So what happens when you leave the hospital 3 days after surgery? What do you need to know about continuing the healing process at home?
For me, a few things were arranged BEFORE I left the hospital. First off, my Dr. ordered a blood thinner and pain medication prescription that was filled and waiting for me at home. I was also told to have a laxative / stool softener ready. Because I had so much pain walking before my surgery, I had a cane to use already but I also opted to order and use a walker. It was much more stable and balanced out the weight of my body over two sides rather than just one side as the cane does. As I said in the previous post, I also went ahead and got an adjustable potty that was placed over my existing one so I didn't have to squat so far down to the ground right away. And I had that lovely pack of tools to help me dress myself.
Home Health Care was also ordered by my Dr. so that twice a week for the first 2 weeks home, I would have someone come to check my incision, redress it and put me through a bit of physical therapy. I went home on Thursday and on Friday I had my first visit from Home Health Care.
For the first 2 to 3 days or so, I mostly rested in my bed, getting up to use the restroom, eat and walk about so things didn't get all stiff. My husband and kids made sure there was food for all the meals and that I had something to eat. One of the most difficult things was laying on my back to sleep.... ALL THE TIME! I am a "side-sleeper" and boy did my back get sore, even using a memory foam mattress topper. Each day I would get up, have my breakfast, take my medicine, take a "sink bath", get dressed in simple loose clothes, and then need to rest for a bit. On Sunday I missed taking my pain meds on time and realized there really wasn't any pain. So I just stopped cold turkey. Never had any pain after that at all. BUT.... we get to Day 7.... one week after my surgery.
Maybe you do know and maybe you don't, but when you take pain meds or have surgery where you get pain medication, you tend to get constipated....REALLY CONSTIPATED. Sorry all, but it's the truth. I had a bit of an education about laxatives before I left the hospital. Apparently there are stool softeners and there is laxative and there IS a difference. While stool softeners draw water in to keep stool soft, laxatives stimulate the need to go. I had taken stool softeners all during my first week home but had no urge to go. I had also eaten quite lightly knowing that what goes in must come out. On Day 7 I finally awoke to the urge to go but it was impossible to go. I was drinking prune juice, taking stool softeners and laxatives but nothing. SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE! Hubby went to the store and I think he bought one of each thing they had! Now I was ready to try the mini enema treatments. Still nothing worked. So I turned to my faithful friend, the computer, in hopes that someone out there had tackled this subject and SHARED with the rest of us what to do. And here's a YouTube video that I found. Using the techniques shared there helped me so much. Still it was almost 3 days of feeling like crap, no pun intended, before I was once again myself. One of the things that seemed to help me was returning to eating almost like normal. Food in food out theory. If I ate to lightly, it would be days before that was helping to push things through. I began eating normal size meals as often as I felt I could. My good friend told me, after the fact, that I needed to take a Senokot laxative each time I took a pain pill. She's had the issue before and says it works really well so I'm just putting that out there for you guys.
At the tail end of the constipation came Day 9.... depression for no known reason unless it was a delayed reaction of discontinuing the pain meds cold turkey. That and I had been miserable with the constipation. From the time I woke up that morning, all I could do was cry. Everything seemed hopeless to me. There were still so many things I couldn't do. I was still constipated. I knew my husband was going to work in about 4 days and I wasn't well enough to do EVERYTHING yet. The things in my life that give me some relaxation and comfort, gardening, playing with my pets, sitting and knitting.... were still impossible. My garden was down a ramp from my house and I didn't think I could or should try that yet. I was using an adjustable desk chair to sit in so I didn't have to drop down as low as my couch and my couch was where my little doggies were. My back was sore from laying on it day after day after day... well, life seemed pretty bleak at that point. I was in the bathroom washing my hands and looked in the mirror. Wow! I looked awful. The dry shampoo I was made my hair stiff and ugly. I just started bawling! Well, hubby said he was going to help me wash my hair and he cleaned out my kitchen sink and got things all nice and all I had to do was bend over a bit. I cried through the entire process even though it felt SO good!! Took a nice little sink bath and some Calms Forte and slept better than I had in 2 days! The following day the depression was gone, the constipation was finally over and my real healing began!
