My Hip Replacement Recovery

DAY ZERO

Since I’m going to be spending a lot of time relaxing/exercising/therapy over the next few weeks, I thought I’d make a blog post about it.

I certainly don’t expect everybody to be interested in reading past even the first paragraph, but it’ll interest me a few years from now (or sooner) when I have to have the other one done.

Allstays - Our favorite "go to" to find great camping/parking spots

And if this diary helps even one other person considering the prospect of a hip replacement, then that’s great.

A little history first. I’ll be 67 in a month (Aug 16, 2021) and I’ve always been overweight, ever since having my tonsils and adenoids out at seven years old.

I’ve had left hip “discomfort” for about 15 years making it difficult to stand in line or to stand at church during hymns. Walking wasn’t as bad, (guess I just didn’t notice it) but I preferred to sit over standing. The ache down the left leg at night made it hard getting to sleep as well.

In January of 2020 I hurt my left knee coming down the stairs of the coach while we were in Arizona. I didn’t know what the problem was, only that it hurt like hell. We were scheduled to travel to Mexico for a few weeks in February, so I hoped it would get better with time and we continued with our travel plans.

After Mexico, we returned to Arizona and then started our trek east through Florida and up to Ohio. Now it was early March (2020) and Covid was gripping the country. With the knee still hurting, although we were scheduled to work at a campground in North Carolina for three months, we decided it would be more safe to just make a bee-line for Ohio where we could hunker down in the bunkhouse above Sara and Stu’s garage.

I was able to see Dr. Guth (Orthopedic surgeon) who gave me a cortisone shot in the knee and it took care of the pain for nearly a year.

As time went on, the knee still good, my left hip started to bother me more and more. At this point Covid seemed to be nearly a thing of the past and we headed down to Kentucky for a 3 month gig as Camp Hosts at Dale Hollow Lake State Park.

It was there that I called Dr. Guth’s office and asked to be scheduled for hip replacement surgery in July. Yes, there were X-rays and CT scans prior to the surgery to assure that I was a proper candidate for the procedure.

Day One

Kathy and I got to the hospital at 6am for my 7:30 scheduled surgery. I was escorted into Pre-Op where Susan and Ron helped me get ready for what was to come. They were great to joke with and really helped me to relax a bit.

Once the IV started flowing and some meds were moving in, I became even more relaxed and ultimately Dr. Guth came to say good morning and to mark the surgical site with his initials.

I also met Dr. Park (anesthesiologist) and we discussed doing a spinal block in addition to general anesthesia. I didn’t like the idea of the lower part of my body being numb and the necessity of needing to have a catheter installed as this COULD necessitate me having to stay overnight.

I opted for general anesthesia only. In a short while I was wheeled into the operating “theater” as they say ON PBS and within a minute or two it was lights out for me.

A couple hours later I woke up in recovery and stayed there, being constantly monitored for the next hour or so. I was moved up to the fourth floor Ortho unit by 11 am or so where Kathy and Sara were waiting for me.

During the rest of the day, I was visited by my surgeon, X-Ray, PT, OT, Dietary, Pharmacy, Social Worker, and Respiratory Therapy. I was glad to finally be released about 5 p.m. and we headed back to the motel.

At the motel, I was feeling so good, I told Kathy wanted to take a walk around the parking lot. What I didn’t realize was that I must’ve still had some pain killer in me from the surgery, it had only been about 6 hours since he sewed me back up.

It was a bit tight bending the hip enough to get in and out of the car. I used the walker to move around and I am real stiff, but making my way up to the bathroom and back.

DAY TWO

Although we have a few of the “comforts of home” (coffee maker, fridge, microwave), it’s still cumbersome living out of a suitcase for a few days. The bed at the motel is far less than comfortable, but the a/c works well and they got the TV working for us as well.

I’m needing to use the Gait Belt under my left foot in order to allow me to pull my leg up and onto the bed. My hip is VERY stiff and there’s a lot of pressure although amazingly not any sharp pain.

Kathy’s been switching ice packs in and out and using the ice in the cooler to keep them cold in between applications.

DAY THREE

It’s Saturday morning and I woke up deciding that we are not going to stay another day here at the motel. We will check out a day early and get back to Sara and Stu’s home and see how I continue to progress. The food will be better, there’s more room to walk and exercise, and we will both feel better being together with the kids again. Besides, the ice pack they gave me in the hospital leaked during the night and got the mattress wet. We told the manager when we checked out the situation so they would know they could just let it air dry.

