Hey Everybody! I’m Baaaaaack! Just a note to let you know that you can’t kill me that easily! (Kidding, I had great care!)
Ok for those who know me, you know that after a couple of years of pain and disability I finally fought through the red tape at my health care provider and got a new hip! I don’t like to brag but it is the top of the line model, all sleek titanium with all the bells and whistles, It stops just short of cup holders and seat warmers but it is everything I need. I will be able to show it off really nicely as I waltz through the body scanners at the various airports between here and Italy.
First off I want to say that the care I received at Kaiser, Santa Clara was absolutely the best care I have received anywhere for anything. My surgeon was Dr. Khapchik who, from what I have seen is the total ROCK STAR of orthopedic surgery!
I met several of the hospital personnel for whom he had done their surgeries and each one lit up like a Christmas tree when I mentioned his name. I have to say also that he gave me such a tiny and perfect scar that I really doubt that I will have to take the dreaded step of getting tattoo to cover it for my extended stretches of beach dwelling that I do when in Italy.
(Dr. Khapchick’s Patients!)
Ok so without further adooooo, here are my own personal tips for coming through a total hip replacement surgery and coming up smelling like a rose:
1) Several weeks, or even months before your surgery, get your body in shape. I mean go on a diet if you need to. The less excess weight you have on your frame, the easier it is to move around after surgery. Also, get in the gym and do some targeted exercises. Do them well and do them often. Work especially on your GOOD LEG and THIGH muscles as well as your CORE both back and front, and the little muscles between your shoulder blades. Don’t neglect your arm, back and shoulder muscles because you will be using a walker and/or cane and your muscles will flare up and give you the mother of all headaches if they are not strong enough. Also, when you do use your cane or walker, try to engage the muscles on your back between your shoulder blades. This will help you avoid neck and head pain in addition to the pain of recovery.
2) Consider your surgery and recovery as a TEAM PROCESS. Read everything your doctor, nurse and therapist or anyone else on your medical team gives you. You have a job going into this and you need to be educated. Make a list of questions and take it to your doctor visits. Get them all answered to your satisfaction. There are many, many options available to you and I only knew about these things when I started asking questions I was amazed at the lengths my medical team went to to ensure that my surgery and recovery was as painless as possible. I had so many choices and I did a ton of research. All in all I had the best possible experience in a situation where things could have been really bad and really painful.
3) If you can, try to get the lightest anesthesia available. Anesthesia is extremely hard on bodies and minds. If you can go light, I would definitely recommend it. I saw several patients in recovery that were having a terrible time coming out of the anesthesia. It was awful and I really felt bad for them. Dr. Khapchik used only local anesthesia with a very light one to put me to sleep. I was not intubated (Meaning I didn’t have a tube down my throat for breathing), which to me means that It was much lighter than other general anesthesia. I had no trouble coming out of it at all and I had the added bonus of remaining pretty pain free until the next day when the local wore off fully.
4) Ask your doctor and recovery team about having them remain quiet during and after the surgery. More and more doctors and medical personnel are realizing that what is said around an unconscious person can affect them mentally long after the surgery has been done and recovery complete. I talked extensively with my doctor and he was in full agreement to keep it as calm and as quiet as possible in the Operating Room and in Recovery. In fact, as I was wheeled out of the surgery into recovery, I saw several signs that said “Shhhhh, Healing in Progress!” This is a new and very good trend. It is more important than people realize.
5) Put your house in order for before and after the surgery. I mean literally, get the slippy rugs out of the way and put them in a closet for awhile. Make sure that the areas in which you will be recovering have walk ways wide enough for a walker to go through easily.(BTW, I found out today that the little wheels on your walker can be switched from outside to inside which was a great relief and will avoid much creative swearing in the future.) Have your house cleaned so you don’t worry about it while you are recovering and hire a house cleaner for a few weeks post surgery. Make sure you have someone lined up who is ok with taking full and complete (And I do mean complete) care of you while you recover. If your significant other is not up to it, line up a rehab facility or send him or her on a vacation and get someone who can. This is not a dis of those who are unable or unwilling, but the bottom line is that you will be completely disabled for days after the surgery and need someone to do for you. Many of the duties of this person are unpleasant, sometimes VERY unpleasant and if you feel bad asking someone to help you because of their attitude, it will just not work. You need spiritual support as well as physical support while you recover or it will be long and unpleasant and leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.
There you have your five tips but it seems that when I write these articles, I always remember a tip or two that I really want to leave with you. One other tips is Don’t push it too hard. Give yourself time to recover. It doesn’t have to be (and it won’t be) overnight.
Well, it is day five post surgery and I am in really good shape. I am off all pain meds except for the Tylenol (Don’t ask, my body HATES pain meds) and I really have my pain well controlled. I took a shower almost all by myself yesterday standing up and today have been all over the house with my Texas Ranger (Walker).
I’ll write more if I have more to impart. If you are considering this surgery, you can write me and I will answer your questions entirely from a personal perspective if you wish.
PS Do these look even? (Wink!)