My New Hip – The Symbol of Baby Boomer Health and Wellness – Post #3
Recuperating At Home
In the previous 2 posts I have walked you through my adventure of having total hip replacement surgery to counteract my hip arthritis. In Post #1 I told you all about preparation and pre-planning steps. In Post #2 I detailed all the actual operation and immediate post-operative steps right up to walking through my front door at home.
The ride home actually wore me out. No offense to my son…he’s a great driver and took extreme care. But the day after major surgery, I learned that everything wears you out. My son stuck around long enough to get me comfortable in my straight-back, hard chair with the arms for pushing up and down. He got me squared away and raced off to work.
I immediately knew I needed to sleep, having not gotten practically any sleep in the hospital. I got up as directed, grabbed my new walker and shuffled into my bedroom. I went through the whole physical training ritual of using my right leg to lift my left leg into bed. It worked beautifully. I curled up on my right side and went to sleep.
This is the weird part of my entire recuperation. Aside from getting up to go the bathroom and taking my pills every 4 hours, I didn’t “wake up” for the next 48 hours. I had absolutely no hunger, I had water already set up next to my bed. I had my walker right there to assist me getting to the bathroom and to the kitchen for my pills.
The doctors had prescribed Oxycodone, supplemented with 91mg “children’s” aspirin. I had requested fiber capsules to supplement the Colace stool softeners the hospital prescribed. Right behind pain control, blood clot blocking, and maintenance of a fairly specific blood thinness; constipation was a side effect of Oxycodone.
I didn’t know enough to discuss or refute any of these prescriptions. Plus, after more than 24 hours of Oxycodone, I was already in a mental fog, even though I didn’t recognize it. As long as I was comfortable and pain-free, I was okay.
That’s what I would have told you at the time.
My body was comfortable and relatively pain-free. What was happening in my head was a totally different story. I was a dichotomy lying there. My body was at rest, my head was spinning with extremely realistic dreams. I have what I call “problem solving” dreams all the time. Whether they are about business, parenting or personal issues, I have a lot of dreams about working to try to solve some complex problem and never achieving success. Many times when I wake up, it takes me a minute to realize these were dreams. They are so realistic. A psychologist would love to work with me.
What was “special” about this episode was that I had several of my problem solving dreams over the next 2 days…the usual topics but now also trying to heal and recuperate. But these were all in psychedelic, Peter Max colors and flowing images. Fascinating and entertaining, but simultaneously very tiring.
I think if I hadn’t needed to go to the bathroom, or answer the phone when my son called, I might not have gotten out of bed once. In retrospect, it was pretty frightening. But I kept telling myself that what I was going through was helping my hip heal.
Finally, late Friday afternoon, a little over 48 hours after crawling into bed, and getting up for what would have been my 25th Oxycodone pill since surgery… I came out of it. I’m not sure why or how, but for the first time in two days, I was able to think clearly…well, as clearly as I had since coming home. I found 17 text messages from friends and business associates, plus over 160 emails.
I immediately called my PCP who my instructions said I should call first with any “emergencies”. Fortunately I got right through to him. He said, yes, quit the Oxycodone immediately and replace it with Ibuprofen. He had my surgeon’s directions online so he knew what the maximum Ibuprofen dosage should be. He said to go with that, and if that did not quell the pain, he had another “drug” that might work.
I went 24 hours into the new dosages and immediately started to clear the clouds in my head. Not as quickly as I would have liked. But I saw an immediate improvement. My appetite came back, my ability to get out of bed expanded and my ability to think cleared up a lot. The only issue was a bit more pain, particularly at night. Sleeping was difficult.
The next day I called Dr. Woodward’s office to ask about expanding the dosage of Ibuprofen. I got Tara, of course, who checked with the doctor and said I could expand my Ibuprofen dosage from 400mg every 4 hours to 600mg every 4 hours. That made all the difference. I haven’t had any pain of any kind since. As a matter of fact, two days after that I went back down to 400mg of Ibuprofen every 4 hours voluntarily.
Two quick notes for those of you going into this procedure. First, the bathroom. As I said, no problem in any constipation category. And men have it much easier than women in being able to stand up to urinate. I would imagine women would probably be advised to get one of those “tall” toilet seats. And on the sitting part of the bathroom usage, my hip had been so painful prior to the surgery, that it was actually now easier for me to sit on the toilet than before. I was very used to the straight left leg exercise that Hannah had shown me that first afternoon.
The second note is on showering. I had been advised to purchase a shower seat. Fortunately for me, my handicapped sister lives with me and she has one already installed. So, showering was a no-brainer for me. The only caution I would add was the long shower brush. The Occupational Therapists had told me about that, too. Fortunately, that was the only one of the tools I already had prior to going into surgery. Very valuable. By my third shower, I could stand the whole time, so showering was very easy.
Along that line, the nurses had said that I “may” want to remove my bandage. And if I did, I should use soap and water with no lotions or creams. My bandage is still stuck quite solidly on, so I’m just going to wait until my follow-up exam with Dr. Woodward.
As I said, my Oxycodone experience was the only glitch in the recuperation phase. My appetite is going strong. I never had any constipation. I avoided blood clots and thin blood. Other than the Oxycodone haze, everything has gone even better than any of the surgical or hospital teams predicted. I’m walking over 2,000 steps per day, doing my Courtney-prescribed initial physical therapy and now driving short distances…all within 2 weeks of my surgery.
I got up the nerve to pull the duct tape off today and cleaned the incision. Actually even that went well.
I had my follow-up meeting with Dr. Woodward today and he said everything is A-OK and cleared me for alcohol, more activity and no cane walking. He suggested continuing to abide by the “use my pain as my activity barometer” mantra. And he advised wearing my pants higher than usuaI for while to not rub on the incision. have my first “real” physical therapy session in 2 days. I actually have 4 business meetings out of the house later this week. We’re moving along quite well, thank you.
So, that’s the entire adventure. If anything comes up out of my follow-up meeting with Dr. Woodward or my physical training sessions, or God-forbid there are any complications, I will create Post #4 and let you know.
Please continue to comment on these posts. It’s strange to go through this alone, although I have met many, many others who have great stories to share about their hip replacements. Please share your stories here. It will only make the next person’s adventure that much easier. Thanks.Tags: arthritis, hip replacement surgery