Lessons Learned From a New Hip

Closing in on two weeks since I had total hip replacement surgery – and before anyone asks doing really well.  There are some lessons learned from a new hip installed that are worth noting (if not sharing).

  1. “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”  This is what most people who I know who had the surgery said to me going into it.  And generally I agree – I can say there was one minor complication in the hospital, but I woke up in the recovery room and for the first time in two years, my hip wasn’t bothering me.  I think for me, the timing was right – but I can understand why people ask themselves why they didn’t do it sooner.
  2. It’s really major surgery:  My only frame of reference for surgery was my ACL surgery almost six years ago and the less invasive MCL surgery I had six months after that (opposite knee).  Don’t let anyone mislead you – hip replacement may happen a lot, but its major surgery.
  3. Not sure the pre-surgery prep was on point: The doctor and hospital did a great job explaining the procedure, the expected outcome and even the path to rehab.  What they glossed over though was the actual surgical site and the reality of where they cut (right into your glute muscle) and the impact of that.  The only pain I dealt with was from the surgical site.
  4. I finally understand the opioid crisis in this country: I try not to take meds as a rule.  And certainly won’t take any high-end pain killers unless absolutely needed.  They start pushing narcotic pain killers before surgery. I managed to get through the surgery and post-op care without taking any narcotic pain killers.  Not everyone can do that.  I used Tylenol and ice to deal with pain and discomfort.  There was one night in the hospital the nurse spent 20 minutes trying to talk me into taking morphine – because they were going to start physical therapy (PT) the next day.  My thought process was: I just had major surgery, there should be some discomfort.  How am I going to differentiate pain if I am muting it all?  It’s a problem.
  5. I have great kids and support:  It’s not easy for me to ask for or accept help.  I want to be responsible for my stuff.  There are people who really helped out and got me through those first 5 or 6 days and I am really happy about that – and that I was willing to take the help.

There are probably more lessons from the new hip – but if I can go through this experience and come away pain-free and learn something – I’m ahead of the game.

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The Next Hurdle

The phone call (and subsequent 40 minutes in the doctor’s office) confirmed what I knew already.  Sunday morning when I got my legs tangled up with another player and pulled myself off the ball field I did some real damage to my knee.  How much was unknown, but I immediately started running through all the scenarios-how am I going to make this work.

I’ve written a lot about how tough it is to be a single parent and juggling career, school, commitments and illness when its one of the girls.  This time it would be me.  I knew it as I was helped to my team’s bench.  I sat at the game a while and kept score.  Partially to get ice onto my knee as quickly as I could and partially not to have to confront what I knew I would have to.

Although I didn’t go there at the time in my mind I suppose part of me was trying to figure out how the girls would handle my telling them.  Stick to the facts, and on Sunday I really didn’t have any other than my knee hurt.  I stayed away from conjecture and told them as I got home I got hurt playing.  We had a bunch to do on Sunday (a friend’s graduation party and then I promised them a visit to the spring carnival at the beach.

The party would be easy.  I could sit and relax.  But how was I going to walk through a carnival? But we did it.  On Monday I told the girls I was going to see a doctor.  On Monday night it was there is probably some damage, but I need a scan.  Tuesday was the scan and then Wednesday I had to tell them.  Surgery is about 3 weeks away, and I’ll be on crutches for a bit.

The good news is the girls go to camp a week or so after the surgery.  After meeting with the doctor and understanding the damage (torn ACL, grade 2 damage to the meniscus, bone bruise, sprain) I ran through my mind what was on the horizon that I would have to change and what can I still manage to do.

The biggest change will be I’ll have to ship the girls’ camp bags to camp this year instead of driving them up.  11.5 is good with this.  9.0, not so much.

And so on June 15 I go for surgery.  On June 18 I should begin the long slow road to recovery.

The map is kind of loose right now: 3-4 weeks on crutches with a brace after the surgery.  4-6 months of rehab after that.

My goal, and I think its reachable, is to be on skis next winter.  After that, I have a triathlon to complete (truing interrupted) and a Tough Mudder to accomplish.  The plan is to come back from this better than I am going in.  Along with rehab I am going to focus on diet and core and be ready to physically meet the next challenges.

Right now, another hurdle to over come.  I guess it’s not supposed to be easy, but this challenging? Really?

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