If I don’t start this Recovery Diary soon, it’ll be too late! This is my second hip replacement, but it’s not my familiarity with the procedure that accounts for my amazing, speedy recovery. My last hip replacement, the right side, performed in 2008, using a posterior approach (a 10″ incision with lots of muscle detachment). The recovery process was a painful, 6-month ordeal that involved lots of dressing changes and extensive physical therapy.
What’s remarkable about the new anterior approach taken for my left hip, performed on Wednesday 2.19.14, is that except for some swelling at the incision site, and a small amount of limited range of motion, today, Saturday 2.22.14 I feel just about recovered!
Is it the miracles of modern medicine alone, or has my personal spiritual and word water regime had an impact on the speed with which I am recovering? I hope to answer these questions definitively by interviewing another woman from my same town, that had the same surgery performed at the same hospital, on the same day. Isn’t that a happy coincidence!?
As I have written about in other posts, I’ve been on a personal responsibility bent for some time now in my life. I’m disciplined in my thought, disciplined in my actions and disciplined in my energy. I live intentionally, using spiritual tools I’ve developed for myself, based on the extensive research I’ve conducted. I also stay extremely well hydrated using what I call my “magic elixir word water.”
I’ve been excited about this surgery for a number of reasons. First and foremost, being able to walk pain-free again. It seemed as if all the cells in my body had just gotten used to being pain-free after replacing my right hip when walking became challenging again (those cellular memories are pesky things, hard to erase or retrain!).
I’ve also been excited to see if my regimes of the past 6 years impact my body’s ability to heal, given the intense work I’ve done in my spiritual, enlightenment and empowerment work. What I am experiencing is remarkable, but without comparing results yet, I can’t swear to what is the contributing cause.
So for the time being, I’ll just document my recovery and the milestones. Time will tell if there’s more to it, or if this is a typical patient response.
First, a moment to say I can’t speak highly enough about Alaska Regional Hospital, the entire hospital staff, and experience (except for the food). Everyone is very loving and attentive, patient and thorough. I felt extremely cared for, listened to, and in good hands. My surgeon Dr. Timothy Kavanaugh, was at the Alaska Bone & Joint Institute back in 2008. Now he’s at OPA (Orthopedic Surgeons of Alaska). Dr. Kavanaugh is THE GUY if you need a total hip replacement, in my opinion. He has the process, and documentation for the patient, down to a science. This new anterior approach is the icing on the cake. OPA has top of the line diagnostic equipment, and the process from screening to deciding treatment, to surgery, was a total of just two Dr. visits, one to look at the films of the joint and figure a plan, and one the day before surgery to check everything. Hospital and Surgeon, two enthusiastic thumbs up!
Although the surgeon suggests a spinal block and IV sedation as his preferred method of anesthesia, it has nothing to do with making their job easier in the Operating Room but is what they feel allows patients to gain consciousness more quickly than General Anesthesia. There’s also less risk of blood clots. The surgeon’s primary goal when it comes to recovery is to get the patient up out of bed as quickly as possible. Later the same day, when possible. (For the posterior approach it’s usually the first thing the following day, not the same day.)
I am very protective of my spine, I believe it is integral to our circuitry, and really don’t like the idea of spinal blocks. Once I understood that it’s easier for the Anesthesiologist to administer a General over the Spinal, and the surgeon doesn’t care from the point of performing the surgery, I happily chose General Anesthesia, thereby leaving my precious spine alone!
My loving husband sat with me in pre-op, until it was “show time” and they wheeled me away. Surgery was at 7am; we got underway about 7:45 am. At about 10:30 I awoke in the Recovery room and was in my room on the Orthopedic ward by Noon, enjoying a lunch of red popsicle, beef broth, and juice. After I finished half the popsicle (I had such cotton mouth from the IV pain meds, “Dilaudid” (a synthetic heroin)), had a sip of very chemical and salty beef broth, and my husband was certain I’d be comfortable and could cope without him, I sent him home. I knew he’d get a good night’s sleep.
We live about 130 miles away from the hospital, so he and I, along with our 2 dogs, had spent the night of 2.18 in a hotel room. I don’t think any of us slept well. I wanted him to get a good night’s sleep, and since we were not sure when I’d be released, Thursday, or Friday, he wanted to go home and take care of some things. Off he went, as we recall, around 3:30pm. Wednesday afternoon.
Not long after his departure, the Physical Therapist came for a visit. He helped get me up sitting, and we discovered we had to replace my gown! :/ I have no idea what happened since there were snaps at the shoulder, but when someone in the OR needed those snaps undone, they must have been uncooperative, and someone took scissors or a knife to the shoulder!
