Entries tagged with “cane”.


While I thought I had pulled the plug on my total hip replacement series, some people have asked for an update. They are either curious, or taking some sick pleasure in my pain. Either way, I’m happy to oblige.

In week #5 post-surgery, the doc gave me approval to drive. I eased back into work, limping about on a cane and toting a throw pillow to place on seats. Sporting a scruffy beard, I looked like a demented interior designer walking the halls of Ames Scullin O’Haire in search of the perfect place to accessorize with my throw pillow.

The physical therapy regimen continues...

In week #6, I began my out-of-home, in-office physical therapy. Aaron, my therapist who re-built me from my first hip replacement, was ready to begin the process all over again on the left side.

Physical therapy is a lot like torture, except giving vital information will not save you from further pain. But physical therapy and natural muscle healing is all I have to do to get better and be human again. It hurts, but I do as I am told. I’ve heard horror stories of people who went through hip or knee replacement surgery, but didn’t do the necessary therapy and consequently have pain and a store-bought joint because they didn’t heal correctly. No thank you. Bring on the pain, Aaron. He does, he most certainly does.

It hurts, but I don’t resort to popping muscle relaxers. I’ve eased myself off the goof, cold turkey-ish. If I need pain relief, I pop a couple Aleve and the little blue pills take the edge off in their powerful yet street legal over the counter way.

... and I am feeling whole again.

I don’t do sleeping pills either. I now sleep the rest of the exhausted. But, to quote comedy guru Chris Elliott, I “have a bladder like a little girl.” I awake a couple times a night to totter my way to the bathroom, relieve myself and return to bed. I must keep two pillows between my legs to keep the new hip in check and out of harm’s way crossing the evil hip precaution zone (NEVER cross legs in the first three months post-surgery).

My two pillows are like a fluffy chastity belt.

My wife begins to ask me how much longer I am going to keep the beard. “It’s prickly,” she says. “Kissing hurts. Besides, it makes you look older.” When you are getting into the region of old fartdom, looking older is not a good thing.

Ancient bearded me.

I had never grown a beard before I had had my first hip replacement. I liked the change of pace, the lazy maintenance of it. But, she didn’t much care for it back then and it eventually found its way to the barber’s floor. It was time to begin thinking of a similar fate for this beard. It would be gone very soon.

Youthful clean-shaven me.

Week #7, I feel like I have my full energy back and I walk without a cane. Yes, I’m wobbly. Yes, I look like a mad sidewinder. Yes, it hurts somewhat. But I’m walking, dammit–– on two fake hips and a couple weak arthritic knees. It’s not pretty, but it is forward locomotion. I CAN WALK! I’m also climbing stairs with both legs alternately bearing load, like we all learned in step climbing school. No more slowly shuffling up steps on the good leg, descending on the weak one.

I also leave my pillow behind. I jack up the height of my office chair as high as it’ll go, and I’m extra careful to hoist myself out of chairs with both arms so as not to put undue pressure on my new hip. I don’t tempt fate by sitting in low rider chairs or couches. That’s a fool’s play, one that could send you back under the surgeon’s blade for some hip re-setting. That fear make me obey my hip precautions slavishly.

I'm ready for my TSA inspection.

Week #8, I take my hip on a test drive to the airport. I can walk, and now I will fly.

I make my way through my pals at TSA, I set off their security alarms and indicate I have TWO artificial hips. I get my “male assist” to wand me down. I beep on the left hip, I beep on the right. I’m patted down and deemed safe to pass. I gather my belongings and ask a nearby son to do me a solid and tie my shoes. I can’t do impossible tasks like that yet.

Life’s getting better all the time. I’m walking stronger on the road to recovery, eventually without a limp.

I came home, was on my walker for one week and showed enough progress with forward motion that my physical therapist graduated me to the cane. I did not trick out the cane tip with a tennis ball since that would be dangerous. Yes, it’d look cool, but…

I'm like House, without the bothersome brains.

I'm like House, without the bothersome brains.

My walker seems angry with me. It sits in the corner and sulks. The tennis balls shine bright yellow and beckon to be driven. Vroom! But there is no going back– I am a cane man, now. I still use my walker for support during many of my physical therapy exercises, but for walking, I don’t need my pimped-out walker. I walk like a big boy now! A big boy with a very pronounced limp.

I have not shaved since my surgery. A salt and pepper beard is coming in nicely; more salty than I’d like, but facial hair has a mind all its own. With my beard, my cane, my limp and my somewhat sour disposition brought on by pain, I am like Dr. Gregory House. Except unlike House, I don’t have a genius intellect. Why can’t life be more fair?

17 days after surgery, the visiting nurse comes to remove my 33-surgical staples. I’m not sure how she does this, but I don’t think it’s with an office staple remover. The surgical staple removal is a little discomforting, but not really painful. The nurse tells me that my scar looks good and applies eight adhesive scar-binder strips over the wound. These are temporary and will fall off naturally after a week or so.

I’m cutting back on the goof. Weaning myself off painkillers isn’t difficult. I don’t have to get all Sid Vicious or anything. As the wound heals, there is less pain. With less pain, there is less need for painkillers.

Night without Ambien sucks.

Night without Ambien sucks.

The one pill I won’t stop in the near term is my sleeping pill. I tried one night to go without it, but after a few hours of uncomfortably tossing and turning, I gobbled an Ambien and rode it to SleepyTown.

Although I don’t necessarily feel rested after my three short shifts of sleep in two different locations, I know my body MUST have sleep to repair– it’s been through a lot.

I am on the mend. It’s getting better but it’s slow going. The swelling has gone down, the bruising is healing from a dark brown to a shade of light tan and my regimen of hip- strengthening exercises are getting somewhat easier to do. My physical therapist adds more exercises to the list. I curse her and thank her. She knows best.

The road to recovery is long, and if I could, I’d hitchhike. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts. What a pity there aren’t.