12th August 2012

Hip Replacement Cont’d – ‘One Day to Get on Track’

posted in Reflections on Life |

Account of ‘The Day After Surgery – One Day to Get on Track’ (Aug. 1, 2012)

New Day – New Crew – New Perspectives

OK – just the highlights – not a minute by minute account …
Starting with the usual vitals (6:30 am) – blood test, blood pressure, pulse, … visit to the washroom “Can I get something out?” – whatever that might be – NOT!

New nurse arrives, gives her name and assures that I am weaned from the PCA and morphine and gives me ‘pain killing pills’, etc. – not exactly made clear what I’m getting – she is in and out in a hurry – I hardly got her name.

Breakfast arrives in very short order – wheat toast w jam, milk, coffee, cream of wheat, grape juice, water – I ask the food carrier to get out of my night-table drawer the red-currant scone my wife had brought the night before (‘good stuff’ – whole wheat flour, flax, w buttermilk). As I was into my breakfast (drank the milk, almost finished the toast) and just drinking some of the grape juice, the day nurse charges into the room, grabs the grape juice cup and hollers “don’t drink that stuff – you are going to throw up if you do!” I try to respond, “I’m only consuming what’s on the breakfast tray.” Seeing the red-current scone, she carries on “and don’t eat that”. I try to object, “the scone is really healthy and why shouldn’t I drink the grape juice, it’s part of the hospital breakfast?” “If you want, what’s good for you, you listen to me”, is her line.
WOW! What a put-down.
Then she explains that as far as she is concerned, she is trying to keep me from ‘throwing up’ and that’s that.
I back off and quietly finish my scone – what a start to the day with my nurse for the day.

Quickly, the morning fills with activity. The capable physio-therapy team arrives, followed by the occupational therapist, a very professional and amicable young woman. I’m out of the bed and performing basic physio-exercises by using the two-wheeled walker for support and progressing to demonstrate ‘good walking posture’ with the walker. There is a promise of more physio that afternoon – great – I love physical activity.

The latter part of the morning, I feel a bit dulled and nauseated. I ask about it and recognize that the oxy-codin is probably doing it to me. I don’t exactly get excited about lunch with feeling a bit queasy.

Following lunch, my day nurse impresses upon me that I’m still facing the challenge of eliminating from my filling bladder. I try several times to get going to the toilet without success. She is stern now, “If you don’t eliminate by 2 o’clock, I’ll have to put the catheter in”. I can’t foresee that to be a gentle process, unlike the night before. I give it a couple more gallant tries and finally, at 10 minutes to two, I can demonstrate success by showing the plastic bottle with an appropriate amount of liquid. What a relief.

More physio and OT in the afternoon – walking with crutches, demonstrating correct usage of the assistance tools (reacher, etc). I’m very encouraged by the assessment that my general muscle groups are handling my movements and mobility rather well.

The afternoon is also brightened by the visit of the Nurse Practitioner, ‘the eyes and ears of the surgeon’ – she is terrific and most encouraging in her discussion of many aspects of the surgery and recovery process. I also discuss my pre-operation pain killer with her and how I felt after the oxy-codin. I’m assured that I will be given the same prescription for my pain med, Tramadol (tramacet). Later in the afternoon, I turn down the oxy-codin when offered by my day nurse and elect some alternative pain tablets.

My roommate and I discuss the day’s activities and express mutual encouragement – we are both doing very well – he is in his forties while I am sixty-eight. He reflects on my patience with the day nurse – he says, “I wouldn’t have put up with her.”

After the evening meal, a follow up with some texting and calls with Ruth to alert her, that there is talk by the physio staff, that I would likely be encouraged to leave the premises the next morning – that’s based on the day’s performance and the prospect of demonstrating ascending and descending stairs with crutches the next morning.

With the usual regular vitals measurements and other activities, I don’t find a good sleep coming easily. I’m successful in going to the bathroom several times during the night – sounds like we’re really dealing with the very basics of life.

I’m awake very early, about 5 am. I look forward to the next day and feel that I need a shower to get that fresh feeling to face the day. As I think about that, it dawns on me that when the shift change comes at 7 am, no staff would have any time to assist with my desire to get cleaned up – they have too many vital tasks to complete. So … I push my Help Button at 5:30 am and am most fortunate to claim the help of a very nice Care Aide who is willing to assist me to take a shower. It’s a bit of an adventure to take the first shower – issues to be concerned about: stability, not getting the wound dressing too wet and disturbed, not bending beyond the 90 degrees rule, not twisting at the hip, etc … Done with the shower – I feel like a new man and happily await the day in bed.

Again – New Day, New Nurse, New Horizons … (Thursday, Aug. 2)

Following breakfast, the physio team and the OT come by to talk to my roommate and I to tell us that we will be good to go, as soon as we the the ‘Stairs Test’ and have our mobility (range of motion) measured. I called Ruth to give her notice, “As soon as you get here, I’m out of here”.

By the time, all is done – discharge details, paper work, etc., the Occupational Therapist takes me out to the car with Ruth and gives the final demonstration and scrutiny over my proper entry into the car. It’s 12:30 pm and I’m on my way home, 44 hours after entering the hip surgery process.

Wow – a bit of a whirlwind but also a revelation how efficient and effective modern medical procedures have become. I leave the UBC Hospital with gratitude, great respect and appreciation for the professionalism I was privileged to experience and observe.

Now, I am pursuing New Horizons – the lengthy period of strengthening the disturbed muscle groups (physio therapy – mostly based on self-discipline) and forcing myself to walk without a limp. It’s looking good at this point – the promise of returning to normal, pain-free movement with a new hip opens new horizons, new opportunities that only exist because of undertaking to have a Hip Replacement.

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 12th, 2012 at 4:10 pm and is filed under Reflections on Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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