Jerry Higgins Hip Resurfacing with Dr. Drinkwater 2013
Day Before Surgery
I had a steak dinner for my last supper before surgery, along with 2 beers. Possibly against doctors orders, but oh well. I had to wake at 4 a.m. to go to the hospital so I didn’t sleep well of course. I found out through my experience that the surgery unit at Highland Hospital in Rochester, NY is top notch with a great staff. Same can be said for the staff during my recovery at the hospital during my 3 day stay (3 days/2 nights, including day of surgery)
Day of Surgery
I was scheduled first in line, 7:30 a.m. and was completely knocked out during the procedure. My anesthesia was a combination of a spinal anesthesia, light general anesthesia, and a sedative, which worked great for me. I awoke at 9:30 in recovery in substantial pain, and asked for something for that and went back to sleep for another hour. The pain was manageable when I re-awoke. I left recovery shortly thereafter and was brought to my room in the Joint Replacement Unit. Lots of stiffness and soreness at this point, which is not surprising considering my leg and hip were on the losing end of a wrestling match. The rest of this day was pretty un-eventful, with lots of sleeping throughout the day. My appetite was surprisingly strong. I was given a clear lunch but that wasn’t enough for me so they gave me a pork sandwich, of which I ate half. That set well. For dinner I was hungry again and I did have a regular dinner this time, which again set well. Never did I feel nauseous at all. Late in the afternoon I attempted to stand but was too light-headed. Tried again an hour later, went slower this time, and successfully walked to the hospital chair with the aid of the walker and sat for 3 hours. Since I’m still enjoying the benefits of the spinal anesthesia, I didn’t need any pain medicine at all until nighttime.
My first night’s challenge was to find a comfortable sleeping position, which I eventually did with a pillow between my legs and a pseudo-side sleep position with the bed partially propped up. Once I found this position I was able to get about 5 hrs of uninterrupted sleep. When morning came, I felt surprisingly good and managed to sit at the side of the bed un-aided.
Tip: ask for an extra pillow and bring earplugs to help you sleep.
Out of bed and into chair for breakfast. Feeling pretty good overall. Catheter out by 9:00 a.m. (ouch!) and I.V. disconnected by noon.
Tip: drink LOTS of water throughout your stay; not only is it good for your system, but you’ll get your catheter and I.V. disconnected sooner rather than later.
I spent most of the day in my chair with bouts of walking using the walker and doing exercises in my chair. At this point I am able to walk by myself with the walker, but the staff prefers that someone be around just in case. The new joint is very stiff and sore but pain level is very tolerable overall. I was visited by my surgeon as well as by the anesthesiologist today. Everything went well. They brought me down to Radiology for x-rays of my new hip.
Going home today! Slept somewhat fitfully but got enough sleep to get me by. Woke up feeling less stiff and sore than the night before. By the way, I constantly had ice packs around my hip and my surgical area for my entire hospital stay. You can’t get too much ice, as long as there is a protective layer between the ice and your skin. P.T. taught me how to do stairs using the cane, which was easy, and O.T. taught me how to dress. Time to say goodbye to the amazing staff at Highland Hospital! The ride home was uneventful, getting in and out of the car was a breeze when using the proper technique (place butt in seat first, then slide legs in, with assistance. Do the opposite for getting out). Was greeted at home by family and beer! Whoo-hoo! So far, so good. Oh, at this point I have not taken any pain medication other than at night to help me sleep. During my hospital stay they put Toradol in my I.V. which reduces inflammation. The looseness or “clicking” that people describe in the new joint is unsettling, but fortunately for me, it seems to disappear by day 3 or 4.
Days 4 – 6
Doing well at home with my walker and lots of help from family and loved ones. I’m doing exercises religiously 3 times/day, walking with walker 100’ – 150’ feet 3 times/day, and icing my hip almost constantly. I’m only using the oral pain medication when I go to bed, none needed during the day other than Tylonol for occasional headaches. My pain level runs between 3 and 6 our of 10, with the higher pain level occuring in the evening and at bedtime. I’m seeing incremental progress each day so far, albeit very slow. I am visited by a home Physical Therapist who gives me additional exercises to do in addition to those I received in the hospital. My routine now consists of 14 exercises that I do 2-3 times/day, 10 – 20 reps each exercise. Today (day 6) I try walking with the cane and it feels great! Definitely one of the highlights of my progress so far. I feel so good that I end up over-doing it with the exercises and the walking and pay for it the next day!
Today is a tough day with more soreness than usual and an increase in my pain level. I take it easy with my exercises today, just doing the bare minimum. Same with walking, less of that, and more sitting today.
In many ways, this week was tougher than the first one. While the first week saw lots of improvement on an almost daily basis, this second week felt like one long plateau. The only highlight of this week was that I was able to drive myself for the first time since the surgery. Since I’m off pain meds and it’s my left hip that was replaced, there are no restrictions on being able to drive at this point. So it did feel good to get out and run an errand or two on my own. Despite the minimal progress this week, by the end of this week, I do feel like I can try and return to work.
Week 3 for me was definitely way better than week 2. For one thing, I returned to work exactly 2 weeks to the day from my surgery. I have a desk job so the hardest part was being there all day. By the end of the day, I was pretty exhausted. But it was a Friday, so I had the weekend to rest up and then back again on Monday. I showed progress each day of this third week, which was a welcome change from the previous week. I also managed to sleep on my surgical side for the first time, albeit only for maybe an hour at a time, but a welcome change. I continue to do 14 different exercises, twice daily, sometimes thrice, along with walking whenever I can. This week I was able to increase the number of reps I do for each exercise. By the end of week 3, I’m starting to feel almost normal, despite weakness and occasional pain. I even went to my gym and did some cycle and elliptical work by the end of this third week. I can walk without a cane for short periods, but with a noticeable limp, so I continue using the cane regularly.
I’m going to end my journal here because it seems like things will be pretty uneventful from here on out. I hope you’ve gotten some benefit from reading about my experience. I feel I did better than most in my recovery, to which I attribute to my age (54), my health (excellent), my body weight (only 150 lbs), and the fact that I was highly motivated to mend quickly. I think all these factors all contributed to a relatively speedy recovery. I would like to leave you with some important tips that might help you through your surgery and rehabilitation:
1) Get in the best possible shape before your surgery. If you’re overweight, do everything you can to lose it!
2) Drink lots and lots of water throughout your recovery, starting with the moment you awake in the recovery room.
3) Ice, ice, and more ice on your surgical area! I practiced near constant icing for the first 2 weeks of my rehab period.
4) Do your prescribed exercises religiously, including walking, at least twice daily, and thrice if you feel up to it. Set a schedule for yourself so it becomes second nature.
5) There is no reason to try and over-do your exercises. If you follow the schedule as prescribed, that is all you need to make progress.
6) Listen to your body. If you feel good and are able to push a little, go ahead. But if you’re tired, then rest!