Once properly re-gowned and belted, so he could catch me should I start to fall, have walker will walk! Off we went, of course, I still had a catheter in, so my walker had my urine bag hanging on it. 🙁 I was also hooked up to the IVs of Antibiotics and painkillers, which the Physical Therapist happily rolled along for me. The antibiotics are because of the bone work, to cut the risk of infection. The painkillers are so you don’t mind walking down the hall with lots of patient doors open and folks watching you go by with your bag of urine. 🙁
I can honestly say that I was truly too high to mind. I was not just high from the drugs though; those first pain-free steps are some of the most marvelous steps a person can ever take. (I remember in 2008, I had been in SO MUCH pain for SO LONG, and even though that surgery had been much more invasive, and the wound was exponentially more painful, I just about knocked the Physical Therapist over after I took a step or two and realized there was no pain!)
As I walked around the floor with my walker and bag of urine, there’s a nice circle, and a bump out walk to a lounge with large windows offering a beautiful view, we took the bump out, making the walk longer, I walked all the way to the windows, then turned around, and picked up the walker with me, turning, clearly not needing the thing. The Physical Therapist laughed.
He cleared me for the evening, said I could take another stroll if I wanted, or not, it didn’t matter to him. I lamented Paul’s absence; I would have really enjoyed walking around the floor with him. We did a lot of that after my last hip replacement in 2008.
I had a friend coming that evening though, so I considered taking a stroll with her.
After my first walk, I discovered that things were not sitting well with my stomach. Just as I was settling back into bed, I tossed the bit of beef broth and the popsicle into one of the cute barf bags they had handy. My stomach stayed queasy all night long, tossing the jello and chicken broth I tried for dinner. For a moment I wondered why red barf until I remembered I’d eaten a red popsicle and red jello. LOL
I wasn’t sure if it was the chemicals in all the food, the general anesthesia or the IV drugs, but something was making me sick to my stomach. I didn’t really sleep (how can you possibly when everyone under the sun is in your room all night long!?!)
At 3:30 am my IV pain meds ran out. After the first six hours, I didn’t really need pain meds, as long as I didn’t try to move too much in the bed. I found myself pushing the button because I was awake and there was nothing to do. I kept thinking it was the general anesthesia that had me throwing up. Now I realize there’s a stronger chance it was the pain meds or perhaps the antibiotics. I asked the nurse not to re-hang a bag. I’m pretty sure I could have handled a course of Medical Marijuana and some Advil or Alieve after surgery. I don’t think I ever needed the heavy-duty stuff they were using, not after the surgery, maybe during.
The nurse switched me to oral pain meds, two Percocet, taken at 7:30am to get ahead of physical therapy. I wasn’t sure I needed that much, but I dislike misery, so I took my pills like a good little girl. My next time I could have pain meds was Noon. They were good about writing that on the bulletin board in my room. 🙂 Something to look forward too. 😉
When breakfast came around I had a half slice of toast with some jelly and butter. I managed to keep it and some ginger ale down.
The Physical Therapist was by around 8am, and when we finished he said he’d like to see me use a cane, he thought I’d do fine. I agreed, I didn’t need the walker; and let him know we have a cane at home. When we were working on the stairs I kept having a hard time remembering which leg to lead with going up and down! I had that much mobility!
After the visit with Physical Therapy, someone popped into my room and announced I could go home! I’d seen my Surgeon, and his Assistant earlier in the morning; my Surgeon had suggested I could go home that day if I wanted. He thought I was making great progress based on my chart. Luckily, all my vitals had returned to normal after they had unhooked me from everything. I was happy to go home within 30 hours of surgery for a total hip replacement! I felt perfectly capable of handling things from home.
My husband and I had spoken early in the morning, and I’d warned I had no idea if I’d be able to go home today, at 4:30 or 5:30 am, who can remember, so many people were in and out of my room, me trying to get to know them all in my 5 minutes with them, my blood pressure was low (94/58), my temperature was high (101). I wanted him ready, so he wasn’t driving back and forth on the highway every day. When he found me at 9:30 am, I was sitting in a reclining chair in my room, completely unhooked and ready to get dressed. The longest part of the discharge process was waiting for “the (wheel) chair guy.”
My Dr. had scripted a drug flagged by my allergies, so we stopped by his office to pick up a different prescription. We were pulling out of his parking lot at Noon with a hand prescription for Percoset.
My thoughtful husband had packed some Advil in the glove box; I took 4, had some Medical Marijuana, and I had my bliss. The trip home was a glorious passage through the Last Frontier. The photo here taken on the way home. You can see the WE LOVE US sticker in the window! 🙂 And a wee bit of my husband! Headed home exactly 29 hours after the scheduled surgery start.
Once home, my husband ran in and found my cane, and I walked easily, into the house, down 3 steps in the yard, 70 feet of yard, then up 3 steps to the house. My husband held my right arm, but it was more chivalry, than necessary. My mobility good enough that I had a difficult time remembering which leg to use when, and tended to just approach the steps naturally as if nothing were wrong.
The Anterior approach to hip replacement surgery is amazing! By not cutting any muscles, but just stretching them, to clean up the socket and cut and replace the hip ball, it requires just a 4-inch incision and recover is extremely fast.
The next 24 hours hold much amazement!
Thank you for your time, Dear Reader!
Until Next Time, Namaste’
<3 LAMP <3
P.S. I welcome your comments and questions!