12 November 2007

More hip hooray!

On 6 November I had my right hip replaced. The surgeon, hospital, and device used were the same as for the left hip, but the two experiences were otherwise very different. The second seems to have taken place in an alternate universe to the first... one that for the most part I found much more to my liking. The anaesthetist was a different person and he took a different approach, using different drugs. Probably this was his standard approach, but the choice may have been influenced by the complaints I had made about inadequate pain relief following the first operation. I remained in the recovery room for an hour or more and was returned to my room (where Eric was waiting) around 6 pm., having gone in to pre-op around 1:30. I felt okay but very spacey. Over the next 12 hours I experienced some quite entertaining hallucinations, mainly of the parts of the room moving around in several dimensions whenever I tried to focus on some­thing. The effect was most pronounced when I looked at my travel clock to see what time it was; the clock face would strobe forward and back so it was impossible to focus on. Other than that, I felt fine. One thing that had con­cerned me was the possibility of a repeat of the severe pain I’d had on getting my own blood transfused back into me. The surgeon avoided this possibility by doing the transfusion during the operation itself. For the first time in my life (except perhaps as a very small child), I reacted to the anaesthetic drugs by being unable to keep any food down. Most disconcerting! Normally I can eat soon after waking up, with no ill effects. I found it quite odd that I felt perfectly fine otherwise. The next day, after receiving an infusion (through the drip) of some anti-vomiting drug, I was able to eat. I felt little pain during the day or that night (unlike after the previous operation). The physiotherapist had me up and walking in place that afternoon. On Thursday morning, after the surgeon had inspected me, a nurse removed the drains and I went into the shower (using the crutches, not the walker) and demonstrated that I could get around on the crutches just fine. The physiotherapist rewarded my progress by having me practice going up and down a step 10 times. In the evening I went for a walk around the hospital corridors and met another of my surgeon's patients: a man who’d had a knee replacement operation on Monday. He said he was having both hips and both knees replaced, at about three-month intervals: right hip 3 months ago, left knee this week, right knee in January, left hip 3 months after that. He was making a good pace and said that by the next day he thought he wouldn’t need the crutches at all. Saturday the dressing was removed from the incision and we drove home. I had no problem getting into the car, despite the passenger seat being on the wrong side for putting my good leg in first. I was still experiencing a remarkable lack of pain. I almost immedi­ately stopped needing two crutches and was getting around fine on one... and in some cases (in the kitchen or the bathroom) not using a crutch at all.