Monday, October 10, 2011

After the Operation - Day 8

It is exactly a week since I woke up in the recovery room following my hip surgery, and it is hard to believe that it is only that long.

My husband collected me from the hospital in my Zafira, which is high-seated, and getting in was not too difficult or painful: we used a plastic supermarket bag to help me slide in, and pulled it out from beneath me once I was in the right position and ready to do up my safety belt.  The ride was a little uncomfortable - not the bumpiness of the roads, but simply being sat in the same position for however long it took - maybe 40 minutes. I was able to get down from the car with only a little pain, and walked with my two sticks into the house, managing to negotiate the two steps in without a problem.

Since coming home, I have spent quite a lot of time snoozing, either upstairs or in a chair or on the sofa downstairs.  My lovely man very kindly went out and bought me a special cushion to help me sit and lie more comfortably, as I was getting a little sore on behind and heels.  I have been using pillows in bed to help get better support, either under my feet, knees, between my knees and to support my back.  I can only sleep on my back at the moment and pain prevents me rolling onto my side in my sleep.  The sofa is a little low but using the special cushion helps by raising me a bit more, and I can lie on it once I am upon it.

The stairs have not proven a problem, remembering to step up onto my operated leg but down onto my good leg.  I am so glad we had the walk-in shower installed as that is easy to manage to get access to.  We have a non-slip grip mat installed on the shower tray.  When I washed my hair on Saturday I moved my perching stool into the cubicle to sit upon, but normally I can stand comfortably long enough for a quick shower, and use the perching stool outside the shower to help me get dry.  I was provided with two loo frames as part of my care package, which certainly help with sitting upon and getting up from the toilet (one of which needed a seat raise as well, whereas the other was high enough not to requite one.

Sitting at the dining table is, for some reason, quite uncomfortable, even with the special cushion, but is manageable for the length of a meal - then I am very happy to move elsewhere to sit in more comfort.

I can dress independently, and it is just the compression socks which I need assistance to put on and take off.  I am taking care to wear loose, stretchy clothing so that no unnecessary pressure is put on my wound.

As far as walking goes, I have not yet ventured outside the house.  I am generally using my two sticks, and now am beginning to be able to use them in opposition (move one stick, then opposite leg and so on) rather than move both together, then walk bad leg then good leg into the space between them, then repeat).  I have used the walls and furniture for support when moving from bedroom to bathroom upstairs.  Clearly there has been a massive improvement in weight-bearing and balance since I was in hospital.

After the Operation - Day 4

So here I am, sitting in the Patients’ Lounge, waiting for my husband to arrive and take me home. My case and bags are beside me, and my bed bay Is being prepared for a new patient who is having a knee joint replacement this afternoon. I have my TTAs (prescribed medicines to take away), I’ve said my goodbyes to the lovely staff and my fellow ward-mates, and it’s like being in limbo! I am discharged but still in the care of the hospital until my husband arrives. For some reason I cannot connect to the hospital wi-fi any more so I’m typing this to post later.
Today I enjoyed another shower and dressed myself (apart from the compression socks, which I needed help with. A breakfast of very delicious vanilla flavoured prunes and a banana plus a mug of tea went down very well. I was a bit dozy and kept falling asleep, and I still experience a fair bit of pain after moving around, so was content to sit on my bed with my feet up. Ironically, I had finally learned how to use the bed controls yesterday evening, so could raise up the back as desired, and also the foot to help the circulation of my feet and legs, sticking carefully to the “no bending more than 90 degrees” rule to protect my healing hip. I wanted to rest while I could, in order to avoid my ankles swelling as they had yesterday after quite a lot of time on my feet.
My two fellow hip replacement on Monday patients are staying in a bit longer than me, probably to be discharged tomorrow. It was lovely to see them feeling much better and more mobile today. My next door neighbour managed the stairs with the supervision of the physiotherapist this morning, and thought she would go home today, but it was decided that the wound was still oozing enough to present a potential infection risk, and she would be better off in the hospital environment for another night. Both ladies had had blood transfusions last night, which really seemed to perk them up. The lady opposite me was today able to walk to the bathroom and back using a zimmer frame, so this meant that she no longer required catheterisation but she was not yet strong enough for walking further to perform the stairs test. The Consultant was hopeful that by tomorrow she would be able to do this and also maybe go home. She is 80 and my friend next door is in her sixties, so I guess I have age working in my favour.
Walking using the sticks has been going very well, and it feels so much more normal as I usually use two sticks outdoors due to my iffy balance. I’m happy not to have needed to learn how to use the crutches for support. The long reach grabber has been invaluable in helping me to retrieve various things which have gone flying, and the long-handled sponge certainly makes washing much easier. The other gadget I have found useful is the leg lifter, as it is hard to lift my operated-on leg still, but the long shoe horn and a device which I think helps to put on socks have not yet been necessary.
The ward seems a very safe and protected environment and it will be interesting to see how being at home feels, whether I will feel as safe and secure there or instead more vulnerable. Time will tell. I am expecting to feel very tired and to need a lot of rest for the first few days but might be wrong about this. Certainly being back in my own bed will be a delight.
The staff at the hospital have all been so delightful, charming and kind and all say they enjoy working there. Their assistance and attitude have contributed greatly to maintaining a positive attitude to recovery and I feel so fortunate to have been cared for here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

