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What Double Hip Recovery is Really Like

Monday, June 23rd will be three months since my double hip replacement surgery. The first thing I must do is thank God for progress – something I say to anyone who asks about my recovery. When I think on these past three months and how my life, my mental state, my faith in God, and my renewed appreciation/love for my husband has evolved, I am so grateful.

Since surgery, I have experienced just about any emotion you can think of. Initially, I felt helpless; having to depend on Husband to do even the simplest task for me. As time went on, I became overly impatient; like the healing process wasn’t happening quickly enough even though I had been told by my in-home nurse and physical therapist that I was progressing extremely well during the first few weeks, and then later by my surgeon and out-patient therapist the same. There were times I thought I was depressed until I learned the real meaning of depression, which didn’t fit me. I do understand (now) why the nurses frequently asked that question. You can easily be suicidal or depressed if you don’t have a reliable support system. It was during those times when I just wanted to get up and go, knowing I couldn’t, and drive anywhere or run up and down the stairs like I used to – that’s when I wanted the implants out of my body. I cried because I could feel them when I’d rather not. For months I was frustrated sleeping on my back with a pillow under my knees (to relieve pressure from my hips) because it was impossible to sleep on my sides. I wanted to walk the way I did before experiencing the pain I endured. I cried some more because I wanted to be at the point of not noticing the difference in my body. “When am I not going to feel ’em?” I would ask Husband who couldn’t answer. “I just want to not know they’re there.” So, not only was I tripping; I was taking him on an emotional trip as well. However, I am encouraged in knowing I’ll eventually get to the point of feeling normal.

I thank God that He kept me alive and I survived surgery because as my doctor said, “You didn’t just have one surgery, you had two major surgeries.” I never thought about it that way. Today was the first time I looked up an actual hip surgery, which was something I made sure not to do prior to having it done. I couldn’t believe my small frame sustained the skin slicing and all the sawing, banging, and hammering that was involved – just the surgical instruments alone made the operating room, I’m sure, resemble a well equipped tool shed.

And when I think of where I am now, I praise God for keeping me infection free and with no signs of blood clots – all things associated with recovery. In real time though, three months ain’t long for what I’ve gone through. But, within that time, I was able to gauge my own progress by charting how long I used the walker (two weeks), when I could drive (seven weeks), when to leave the cane behind (9 weeks), when to wear sensible heels (ten weeks), and be able to side sleep on either hip (eleven weeks; no more sleeping on my back! I’m a side sleeper once again, y’all!). I frequently journal my progress, figuring I could help the doctor with estimations when a patient asks, “When can I do….” No one could tell me exactly when I would be able to do any of the aforementioned, which is why I tracked myself and decided when I felt comfortable enough to do them all.

I’ve progressed in ways that I can literally do a well-informed infomercial; however, still with all the progress I’ve made, I continue to have struggles. When I get tired, Husband tells me I look like I’m walking on stilts – and the ironic part is, I actually feel like I do. Sometimes, when I get out of bed, I forget about the titanium, which is good because it lets me know I’m healing properly. I have a tendency to rub my outer thighs now because they feel slightly different. And that’s another thing – my surgical lines (don’t call ’em scars because they’re not) have healed very nicely. I haven’t done anything special or bought a bunch of nonsense creams to remove marks. I kept the area clean and used Shea butter. I’m thankful that the doc had steady hands too; no zig zag lines on these hips! However, as I sit and write this, I know I’ve been sitting for far too long (it takes hours to write a blog). I can feel the titanium, letting me know I’m gonna regret not taking a standing break. And because I didn’t, I’ll most certainly be walking like I’m on stilts, and I say that with a :), which brings me to this – when folks see me for the first time, they are surprised that I’m walking sans assistance. One person told me they didn’t know what to expect – thought I’d be with a walker, looking all decrepit and whatnot. Really?

Another positive aspect of recovery is the well wishes I received from so many people (I am so blessed). I received so many cards that our mail lady asked Husband if someone died. I had visitors, Facebook messages, text messages, phone calls, and two edible arrangements sent. This is funny because one of seven “Sheilas” I know sent an edible arrangement – no surname included. I contacted six who said, “That’s nice but it wasn’t me.” The last Sheila I contacted was the one who sent it. Chuckles.

From my estimation, I may not be completely healed until a year or so post surgery, which will be March 31, 2015. At that time, I’m hoping to move about without feeling the implants and walking better than I was before surgery. I’m just guessing, y’all – I don’t know for sure.

One thing I’ve discovered in this journey is that I’ve helped by sharing my story and that is my goal. Many of you are experiencing similar medical situations. I’m glad to be in a position that allows me to honestly answer your questions. I’m telling you, this hip thing is so widespread and common that either you’ll go through it yourself or someone you know will. If this post has been helpful to you or if you enjoyed reading it, please let me know by responding or hitting the “like” icon.

Thank you for reading – pass it along!

My Double Hip Replacement

You are about to read an honest account of how it all went down.

In January of this year, I went to Rothman Institute because my lower back and lower extremities had been paining me for quite some time (so much so, that I was seriously contemplating retiring; didn’t feel as though I could go on in that way until 2017 – had sent away for my estimate and everything). After taking x-rays, I met with the doctor and the consultation went a lil’ something like this:

The doc pulled the x-rays up on the computer screen for both of us to see: left hip, right hip, pelvic area.

