I am officially titanium. Although I don’t necessarily “feel” that way. It’s strange that they can literally cut a piece of your bone out and replace it with new parts and you wouldn’t even know it.
After going to the wrong hospital at 5:00 AM on Thursday morning, we eventually made it to the CORRECT location, only to have a wrench thrown in our plans by good ol’ Covid-19. Joseph had to essentially drop me off at the hospital and wasn’t allowed to stay in any way, shape, or form-- not even in the lobby while I waited to register. I was in this by myself. As if my anxiety wasn’t high enough already.
So I get checked in, change into my gown, shove this nasty iodine solution up my nose to clean it out, wipe myself with disinfecting wipes that smell terrible, and it’s time to put my IV in. Did I mention I don’t always do well with needles? Well, I don’t. The IV is inserted and I begin to see stars. “I’m going to pass out,” I tell the nurse. Sure enough, I wake up, surrounded by the nursing staff with a cold washcloth on my face asking me if I’m ok, and if this is “normal.” I suppose it’s not “normal” in the sense of the word “normal,” but for me, it’s pretty much expected. I’m glad I got it out of my system.
The next part totally blows my mind when I really think about it. You see, they had to do some sort of spinal injection to numb my legs. I was supposed to be “awake” for it. During my PAO surgery, I had an epidural inserted and I nearly had a mental breakdown, so needless to say, I was quite nervous for this spinal injection. They had me sit up on the side of the bed and all I can remember is asking for more drugs to calm me down. The nurses were asking me what I did for a living, “I teach elementary school music,” and next thing I know I am waking up in recovery. Of course, my first question was about the spinal injection, because I had no recollection of it whatsoever, and they shared that I didn’t have any problems and I was “awake” for it. Hah, ok. I wonder what crazy things I said when I was supposedly “awake.”
The surgery was SO QUICK. I went “under” around 7:30 AM, they were done operating around 9 AM, and I started to wake up around 10 AM. CRAZY! Fortunately, they let Joseph stay in the recovery room while I was waking up. Because of the injection, when I woke up, my legs were both numb, but I quickly regained feeling in them. Honestly, the pain level wasn’t all that bad.
Then comes the fun part...
Nurse: “Here’s your oxycontin!”
Me: “I don’t really do well with oxycontin-- it makes me really sick.”
Nurse: “Ok, we will give you some nausea medication to go with it.”
Me: “Alright, let’s try it.”
Nope. No. No way.
My stomach and oxycontin DO NOT MIX. Just after taking it, I had a nauseous, almost-black-out, blood pressure dropped, all-out panic attack. I think there were about 4 nurses and 3 doctors (including the surgeon) in the room with me, watching the color leave my face and my lips turn blue.
I should mention a couple of things in regard to this part of the story-- 1. My surgeon said the surgery went extremely well. He was able to take out the old parts and put a nice, new hip in there. 2. He said my hip was way worse than he expected it to be. His exact words were, “You had the hip of a 70-year-old in there.” 3. Because of my previous surgery, there was a lot of scar tissue in that area, meaning I lost more blood than is usual for this procedure. Hence my blood pressure dropping and mild panic attack.
Typically they don’t have hip replacement patients spend the night. Crazy, I know. But it really is true. They were really trying everything in their power to have my go home. My “goals” board even read, “Eat, Physical Therapy, Discharge.” However, this minor set-back led the doctor to decide two things. 1. I will get a unit of blood. And 2. I should spend the night.
I was actually pretty happy that he had me spend the night. I didn’t feel totally comfortable going home just yet. I was moving my leg a little bit, but every time I tried to sit up, my blood pressure dropped crazy low and I would get super dizzy. I was still very nauseous and not able to get up and walk or eat much, so my PT was pushed back and I was having a hospital sleepover.
After a dinner that consisted of about 28 saltine crackers, and a typical night in the hospital (being woken up every 3 hours to check my vitals), it was morning, and time for me to rise and shine. The nurses came every now and then to check my orthostatic blood pressure. They took it while I was laying down, sitting up, and standing up. Unfortunately, I still wasn’t able to stand long enough without getting dizzy and my BP dropping too low. It was touch and go for a while, but eventually, I was able to walk to the door and back, albeit, very slowly. Nonetheless, I cleared PT. Next, the occupational therapist came and did her own screening. My BP was still dropping when I stood up, but it would come up super quick, so after some hesitation, she also cleared me. The extra blood work came back all clear, so I was officially checking out!
I had busted out of the joint.
The pain hasn’t been too bad-- it was more uncomfortable than anything. I feel like there is a giant knot in my quad that won’t go away. It’s been tough to get comfortable, but it is definitely getting better every day. The first full day of being home (day 3 post-op), I was moving very slowly and putting hardly any weight on my leg. I started to be able to slide it up and down from a straight position to a bent position, without using my arms or right leg to help it. They want me to be able to slide it out to the left as well, but I’m not quite there yet. They also prescribed me glute squeezes, but really, I long for the day I can do FROG PUMPS again. (My CFNH friends will understand the reference.)
As of this morning, day 4, I am actually putting weight on it, moving better, and the pain is hardly any. There is definitely still some discomfort, but I can’t believe how quickly I’m improving. This procedure is pretty remarkable. When I look at my x-ray, I am blown away by the fact that they could do that to me and I was still able to get up and WALK the very next day.
If I’m being perfectly honest, it was a rough-go for the first 2-days. I tried my hardest to stay strong and be the “warrior” who so many people told me I was. I definitely doubted myself and questioned why I had this procedure done. But I kept telling myself that I could do it and that I had to do it. So far, my hip replacement has proven to be significantly easier than the PAO I had almost 10 years ago. I know my recovery is far from over, but I am completely blown away at the fast progress I’ve been able to make, even if I did regret it for the first day or so.
I’ll sprinkle some more details in from my hospital stay as they fit, but my biggest takeaway from this thing is that if you can embrace the suck for the first couple of days, it’ll all be worth it-- especially when your doctor says, “Your hip was much worse than I expected it to be. Good thing you had this taken care of now.”
Helllllo new hip! 😍😍😍😍
Hi! I am Nicole Guimaraes. I'm a K-2 music teacher in Falls Church City, VA. I've got an amazing husband and a fabulous dog who keep me busy. If I'm not teaching or walking my dog, you can probably find me at the gym!