When your life gets turned upside down and your regular schedule is on hold, how do you cope?
For months and months, I anticipated getting my left hip joint replaced. I emphasize my left hip joint because I’m a righty and you need your right leg to be able to drive. So fortunately,
if there’s one hip that’s going go first, let it be the left one. Again, my thanks to arthritis!
The day came and went. It was Monday, August 28th. There wasn’t much preparation, but enough. I had to make sure that I eliminated certain supplements two weeks before surgery, stay away from liquor (that I don’t drink anyway), take a shower three consecutive days prior to surgery and then wipe myself off with these icky towels to prevent any bacteria forming before I entered the operating room.
The day of the surgery started pretty darn early. I had to drink apple juice two hours prior to arriving at the hospital. That meant I was up all night in anticipation of being awake at 3:30 am to drink the apple juice. I think there was some good reason I had to, but I couldn’t tell you why. At 5:30 a.m., I checked into the hospital before the sun came up. After drowning in more paperwork, I was escorted to a room with a blow-up blanket to keep me warm. I must have looked as if I was in a space capsule. I waited for the procession of pre-op nurse, anesthesiologist, surgical assistant, and, finally, my doctor. The doctor stayed in the room for 30 seconds asking if I had any questions or maybe see if I wanted to chicken out of the surgery. It did occur to me, but I said I was ready.
When I shared my upcoming operation with friends and clients, they would say, “but it doesn’t seem like you’re in that much pain”. I would almost feel guilty that I didn’t scream when I moved about, but believe me, it was not fun; there were surely signs I needed to do this. I can admit now that I lost my balance and fell getting on my bike a few weeks before surgery because my jacket got caught. I was stoic and didn’t tell anyone.
Everyone has a different pain tolerance. I’ve learned that through post-surgery if I moved wrong, my body screamed, I learned not to do it again, well at least not often. I’m on a course of various medications and benign drugs. One of those drugs, called Tramadol, a narcotic, still sits on my kitchen table. I haven’t touched it once. I guess my doctor would say I have a high tolerance for pain. Ice is my friend.
As I write my story, I am 10 days post-surgery. I have one more physical therapy appointment and then I’m on my own. I write countless emails to my doctor. I begin with an apology before most inquiries: everything from why is there a layer of scotch tape on my incision to why is my knee swollen? Can this be normal? After all, I didn’t have my knee replaced or geez, did he make a mistake??? I could have sworn that in the pre-op room, while lying inside my bubble blanket, he asked me if we were doing my left hip. I said yes before the drugs kicked in. My most recent email to Dr. X was about ordering outpatient Physical Therapy. When I asked my Physical Therapist if I could do movements in different planes of motion (sideways, turns, etc.), or when can I start to use resistance bands, weights or to drive, she gave me her canned answer, “I can’t advise you, but please ask your surgeon.” It was not within her scope of practice to answer me.
I am thankful that my friends and family reminded me that I went into this operation in great physical shape (I practice what I preach) and will do well. I just don’t want to make any mistakes and take my therapy into my own hands or legs! ☹ I have turned the corner, ever so slowly, with the help of my walker and smart exercises to prevent a fall. I look forward to when I won’t need to rely on the walker or a cane. My walking poles are getting dusty waiting for their turn at bat. In fact, sitting is a bad idea too, (no surprise) so I will end here because almost 45 minutes have passed, and I need to walk. Next time I’ll share an even better story that will bring a smile to your face.
For now, the best advice I can give is to keep moving and get stronger while you can. The payoff is better than you can imagine!
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All the best! – Lori