My New Hip – The Symbol of Baby Boomer Health and Wellness…Post #2
The Day of Reckoning – Actual Procedure
Okay, if you read the first of these 3 posts on my Total Hip Replacement surgery, you know I walked you through all the preoperative steps, right up to the actual surgery.
The good news for you, dear reader, is that I was unconscious for the next 5 hours. So, this part will be short. Happy?
I was on September 18 and I am today.
There was a lot of activity at the last minute in the prep room. Two additional nurses, one “assistant doctor” to Dr. Woodward and then Dr. Woodward himself. He also autographed the incision site.
The anesthesiologist came into my prep room and explained that she wanted to use a spinal nerve block rather than heavy total anesthesia. Safety, quicker recovery…she prefers to use this procedure. She explained that there would be a couple of what medical people call “pinches”, meaning those small local anesthetic shots.
I was wheeled into the surgical theater. I realized as they parked my gurney that I was usually half-way anesthetized by this point. I actually beat the majority of the surgical team into the room. As fascinated as I am by how all of this happens, I was very aware that I wanted to be out cold from here on.
I was. My anesthesiologist, true to her promise, delivered on a couple of “pinches”. The next thing I remember the whole team moving me from my gurney to a special hip operation bed. They strapped my feet into separate “ski boots”. I remembered that this operating bed helps the surgery team position my hip, move it for better access and for positioning. Here’s a picture of that bed. Obviously that is not me on there. Being strapped into my boots was the last I remember, until…
Again, like coming into the theater awake, I woke up very prematurely. I was aware that I was still being sutured up. No pain, but I could feel the pulling. I announced my presence to a somewhat surprised anesthesiologist. She asked if I felt any pain. I said no. One of the doctors assured me they were just wrapping up.
At one point I did feel a bit of pain which I told the anesthesiologist about, and it went away very quickly. She was good on her word. It was all good. Plus, I was very aware of being very clear and aware, rather than that strange fuzziness you feel when you return from anesthetics. She had promised that, too. Nice work, Doc. And thanks to the entire surgical team that morning.
I was quickly back with Katie. That was fine with me.
Still, very much awake and aware which I now know will be my request for every other procedure in the future. I got to lie there, sip on Ginger Ale and listen to Katie calling my son and sister to tell them that the procedure was such success. I was watching the other post-op patients around me and they were all either still totally out or extremely groggy. I got to watch how well the nurses at Swedish Hospital handled each case. I was in no pain. I was extremely thankful for everything in my life. I was loving every minute of this experience.
Again, almost as quickly, I was whisked out of post-op and through a long maze of hallways, bridges, thresholds and doors and into room 9303 in Swedish Hospital. I was met by two nurses, Angela and Megan, who immediately got my IV set up, strapped on a pair of automatically inflating/deflating sleeves for my calves, again to prevent clotting, and made me comfortable. I still was not feeling any pain, which was fine with me. They handed me a menu and recommended that I order some food. They were great and, as throughout this entire adventure, their knowledge and ability to help me understand precisely what was going on was great.
The rest of that afternoon and into the evening went quickly. I focused mostly on being thankful and blessed for making it through what I saw as “the hard part.” The nursing team was focused on my comfort, in terms of both pain control and food and drink and maintaining the right temperature in the bed. All was good.
Mid-afternoon I was introduced to Hannah, my physical therapist, who immediately helped me roll out of bed. Someone had to help me detach my anti-clot sleeves because I couldn’t do it myself. She showed me how to roll out of bed with as little pain and stress on the incision as possible. She then showed me the way to the bathroom and made it very clear that I always have a nurse help me get I there. With the anti-clotting sleeves, that was a moot point anyway. I was tied into my bed.
She then took me for a walk down the hall with my new walker. It’s true what they say about the medical teams getting patients up and moving as quickly as possible. Even though it was important for me to move, Hannah was quick to tell me that I should never overdue and that I should use my pain as my barometer for the amount and duration of activity. That proved to be the most important piece of advice, which I have heard several times since from other members of my team including Dr. Woodward himself later that same day. But I give Hannah the credit for being the first to say it. And two weeks later, it is still my mantra and working every time.
