Monthly Archives: June 2013

Hospital Day 0 – 3

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The morning of Day 0 dragged. I at least got to lie in, rather than being at hospital by 07:30. I was able to finish book 1 of The Lord of the Rings with my son while he and his father had breakfast, even if I couldn’t have any myself. I had my last lengthy shower for some time and shaved my own legs! The weather was lovely, so an hour spent out sitting in the garden in the sunshine was also good.

About 11:20 we were packed, and ready to go and couldn’t find any other excuses to hang around longer. It still felt very unreal. At the hospital I was collected from reception and bought up to my room. I am very lucky in that the NHS are using private hospitals locally and I am (almost) being treated like a private patient. Visiting hours are fixed for us though and they recorded my debit card before I was allowed in! They also leave lots of hospital information and insurance brochures around to make sure we know what we are missing 🙂

I was checked in by a nurse and given a nice bracelet to make sure I can’t escape 🙂 Obs done and provided with a lovely gown and paper knickers. My surgeon visited to mark my leg with a purple arrow, presumably to make sure he didn’t forget. The physiotherapist came to see how far my leg would move now, how I walked and to remind me of exercises post op. then the anaesthetist arrived like a big loppy dog to tell me the anaesthetic was not either/or but everything. General, spinal, morphine and the dreaded catheter. 

At 14:30 ish they arrived to put me in my lovely green surgical stockings and walk me down to theatre. My husband had been able to stay to this point and left me at the theatre door.

There is something about anaesthetic that makes you chatty I think. I have recollections of saying far more than necessary or usual in my nervousness. The next second though, it seems, I was being sick in recovery and a second later being hauled on my bed back into my room. My first question – was it a resurface or replacement of my hip – and such a relief to find it had been possible to resurface, not for now because the procedure is much the same, but for 20 years time when I might need it to be done again. However, there is no history yet that I am aware of of it having to be redone, so time will tell – maybe with care it will last the rest of my life. Getting back into my room I recall was a struggle for everyone. It sometimes seems that whoever designed hospitals didn’t take into consideration the fact that you might have to move beds, trolleys and people around them.

Unfortunately, many of the details of the last few days have already become distant memories. I had thought on my iPad that I would be able to write a little each day to retain the memory fro future reference and next time, but WordPress on iPad has some oddities – seizing up entirely and doing nothing and not allowing the cursor to move back, so mistakes have to have everything after them deleted to get back to them. Hence getting to day 4 before this is written up.

In brief then, Day 0 was fine because afterwards mostly I slept and I had a spinal and morphine, so felt no pain. The feeling returning is odd though. It came back into my left leg first and my right leg – it seemed there was an extra one. I would swear my leg was bent at the knee and in the centre of the bed – yet there was a wedge there and I couldn’t feel at all my leg splayed out slightly to the right. I did keep trying to wriggle my toes and had a lovely wit of a nurse who asked me if I thought I was doing it myself!! The feeling came back to toes first and gradually moved upwards until it was back entirely. I never thought I would be grateful for a catheter though.

Day 1 – it was wonderful to have one of the kindest nurses I have ever met come in and help me wash. I will name names – she is Mandy and works at the Droitwich Spa hospital. She was so lovely and fortunately with me for most of the time I was there. Having been able to wash and clean my teeth it was off to x ray to make sure my replacements were all in the right places. The first time really I was in pain – being moved from bed to trolley and back again on a pac slide with 4 people is no fun for anyone. A lot of the pain later that day was down to being unable to move in bed and my thinking at this rate I was going to be adding pressure sores to the list. Physio came and helped me to stand. There was a lot of pain in the joint and I couldn’t put my weight on it. Up, turning and back down was about all I could do. It was a very bad night. I thought the night staff were never going to get to me to help me. Come 00:50 I was in so much pain and distress I was in tears and could have phoned my husband to come and get me just to get some help. The staff were very busy but I felt so helpless and in pain – and my feelings then that they were unkind, unhelpful and unsympathetic may in hindsight be unfair. Ice packs and morphine did eventually get me to sleep for 2 hours.

Day 2 morning was much the same. The night staff removed my catheter, which I was a little alarmed about given that they didn’t check whether I could yet get up. However, the day staff and the lovely Mandy came along and helped me to the loo and sat me at a chair in front of a sink to wash – lovely! I took my time, and felt much better. However, I was still in a lot of pain. My first physio was fairly traumatic – great in that I walked on crutches as far as the corridor and back. Not so great in that as I decided going to the loo before sitting down again was a good idea and promptly tried to faint in a small bathroom. My mouth went dry, the room tilted, and the physio pushed the crash button to summon help quickly! I was still in enough pain to need morphine – though a lot of the problem is having to put weight and strain on my left leg to compensate, where I already have painful arthritis in my hip and knee. The physio is not going to let me go home in the morning. By the time my husband came to visit me it looked as though I was back at square 1. The second physio visit was the turning point. It feels to me that much of the pain is cramp. Once I’d done a few exercises and sat in a chair for a change I felt much better and my husband and son came in to see a different person in the evening.