DAY FOUR

Not a lot of intense pain, but more general pressure in the leg, probably from some swelling. Kathy is continuing to monitor the bandages. They’re called Aquacell and have real sticky edges and seal off the surgical site real well from any outside moisture or contamination. There are some red spots on the bandage, but no more than there were on Day One so that’s a good thing.

I’m using ice packs and Tylenol and that now seems to be helping. Still waiting for a good bowel movement. The anesthesia I’m told plays tricks on your colon and it takes time to wake it back up and have it back to normal. This constipated feeling is adding to the discomfort. I’m getting around a little more, still very dependent on the walker and unsure how much I can bend. I’m looking forward to my first PT session tomorrow.

DAY FIVE

I’ve been able to put a little more pressure on the left leg when standing, and this is the first day I’ve decided to take a shower on my own. I’ve been using baby wipes the last few days, but not feeling real “fresh” anyway so having a shower will be a great experience. I didn’t use a shower seat as I figured it’s less work to just put most of my weight on the right foot and do the best I can. I thought using a seat (getting up and down) would just be too difficult and dangerous in a wet shower.

Physical Therapy was great. Lisa (I know her parents and her in-laws) did a great job with me. We did about 15 or 20 different excercises, usually 2 sets of 10 or 15 each.

DAY SEVEN

Had my first really good night’s sleep. Kathy and I moved out of Sara and Stu’s house last night and spent our first night back in the motorhome on our own new Sleep Number bed. Restless leg was back bothering me again and kept me awake and jittery from bedtime about 10p.m. until well after midnight. I finally got up and moved to the recliner for an hour or so and took a couple Ibuprofen (in addition to the two Tylenol I took at 8p.m.). This relaxed me enough that the tingling stopped and i had a very comfortable rest of the night. We awoke at 6:30a.m. just after Stu left for work.

DAY 10

We took the bandages (Aquacell) off on day 10 and that really helped to alleviate some of the discomfort because the adhesive was pulling on my skin. On day 14 I had a follow-up visit with the surgeon and he removed the remaining stitches and that helped a little more. He also told me I could stop wearing the compression stockings (a real fashion statement) unless my leg started to swell again.

I’ve been going to physical therapy 3 times weekly and each morning when I get out of bed it’s been a better and better morning.

The therapists are really working me as hard as I’m willing to let them. When my sessions are done I feel pretty good and I can walk with ease. But when I come back home and sit for anything more than a half hour or so, things start to stiffen up again. I need to keep moving around to keep the muscles moving.

DAY 21

Although my left knee was acting up yesterday (It’s bone-on-bone with a torn meniscus) today it’s good once again. I’ve been dealing with this knee for over a year now and I hope I can wait another year when we’re back in Ohio to have Dr. Guth do the knee replacement.

I actually HAVE NO PAIN in the hip joint. My pain today (as it was yesterday) is down the front of the thigh between the hip and knee. (the quadricep muscle). They had me do some particularly difficult exercises Monday using this muscle and I think it’s still yelling back!

To wrap this up, I’ll say that all in all … it’s been not a terrible experience. If (when) there comes a time to do the right hip, I won’t have any qualms about moving forward to have the surgery.

My surgeon Dr. Jay Guth and his staff are wonderful as was the entire team at Marion General Hospital (Ohio Health) where I had the surgery done. I have no complaints with any of them.

ROBOTIC SURGERY

By the way, mine was robotic surgery and here’s a short 3 minute animation video of how it’s performed. Fascinating process and I’m guessing that’s part of the reason my recovery has been as good as it has.

If you’ve read this far, I’m guessing either you’ve had this procedure done, or maybe considering having it done. Or maybe you know someone who is considering having a hip replacement procedure performed.

I hope that by my writing about my personal experience, it might help to allay any fears or concerns you might have.

Take care and best of luck to you! Feel free to comment below or email me directly at herbsells@gmail.com with any questions.

Oh, and just so you know. The surgery was July 22nd and we are headed back out on the road in our motorhome on August 20th. This trip will be from Ohio to the west coast and then down to Arizona, and I do all the driving!

Herb and Kathy

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