My home health care person, Randy, continued coming to my house making sure things were doing well. Each time he would come, we would go for a short walk outside. I transitioned from walker to cane to NOTHING in no time at all! Funny story, he would walk behind me to assess if I was limping or moving funny and of course, don't you know, my nosiest neighbor was outside watching. Randy would say, "Walk ahead, I want to see how you move," and I could only imagine the story my husband would hear at the end of the day about the guy who came and spent an hour at a time with me while HE was at work. Too funny. My last day of Home Health Care Aid came 6 days before my appt. with my Dr. I was so excited to go back and show my Dr. all I could do now! This was an amazing recovery process!
Hubby and I got up early for our trip up Hwy. 101 to Templeton on June 23. We checked in and sat in the lobby waiting our turn. A gentleman walked by and said something to the front desk staff and I thought to myself, "That sure sounds like the guy who told me about Dr. Sima!!" I thought about running out the front door after him and asking if it was him but I chickened out. When my turn came up, we went into the back and I had some new x-rays done. While I was relaying that story to the nurse, she said, "I bet that WAS him because he was talking to us on his appt. this morning about the woman he met at Starbucks and referred to this office." Oh man, and I missed my chance!! I told her when he comes in again, let him know he can call me or see if he will take a call from me. I need to tell him thank you. If it wasn't for him, I would not be here today experiencing this outcome!!
Next, we went into the room where the Dr. had all the x-rays up. Wow, he did such a magnificent job of everything! I could see little notes he had made on the x-rays noting where the bone would be cut and just how large the socket would need to be. There was also a measurement he had done to level my leg out so I would not have a limp anymore. He got it right on!! I mean, I'm already forgetting I even have anything in my leg. Dr. Sima asked if there was anything I was having trouble doing and I said, "Getting things up off the floor. But I'm using the grabbers and its working." He tells me, "Bend over and touch the floor." WHAT!!!!!????? No way! My leg will pop out for sure! "Just do it, bend over and try to touch the floor." So I did. And the only reason I couldn't touch the floor was because my muscles had less flexibility than a couple of years ago. Oh My GOSH!!! I can do this and not pop anything out!!!
"Well, can I work out at the gym now?"
Can I ride my bike?"
"Of course, if you know how."
"What about my motorcycle?"
"You can do anything you did before you had this problem. I've had people who go horseback riding, play sports, etc."
I think it was at this moment that I wanted to cry and laugh all at the same time. That's all I've wanted in the last 2 years was to be normal. To be able to walk or hike or play out in the fresh air and live my life again instead of just existing. And here was the license to do just that!! I get to go back and see him in two months and I can't wait. By then my current physical therapy will be over, I'm going back to my gym on the 5th of July and I want to get started in aqua aerobics. It would be great to make this trip up there on my Majesty scooter too, how special would that be??!!
I've found my smile again. People are telling me all the time how happy I look.
I AM HAPPY, SUPER HAPPY!
Thank you Dr. Sima for giving me back my life. You are VERY good at what you do and although that may seem to you like what you are doing..... to us, it truly is like a brand new life!! I am so very thankful to you!!
My new pastime? Stalking limping people. I know funny huh? But I want to help others to find their smile again too. Take it from me, this surgery, although it sounds incredibly painful and scary is just really not that bad at all. And best of all, your entire future is waiting for you out there, PAIN FREE! As my "Angel" told me, "Don't be afraid. Just make that call today. You will be so happy you did!"
That's pretty much it. Each day I try something new that I used to do but haven't been able to in 2 years. AND I'M ABLE TO DO IT. Hopefully, you won't have to wait as along as I did to find a really good Dr. doing that anterior approach and if you are anywhere around the Central Coast of California...
GO SEE DR. SIMA BECAUSE HE'S THE BEST OF THE BEST!!
******How appropriate, that as I'm getting ready to finish this Hip Replacement Journey story, I would get the name and phone number for my Angel!! I was called by my Drs. office today and they told me his name was David. I could hardly wait to call him up and tell him thank you. If there was no David, I would still be limping around or worse yet, have had the posterior approach surgery. I am so very thankful to you, David!!*******