sample.  They needed to make sure I wasn’t pregnant. Even though I assured them I had not been having sex and my last partner had a vasectomy. Apparently, they don’t care.

I sat with my dad in the lobby area and then was taken back to put on my sexy hospital gown. And slipper socks. What a joke. The nurse very kindly put them on me because I couldn’t reach. Ahhh so awful. Then my nurse tried to find a vein…no luck even with warmed up arms.  In the end, an anesthesiologist was called over to do it. 3 people- 8 tries. I looked like a damn pin cushion.  Suddenly things happened very fast. Until that point everything dragged. A nurse handed me a marker and asked me to write ‘yes’ on my hip/thigh. A few minutes later, my surgeon came in and initialed where I’d written yes. He didn’t say much else. A very hot nurse anesthetist came in and talked to me briefly, as well as an anesthesiologist. They asked me to sit on the side of the bed so they could put in my epidural. All the sudden everything seemed blurry and I looked over at the nurse anesthetist and asked if he did something and he said he gave me Versed. Last thing I remember was saying ‘oh Versed? That’s good stuff’.

Next thing I knew I was awake and a nurse was fussing over me. I was trying to find a clock. She asked what my pain level was and I felt a lot of pain but didn’t want to admit it.  Lesson learned: get all the drugs you can in recovery because they are not as free flowing with the drugs once you’re on the floor.

It seemed like it was really late when I did see a clock. Reality is I can’t remember but it seemed like night time and I was very surprised it had taken as long as it did. I know it takes me a while to come out of anesthesia, perhaps I should have mentioned that to the staff beforehand. They always ask if you have problems with anesthesia, I never remember that it takes me forever to wake up as a problem.

Once in my room I dozed in and out. Dad was there and I realized I was connected to a telemetry machine. A nurse told me what it was and that it was attached to me during surgery because they worried I had an irregular heart rhythm.   Ended up having to wear it the entire time in the hospital. Don’t really remember much about the first night except being surprised at the amount of pain I was in.  At some point in the evening nurses came in to have me sit on the side of the bed. I knew this would happen because there was a big sign indicating post-hip replacement goals and that was the first one.

I found the worst part was going to the bathroom. Searing pain in the muscle and where I’d been cut.

Mistakenly I thought there would be zero pain. I know what you’re thinking: why would anyone think they would be pain free after being cut open?  I’ll tell you why: my best friend.  She had her hip replaced almost two years ago and had pretty much no pain.  She didn’t take pain medication, not only not at the hospital but not at home while recuperating. I set my expectation at that and was damn near having a nervous breakdown because I thought I was some kind of exception to the rule. Especially since my roommate appeared to not be having any issues with pain either.  At one time when her mom was in PT, the daughter (who stayed with her mom the entire time) stopped over to chat with me. She asked if I needed anything, needed help adding cream and sugar to my coffee, or needed help changing clothes or whatnot. She was very kind. I asked why her mother had no pain and she told me about her brother who was a paraplegic following an accident and her mom felt she had to suck it up because of what her son had gone through. Man, I felt like a pussy.

I had trouble walking and trying to do PT because I kept getting dizzy. I cried, I cried more.  I sobbed because I hurt, I sobbed because I thought I messed up something.  During one foray to PT, my dad followed us with a wheelchair and I’d already had to sit down once.  The nurse practically ran from the nurses station yelling at me to sit down.  My heart rate was crazy high and my telemetry machine sent off a warning to the people who keep track of those things.

Now, at the same time I was visited each day by an attending surgeon and physician. The surgeon (who was very hot and tasty) kept telling me each day that my blood numbers were dropping. He said if I dropped one more point they would insist on a transfusion.  Having had a ton of bloodwork before surgery, I could not figure out how I was anemic to the degree I was.  The attending surgeon and hematologist both said I was severely anemic and that hip replacement surgery is ‘very bloody’ (eeew). So finally, 2 days later than I was supposed to leave the hospital, hot doctor came in early in the morning and informed me I’d dropped half a point overnight and we could wait and see or they could give me a transfusion.  I began crying a lot because I was frustrated. I told him I couldn’t stay in the hospital any more so he ordered up some blood and shortly thereafter a nurse and someone from the blood clinic came in. They double checked the blood type and donor info, the nurse gave me a Benadryl (apparently people sometimes have an allergic reaction while getting blood).I was hooked up to the blood and passed out, only waking up when the pint was nearing empty and the machine began beeping.

After that, I was able to do a full session of PT without getting dizzy. Was the difference between night and day from the day before. By mid-afternoon I was released with a couple of prescriptions, put into dads car and sent home.  We stopped by Walgreens, dropped off the prescriptions then dad drove over to the grocery store so we could get a few things. I needed orange juice to take my iron supplement with (alternately there is another kind of special iron I could take but why waste the bottle of iron I have?). Dad got me home and upstairs. I was exhausted!! Using a walker is awkward and I hadn’t walked very far in the hospital so the walk from the front door at my apartment building to my actual apartment took so much out of me.  Once dad got me inside, he returned to the car to bring in groceries and my bag from the hospital. I was just excited to be in my own place.

Dad was excellent taking care of me. He insisted on cooking dinner, breakfast, lunch. I on the other hand had zero appetite.  God, being in the hospital with that food.  Ick.  They ask each day what you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And they harangue you about eating constantly. You’ve just lost blood, you’re dizzy, on a lot of medication, the last thing you want to do is eat. But on the other hand, everyone keeps reminding you that you need to eat to heal properly. Very frustrating. Anyway I felt bad when I couldn’t eat the food dad gave me. I got a couple bites in here and there. Fortunately my appetite has come back since the early days.

My first day out of the hospital I was visited by the home healthcare nurse and the Physical Therapist.  Both were pretty simple visits; intake and evaluation.  The nurse was not happy that I had taken my compression stockings off and the PT wanted me to have a raised toilet seat. She was excited I was able to get in and out of bed and get in and out of my main chair as well as I did. I was kind of proud of myself.

OK enough for now. I’ve had an exhausted day physically and my bed beckons


About limpalongwithme

Quasi geek, social butterfly, information sponge, lover of spas and I spend my days dealing with major chronic back and hip pain. Recently diagnosed with dysplastic hips as a grown woman and I need a place to talk about it as I try to move forward.
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2 Responses to You shall have a bionic hip and you shall be a superheroine – Part 1

  1. Glad you’re back sharing experiences, however difficult they are. It’s not the lightest thing to read, but you do a good job conveying what you’ve been through.

    Hope you’re recovering better as we speak.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Pam! Thank you for sharing! It can really be disappointing when we have expectations of one thing and reality is something completely different. I’m sorry. I think that it would have been easier to deal with had you been expecting the recovery to be painful.. But we are unique and our experiences are our own. You have a terrific dad :). I’m sure he’s enjoyed taking care of his baby girl 😉 I’m glad you are continuing to heal and getting stronger. Keep doing what you are supposed to do and you’ll be working that hip in no time.

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