6 Weeks Post-Op Today – Hooray!

The time has flown by and it’s hard to believe that 6 weeks ago today I was in the recovery room about now. I’m starting to forget what the pain like, an eerie similarity to the childbirth experience.

I worked out with a trainer on Tuesday, as a follow-up to my PT, and it was clear that I overdid it. I ended up with an annoying pain in my glute but perhaps it was a good lesson that I am still not back to 100% yet. It is hard to be patient! It is a little scary because I am feeling so good that I forget my hip precautions. Last night was a perfect example. I’d build a fire in the woodstove because it was snowing again (I’m starting to think I live at the North Pole!) and I SQUATTED DOWN without thinking. It freaked me out but fortunately I don’t think I did any damage. I realize that as of today, the 6 week mark, I can test the hip precautions. I just don’t want, or need, to push them to the limits right away.

I also got to see my new “Valentine’s Day bling” at my 5 week xrays, which was pretty cool. The xray tech called it my “hardware.” I sent them off and hope to hear a good report. Not having a medical background, I am clueless what it is supposed to look like so I hope everything is where it needs to be.

One Month Post-Op

If you would have asked me if I’d feel this great one month after surgery, I probably would have laughed. Now it is hard for me to remember that I actually had surgery! Something amazing happens between the 3rd and 4th week out – you seem to regain so much. I have 2 more weeks of hip precautions to follow so I do have to pay attention. But I haven’t needed my crutch/cane for 5 days now – I’m on my own!!

Really, the thing that lets me know that I had surgery is that I have NO pain anymore. I still can’t quite get my brain around it but I’m getting closer. I love being able to walk and will never take it for granted again.

The snow has melted quite a bit and I was able to go walking downtown for a few hours. I even looked at a new mountain bike!

Progress!

Three weeks out from surgery yesterday and it was as if I hit some sort of breakthrough. Turned the crutch around to use like a cane like they showed me. It makes you realize that you can be too dependent because you are just scared. Walked three laps at the mall – about 45 minutes, even a bit without the crutch at all! I might have actually overdone it because I ended up with what I would describe as a charley horse in my butt. Not pain, per se, but just a naggy feeling.

Hitting the Wall

Once again, after feeling so great, I had my hit the wall day that they’d warned me about. Joanna said that most people report experiencing it at day 9 (which was my travel day so thankfully it didn’t happen then). But I guess I was too buzzed on adrenaline to have it then.

I got up for awhile and then it hit me hard and I just had to go back to bed, which is just not like me. But I’ve learned to listen to my body and do what it needs. Glad I have that luxury right now with mom and dad still here. I just felt exhausted and not strong at all. But by the afternoon, I was feeling much better.

Sadly, I made the mistake of stepping on the scale in the afternoon. Bad idea. I kind of figured that since I’ve not been eating or had much of an appetite, I’d have lost weight. However, I was oh so wrong. I actually weighed 10 pounds more than when I left which was majorly depressing. I’ll just tell myself that the BHR implant weighed 11 pounds, so I’m really down one.

That also reminds me, I’ve had to instruct the kids not to tell people that I got an implant and went to rehab!

The Plane Truth

After a great visit, it’s finally time to go home. While it feels like we’ve been gone forever, I am thrilled that I made the choice to travel here. The midwest kindness and friendliness has been more than I could have hoped for.

Of course, our trip through the airport was completely eventful. It was the stuff my columns are made of, does the universe just know that I need material and freely send it my way? People ask me where I get the stuff for my columns and it’s quite simple: I wake up every day.

When we got to the airport, Gus got me inside and in a seat, wheeled the luggage in and returned the car. I told him that I was pretty hungry and kind of dizzy. So we decided to go through security first. Since this was my first post surgical trip through the metal detectors, which I knew I would set off, beyond that, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. We went to the handicapped line which was fine by me because my head was really spinning by then. Poor Gus was trying to deal with the luggage, the laptop and getting shoes off both of us. I’m sure we looked like a three ring circus. I told the woman that I was going to set it off since I’d just had hip surgery and that I was really dizzy and needed to sit down. By that time, Gus, whose driver’s license had expired had been whisked off for additional searching and I was left in a chair, feeling like I was on a listing boat. The women were quite nice and got me a wheelchair, let me eat something and offered to call for medical assistance, which would have been the ultimate in embarrassment. They did the official pat down as I stood with my crutches, sent my crutches through the x-ray and sent me on my way – probably much to their relief.

