Day 1, post-op, dawned. I was already off to a good start, with my low blood pressure beginning to rise again.
Breakfast arrived. Hmmmm. Cream of Wheat? Really??? I hadn’t had that since my mother tried to get me to eat it as a small child. But I ate it. However, I pushed aside the milk and juice and was able to get the coffee replaced with tea – never have been and never will be a coffee drinker. The tea arrived, tasting faintly of coffee, as it often does when either the water used is produced in a coffee machine or plastic cups normally used for coffee are used to make tea, as was the case here. Sorry, a pet peeve, as a tea-drinker. But I drank it.
I was having another minor issue, determined through blood tests – low hemoglobin – which, again, could be caused in part or in full by surgical blood loss. (I later discovered that Cream of Wheat and milk are both good for boosting it back up, so perhaps there’s some actual reason for the dismal diets served in hospitals.) My hemoglobin count never did dip low enough to require a transfusion though – another plus!
So, what next? Meds –
Pills were appearing at 4-hour intervals – heavy-duty Tylenol for pain every four hours, Celebrex to reduce inflammation, Lyrica for neuropathic pain. I was kept from ever really feeling pain at all, except with certain movements that came later (and even that was minimal). The other thing was blood thinning medication. This, however, was administered via injection. I was less than thrilled to learn it would be injected sub-cutaneously in the stomach and even more apprehensive when I was told I would have to do these injections for myself once out of the hospital. (This did not happen though, which I‘ll explain later.) But they weren’t that bad and were only needed once a day.
So now, more than friends & family need to know, but I’m putting it here for the sake of anyone headed to surgery – the catheter comes out after the first 24 hours. Not a problem, in and of itself, however, you’ll now feel and need to respond to the call of nature instead of just lying there, as you’ve done up to now. The IV, however, will remain in place for another 24 hours and it’s putting a high volume of fluid into your system. You need to get mobile, especially if you want to avoid the dreaded bedpan!
The phsyio team arrived to get me mobile. I was remembering the knee surgery I’d had years ago, where, again there’d been no pain afterward … until the leg went vertical, and the pain shot from 0 to 10.
The first challenge in getting vertical was to slide the leg, which was still a dead weight, over to the side of the bed … without compromising all the movement restrictions (‘precautions’, they call them) I’d need to remember with each move for the next three months.
1. No bending beyond a 90-degree angle at the hip
2. No crossing the mid-line of your body with the operated leg
3. No twisting or rotation at the waist, between upper & lower body
Uh-huh. Try it.
I more or less needed to be grabbed by the heels and dragged there the first few times. Then the legs were lowered, knees bending, to the floor. The biggest problem through all of this was stiffness – incredible stiffness, and tightness, and a fair bit of swelling too, at that point, from hip to knee – but no pain, and I was suddenly sitting upright at the edge of the bed!
I was helped into my shoes. Let me say at this point that I fretted over footwear before surgery, trying to figure out what would work for me and still be acceptable. I have problem feet and so had found backless wool felt clogs my best option, at home, for months prior to surgery. But backless shoes were verboten and I ruled out lace-ups because they’d require assistance. None of the slip-ons I tried on in the days prior to surgery had worked, then finally, the day before, I found them – cheap $10 flat running shoe-style rubber-soled slip-ons that I could get in and out of without needing hands or a shoe-horn. Perfect! (And they have been perfect, if a tad cold for this time of year.)
I stood. I grabbed hold of the walker. And away I went! Stiff, awkward, but not painful!!
That first walk was up the hospital hall about 50 feet perhaps, and back. Tiring, but manageable. As long as I was up and over the operated leg, supported by my grip and push on the walker, I could get it to move forward. Not well, but enough.
I started exercises that day too. There were six on the list, all to be done three times a day, but one got nixed due to the fracture. Four of the remaining five were no trouble at all but one, apart from being very difficult to do, was really painful. For this one, you lie on your back in bed, legs straight out, with a plastic bag under the heel of the operated leg. The goal is to draw the leg up into a bent position at the knee, while sliding the heel across the bed toward your butt. The plastic bag is to make it easy. Not! I could only make this work with a lot of strain and considerable assistance from a hand under my outer thigh. Additionally, as the knee bent upward, the leg needed support not to flop out sideways. That one exercise was, and continues to be, the hardest part of the recovery process. In the grand scheme of things, though, a very small part of it.
One more thing that day; the nurse removed the bulky, blood-saturated reinforcement pad that was attached to the surgical site. I’d been happy to find that I didn’t have a drain, just the pad, and once it was gone I felt a bit more comfortable. The actual wound dressing remained in place but the nurse indicated that my level of bruising was not bad at all – surprising to me, as I’ve always bruised easily..
So the days were a mix of walking, exercise, eating, resting and sleeping. The pill and injection regime continued, as well as monitoring of my vital signs, and more blood tests.
Day 2, post-op, I mastered stair climbing and getting dressed, and finally got unhooked from the IV. It felt really good – more normal! The nurses changed my dressing and I finally got a glimpse of things. I think my perspective is a bit different than theirs – my doctor did a great job with the stitches (I was adamant about not having staples) and the incision is shorter than the typical 10-to-12 inches that literature about the surgery had indicated (more like 6 or 7 inches) but I still may stick to shorts rather than bathing suits this summer … time will tell.
Later that day, my doctor popped in after finishing surgery, to touch base once more before my release the next day. He reiterated much of what he’d told me in the recovery room. It sank in a bit better this time. Basically, the hip had been in bad shape, the surgery had gone beautifully, the hairline fracture, which happens sometimes, was nothing to worry about and proof of good bones, my good muscles and good health meant I’d heal well and I could expect a huge and lasting improvement from my surgery!
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, he produced the prescriptions I’d need over that next while and there was the blood thinner, in pill form – no injections! Bonus!!
A few words about the pill form of blood thinner – I’m not sure it’s available everywhere but its trademark name is Xarelto, generic name Rivaroxaban, and it was approved for use here in Canada around 2008. Aside from coming in pill form, another benefit is that the blood tests required when on the standard blood thinners are not a necessary when using the pill product.
Day 3 – the hospital portion – was short ‘n sweet. Release time was 10 AM.
After getting up and dressed, eating one last horrible hospital meal, packing up and receiving one last injection, that was it – I was on my way.
I can’t say enough good things about the super care and treatment I received throughout my hospital stay – from the time I entered till the time I left, everyone was wonderful – caring, competent, supportive and reassuring … and I was so glad to be out of there and headed home!!