Monday, April 4, 2011

Hip Replacement Rehab Day 21





As you can see by the photo – the incision for my hip replacement isn’t even 4" long.  I have no idea what they did with all my leg muscles, but the surgeon assures me that none of them were cut.  He cut off the head of my femur. He drilled a hole in it. He hammered a metal rod into it.  I heard all this going on. The main painkiller was a spinal.  They also had me on an IV with what they called twilight, and they had me under a blue piece of paper so I couldn’t see what was going on.


But I know what saws and drills and hammers sound like.  


They also taped my arms down.  I have no idea what that was for, but it became inconvenient when I got an itch and couldn’t scratch it, and couldn’t figure out how to get the attention of anybody on the other side of the blue paper.  Good thing I know how to meditate.  Focus on the itch. Exactly where is it? What exactly does it feel like? Ask these questions over and over. The itch moves. It changes character. Eventually it quits


At the hospital, the evening after the surgery, they got me up with a walker and let me walk to the toilet, which was about 10 feet from my bed.  Not a big adventure, but better than staying in bed.
The next day I was pushed in a wheelchair to one session of Physical Therapy.  They gave me a walker and had me run a gauntlet – go up and down stairs, into and out of a car. They were about to have me do the paperwork to take the walker home when I asked if I could try a cane.  The therapist looked at me as if I was crazy, so I demonstrated that I could go up and down stairs with my hands on the banister. She let me try the cane.  Getting into and out of the car wasn’t easy. But it wasn’t easy with the walker, either.  She gave me the paperwork for the cane.


Then she taught me 6 exercises.  Only one – sit on the edge of a bed, straighten your operated on leg parallel to the ground, hold it there for 5 seconds, repeat 30 times, was hard.  The others, like slide your foot back and forth, lock your knees, wiggle your feet at the ankles, were easy. The therapist put a discharged sticker on my folder and I was wheeled back to my room.


My case worker asked me if I was going to be homebound.  I told her I had no intention of being homebound. The bus comes within half a block of my house. I have work to do.  My case worker told me I couldn’t have home physical therapy visits unless I was homebound.  I asked for outpatient physical therapy.  Nothing happened.


When I went home that afternoon, I called my surgeon’s nurse. She said she’d mail me a prescription for 6 weeks of physical therapy.  A week went by. No prescription arrived.  I called again and asked her to fax the prescription to my favorite PT center.  I called the PT center the next day. They didn’t have it.  I called the nurse again. She faxed again. She called me to let me know she got a receipt for her fax.  I called the center again. They had it, but they didn’t have the April schedules in the computer yet, and March was all booked.  I called again the next day.  My first appointment is tomorrow.  Yay!


Meanwhile, my surgeon had told me I should start the stationery bike at the gym 2 weeks after the surgery.  The first time I went to the gym, it was exhausting just to walk there with my cane.
The second time, I went in and pedaled the bike for 10 minutes on the easiest level.  I rode 1 mile. The gym is about half a mile from my house, so I also walked one mile.  Each day I have increased my workout.  Today, my 5th day at the gym, I put the bike on level 5 and biked for 20 minutes.  According to the bike’s odometer, I went 3.5 miles, at a little over 10 miles per hour.  That’s nothing compared to my usual day, but it’s progress.


When neighbors see me walking around the neighborhood with my cane, they ask, “Did you exercise too hard? Why do you have a cane?”  When I tell them I had my hip replaced, they’re amazed.  They all seem to know somebody who was homebound for 3 months or even 6 months after this surgery.  


For the first time in my life I have had a good experience with a doctor.  This one recognized that I’m thin and active. He did a minimally damaging surgery.  I still don’t know what range of motion I’ll get, or what kind of endurance, but my old hip was worn out and I could no longer ride my bike or go for long walks.  I’m still on tylenol. One pill every 3 or 4 hours. I still need a cane.  This is progress.

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