Gus got me to my plane waiting area in my wheelchair then went to catch his plane. (Strange, perhaps, but we’ve always flown separately since we had kids) When it was time to board, they let me, along with another wheelchair user, hobble on first. We were on time and ready to go, which I found particularly important since I had a 55 minute connection in Minneapolis. We sit and sit and sit some more before the captain comes on to announce that we need to refuel. Shouldn’t that have been on the checklist before we all boarded the plane???? So we wait and wait, my connection time diminishing with every tick of the clock. Finally the fuel truck arrives ane gasses up the plane. We depart Madison a full 55 minutes late. The captain says we should be able to make up some of the time, but I’m not sure it will be enough to get me to my next gate.

We landed at precisely 4:48 at gate C28 and I was due to depart at 5:06 no doubt from another concourse entirely. I’d requested a wheelchair and it was supposed to be waiting, which of course, it wasn’t. The woman at the desk said to catch the electric cart, which I saw was plugged in recharging. Meanwhile, they are paging me to board my flight which I now find is at gate F3. About that time, another woman from my flight walks up waiting for a cart to the F3 gate. She is grandmotherly age with a gruff German accent. I later find out she is an anthesiologist and has known my doctor since he was a resident in 1971. About that time both a cart and my wheelchair arrive. Hoping that they are holding the plane, I strap myself into the the only seat my leg will allow me to, the back right facing backwards. The German woman sits next to me, puts her arm around me and holds my bag. The driver, not quite comprehending that we have about 2 minutes now to traverse the entire Minneapolis airport, is dilly dallying around. We are shouting that our flight is at 5:06 and apparently he thinks we are advising him that it is flight number 506. When he finally realizes the miscommunication, I swear he peeled off his airport driver vest, put on a NASCARWinston jacket and goggles and took off across the airport in a high speed, KeanuReeves “Speed” driving display. People were jumping out of the way as he laid on the horn like a New York Cabbie. The German woman held onto me, probably fearing I’d go flying off the back and she’d miss her flight. Somehow, the driver got us to the plane seconds before the were going to close the door. As I hobbled onto the plane, 85 people glared at me for being late despite my pitiful crutches. Thankfully, the flight home was uneventful except for no luggage.

It’s good to be home! The boys met me at the airport with roses and hugs. The hugs were what I needed most.

Heading North

After Joanna removed my staples this morning, I was free to go. I didn’t have a great view of the incision but what I could see looked like an earthworm with all of the staples. I’d read/heard that the staples removal was painful/uncomfortable but once again, it turned out to be anticlimactic. In fact, I didn’t even realize she’d finished. She said the incision looked great and that I could take a shower in two days.

So far the worst thing about this whole deal (the thing that has caused the most discomfort and I’ve dreaded the most) has been the Lovenox injections each night. Gus gives them to me (glad he has plenty of professional experience in the injection department). They are placed in the abdomen, in the fat two inches from your belly button. Sadly, there is plenty to work with in that area.

Now that we’re sprung, we are headed north to see John, Carla and Elizabeth who moved away last summer. It will be the first time we’ve seen them since the move (was this truly why I chose to have surgery in Wisconsin?) You know you have a true friend when she will buy you a booster seat for the potty (a booster pooper if you will) so you can stay at her house! Only a real friend would do that for you.

It is the first time I’ve been outside since coming home from the hospital and it is wonderful! The weather is cooperating, no snow in the forecast!

Every Step I Take

Last day at HipHab. Hard to believe it has gone so quickly.

Didn’t feel so great this morning, they warned us there would be roller coaster days and that it is perfectly normal. Not sure why I felt crummy but it was kind of disappointing since I’d felt so terrific the day before. After morning PT, I felt a lot better, guess you have to keep moving.

Desi had me walking on one crutch today which surprised me. She also showed me how to flip the crutch around to use as a cane.

I am fully bearing weight on the surgical leg and there is simply no pain. I wonder if your brain gets hardwired for it because it’s almost like my body is expecting it but it’s just not there. But the pain had been there for so long, with every single step I took, that I can’t quite process the fact that it is gone. I will never take walking for granted again!

I still have a bit of swelling, but practically no bruising at all. The ice packs definitely help keep the swelling down.

I finally got to see the incision after the swimming session – all the staples make it pretty funky looking.

Still don’t have much of an appetite but trying to eat whatever sounds good. I’m not sure if it is the meds or what but by the evening, a few bites are all I can manage.

 

Baby Steps

 

 

Every little thing is such a production. From standing up to going to the bathroom, it seems to take forever and I am not one to take my time doing anything. So this is forcing me to slow down which I guess can be a good thing. Maybe it’s a lesson I can carry forward with me, but I can be a pretty slow learner when it comes to that which is good for me.