Day 3 and a much better night. I am determined to go home. The nursing staff are busy but I really need to get to the loo. They are careful to make sure my crutches and walker are out of reach so I don’t head off on my own. I had to call in the end but at least it meant they could leave me there to sit and wash and change again. Much better clean and up! I feel a lot better. when the physio comes we get along the corridor and up and down the stairs. I’m only having paracetamol and Ibuprofen now. The morphine does not do enough for pain to make the awful feeling of being tired and ill worthwhile, and besides, I really don’t need it any more. There is some pain in the joint but it is mostly down to swelling and cramp, which doing the exercises, while tiring, does relieve. Better still, I can go home! My husband and son came to get me and, after a bit of a wait and extra physio, we headed off with lovely fresh stockings and clip removers – hopefully not DIY clip removal! – and what seemed like an endless set of instructions from Mandy.

This is now very long – I’ll continue the homeward journey from a new post 🙂

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Just biding my time.

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Well, tomorrow is the day. I’m feeling a bit sick to be honest and wasting time pottering doing things that don’t need doing and ignoring those that do. I can’t concentrate and I’m just watching the clock go round.

I woke this morning thinking that in 24 hours I would have to be up and already on my way to the hospital. Then a couple of hours ago the hospital phoned to tell me not to go in until 12:00 tomorrow as my surgery wouldn’t be until the afternoon. Not what you want to hear when you are already clock watching, but at least it’s only a difference of a few hours and not cancelled or delayed until another day. I’m trying to think of the positives – I don’t have to be up so early – although if I want any breakfast it has to be before 7am. I can have my breakfast juice and tablets and the last chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring with my son before I go. I can shower and have my own towel dry to take. I won’t be in such a hurry. I will still be sleepy and sleep hopefully all tomorrow night … I’m sure their are many more positives.

I’ve been going back through all the paperwork too and reading about anaesthetics. There is an option of having epidural, either with or without sedative. Can you imagine being awake through this? I suppose if there was absolutely no choice, but I’m afraid I want to know nothing about it at all. In addition, the nurse told me that if I was to have an epidural I might not be able to move my legs for a while, which would mean difficulty in using a bedpan and so those who had epidural often required a catheter – an additional risk of infection. I think everything is pointing towards a general anaesthetic all being well. Of course, I had also hoped I would be one of those able to get up to at least stand tomorrow afternoon, but with surgery not until then it certainly won’t be until the next morning.

I’m making up for the possibility of starving not only for hours, but as a vegetarian in hospital, for the next few days! I’ve done little other than eat today. I’m feeling very nervous, I’m on my own and I’m comfort eating. As my plan 6 weeks ago to lose 7 lbs before my surgery is a long way from being achieved – I’ve actually put 3 lbs on (!) then it seems a bit pointless doing anything about it now.

Those things that need doing – one of them is packing. I’ve stripped the bed and washed the bedding but not re made it. I’ve got clothes lying around the bedroom but haven’t even decided what to put them in. I’ve sorted some toiletries but not others. There is a feeling of needing some of these things later and in the morning and so what is the point. With my admission being delayed I suppose I’m also thinking I’ve got tomorrow morning to get organised too – but I suppose that time is going to disappear very quickly.

It’s 17:00 now. I suppose this time I can probably think that in 24 hours it will be done and I will be sleepy, but looking ahead to getting better so I can get on and have the other hip and knee replaced as quickly as possible. I guess I will also know whether I have been lucky enough to get away with a resurfacing or whether it will be a complete replacement. 

Getting organised.

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Three days to go to D-Day – or should that be O-day perhaps. Yesterday I was back at the hospital to have blood taken for group and save pre -op. I have a fairly odd blood group so he took half an armful at least !! Apparently they will try to match it, get O negative, the universal group, if they can’t and if all else fails they’ll take a couple of pints from me pre-op and then ‘pop it back in again afterwards’. I’m a bit of a wimp with needles and blood so I can’t say I’m enthusiastic about having to transfuse myself, but it seems unlikely that it will come to that. I was fine until walking back down the corridor to leave I realised I could feel something warm and wet on my arm. It hadn’t sealed post blood letting and was now happily dripping down my arm. I did feel daft sitting in reception with the receptionist, a nurse and the phlebotomist trying to stop me bleeding everywhere.

