The first week: steady improvement each day

Hi all you inspiring hip runners

Here’s a slightly belated post on the first week following surg.

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I am on day 6 following a THR of my left hip, and am feeling pretty good! It’s much better than I imagined 5 1/2 days ago. I just completed my longest walk so far (not quite 2km) with one crutch, and just tested walking up & down stairs and it feels almost like normal, easier than walking.

Indoors I am walking mostly without crutches, but when I feel tired I started using one.

I don’t really have pain now, but my hip has a ‘funny bone’ feel to it, and the operated leg feels longer when I walk. When I stand, though, it feels normal, so I’m hoping this is due to swelling.

Here’s how the previous 5 days went.

Day 1:

In France you must meet with the anesthesiologist a few weeks before the surgery, and to my surprise I was given the choice of general anesthesia vs radicular anesthesia + ‘sleepy gas’ – I chose the latter, to avoid the nausea.

It worked like a charm, and my head, at least, was fully alert by the time I got to the wake-up room in the early afternoon. It took my legs and especially the bladder longer to wake up!

There they hooked me up to liquid iron since my hemoglobin was low, and about an hour after surgery I was back in my room, dying for some food at last.

That evening the physio had me get up and use the crutches to walk, very gingerly, around my bed.

No dizziness, but I was surprised/alarmed at the pain. This was much worse than the permanent, dull ache that I had going into surgery! And my operated leg feels longer! Focused on tasks at hand (like getting in & out of bed) to put off panic.

I was instructed to do 10 reps of a few basic exercises every hour. I didn’t quite manage every hour, but was surprised that glute bridges were pretty painless, much better than walking.

My surgeon came by later to let me know the surgery went well but we discussed my low bone density: the outer bone is pretty good, the inner bone, not so much. While he’s not concerned for the outcome of the hip – it’s a made-to-measure hip based on 3D scans, and computer planning helped map out, among other things, placement to take advantage of the densest zones. But nor surprisingly, he strongly suggested that I consult a rheumatologist for the bone density.

Also, the skin between my knee and below the incision is numb, which I had been warned about from reading posts here (thanks). The surgeon told me it’s from cutting through the network of superficial nerves during surgery, and it could take up to a year for the feeling to come back.

What I didn’t count on was having a drain tube for the blood hooked up to a bottle, which made wearing underwear a bit of a nightmare when it came time to go the bathroom: lifting my operated leg was painful.

My painkillers were paracetamol + anti-inflammatory (Naproxene), but the anesthesiologist warned me to ring nurse if painĀ  got to a 3/10 as the drugs take time to kick in. Wanting to have a good sleep, I rang and got an ampoule of bitter clear liquid that must have been some sort of narcotic. It did the trick. The few times I woke up in the night all it felt like I was floating.

Day 2:

Narc hangover: nauseous with headache. Breakfast helped a bit, but only did a few rounds of rehab exercises because I was still spaced and kept drifting off to sleep.

I did get roused by the physio to go for a walk in the hallway and get stair training. He encouraged me to walk more but to be honest, I just went back to sleep.

That night was able walk a bit easier, and managed going to the bathroom without assistance, even with the darn drainage tube and bottle. I was very grateful for the extra-high toilet, and felt a bit worried about our very low one at home.

Day 3:

I go home midday, which meant non-stop knocking at my door to dole out drugs, change bandages, hand out food, receiving parting words from PT, escort me for a verification 3D scan, hook me up to another bag of IV iron, and finally parting guidance from my lovely surgeon.

He warned me expect 3-4 weeks before I feel normal, but also around this time I might feel the most pain as the bone begins to mesh with the titanium stem. I’m very glad he told me about this. Because of my lower bone density, my rehab is very gradual for next two months, with real exercise only beginning in April.

Much to my surprise & relief, pain has improved so much that I’m now able to get up and down from chairs (and our super-low toilet) as normal, no crutches or hand-holds required.

Day 4 & 5:

Mostly moving about home with 1 crutch and even began walking, cautiously, without any crutches.

Taking mostly paracetamol 3x/day, anti-inflammatory 1x/day.

One of the very helpful things I picked up here was expecting scar pain between days 3-5. For me it started day 5, but only comes in short zaps.

 

 

 

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