After the operation - Day 3, afternoon

Well, there's just been a ward round and, all being well, I can go home tomorrow!  Isn't this amazing?!  I am thrilled.

After the Operation - day 3 in the morning.

I slept really well last night, despite being woken for observations to be made, then I managed to go back to sleep until nearly eight.  Prunes and an apple for breakfast with a cup of tea.  Then I walked to the bathroom for my last specimen collection for output measurement, returned to my bedside and was asked if i wanted to shower.  This felt like a wonderful treat, so it was back to the bathroom and I managed to wash everything without difficulty - we have all been issued with a long-handled sponge.  I needed a little help drying my legs, but was able to dress myself entirely independently using the grabber we've all been given - great gadget, although I did need my compression socks to be put on for me.  I'm  now sat up in the chair beside my bed and am reasonably comfortable.  One of my ward mates is having problems with sickness and anaemia, and the other is not so well either.  We have a new admission coming in shortly to the bed which was vacated last night by a ladt who had a post-hip haematoma so was in for eight days.  No photo in this post - maybe later.  We are due to have our hips X-rayed this morning to ensure everything is OK.

Edited to add: Maddalena the physio just came and got me walking with my sticks - bypassing the crutches.  It went so well that we walked to the physiotherapy room and I managed to do the stairs using the two banisters there.  I'm as high as a kite with happiness at the moment with my new achievements, although my hip is more painful now.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

After the Operation: Day 2

Didn't sleep badly once I got off last night, but activity on the ward woke me at six am, we all had bloods taken, and I felt too alert to go back to sleep.  Breakfast came, then the ward manager and head of nursing did a ward round, and then an anesthetist did a round, then my surgeon did one.  My dressing was changed and the wound cleaned and checked - it looks very tidy but is bigger than I first thought.We were waiting for the physiotherapist and I kept dozing off - I think the three of us operated on yesterday did this.  Eventually our physio de jour, Maddalena, arrived and one of us was got out of bed and sat up in her bedside chair.

Then, it was lunch time and afterwards it was my turn.  Initially it was hard to move my operated-on leg, but with the assistance of a leg-mover (see below) I managed to move it a bit, and practiced some exercises before I got off the bed.

Then it was the turn of the walking frame, and I managed to use it to walk as far as the bathroom and back to my bay, to sit in my bedside chair.  It wasn't as difficult as I had feared, nor as painful,  The most painful element was getting of  and onto the bed or chair, which I guess involved the most traumatized muscles.  But, I managed to do it!  So this meant the catheter could be removed, and I could be less encumbered.  It was tiring and so I managed to keep dozing off during the afternoon and was woken again for dinner which I ate on my chair.  I used the frame again to visit the bathroom and then ventured out of our room and down the corridor to the nurses station to tell them I had left them a gift in the bathroom (output is monitored for a while pot-op and post catheter0.).