Waking up this morning my first thought was how this would feel next Saturday – waking up in my own bed after three nights in hospital and how good that would be – albeit on the wrong side of the bed.

Today we are making plans. I have a list of things to take into hospital. My husband has a list of jobs to do in the house and a timetable is developing to go on the kitchen wall. We have been out to buy clothes. I had a plan and didn’t stick to it. I’m not at all sure about what I’ve bought. Joggys and tops and t-shirts and shirts somehow are just not me – but my husband insisted that would be best. We’ll see! They will come in handy when I finally get back to the gym perhaps 🙂

The house is gradually getting cleaned – thinking about jobs as I do them and that I won’t be able to do them for a while. Organising furniture and working out how to get seats high enough. Wondering how I will manage without putting up my feet, crossing my legs, sitting with a laptop on my raised knees, lying on my back in bed …………….. using my helping hand to pick things up – how do I reach the helping hand that I’ve left lying on the floor?

It might only be three days, but it still feels unreal.

The Joint School

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The physiotherapy department of the hospital where I will be having my joint replacements is trialing a Joint School. This is an opportunity to go along and meet the physiotherapist who will work with you post op and also other people who will be having joint replacements around the same time. 

So this morning my husband took some time off work to come with me. There were 3 other people there – ironically 3 women all of whom were having right hip replacements and a man who was having a knee replacement. Two had also bought partners with them. It did feel a little odd in that they were having their operations tomorrow and Wednesday, where mine is still a week away. I spent a lot of time feeling out of place and also wondering how I would be feeling if my operation was tomorrow. I guess I’ll find out next Monday! Although I must admit, I went along hoping I was going to meet people having replacements the same day as me.

We were told about the things we can’t do – bending at the hip more than 90 degrees, crossing the leg over the midpoint of the body etc. and also a little about the operation itself and what to expect, and a little about anaesthesia (more about that next time I think).

We were fitted for crutches and then taken out en masse to practice walking up and down the corridor and up and down the stairs. I was rather surprised to find I co ordinated my walking with the crutches quite well straight away – co ordination not usually being one of my strong points! Our being away gave our respective partners the opportunity to chat and know they were not alone in this either.

Going back to the room we were abe to practice how we would get in and out of bed – I’m going to have to swap sides with my husband for this hip, and get up and down from a chair. 

We were warned that, although we might be up and about quite quickly and be able to do much more after our 6 week check, that it might actually take much longer to feel better. I was also warned that each joint is different and even if my first hip replacement goes smoothly the next one can feel different. We were also made aware how much more important exercises were, the difficulties were and pain might be with a knee replacement. Something to look forward to! No wonder my consultant thought I made the right decision in having the hip replacements first (even though my left knee is my worst joint) as they were more ‘motivating’ to keep me going in having the knee/s replaced too.

I have a sheet of exercises and am told that I can swim after about 6 weeks, and also – my biggest worry – that eventually I should have full mobility in the joint and be safe and able to do yoga again – though perhaps it may be of the more gentle sort in future.    yoga

Limbo

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This is where I feel I am at the moment. I wonder how it would have felt if I’d been put onto a longer waiting list and didn’t know when my first surgery would happen. I’ve been very lucky being given a date straight away and only having to wait a few weeks. It’s now only 12 days to my first hip replacement/resurfacing. It still feels like ages away, yet at the same time very close.

The pain has become considerably worse in the last couple of weeks. Now when I get up in the morning I’m so stiff I cannot stand up straight. I stretch my back and shoulders and legs, but by the time I get downstairs I struggle around the kitchen to make breakfast. If my back is straightened my knees bend instead to compensate. It gets slightly better over the day, but worse again if I am on my feet too long. It has been like this for some time, especially if I tried to walk too far, but while ‘too far’ was not very far at all, it was a bit further than downstairs!

I have gone from morning and night time ibuprofen to taking the maximum dose of paracetamol and ibuprofen each day that I can, and it still isn’t enough – just taking off the worst of the ache but not touching the twinges. Yesterday evening my left knee locked and I stood in the kitchen thinking, ok – it will unlock as usual but it’s going to hurt. I could only unlock it by lifting my weight off it altogether and standing on my right leg, which was fine last night but won’t be so easy in a couple of weeks if it happens just after my right hip surgery.

During the day, I have been aware for some time that there is so much I can manage and that anything else – dropping something, anything not going quite right and the way it was planned – is an extra effort that is hard, and that I get tired very easily. I think this now must all be related to this back and hip pain, and is getting worse. 

