I remember when I was 40, 50 and even 60 years old and visited my mother and father in West Palm Beach, Florida, we would invariably spend part of our day sitting around a swimming pool. The circle we formed was full of conversation about families, activities, and especially about ailments. I was appalled at 40, 50 and 60. But I am not anymore. Conversations at my circles are similar and the ones about operations, health and healing are incredibly important. I apologize to all of those I judged.
But the youngers do not get it. Even as my adult children provide care for me after my surgery, they think after two days, I should be walking around the block. They don’t have any interest in a recovery regime. They just want to get on with their lives as did I. It is our peers that help with their personal information. So I will share some of my experience.
1. You will be inundated with information that is redundant. The information is loaded with requirements before during and after surgery. Very little is as necessary as it may appear.
2. You will probably only be in the hospital for the day of surgery or the next day if you can walk and urinate. You and your caretaker(s) will have to do all that the hospital staff used to provide including blood thinner injections in the belly. It might be helpful to visualize what that care would entail.
3. The routine you establish needs to include use of spirometer, walker, time for meds/injections, schedule for exercises provided by your physical therapist and easy-to-prepare meals. I suggest frozen dinners from Trader Joe's.
4. Equipment you will need immediately are a walker and a commode (which can be used to elevate you on the toilet and in the shower as a seat).
The pamphlet titled "Total Joint Replacement/Getting Ready for Your Surgery and Recovery" is extremely useful.
You might purchase a wedge for sitting up comfortably in bed, stock your freezer and buy a hip kit which includes helpful apparatus especially for when you are on your own again.
The day of surgery:
Have a bag in your car in case you stay overnight with toothbrush, short robe and comfortable clothing to wear home.(I wore a long dress and Depends)
Put yourself in the hands of the professionals and go forward. No going back now
Stay ahead of the pain by taking the prescribed pain medication at the intervals designated. Slowly cut back
Follow your physical therapist she is the “master.” Individual design is presented and sculptured just for you.
Don’t go too fast. The first two days of pain may not be an issue as they put anti-inflammatories directly into the wound. You may try too much so take it easy. Some discomfort is on its way but nothing unbearable.
Note the progression of functions returning to normal- fascinating.
The pamphlet, After Total Hip Replacement," put out by Krames is helpful. It has some essential exercises.
Five days after my surgery, I find the cloud starting to lift. I have started to organize my stuff and am making my lists of things I want to accomplish during the four weeks at my home when I can’t drive. This week lying around in bed was a treat and sleeping as much as Marshmallow, my dog, made us content, however, enough of that. By next week, I can foresee cabin fever setting in, as in "Let me out of here" will be my lament. The way things look, I will be sitting at one of my circles and proclaiming as so many have, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” See you on First Street walking without a waddle.
Ellen Blaufarb is a Marriage Family Therapist.