Yesterday was the first PT out of the hospital and we walked the halls, did the small exercises from our book and learned to do the steps. The steps were unnerving to say the least, I just didn’t think I could do it. But following the “up with the good, down with the bad mantra” I was able to navigate up and down. I was pretty worn out after that session and slept awhile. Naps are my new best friend.

Today, we had our first pool therapy which was beyond incredible. The range of motion you have in the water is so much greater than anything you can on land. The water is warm and comfortable, which is very soothing. A clear, waterproof dressing is applied prior to entering the pool. This also gives the added bonus of being able to shower when you get back to the room. After a few days of navy baths, the shower was absolutely glorious. Clean hair is a wonderful thing!

Of course, it is snowing outside. But it’s Wisconsin so what can you expect. It was a winter storm warning yesterday but when you don’t have to be anywhere, the snow is just fine.

The kids and my folks are doing great and surviving. Thank goodness they all have a sense of humor.

Moving On

After the hospital PT session, I was sprung! It will be nice to get back to the apartment at the rehab center where I can have a little space and privacy (and be out of a stupid hospital bed!). I guess they deem the car transfer and getting to your room enough of a workout for the day because PT starts tomorrow.

Bionic Woman

After all the hoopla, travel and what seemed like waiting longer than a full-term pregnancy, surgery is over. I am officially a Bionic Woman. I was scheduled first up at 7:30 on Valentine’s Day, what a way to get that little sparkly something. We’d scheduled a cab for 5:20, since the forecast was for snow (again) and apparently cab drivers in Wisconsin still find it to be a surprise in winter. Of course, they were not on time which raised the anxiety level tremendously. After several phone calls and increasing blood pressure, the cab finally arrived at 5:45. Luckily it was a fairly short trip so we made it on time at 6:00 as scheduled.

There was no waiting around as I’d experienced with my dad’s prior surgeries. Went through the check in process and they sent me up to the surgical floor where there wasn’t even the chance to sit down. They whisked me back to a private room where I answered more health questions, marked the surgical site with the doctors initials and gave a little blood just for good measure. At 7:20 they were wheeling me out of the room to the pre-surgery area. We dropped Gus off at the surgical waiting room and it just broke my heart because he looked so lost. But he was trying to stay calm on my behalf, which of course was greatly appreciated. But after 20 years together, I know that look of nervousness.

In pre-op, the anesthesiologist hooked me up to the IV, they asked my name and birthdate about 50 times. At 7:30, they were wheeling me into the OR, which didn’t look like the OR that I remembered from past surgical experiences. The room was a bustle of activity, Dr. Rogerson said hello and I tried to make a joke about the beach scene picture on the wall considering the snow outside was measured in feet. Renee, the PA, helped me scoot over onto the OR table from the gurney and that is absolutely the last thing I remember. No mask, no count backwards from ten – I was out.

When I woke up in post-op, strangely enough it was like waking up from a refreshing nap. Now when I had my emergency c-section 12 years ago, I remember being groggy for days. But not this time. In fact, I asked the nurse if they’d cancelled my surgery for some reason – had something gone wrong- because I was fairly certain I’d only been in there a few minutes. She just laughed and said surgery went great and it took 2 1/2 hours. But I just couldn’t figure out why I felt no pain.

When they took me up to the room, Gus was shocked at how alert and awake I was considering my post c-section out-of-it experience. They hooked me up to a PCA for pain management. I did use it, only because I was scared of pain (and after my 2nd c-section experience where the post-epidural line kinked and I had no pain relief whatsoever for several hours) I didn’t want to go there. But I if I had to do it again, I would definitely skip the morphine and ask for oral pain meds instead. While the morphine doesn’t have awful side effects for me (all it does it make me sleepy), I think I would have felt much more alert and been fine without it.

Since it was not a private room (with one shared TV in the middle no less), I was glad we brought a poratable DVD player. My roommate had knee surgery and felt compelled to share the details, and her displeasure with the whole experience, with anyone who would listen or had the misfortune of being within earshot. She exuded negativity that was not exactly conducive to recovery. So I was glad I had earphones, movies and my MP3 player.

They had told me that PT would start the day after surgery but that they might get me up to use the bathroom. So that evening, two assistants sat me on the edge of the bed and got ready to spin me over to the bedside potty. I was feeling fairly dizzy but they said that was normal and to just dangle my legs for a bit. When they got me up and over, I was holding onto one woman’s arm telling her not to leave me, that I was really dizzy now (the kind where things are fading to black and you are pretty sure passing out is in your near future). I don’t remember it, but my husband told me that I threw up and promptly passed out. He said they called for help and about 8 people were in there in pretty short order. All I remember is being back in the bed.

I’m so relieved this is over!

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