01 September 2007

Hip hooray!

Had the operation on 27 August as scheduled. Arrived at the hospital at 10:30, filled out paperwork, showered, donned one of those fetching hospital gowns (and a reasonable bathrobe), and sat around waiting for quite awhile after unpacking a bit in my assigned room. At around 1:30 pm I was wheeled away, bed and all, to pre-op, where I remained for only a few minutes before being taken in to the operating theatre. I was returned to my room around 5:30 p.m., more than an hour later than expected. The surgeon explained later that the x-rays had shown I needed a size 1 hip socket replacement. However I actually needed a size 0, the smallest one. I assume they had to get one from stocks and sterilise it before finishing the operation. I was fully awake, and Eric says I was showing good spirit on my return, despite a drip, two drains, a catheter, a pressure cuff on each lower leg (squeezing at half-minute intervals), an oxygen tube in my nose, and a heap of monitor gear connected to me. I wasn't exactly comfortable, but neither was there much pain. However, when the nurses started transfusing my own blood back into me around 9 p.m., I suddenly had considerable pain in my hand. Indeed, I let out an involuntary shriek that probably could be heard through the entire hospital. Opinions varied on what the problem was, so everyone spent some time adjusting the drip rate, adjusting the position of my hand, and so on. The only thing that helped was a slow drip rate (55 ml/hour max). Unfortunately, that wasn’t one of the choices: a rate of 150ml/hr was required to get all the blood into me before it warmed up to the point where it had to be discarded. Eventually a shot of morphine reduced the pain to a tolerable level and they managed to get two units of my own blood into me. In the morning I felt fairly good, all things considered. The physiotherapist arrived in the afternoon to get me standing and then walking in place. Apart from an incident on the second night when I had to argue rather vehemently with the nursing staff for adequate pain relief, the staff were friendly, helpful, and at times quite amusing. The food ranged from good to excellent. I had a private room. It’s mainly a day surgery; few patients remain overnight and the place is remarkably quiet. The surgeon visited several times a day (his office was at one end of the corridor, and the operating theatres were at the other end). Almost as soon as I was detached from an amazing amount of postoperative torture devices, and less than 48 hours after the operation, I was doing laps around the hospital hallways on crutches and practicing stair-climbing. I got home today. I'm getting around on the crutches well, and didn't have any trouble getting up the 35 steps from the carpark to the apartment (veeery slowly). I'm allowed to stop using two crutches or even one crutch as soon as I feel confident that I don't need them. BTW, the crutches are a type called "Canadian" and they are very comfortable to use, with a moulded hand grip.