Today is Friday, so it was one week ago today that I underwent my long awaited hip surgery. I had anticipated this surgery for so long and had prepared for everything I could think of ahead of time. For instance, I knew I would have lots of downtime so I had bought the comfy recliner, the amazing HDTV, the Nook, and prepared to settle in for lots and lots of blog updates. What I didn’t take into consideration was how absolutely crappy I was going to feel during the first week. Today is the first day that I feel good enough to write. Even still, I’m sure it will take a few fits and starts to muddle through this. Here we go…
Last Friday I arrived at the hospital promptly at 8:00am as instructed, despite a bit of a late start. You see, Mother Nature had thrown up ice and snow all over the yard the night before, so I spent a good while chiseling the car before we could leave. We headed straight to surgical admissions where I was promptly escorted to my room. They explained that this would be my pre and post surgical room for the day. I changed into my glamorous Johnny (this one actually reached the floor) and waited for a nurse. The nurse came and explained that I would be there for at least an hour after the surgery was completed, so my mother was welcome to leave and come back later. I answered a zillion questions from the nurse and then waited for transport to bring me to the surgical ward. Finally my ride came, and I was rolled up to the next floor.
|Waiting for my ride up to surgery|
This floor was where all the action took place. There was a lot of commotion, tons of medical staff, and an overwhelming amount of equipment. I thought it looked just like they do on television, complete with all the surgeries posted on the board – just like Grey’s Anatomy! I tried to absorb every detail but things were moving too fast, and finally I was parked to wait for another nurse, and another round of questions. Most of the questions were the same as the questions I had just answered. When she left, the anesthesiologist stopped by. He asked another round of questions, again, similar to the ones I had answered a few times now already. I was starting to think they were trying to catch me in a lie! I mentioned to him that the last time I had surgery (oral surgery in July) the anesthesiologist never warned me when he was starting the sedation. He promised me he would let me know. After several more interviews, the rock star surgeon came in to say a few words. We both marked the correct hip with a sharpie to make sure we got the right one, and I told him I had high expectations of him, since I have big plans of running next year. He said he planned to fix everything up that he could, but it was all going to depend on what kind of arthritis he saw once he got in there.
Finally I was instructed to put cap over my hair, and the anesthesia started. This was just a pre-dose, enough to make me groggy but not knocked out. They wheeled me into another room with lots of equipment and informed me that this was the room where it would all take place. In a little while I’d be waking up downstairs in the room I started in. The anesthesiologist then gave me the final nod and began injecting the sedative, and I abruptly drifted off.
“The surgery went very well, and there were no signs of arthritis” said the surgeon. He waved a picture in front of me, but I couldn’t focus my eyes.
“Wake up, Jill” said a nurse.
“How you doing, Jill? Time to get up!” said another nurse, or maybe the same one. “We just can’t seem to get her to wake up” she mumbled to someone.
Eventually I pried my eyes open enough to recognize the room I was lying in as the admissions room where my morning began. I peeked at the clock and saw it was mid afternoon. I started to panic, realizing my mother was probably already there waiting for me to leave, and I couldn’t even lift my head. I was locked in a battle of conscious versus unconscious, and the unconscious won out. For the next couple of hours I was repeatedly pried out of the haze, only to be rendered unconscious once again. Occasionally I would wake enough to overhear the nurse talking, sometimes to other nurses and sometimes to my mother, who was on the phone asking when she should come back. Eventually when the nurse came in, I willed myself to stay awake long enough to tell her that I was in tremendous pain. One of the most common interrogation questions they ask at the hospital is, “On a scale of one to ten, how much pain would you say you are in?” and I always struggle. I don’t know…five? Six? I can’t really tell the difference between a five and a six. But at this moment I knew the answer. The answer was ten. I had never been so sure of anything in my life. The pain was a ten. In fact, if there were bonus numbers on that one-to-ten scale, I’d claim those too.
The nurse was thrilled to see my eyes open when she entered the room. Using a buddy system, two nurses attempted to sit me up in bed. I was going to need to be able to sit up, balance on the crutches, and hit the bathroom before I could leave. As soon as they sat me up in bed, I immediately vomited. The nurses lowered my head back down, administered some anti-nausea medication, and dimmed the lights. An hour later they tried again. Again I vomited. They were starting to worry that they weren’t going to be able to release me, which apparently was going to be a problem because the surgical admissions ward isn’t an overnight area. Finally they got me up and fitted for crutches. With two nurses guiding me, I headed across the hall to the restroom. I made it a couple of feet into the hallway and then vomited. Let me tell you something about vomiting. As unpleasant as it is, trust me when I tell you it’s even less pleasant when you are in a hallway, wearing a Johnny where your entire naked self is hanging out the back, trying to balance on crutches, and someone’s holding a bucket right up to your chin so you don’t look down and pass out.
The nurses brought me back to bed, gave me Benadryl, and told me to go back to sleep. Another hour later the nurses checked on me, and I felt much more coherent. I could keep my eyes open, and I didn’t have the waves of nausea immediately after sitting up in bed. Feeling more optimistic, we tried again to get out of bed. With the utmost caution we made it to the restroom and back, and then the nurse helped me get dressed. This is when I realized how utterly helpless I was going to be for a while.
Finally at 6:30, five hours later than expected, I was released from the hospital. The nurse said it was a real blessing that my surgery was first thing in the morning or I never would have been able to leave. The 45 minute ride home was a real test of will, trying to avoid any motion sickness. Mom brought me to the back door so I could avoid any stairs. When we entered the house I realized quickly it was going to be a whole new challenge of navigating through hallways on crutches. The cats looked at me with curiosity, and the dog scattered when he saw my “extra legs”. Andrew was a huge help in getting me into bed, and helping me to the bathroom throughout the night (all those IV fluids finally caught up). It was frustrating going anywhere. The process of trying to maneuver my legs out of the bed, onto the floor, and crutching my way to the bathroom was excruciatingly slow. Oh, and just for fun, a rogue October nor’easter was scheduled to hit on Saturday. As if crutching around wasn’t bad enough, the thought of having to do this in the dark and cold (if the power went out) made me positively panic. Well, relatively speaking. Panicking is hard to do when one is sleeping 15 hours a day, zonked out on Percocets.
This last week has been just about the most inactive week of my life. I have been too groggy to read, so that new Nook hasn’t gotten much attention. That nice fancy HDTV…well, it turns out it gives me motion sickness when I’m taking my medicine, so I haven’t even been able to watch much television. I’ve spent a lot of time lying in bed, and a lot of time sitting in my recliner. All of the medicine makes me very groggy and very nauseous, so I’ve had very little appetite. Still, every morning I get breakfast in bed.
A couple days ago I made it up the stairs to the rest of the house, and today I even ventured out to the barn for the first time to say hi to the horses. Rocco wasn’t nearly as scared off by my extra legs as the dog was, and was just happy to have someone to scratch him.
My follow up appointment at the hospital is Tuesday. I’m eager to hear the details on how the surgery went, when I can start PT, and what my running future looks like!