Today is 12 days post op from a screw and HO removal, that although was a successful surgery has proven to take a beating on me. Going into this surgery I had many well wishes from friends and family, which it is hard to explain how much that means. However, I also had many people who (well wishes or not, which is fine) asked me, aren’t you used to this by now? The short answer: Not in the slightest. An increased tolerance for? Yes.
To be writing about this seems slightly like déjà vu, however it was still asked so here goes nothing, along with the obligatory “heres how the surgery went” details that many have texted, emailed, or in some way asked me for.
I set my alarm just incase I fell asleep but try as I did, my eyes were staring into the blank white canvas that is my bedroom ceiling when it was time to finish packing, make my bed and leave. A trusted friend of mine was helping me out and arrived right on time to take me to the hospital. I tried to be myself, to make conversation, to share what had happened during my fall semester and ask her how the first semester of her graduate school program had gone but I just didn’t feel present, in the moment as some would say. Arriving at the hospital I knew where to go, the check in ritual and how it would work once the nurse brought me back and I changed into a johnny and waited for the various members of my surgical team to come by that morning. But I was still nervous. Sure I know how it goes, the “ritual” that happens before every persons surgery day in and day out, but the surgery itself is never the same. Each one comes with its own set of risks and unknowns, not to mention just me and my body’s reaction to all the foreign drugs pushed into it, never has resulted in a straight forward simple experience.
This would certainly be one of my “easier” surgeries; easier relative to the reverse PAO surgeries, and others that were done in the beginning. The anesthesia doctor came by, a familiar face, and someone who knew to pay close attention to my case and the issues that I have with anesthesia hooking up an IV and trying to keep me as comfortable as possible. My friend sat next to me trying to keep my mind occupied telling me about the things she has been doing, watching videos of the marshmallow and cookie experiments (if you haven’t seen these that’s a you tube procrastination project for you), and overall just trying to keep my sprits up. I was doing my best to go into this surgery with a positive mind set, the hopes of being out, or at least ok for the holidays. The most encouraging thing that I kept running through my head though… “Just get through this surgery and recovery and your right hip is done for the foreseeable future.” Nothing gets more positive than that for my case with the amount of time I have been fighting hip dysplasia.
It was nearly an hour since I had been lying there on the stretcher until my surgeon came by to check in with me and mark my right hip with a bold “YES.” Both he and the anesthetist said one thing that really resonated with me and helped to calm me down a bit. “Listen,” the anesthetist said, “I know you are nervous but you need to remember that this surgery is about you and you are the number one person in that room. Dr. [name of surgeon] has made it very
I am blessed to have the support of so many friends and family… got a surprise bunch of flowers :)))
clear that this is a big deal for both of you, that you are both nervous and that you both want this to go well.” I nodded. He continued to talk to me but the key words for me here were that he recognized that this is a big deal even though it’s not the most complex or lengthy surgery I have been through, it is still a big deal. When my surgeon came by he reiterated this and assured me that we were in this together, doctor, patient and we would deal with whatever direction this went.
Surgery went well, the screws were out, and the heterotrophic bone removed. It was amazing how much more flexion (bringing your knee up towards you) I gained just from getting that bone out, and the best part was it did not pinch (causing a nasty pain) anymore! Waking up from that surgery though, was a thousand times harder than the surgery itself. I’ve never had an easy time with this from muscle spasms to tachycardia, to the pain that comes with muscle spasms (not exactly fun if a limb that was just worked on starts shaking all over). It is all very much a fog to me, as are the first few days. I was very grateful though for the friend that stood by me through surgery, overnight and into the next day. I don’t remember too much of it, but some of the nurses were telling me and it certainly takes a lot of commitment and bravery to stick by your friend as she goes through all that.
