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Home » Blog, Health

A Hip that’s Almost Ready to Hop

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The last time, I was preparing for my second full hip replacement.

When I say “we” I mean Baby Boomers, of course, but the club for joint replacements is anything but exclusive.

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Since it is, or soon will be, the most frequently performed operation in America. When you think about how few of us do any stretching (me included) it is hardly surprising.

We carry all that weight, never stretch and expect our joints to last forever.

Believe everything they tell you about getting on some kind of an exercise program – it is the difference-maker. I am living proof of all the bad stuff that can happen when you don’t.

This time it was the left side; I was not handling the thought of it very well. Every day as the operation date approached was agony – physically and mentally.

Finally, the moment arrived — a cold, somber morning in December.

Surgery went well. The blood pressure was high, but the anesthesiologist was confident he could get it down – three different ones came in to see me.

The anesthesiologist with the Slavic accent thought the epidural was a good option, so did my surgeon, but  after an hour putting long needles into my back and it still not taking, general amnesia was the only option.

Now I know. Later, the surgeon said it should have worked, but I had “a hard back.”

I was just as glad because I didn’t want to be awake during any part of the surgery. Just being wheeled into that cold metal room was enough.

The surgeon saw my wife in the “green room” later, to let her know all went well, it took long because of the anesthesia and some big, ugly bone spurs that had developed on my hip.

I think they were causing most of the pain. I had two large bone spurs that needed to be ground down in order to put in the new ball and socket.

No blood transfusion was needed, for which I was especially grateful because I was unable to donate my own blood beforehand because of my blood pressure had been too high.

With me, it’s always a toss-up – which is more of a concern to the doctors, the surgery, or whatever I am having, or the blood pressure.

I take medication for it, and once the main moments of stress are past, it does come right down. In the meantime, though, it never fails to prompt meetings of doctors, consultations, and some stern lectures to me.

Recovery in the hospital took three days; I actually was standing the first night. Kicking you out after such a short time seems inhuman, but on this point, both the bean-counters who work for the insurance companies and the physical therapists agree.

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Staying even one moment too long in a hospital is the best possible way to contract a very bad infection – the reason why most surgeries fail.

They most annoying aspect was the oxygen, since you need to breathe deep through your nose, or you set of an alarm, which happened all night. Don’t even think about falling asleep.

Day two and they get me up in chair and walking in the hallway, I actually felt ok with it. That’s how quickly the original hip pain vanishes with a great surgeon. Afterwards, you should feel supremely happy that you did it.

Day three was physical therapy in the morning, and moving to the Rehab center right after lunch. It takes forever for the paper work to be signed, but finally at 2:30pm I am ready to move.

I get wheeled to the entrance, where my wife is waiting to bring me to the rehab center. The toughest part is getting in the car, and not moving your hip.

Big cars or small trucks do make the whole process a lot easier, but then what do you do about those big outside steps and the little skinny running boards.

Detroit is not in the business of making life any easier for joint replacement patients.

My legs and feet are still swollen from the surgery, so movement is slow and difficult. Yet, the only sure way to get rid of all that swelling is to move around as much as possible.

The day we made the transfer from hospital to rehab center was clear and warm for a mid-December day in Philadelphia; it would be the last one.

The polar cold that we have right now soon replaces it. I question my wife, is this necessary to go to rehab? I was ready to go home, but to rehab I went.

After a 20 minute drive, I pull up to the entrance. My wife gets out and looks for assistance. A few minutes later, a young girl is pushing a wheelchair toward the car. I manage to get out of the car, and in the chair, the young girl is pushing me to my new room.

She is not real good at navigating the entrance and hallway, but I finally arrive at room 35. The nurse is there to inspect my incision, take my blood pressure and temperature.

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