Entries tagged with “total hip replacement surgery”.


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.

After total hip replacement surgery, my favorite room in our house is the one that rains.

The shower is like a feel-better pod. I carefully check the water temperature and scan the shower floor for bars of soap, banana peels, crude oil slicks– anything I might slip on and subject me to the horrible forces of gravity. I step into the shower slowly, oh-so-slowly, and let the soothing waters rain o’er me.

Keep clean to keep dangerous infection at bay!

Keep clean to keep dangerous infection at bay!

The post surgical instructions are to keep the wound clean with daily washings and fresh dressings. I move slowly, oh-so-slowly, out of the shower and begin patting myself dry. My wife tends to the surgical scar with an antiseptic, absorbent pads and medical tape. The tape is hateful (though not nearly as hateful as using duct tape might be).

The tape’s adhesive hurts no matter how slowly I pull it off. I face the never-ending question: is it better to take off the bandage quickly for a blast of intense pain, or slowly for a longer, lower level of pain? Every mortal has his/her own opinion on this– it’s one of the great philosophical questions of all time, right up there with glazed or jelly?

I roll with a slow and steady tape removal (like Socrates did; Plato was a grip ‘n rip guy).

After a shower and fresh dressing, I feel better. It could be psychological or it could be actual, but I feel like some of my pain went down the drain. I hope pain cannot clog drains.

Believe it or not, one day after total hip replacement surgery, physical therapists will come around, get you out of bed, put you behind a walker and make you take some steps all by yourself— just like the big boys and big girls do!

No, you won’t be doing tap steps, soft shoes or leg kicks like a Rockette, but you will be taking Frankenstein-like motions forward, ably assisted by your trusty walker.

The highest seat in the land.

The highest seat in the land.

It feels good to be up out of bed, even if it is just to sit in a tall seat. Why a tall seat and elevated toilet seat? Why are you advised to place pillows on any seat? Because for the next 12 weeks, you must adhere to strict HIP PRECAUTIONS. If you do not follow these rules, your pretty new titanium hip could get dislocated. You do not want to double down on your pain.

Here’s the rules you MUST obey:
1. Don’t bend your operated hip beyond 90 degrees (sitting low is asking for trouble)
2. Do not cross your legs
3. Do not turn your operated leg foot inward

Think carefully before you pivot or bend to pick-up something. Guide yourself into a chair slowly and use your arms to lift yourself out of a chair. Take it easy on that hip! Suffice to say, doing cartwheels and summersaults are not advised (pity, that).

You can do it, yes you can!

You can do it, yes you can!

Adhere to the rules, they are your friends.

Two days after your hip surgery, you are encouraged to go for a longer walk– down the hospital hallway. It’s like walking The Green Mile, only not so green and not quite a mile long.

You move slowly forward, heel to step and go and go. Soon you’re eating up linoleum at a glacial pace. Your walker’s wheels are warming, your new hip is slowly getting broken-in. You’re smokin’, babe, you’re smokin’!

Three days after surgery, you are encouraged to do what seems impossible: go up and down stairs.

When you first look upon the stairs, they appear like Mt. Everest, without the snow. You cannot imagine making this journey solo, but your physical therapist becomes Knute Rockne and gives you faith– makes you believe in yourself.

Come, ascend into thin air...

Come, ascend into thin air...

For this journey you have two basic rules:
1. When going up, lead with your strong leg
2. When coming down, lead with your operated leg– very carefully

Hold the handrail and use your folded walker as a support. And whatever you do, do it slowly. You do not want to end up another senseless stairway casualty.

You do as instructed, your physical therapist cheering you on, and amazingly it works. You go up, you come down. You can do the impossible. You are truly incredible! You are absolutely amazing! You are a physical dynamo!

You are also tired as hell. You hobble back to bed anxiously awaiting your next dosage of pain meds. As the ancients said (after their hip surgeries), “The journey of 1,000 miles begins one pain-filled step after another.”