Hip Replacement: Home Recovery – Week 1

It’s been a week since arriving home from the hospital after a total hip replacement and I’m happy to say it’s been a week of steady progress.

I’m still on the pill cocktail of Celebrex (muscle relaxant), Lyrica (neuropathic pain reliever) Xarelto (blood thinner), however, all but the blood thinner will drop off in a few more days. The painkiller that was prescribed for use on an as-needed basis I’ve used only once.

I’ve had some aches and pains but they’ve been few and mild for the most part, and seem all muscle-related – nothing like the joint and muscle pain that existed prior to surgery.

In fact, the two biggest pains have been:
a) the crutches brushing my incision site because I can’t remember to hold them wider
b) the serious pain in my rear that kicks in later in the day from sitting – my ability to shift positions is seriously curtailed by the movement restrictions imposed après-surgery

Before surgery, my leg had a tendency to turn outward at the foot. I suspect this came from the hip socket as it is now as straight as the right one. So I think some of what I feel is my muscles around the joint adjusting to this new alignment.

I’ve concluded at this point that my quads are in pretty good shape, relatively speaking, as the exercises involving those muscles are really easy for me. My gluts need some work, and do-able exercises and walking will address this, however, where I’m really weak (and I think this is a problem that began long before surgery) is my inner thigh and groin muscles on that left side. The exercise that uses these has been a real trial, to the point where I dropped it for a few days. The outer thigh muscles I’m not really sure about yet because I’m not yet able to exercise them due to my 50% weight bearing restriction.

I’ve an appointment with my physiotherapist, in the coming week, to get a better understanding of how best to handle the 50% restriction and what to do to optimize my recovery process.

I discovered from my reflection in a mirror, that, while I my feel as though I’m walking perfectly upright, I’m in fact tilted to the right – I think it’s because I’m putting more weight on that side. So maybe physio will also help me look less like the leaning Tower of Pisa!

In the first few days after surgery my balance wasn’t 100% but it returned very quickly and feels perfect now. On Tuesday (Day 6 after surgery) I decided to ditch the walker and move to crutches. I immediately felt more mobile – I was even able to get down the three steps out and into the back yard, which made the dog very happy. The walker is still the safest option though if I need to get up at night because I’m not quite as steady on my feet then.

Frustration was a part of the week too – getting plates of food and cups of tea from kitchen to living room easy chair is a challenge! It’s disheartening to work your way around the kitchen, on crutches, to get toast or a sandwich and maneuver plate and crutches at the same time to where you want to go, only to have it slip and hit the floor once you’re just about there. And I dropped my favourite mug a few days ago (trip to Glebe Emporium coming up, to see if there’s hope of replacing it!). Everything happens at a snail’s pace – I’m not good at that!

A bit of worry and a sense of vulnerability were there at times – while walking, albeit with crutches, is going well and I often feel like I could walk unaided, I know that any unsupported instability or sudden jolt would send me crashing to the floor and I would not be able to get myself upright again. I’d likely dislocate the hip too, if that happened. If I was alone, and I am for hours each day, I’d be there till someone came home again. It’s clear that recovering at home would be impossible for a single person, at least for the first few weeks, and I’m both fortunate and grateful to have my family’s help and support. They’ve been terrific!

I was also made aware of the effects of blood thinners, first with a few nosebleeds (minor), next by biting the inside of my cheek while eating, and also from repeatedly scratching an itchy spot on my leg one evening – the next day, the spot I’d scratched was a huge 5-inch diameter bruise! All has healed well, but it leaves me wondering what would happen if the kitchen knife slipped … I’ll be glad when I’m off that medication.

Each day, there’s noticeably less tightness and stiffness. Each and every day, I tire less easily and feel better and stronger – I expect to report continued improvement in next week’s update!


6 responses to “Hip Replacement: Home Recovery – Week 1

  1. Very interesting and informative!

  2. my surgery is 28 days away and i’m freaking out about the recovery. It may seem ridiculous but I can’t imagine not bending forward more than 90 degrees!!!

  3. Thanks for your first week. I go next week and it helped me to see what was good and what was challenging. I am only 50 and will be alone a lot during the day so pre-planning meals and a station in the den will be paramount for preplanning this weekend. Thank you!

  4. Really interesting to read your hip-op blog! I’m in UK. I’ve just had right hip replaced – 7 weeks ago. Had 6 week checkup – all seems well. So many bits of your blog match my experiences, including the pre-operative outward pointing foot! That seems straight now too.
    Just using stick now but not even that for past 3 days, though I’ve not been far from home. Walked down fields for 1.7 miles with stick held horizontally (just in case) but didn’t need it. Difficult bit is getting moving at start, then seems more fluent the further I go. Bit achy that night though!
    Not needed to drive yet but will have a try. The surgeon said to try an emergency stop on an empty car park first.
    Again, thanks for the blog. Wish I’d thought of writing one. Best wishes.

  5. May I ask the name of your surgeon? I’m 36 and need bilateral thr, living in Ottawa.

    • Sorry for the delay, but sure – my surgeon was Dr. Mark Charles. He was great – approachable, informative, friendly, patient and reassuring – and not at all condescending like some I’d encountered over the years.
      All the best in finding the right surgeon, and with your surgery too!

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