Thursday, 22 August 2013
By Marcy Belson
I've written about my hip replacement before, but this is my full story.
The pain came first. I never thought it could be a hip that was going south in a hurry.
I was driving home from work, put my right foot on the gas pedal after a red light stop and was shocked at the pain that ran from my knee to my groin. It was severe enough that I considered pulling over, not sure that I could keep my foot on the gas pedal long enough to drive home.
Well, I did, the pain subsided and I chose to ignore the incident. It happened again. Bad pain. Maybe it was not going to go away. I called my GP, he saw me and immediately said it might be a hip problem and made an appointment with a orthopedic surgeon.
That poor man, I'm sure I was a thorn in his side. First, I quizzed him as to his qualifications. When he examined me and my x-rays, he told me I was a candidate for surgery.
I informed him that he was mistaken, that it couldn't be my hip. The pain was located in the front of my leg, from the knee to the inner groin area.
Yes, he said, that was hip pain.
No, I said, it wasn't.
He informed me that I would be back soon and if he was available, he would see me again.
I rolled my eyes, took my x-rays and indignantly marched out of his office.
I was so determined that I didn't need the surgery. Looking back, I realize I was in great fear - not of the surgery, but what would possibly come afterward.
My husband had broken eight ribs the year before and after a hospital stay, he was sent to rehab in a care facility. This place, which shall remain nameless, was less than stellar.
When we arrived, the bed was moved in order to make room to lift him. I could see old candy wrappers under the bed plus a used hypodermic needle.
Then I remembered my neighbor, who had spent time there with a broken leg. She told me that one night she awoke to find a male patient attempting to get in bed with her. She screamed and someone called for help but it was frightening for her, immobilized with a broken leg and it was a story I didn't forget.
Now, my husband was in that rat hole and I was unable to do anything about it. There was no room at the inn, nowhere else to take him and I was unable to care for him at home along with the problem of my 40 hour-a-week job.
He was totally unaware of my concern; doped up on meds, he was a happy camper. He told me the staff treated him very well and other than the fact that the therapy was a joke, he was fine with staying there for a few weeks.
Well, when it was my turn for surgery, I remembered all of that and figured thatexactly where my insurance paid HMO would place me. There I would be, with a hip replacement, unable to move and some old man would come in the middle of the night and climb in the bed with me.
I was not going to go there. Instead, I just kept going to work, dealing with the worsening pain and gritting my teeth.
Finally, my entire life was dealing with the pain. I would awake at night in a sweat and I lived in fear that I would wreck the car. It wasn't going to work. I called for an appointment and sure enough, the original surgeon was not available. I elected to see a surgeon in the Portland area.
A nice man with a great bedside manner and a super staff, he agreed with thediagnosis - I was a candidate for surgery. In fact, he said the x-rays showed both hips in the same poor condition but only the right one hurt so bad, I was ready to have the operation immediately.
That wasn't possible. This doctor informed me that he had a brace that held the patient on their side and that was how he did the surgery. The catch was, the patient could not weigh more than 200 pounds to fit into the apparatus. I was 30 pounds over that limit.
He sent me home, said he would do the operation if and when I lost the weight.
Three months later, I made another appointment and I was under the weight limit. He set a date and my life became a series of trips to the Portland hospital.
My husband and I attended a three-hour class on what to expect before and after the surgery. We came home and bought two new high toilets.
I went to the grocery and stocked up on frozen meals and prepared soup to freeze. I was ready.
The night before surgery, we stayed at a motel next to the hospital. I was instructed to bathe with a surgical soap, then do it again the following morning before going to the hospital.
6 A.M. surgical floor. I was gowned and put in a heated tube, sedated and moved to the operating theatre. I don't remember any thing.
2 P.M. I awoke in the hospital room with my husband holding my hand and a roommate groaning. That poor woman made my problems look like a piece of cake.
The following day, I woke up, sat up and knocked myself out on the triangle bar hanging right in front of my face. Then the RN came in and said it was time to remove the oxygen tube attached to my face.
Then she discovered it was not operating. I had spent 24 hours with that thing stuck up my nose with nothing coming out of the tube.
It was Thanksgiving Day, the hospital floor was mostly empty, the staff was skeleton for the holiday and my husband ate my dinner. One of the few times in my life when I had no appetite.
Up and down the hall, walking, morning of day three. Time to go home, no rehab for me. Gordon brought pillows and a quilt, helped me into the back seat and with the new hip leg hanging down and my head and shoulders wedged against the door, we made the 45 mile trip back to Salem. I was still medicated.
Thanksgiving week it snowed, it rained, it blew. It blew a big tree branch onto our roof and into my bathroom. I hear the thunk sound and minutes later, I realized the tree was inside the house.
On the walker, I got up from the bed and started grabbing towels out of the linen cabinet and screaming for my husband to come and help.
A blue tarp was our roof for a few weeks. A month later, the service company finished the job. Nice people but they were overwhelmed with homeowners screaming for help.
Two months to the day after the operation, I took my cane, got in my car and went to work. I had used all my sick leave and vacation time.
Oh yes, one month after the surgery, my first outing was downtown to do a little Christmas shopping. On the way back to the car, on the cracked sidewalk, I fell. I also pulled Gordon down with me. He probably saved me from serious injury because I fell on top of him. I spent the night in the ER, no damage done.
It's nice to be pain free.
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