It is still hard to find a comfortable sleeping position, but after my sleepless night I went to bed and slept all night the next (bar the usual trips to the loo) and up until after 9am the next morning. Even then I didn’t really want to get up, which is unusual for me.

I suppose now, having been afraid of the surgery, I just want to get on with it and start being ‘fixed’.    Hourglass

A sleepless night

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It’s currently just after 5am and I’ve been awake since 2:45.

I gave up trying to sleep about 40 minutes ago and am downstairs to try to put some of my busy thoughts somewhere other than my head.  insomnia

Worries always get bigger when you give them attention, and there is no better time than the early hours of the morning when there are no other distractions to give them all the fuel they need to grow out of all proportion.

Lying in bed I even got to the point of thinking about what was going to happen to my family if I didn’t wake up from the anaesthetic – I’m definitely most afraid of the anaesthetic! It feels as though I am on a time line with a big black wall separating Now and After. I’m even buying food and stocking cupboards as though I’m never coming back.

That was when I decided it was time to do something else! Of course what I chose to do was look at all the legal stuff that still needed attention – wills, letters of wishes, trusts and solicitor letters etc. but at least it was taking action. These are certainly all control issues 😦

Lying in bed is getting more uncomfortable too. I have back ache when I lie on my back – goodness knows how I’m ever going to get used to sleeping on my back post op. I can’t lie for long on my right hip and now I can’t lie for long on my left either. I wake with stiffness and pain in my knee, or I just toss and turn all night trying to find a position where it doesn’t feel as though something is biting me. I’m imagining my hip joints gradually crumbling away as I lie on them.

It’s not great down here either, but at least I’m occupied. But now I’m in the position of will I wake my husband if I go back to bed? If I go back to sleep now will I feel worse? What if I don’t go to sleep still? What if the cat, who has gone out to play early because I’m up, comes home and I’m not here to let her in? How am I going to get through today on so little sleep?!!! I’m also cold down here …….. [whinge!]

I got the list of things I can’t do from occupational health last week. I certainly won’t be sitting here in the middle of the night with my legs crossed and my mac on my lap in a couple of weeks time. … although I can’t cross my legs so well either now I’ve found anyway. Next week I’m booked into the physio joint school to find out what it will be like post op and learn how to do things like get into bed!

So – ibuprofen and back to bed – while I can still do it on my own?

Or hot chocolate and settle with a shawl and resign myself to a book instead?                                                  sleeping

The road less travelled

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I’ve never really been anywhere far from home. When we were children we had cottage holidays in Cornwall, Wales, Northumberland or Yorkshire. Beautiful places, but never seemed nearly as exotic as the holidays people at school had – France, Spain, Greece …. America!

The first time I crossed sea was to Paris for 4 days with my husband – I was pregnant and sick and stayed in a hotel room for the better part of that time. The second time was Disneyland Paris with our son – he was sick and we spent the better part of 4 days in a hotel room again!

I’ve always wanted to go to Italy. Well actually, I’ve always wanted to go to lots of places and the favourite places have changed, and continue to change, over time. But this year we thought we might go to Italy. This was looked into as a possibility of a villa with my Mum, who would also love to go – but wants to see the whole of Italy in a fortnight, despite the fact that she has osteoarthritis and osteoporosis and walks, extremely slowly, with 2 sticks and is on morphine for the pain – so no big deal there then! Also my parents-in-law who are the only part of the family really with any experience of travelling abroad at all. 

Part of the problem with this plan, other than my mother, was that we also have a canal boat. Obviously there are not inconsiderable costs associated with this that have had us spend all our holidays for the last 6 years on the boat and not anywhere else. It has been increasingly difficult for me in recent years getting on and off the boat too.

We had now got to the point of thinking of all those years we have never been abroad for a holiday and that we have left it too late. Now I could manage a villa perhaps, but not go anywhere, or a short city break but not able to walk around. It was difficult for me to tell anyone that I could not plan to go anywhere or fit into plans because I feared when I got there I couldn’t actually get around.

This year is clearly going to be different. All plans for Italy are ditched – as are any thoughts of spending time on the boat. Holidays this year will be spent with me doing what I always do – sitting at home (I work from home too) and my husband taking intermittent time, rather than the full fortnight we’d intended finally this year, looking after me in between trying to catch up on his own work.

However, next year is quite different! It will be my 5oth birthday and our 25th wedding anniversary – and I will have 2 shiny, sparkly new hips and 1 or 2 sparkly and shiny new knees.

Time to start making plans! Smiley Cool