The Rest of the Week:
… Cause going through it all would take far too long. The week was tough to say the least. I was unable to keep any food down, continually got sick, and struggled to overcome the dizziness and nausea. Physical therapy started working with me on the first day and we barely got through standing up. Imagine for a moment that your left leg exists, but doesn’t feel like that to your brain, that standing on it just feels like nothing, whatever nothing is. Your right leg, which you depended on due to its strength and worked through the pain, has now been cut into and the pain is much harder to tolerate. Your brain keeps telling you to get off it, that way the pain will diminish. Problem is now, when you shift off your right to decrease the pain, you end up on the left which scares you because you do not feel like you are standing on anything. So you throw yourself back over to the right as though catching yourself from a fall,
a good friend who brought Christmas to me 🙂 A little Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.
which jams it into the ground and sends a horrible pain straight through your hip. This is the cycle that I dealt with all well, not to mention that standing up the room was spinning and the feelings of nausea didn’t help.
We went through this the rest of the week. I got a text wishing me a Merry Christmas and did not exactly realize that it was Christmas. Once I had been told enough times, I was sad to be missing Christmas again this year, my favorite holiday. I had a few visitors but mostly slept through my days. By Saturday I had still been unable to eat, and PT had not allowed me to walk with a walker yet. I was getting discouraged and determined to get my right one going. After all, this was supposed to be easy right? HA! Easy is relative, it does not mean that we have negated the challenges, the recovery period, the pain or being sick. My surgeon came by on Saturday and walked with me out in the hall with a walker. He had to steady me quite a bit but we did it. When we got me settled back in the hospital bed, I looked right at him and said “I told you I could do it. I knew I could do it and no one believed me.” He chuckled and said, “I never said you couldn’t, and I knew that you could and that is why I am here now.” I always love when my surgeon and I get to prove the people working with me wrong. Physical therapy had an interesting reaction to all this, but hey it is what it is and the point is that if you give me a chance to try at least we know if it’s a success or failure. Unless I try though, we will never know.
8 Days Post Surgery:
This would be it… 8 days post op… usually those steri strips are white… but it was a bit of a messier one. You can see if you are looking at this one… where he entered through my old incision.
PT was ready to put in an order for post surgical rehab due to the amount of assistance that I needed with the combination of my left and right leg. It got a pretty solid no from my surgeon and me, and resulted in Monday being a very tough PT day. There were lots of tears, grinning and bearing whatever we needed to get through to get them to sign off on a discharge paper. Needless to say, I was discharged with full assist, but it’s better than rehab.
The evening I was discharged my surgeon showed me the xrays from surgery, hardware free!!! And the HO gone from my pelvis. It was pretty neat how different the two were. Unfortunately I do not have them to show you at the moment. Someday…
The past few days since being discharged have been rough. Both pain and nausea were better controlled in the hospital with IV anti-emetics and closely monitored pain control. I have spent few hours awake and most of them sleeping (hence the large delay in getting this post out). Sitting up has been fairly miserable as I get dizzy and just feel nauseous, and I am still waiting for the day that I can say I haven’t gotten sick yet. Hopefully that is coming soon since everyday I make small improvements. Each day comes with its good moments and bad. As far as getting nutrition into my body, I’m doing the best I can, but it’s a work in progress.
12 Days Post Op:
24/7 assistance and company 😉 Lucky to have a little dog that lays next to me no matter what the time of day.
That would be today. I’ve got a list of things I want to get done, tasks both hip and non hip related and they are all just lingering over me. I didn’t think that I would be feeling this crappy 12 days out from this one, however we slightly underestimated how my body would deal with the invasion of anesthesia. Pain in the right is still prominent, but I push through it each day and slowly it will resolve and settle at a new normal pain level. It may be a shorter length of time that most of the surgeries I have been through, all of them in fact, but this is no easier because I have been through surgery before, it is just as difficult to fight through. In fact, each time that you are knocked down it’s a little harder to get up; the important thing is that you get up each and every time and hope that at some point you get up and do not get knocked back down.
You don’t ever get used to surgery or the process, and as much as you learn what you could expect there are always things that are unexpected, things you could not have predicted. Sometimes, I feel that it gets harder because the support dwindles as surgery, or “being sick” seems to be a norm in a persons life, but the thing is you need all the support in the world to get up again, to pull through and come out stronger on the other side. I am lucky that there are many who surround me, from amazing friends, family, PTs, a surgeon and nurses who continue to support me in every way possible, to help me get back on my feet every single time.
I’ll check in again soon….