“Did she almost fall off the chair?” I asked myself. “Is this lady drunk?”

“You need to be on the table now!” she blurted out.

With eyebrows frowned and confusion in my head, I asked with attitude, “For what?”

“Hip replacement!”

Before I knew it, “What the fuck!” had escaped my lips!

My mind was racing with the following thoughts:

Don’t you have to be old for that? I’m too young! I got a 15 yr. old kid – we got things to do! My mom and dad didn’t even have hip replacement! For real though, Jesus?!

And then the real truth; I am in a lot of pain….

“I want it done,” I said.

And that is how it went down. The doctor explained that I had no cartilage in either hip and I was walking bone on bone – no cushion whatsoever, which explained everything. Bone had begun to grow on top of bone, causing bone spurs to form when cartilage is completely gone. When that happens, you can develop a limp when you walk – I did. I was really messed up with excruciating pain. Bones grinding together with no shock absorption – unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my entire life; however, I had been dealing with it. I continued on with my daily life: work, church, soccer mom for the kid, shopping and whatever else needed to be done until I could do it no longer.

February 2014, my husband and I met with the surgeon. He walked in the room and said, “Okay, where’s the 51 year old woman with the 80 year old hips!”

Doink! A comedian! That broke the ice and put us at ease. During the interview, we asked a host of questions (every time we thought of something, I wrote it down, including the lawsuits commercials). The surgeon was very thorough in his explanation of procedure, tools, and all things related. He asked how did I get to such a bad state. I told him I didn’t know; I needed him to tell me. He asked if I played sports or if I was ever injured. “Nope, was just a regular ole tomboy growing up – that’s about it.”

I asked if I could have both done at the same time. He said he would suggest it because he’s never seen so much arthritis in someone my age. He also explained that the pain I was experiencing then would be gone but replaced with surgery pain. I told him I could endure that because it would be temporary. That alone should give you an indication of how much pain I was actually living with. If he could’ve scheduled me for surgery the next day – I would’ve agreed to it.

During pre-op when you meet with several doctors, they all asked the same question, “How did this happen to you? You’re not old or overweight.” Well, maybe I am by five pounds or so, but I realize each one had to repeat the same questions for background information – but my answer remained the same, “I do not know! I need you all to tell me!” They couldn’t be sure whether it was hereditary or just the way God made me.

But there is something Wayne and I realized throughout the entire process; and I’m switching course here, but just stay with me. There was plenty of paperwork to complete and interviews to be had. And the one thing that we were so proud of was that we were there as husband and wife. I felt like I was signing my life away and when asked if I had an advanced directive, I said, “No. Now what?” They asked if I was married. “Yes, that’s my husband sitting right there.” If anything happened he would be the one to give a directive on my life! I looked at him and said, “You literally hold my life in your hands.” And it was the truth. If we weren’t married, the man I have been with for years, the father of my child, would not be able to make a decision for me if I couldn’t. He would be skipped as my next of kin- my siblings would have more say than he, and mind you, I come from a large family. Now what kind of funky sense would that make? Here I am with this man for over two decades and he can’t make a medical decision about my life when we make household decisions together and decisions involving our child? The man who would be, and is currently, my caregiver would be silenced in the eyes of medical services. To the naysayers about marriage, go through something like this and see just how important marriage is and how little you will matter by not being Mr. & Mrs. He’s my husband and I’m his wife. We are a team. Those words changed the entire tone of the room.

My sister mentioned that we are in love all over again. I might agree. I’ve never been the type to tell a man, “I love you,” but I have said it every dang day since my surgery – that and “thank you.” No matter what we’ve been through in our marriage, we’re at this stage now. The first day home from the hospital, I cried because it was beyond difficult for me to climb the steps. Once I got to the bathroom, I cried again being too afraid to get off the toilet without the lift. But right there with me, literally giving me his shoulder, saying, “I got you, babe. C’mon, I got you,” I knew I was okay. And when I had to shower using the chair he was right there washing my lower legs and feet (I could reach everything else), and afterward he cocoa buttered the same. I could not do this without him and I’ve thanked him every single day since, which is something coming from a woman who used to adamantly say, “I don’t need you!” Circumstances obviously changes and God has a way of shutting up the stupid from your mouth!

At this point, my loving husband has gone from being empathetic to a drill sargent. “Get up! Gotta keep those hips moving and that blood circulating! Did you exercise yet? Get up!” Needless to say I can’t wait for him to leave for work.

When my co-workers gave me a sendoff, they told me they had no idea of what I was going through. That’s because I didn’t tell anyone. I put up a brave front. It wasn’t for them to know. I was there to do a job; not complain about my health, but when I shut my door, no one knew what I went through behind that closed door. And when asked about me wearing heels. That was my preference. It would’ve been no more comfortable if I walked barefoot on cotton balls.

So, bring on all the jokes you can think of – heck, I’ve gotten a few good ones already and even some of my own. I’ll tell you something else too – I have a new appreciation for Steve Austin, Jaime Sommers, and Wolverine!

Hopefully, this has been helpful to you all because trust and believe, you or someone close to you could go through this same thing.

I can’t possibly continue this journey without God who gave me my husband. Make sure the person you’re with is the person you trust with your life.