Thursday, 9 April 2015

Hip replacement recovery - the early days

I had my left hip replaced on Wednesday 1st April 2015. More superstitious people might have wanted to avoid that date, but it didn't bother me. The odd joke relating to "which leg" and even "which eye" certainly helped to lighten the mood. I have to say that I surprised myself with how relaxed I was about the whole thing.

I opted for a spinal epidural and sedation rather than a general anaesthetic purely based on the advice of the anaesthetist relating to better pain relief in the first few hours and less nausea. As it turned out, I apparently became a bit fidgety during the operation so was given a general anaesthetic too at that stage.

The first day I was quite sleepy and fairly pain free whilst the effects of the epidural lasted. I wouldn't realise how much help that was giving until later! There were some frustrations in those early hours as I was unable to move my toes, feet or legs due to the epidural. I did notice that I was wearing some rather fetching Paula Radcliffe style long compression socks. These are intended to help fight off DVT but I'm sure they will also make me fast like Paula!

The first night was horrible. The effects of the epidural had worn off, regular doses including 7 different tables, plus liquid morphine were not enough and sleep was impossible. That bit wasn't at all nice. It was a very long night!

The day after the operation I knew a Physio session was due and that they were going to get me out of bed for a walk! Perhaps word hadn't reached them that I just had a new hip and they were still dining out on the "which eye " April Fools Day gags! I have had a lot of muscle injuries in my sporting life and plenty of Physio as a result, but somehow I really built up how hard this was going to be in my own head. My obs were taken and all were apparently very good/normal. 

My first period of standing wasn't particularly successful. It was successful in that I was able to be positioned in a standing position, though my role in the action of moving from lying to standing was purely limited to being there. I had a Zimmer frame and clutched it firmly. I had a Physio on one arm and my wife (Charlotte) near to the other arm. I was asked if I was ok and recall saying "yes", shortly followed by "I'm going".....

The next thing I remember is being held by Charlotte and said Physio, lots of shouting for more hands on deck and basically looking up at the ceiling with that Zimmer frame still gripped firmly in my hands but pointing slightly too far away from the ground to be of any use. I had feinted! My fingers were peeled from the handle of the Zimmer frame one by one with a fair degree of resistance from me, and I was relocated to the bed. The oxygen mask went on and the Physio session was abandoned until later in the day....something to look forward to!

Physios and nurses agreed that the feinting was probably due to the double morphine concoction that I was on, but personally I think I had psyched myself out by over thinking it. I was just stunned that they wanted the hip to be weight bearing less than 24 hours after the op. 

The afternoon Physio session arrived (oh joy!) and this time my years of sporting determination and willingness to push through the pain barrier were brought into the equation. Just before the process started I gave myself a few slaps around the face and even a little Andy Murray esque "come on!". I was determined to succeed this time, after all I bet the old dears manage this first time!

Standing position was achieved...I'll let the Physio's take credit for that again, and with Zimmer frame in hand the marathon into the corridor (just outside my room) commenced. Much pain and grimacing later I reach the middle of the corridor, at least 5 metres from where I had started! Immediately the Physio upped the ante and had the Zimmer frame replaced by crutches. Not playing fair! I then somehow managed to walk back into my room with the crutches. Boy was that hard work! I don't think I sweat that much on a summer long-run!

On the next day I was out of my room with the Physio for a longer walk with the crutches and shown some standing rehabilitation exercises to start on and to build up the number of repetitions over the next 6 weeks. At least this part I was used to from all my injury recoveries of the past. To a runner, this type of repetitious exercising is our bread and butter!

The next few days saw increasing distances with the crutches and finally stairs as I built up the confidence and mobility to be allowed home, which is where I am now.

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