I was heartily relieved when the drugs trolley came round and I was given this colourful collection of medications: analgesics, anticoagulant and a potassium supplement, as this morning's blood test showed I was a little deficient.  I'm back on the bed now, but really quite pleased with my progress today, and very thankful for all the messages of support I've received - it so helps morale.

After all the dozing during the day, I hope I will sleep well tonight, but I suspect I will!  It's been hard work.

Monday, October 03, 2011

After the operation: Day 1

Today was the day of my hip replacement here and I thought a post or few on my experiences might help others facing this procedure..
We had to arrive at 6am as I was first on the list.  The first hour was spent completing essential paperwork, including the selection of foods for my meals today and tomorrow, then setting up my laptop to log onto the free wi-fi here.  I also donned my attractive open-backed gown and hospital dressing gown, cutely accessorized with foam theatre slippers and a white compression stocking on my good leg (top tip: a small plastic bag placed over the foot helps the stocking on).  I walked down to the lift and go up to the theatre suite and into the preparation ward. It felt much better than being wheeled up. I went all low blood pressured and faint in preparation so my shy veins (thanks to the low BP) presented an extreme challenge to the anaesthetic nurses caring for me.  The anesthetist succeeded where two failed attempts had not, and I had my pretty pink cannula in situ
Now things went faster and I was equipped with a catheter, then the spinal needle was introduced into the  subarachnoid or intrathecal space of my spine, and soon my legs felt warm and numb.  I was carefully positioned for surgery, using various supports bolted to my trolley, before something was injected via my cannula which sent me gratefully to sleep.

I woke up maybe two hours later in recovery, where I was cared for attentively as my blood pressure was low.  I was grateful to have water and tea to drink, as apart from a couple of sips of water to help me swallow my usual morning medication, I'd had nothing since yesterday.  I felt alert, cheerful and in no pain at all.  my operated-on leg was velcroed to a wedge shaped cushion, to prevent rolling onto my side, especially   in my sleep.  Two hours later, my bed and I were returned to my windowed bay.

This is what I can see around me in my bed bay - it will enlarge if you click on it.  I have a personal telephone and TV with headphones, an automatic monitor for blood pressure, pulse and blood oxygen saturation levels, an automatic foot and calf  intermittent pressure massager to assist blood circulation in my lower limbs, in addition to free access to wi fi broadband.  I also have a standard bed table on which I place my laptop, meal trays, water bottle and glass, etc.  I also feel very lucky to have the only bed bay with a window: it may not be an especially scenic but I can see daylight and feel less cut off from the world.  It
is very conducive to a high morale, as are the phone and internet access.  I returned to the ward to numerous messages of support in my in-box and on Facebook.  I spoke on the phone to my elder daughter and husband, Facebook-Skyped my younger daughter in Denmark, who had not managed to sleep at all last night, and also my son.  I knew my mother would be out today, but was able to phone her this evening, and she sounded so relieved to hear me sounding so perky, and sent e-mails and facebook messages to others.

Here I am looking soooo glamourous!

The food is excellent!  I had an omelette with tuna and salad for lunch, followed by a nice crunchy apple and a cup of tea, while dinner was a fricassee of pork and celery in a herbed cream sauce, with long grain rice followed by a banana and another cuppa,  I have since enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate..

I  was thrilled to see my elder daughter and son-in-love and  they came bearing gifts: sadly the fresh flowers were not allowed on the ward so they had to go away again, but some lovely fresh fruit was permitted so I have fresh pineapple pieces, ripe figs and some nectarines or peaches and some chocolate (for the iron!) and almonds (for calcium).  I feel very spoiled.  Then my lovely husband and son arrived, the former looking exhausted after only 2 hours sleep last night.  We enjoyed catching up on the days events, and then they went off for a quick evening meal out before going to their homes for an early night.

So far, so good..  Today is a day of bedrest: physiotherapy.  I am still experiencing no pain despite n top-up analgesia.  I'm now beginning to feel a bit sleepy so I'll finsh this post here.  Thanks so much to my frins and family for their love, support. good wishes, kind thoughts and prayers: all very welcome and appreciated,