New Hip

Last Wednesday afternoon I went under the knife to replace my right hip. It took the pre-surgery nurses 5 tries to get in two IV’s but once they found success I knew I would not feel anything else for the next few hours.  I was awake as they rolled me into the surgery room where the surgical team was waiting. There the anesthesiologist had three of the team of five (all male team) prop me up in a sitting position for insertion of one more needle necessary for the spinal anesthesia. Just a minor needle prick and we are ready.

I had a chance to talk to the team briefly before lights out. The one guy I did not get a name from was standing over a rolling cabinet full of Zimmer Company hip replacement parts. The medical device company brings in the whole tool box because the surgeon has to measure and re-measure as he cracks, saws and shapes the bones. The procedure I ended up getting was an Anterior Supine. I was on my back the entire time and the cut was on the front. As a result I have about a 9 inch scar on the upper quad. It was concluded on the table I was not a candidate for the two, two inch incision procedure. What I got is still considered non invasive because less muscle and soft tissue was compromised than the standard (soon to be outdated)  posterior approach.

About three quarters of the way into the procedure I woke up. I was looking straight up into the shielded face of the anesthesiologist. I could hear banging and clanking going on down and to the right. I asked if it was still going on and the sleep doctor said they are ready to close. OK, from hammering to closing in minutes?  I’m thinking we have a ways to go.

It was pretty amazing listening to the team work. It was mostly quiet except for the clanging and I did not interrupt. After drifting in and out of sleep for a bit the surgical assistant came up to my head and said we are done. I asked how it went and he said, “rough”. Sorry doc, really.

Turns out my femur was brittle and they had to wrestle on a collar around the femur. I broke that leg when I was a kid and that knee has been replaced so they chalked it up to beat up bones. I found out the next morning that would not compromise their ability to do the other hip. That was good news.

Two men from post op came in to wheel me down to their den where I laid for 3 hours mostly staring at the ceiling as three nurses contemplated my low blood pressure. About 8:00 pm I was wheeled to my room where my wife, parents and brother Frank from Arizona were waiting.

My fantastic overnight nurse was a Jamaican woman via Canada who watched me with her aide all night and into morning. I got maybe an hour of sleep due to the constant buzz of BP checks, temperature checks, pain injections, various pills and blood tests. My brother brought in a coffee and breakfast sandwich early but I had the stomach for neither. My brother is just a nice guy.

At 9 am the physical therapy people came in and had me walk. Honestly I felt less pain walking post surgery than pre surgery. I think I blew them away.

Two days post operation I was sent home. I may be the first hip replacement patient ever to walk out of the hospital and hop into a waiting car. They tried to get me into a wheelchair but I showed them that due to a stiff knee combined with the surgical wound it would be impossible to get me out of the chair downstairs. It was comical (for me) watching them come up with a way to get me out of the chair in the room. They concluded it was best I just walk out.

So, one week post surgery I am able to get about the house without the walker. I visited my folks the other day at their place Tuesday and went to physical therapy yesterday. I lucked out with the PT guy. He is hands on and does not farm out the work to assistants.

Hopefully this was not as boring as reading about someone’s vacation. I hope anyone reading this that is considering hip replacement comes away understanding there is nothing to fear. Just do it.

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