If you’ve followed along my journey here, then you know I have long needed a left total hip replacement (LTHR), but let fear keep me from having the operation for years. I can now say that I conquered my fears and I am officially lugging around faux bones- titanium, metal and plastic to be exact.
I had surgery on April 11th and walked the next day (not much, but still)! It was time. I could hardly walk much before the surgery, I limped 24/7, I was so restricted and it just seemed to be getting worse. So, I found a surgeon I liked, a hospital with good outcomes and low infection rates, a spiritually centered hospital, and I just took the first date they offered me. When I did, I wasn’t sure I would keep it. I think I kind of hoped, out of fear, that they would postpone because my blood pressure was too high, or I had a little cut here, or this or that. But, they didn’t, and the reality of it all really sank in once I was in my hospital room preparing to gown up. We left the house at 4 a.m., arrived by 5 a.m. and I was already waiting and ready (if you can say that) by 6 a.m. Here I am just before they wheeled me off to have my defective bones sawed and scraped out, hammered, and replaced with bionic parts.
I’m not going to talk much about the surgery part or the night I spent in the hospital, because I honestly don’t want to remember it too much, and I remember everything except for the actual surgery part. I was awake when entering the OR. I was awake when moving myself to the operating table. I woke up again in recovery with some incision pain. I was never in terrible pain. I had great nursing care.
I went home late afternoon on the day after my surgery. My first night at home was very hard. Just realizing how tough it would be to get in and out of bed, and up and down to use the bathroom was a real adjustment. I panicked a little when trying to get into bed, because it was so difficult and uncomfortable. I was thinking maybe I should’ve stayed another night (or two). I also wished I had rented a hospital bed.
The nights were unbearable. I just could not get comfortable. On top of things, I had one side effect after another. First, I developed a UTI, from having had a foley catheter and so many antibiotics before and after surgery (so your body doesn’t reject the implant and to reduce the risk of infection). Then I got oral thrush and needed a medicated mouth rinse. Then I was very nauseous and light-headed and unable to eat or drink more than crackers and 7-Up, then I got my period and horrible menstrual cramps. While coping with all of the above, I tossed and turned all day and all night for three days straight, without sleeping a wink. In the very early morning of day three of insomnia, I woke up my dear husband and began a full-on anxiety attack.
I have only experienced this once before, and it was after some very high stress events, topped off by a suspicious repeat mammogram and then ultrasound of my breast. Basically, I was having one hundred negative thoughts and panic was taking over, and I cried uncontrollably for hours. I just felt like maybe I had made a mistake having the operation. It felt wrong. It felt unbearable. Miserable. I was sleep-deprived and lost. Bryan calmly tried to console me, patting me, telling me to breathe. My dogs came to my side and licked my falling tears, concerned for their Mama. It was about 2 a.m. now and I decided to “phone a friend.” I messaged a dear friend who has her own health mountain to climb, asking if she was awake. Thank God, she replied yes very quickly. We video called her and she talked me off of the ledge of anxiety panic. She calmed me down, helped Bryan, and prayed with both of us. It was now 3 a.m. and I was able to breathe and stop crying. We hung up and I slept until late the next day. Finally, some rest. I will never be able to thank my husband and my friend enough for seeing me through that extreme low.
After some medication adjustments, I felt a little better. Each day was, and is now, a tiny bit better. I sleep a little one night, none the next. Most of my sleep still happens in the morning to early afternoon. I just can’t seem to sleep at a normal bedtime. I still toss and turn most of the night, but I don’t feel ready to jump out of my own skin any more. Apparently, according to my surgeon’s surgical assistant, this is all very “typical.” Insomnia happens from the trauma of the surgery on the body, they tell me.
I have internal stitches and I was closed with an additional surgical glue, of sorts, that is actually medicated with antibiotics of some kind. The bandage in the picture above came off at the end of week one post-op, and the last picture is the most recent one of my scar and healing. I see my surgeon for my follow-up appointment in five days, when I hope to be told I can drive again (I stopped taking any narcotic pain meds several days ago), and find out how long I have to follow so many rules and precautions when it comes to even basic things like sitting, reaching and bending.
Die Without You
Do you remember that P.M. Dawn song from back in the day, “Die Without You?”
Well, I would die without this guy above- my husband, my better half, my Ninny, my best friend, my caregiver. I snapped this picture from the recovery, guest room, bed. He was so exhausted from being at my bedside beck-and-call, while also working his full-time job from home, and caring for our four fur babes. He fell asleep beside me here for a few minutes.
Over the last two weeks, my husband has done things for me no one ever has, and really I don’t think a 40-something husband should have to, but thank God he did. The day after surgery when I couldn’t reach my legs to scrub the surgical mess off, he climbed into the tiny hospital shower with me and washed the betadine off for me. He erased the YES written on my left leg in marker for me. He dried the parts I couldn’t reach.
Once back home, he drove an hour round-trip to the pharmacy for medication after medication for me at least a half-a-dozen times. Bryan was at the pharmacy so frequently that the pharmacist once said, “Oh no, what’s wrong now?” and she would greet him with “How is she doing now?”
Bryan came running every time I called out for him, at all hours. When I couldn’t make it to the bathroom in the first few nights, and relied on a portable bedside toilet, he is the one that emptied and cleaned it. Yep. He did that. He kept a little note on the fridge of when I had taken my medications and when I would be due for the next. Because I can’t drive, he has to take me to physical therapy at the end of his work day, back into town where the pharmacy is located, three times a week. When I felt up to it, my husband got into the shower at home with me to shave my legs for me, and got my towel and dried the parts down low that I couldn’t reach.
This man has sacrificed so much for me, and it goes far, far beyond the price tag of the surgery alone. I really couldn’t have done any of this without him by my side. When I am weak, he is strong. When I am scared, he is calm. When I cry, he tries to make me laugh. When I hurt, he buys me coconut cake and brings my fur babies to my side. When I was at my lowest, he was there.
You know, when you say your vows as a young married couple, you really don’t think those words will be tried and tested so soon in life. But Bryan and I have faced many a mountain together, and weathered every stormy sea together. I don’t know how I got so lucky in life, to have and to hold this man. I am so thankful for Bryan’s love. Hopefully one day soon, we will be on a trip somewhere grand, hiking and biking and doing all those things we used to love doing together, with my new, custom parts. God willing…