The rest of that first day was primarily growing pain. No matter how often or diligently he nurses worked to maintain my comfort, as the night wore on, the pain increased. On that smiley-face hospital pain chart, my pain never got over what I would define as a “4”, so the team kept feeding me the “right” amount of Oxycodone as required. Honestly, I think the difficulty was mostly because I don’t sleep well on my back and the nurses were saying, at least for that first night, I needed to stay off my sides. The combination of Oxycodone, ice packs and lots and lots of water got me though the night…even despite all of those dreaded visits from an army of nurses who wait until you finally fall asleep to come in for “vitals” or blood or whatever else they can dream up. Dr. Woodward also sent an x-ray technician to shoot a new view of my new hip. Let’s just say I was wide awake to watch the sunrise.
The Day After
My main goal today was to get ready to go home. My son was coming to pick me up and he had had to change his work schedule to be at work no later than 3:00. He originally had the entire day off which was perfect. Now, we had a bit of an issue. Plus we had limited back-up plans because my son had just learned about his deadline late yesterday. I had a couple of friends on stand-by, but these were not good options for anyone involved. My experience has been that it can take an entire day to get through all the red tape and piles of paper required to check out. More painful than the procedure and no Oxycodone to relieve the pain of paper work.
So, I started the process immediately upon meeting my two “next day” nurses, Julia and Megan. Fortunately, this was the same Megan, a welcome constant from day one. As a matter of fact, I had mentioned my check-out schedule to her the day before. I told them the situation and how important it was that I get everything completed as early as possible. They were great, positive and assured me “everything would be done to get me out on time.” Julia seemed to be very in control. Unfortunately they were also extremely busy. They introduced me to Lauren who was the head nurse for the orthopedic recovery ward. She said she, too would do everything possible to speed my exit.
I had two meetings with Dr. Woodward and one of his surgical support team that morning. Dr. Woodward assured me that everything was great and that I had passed with flying colors. Never hurts to hear that from the boss. I felt great and the nurses had made every effort to assure me, but hearing it from Dr. Woodward meant everything.
My morning was filled with additional physical therapy and occupational therapy. Second only to pain control, preparing me for the transition to life at home was their focus. They showed me how to use long shoehorns and “grippers” to pull on underwear, pants, shorts or socks. The only problem with either of those was that no one had mentioned this to me in the preparation phase. I still don’t have any grippers. Good idea, maybe next time. And they were right, that has become my biggest problem during my recovery. I’m in my 12th day at home and was just able to pull on socks without any real effort.
My second-day physical therapist was Courtney, every bit as professional and capable as Hannah had been the first day. Courtney was focused on finalizing my physical therapy primer so I could leave on time. She showed me how to go up and down stairs with my walker.(no, that isn’t me on the left) and introduced me to using a cane in addition to my walker. She also ran me through 12 initial physical therapy exercises she told me to begin the following day and never miss a day until I began my “formal” physical therapy regimen.
After Courtney left I continued my efforts to finalize the paperwork. I could see Lauren at the nurses station working on my file. She kept checking with me to assure that I was comfortable and aware of her efforts. She said the only issue was that Julia and Megan were tied up with another patient and my file required them to finalize.
My son arrived right on time…he’s like that. And although I knew he was concerned about making it to work on time, he said and did all the right things to keep me calm and to help the nurses complete their tasks. We talked idly for about 45 minutes since he had not heard much of my adventure since he talked to Katie when I was in post-op. Finally, Julia and Megan came in with a bundle of papers. They did a great job of walking me through every page. We were in a hurry at this point, but I knew this procedure was necessary, and Julia was great about keeping my attention and focus to get the papers signed and completed.
Next thing I knew I was in my own car headed home. We had to stop at my pharmacy to pick up my Oxycodone prescription but we made it home and my son made it to work on time. So, forever thank you’s to everyone at Dr. Palmquist, HealthMark, Dr. Woodward and everyone at HealthOne OrthoOne Premier Care and the whole team at Swedish Hospital.
So, I will cut this post off at this point. Seems like a natural break before my at-home recuperation phase. Please always feel free to comment or add your thoughts, experiences or opinions. That’s what makes these dialog posts so valuable.Tags: arthritis, hip replacement