I had my left hip replacement four weeks ago now and it’s safe to say that when I had it done I was so focused on the ‘new lease of life’ I was going to get that I hadn’t even considered what recovery would entail. I knew it would take time but figured it would probably mean just a few exercises and a bit of a limp for a while.
I have since learnt that hip replacement recovery is not a linear journey. It’s all over the place.
Post hip replacement there are a few rules you have to follow to avoid dislocating or damaging the new hip.
The first rule of hip replacement is Don’t Talk About Hip Replacement….
I jest, the first rule of hip replacement is don’t break 90 degrees – in my case this one lasts for the first 12 weeks. TWELVE WEEKS! This means that seats must be a certain height (including toilets) so that your knees sit lower than your hips. Bending to put clothes on or pick things up is not an option.
The second rule of hip replacement is the operated leg must not cross the body’s ‘mid-line’. That means no crossing legs or feet and sleeping on your back only.
As you can see these rules preserve the new hip but not one of them are comfortable or natural by any stretch of the imagination. This was going to be fun.
Hip Replacement Recovery Week 1
Although hospital was most unpleasant (not the place, just how I felt), the first week home was a struggle and not only because my new prosthetic and swollen leg that resembles a serrano ham ensured that I had gained a whole stone while in hospital
Before my operation I’d searched for a high back arm chair that was the appropriate height and had been unsuccessful. It seems that in our house, we have a passion for very low seating. I bought a booster cushion for our existing arm chair instead, this turned out to be a terrible idea. I would definitely not recommend it as a substitute, I spent this first week perched on my all wrong chair feeling sorry for myself and uncomfortable.
Although the hip pain itself has gone, a whole world of other new and exciting pains have arrived. There are muscle pains, nerve pains and my bones hurt – on more than one occasion I really, honestly wished I hadn’t bothered getting a new hip. Even morphine doesn’t take the pain away at night.
One complete bonus is that although I can’t do very much for myself, I am mobile. Getting in and out of bed isn’t easy, I need help lifting my leg but I can walk about everso slowly.
One of my lovely friends is a nurse and so she removed the big waterproof patch for me, we definitely pushed the boundaries of our friendship and she saw more of my lardy leg than any friend needs to see.
Recovery – Week 2
This week I’ve been able to move around with one crutch. I have done a few laps of the green next to my house, I kept tripping over my crutch which in turn made me swear out loud and I take corners too fast. The physio exercises are an absolute must in getting the muscle strength back but they make my good hip hurt instead.
I say good hip, I must remember I have two good hips now.
I thoroughly enjoy the newfound feeling of being able to stand, sit and walk without pain but I keep forgetting not to twist and bend. The problem is I’ve always had pain to remind me of my limitations, , because there is no pain it’s easy to forget that movement must remain limited in certain aspects. A woman on the Facebook group I’m in managed to dislocate her new hip 13 days post op by getting dressed. She had to go back for surgery to put it back and recovery has started again.
That is enough to make me more cautious. I don’t think I could cope with the hammering again *SHUDDER*.
I managed to source a proper high back chair which is a game changer and I’m pretty sure helps with the pain during the day. We set up a little nana corner for me in the window. I had my appropriate height chair next to an appropriate height surface, unfortunately being in the window it was draughty so I had to wrap a blanket around my legs.
I have definitely had a glimpse into my future nursing home life and you know what? I like it!
This week I discovered that I can drink alcohol with the blood thinners I am on, this is very exciting news – not sure I can steer my crutches drunk though…
Recovery – Week 3
I’m walking pretty well now if I do say so myself I still have a limp, I’m not entirely sure that my leg isn’t longer than it was before it feels like it totally gets in the way now.
I reckon I could totally do the school run but realistically it’s not an option. Besides it’s really rainy and windy so staying home is probably ‘safest’ (more pleasant).
My dressings came fully off this week and the wound looks good, my surgeon is clearly a dab hand with a needle and thread – I won’t put a picture here but obviously I took one if you want to see it!
Happily, my leg no longer represents a huge jambon but my left foot keeps swelling to pregnant proportions which is most unsightly, no one wants to sport a puffy foot.
Bearing in mind the ‘don’t break 90 degrees’ rule is in place until the end of April, my legs haven’t been shaved since before my op. I could bear it no more and so, on the day we celebrated 12 wonderful years together, I asked Rory something I never thought I would. He did a pretty good job and my hair free, mostly normal sized legs, made me feel happy again.
I went out for lunch with friends last week and coffee with friends this week, I really am lucky to have some great people on hand to look out for me. This week has been a really good week, I no longer have fleeting regrets about having the operation and I’m smashing this recovery. YAY ME.
Hip Replacement Recovery – Week 4
“I’m walking pretty well now if I do say so myself” turns out the physio disagrees. At my appointment she asked me to walk the length of the room “Yes, you’re not walking right, you need to practice walking properly”.
It turns out that ‘walking properly’ is harder than it sounds when you’ve been a bit wonky for a while, the result is me sashaying up and down the living room with my hands out to my side keeping me balanced – I fear my new ‘normal’ walk won’t be the same ‘normal’ as everyone elses!
This week I’ve coloured my hair, had my legs shaved again (could get used to that) and worn human clothes all week. I’m feeling more me by the day – sometimes.
I’m starting to feel a bit awkward now, people ask how the pain is and sometimes there is no pain. I feel like I’m faking it when the reality is I still need my raised toilet seat and nana chair and I still need to use my litter picker to get dressed. I’m thinking of replacing my actual hands with grabbers as I am bloody brilliant at them now.
It has been a week of ups and downs. I did a mile and a half walk pain free and raised my left leg without using my hands – both things I’ve not been able to do in YEARS.
I also had a couple of days when I had to make noises getting up and down and struggled to move as well as I had the day before.
It really is bizarre, I feel like I’m making progress one day then back a step next day. I have to remind myself they cut through muscle and tendons, dislocated my hip, cut off a bit, hollowed out a bit, hammered a bit and stitched me right back up.
I’m allowed to still have wobbly and achey days.
I am absolutely desperate for a decent night sleep, I’m not sleeping for any more than 3 hours at a time as the discomfort and back pain won’t let me. I just want to have a good night sleep on my side or to curl up on a comfy chair rather than be all upright and rigid. I also really miss being able to snuggle with the kids on the couch. Seth has started bringing a small chair over next to mine so he can cuddle my arm, it makes me happy and sad.
I must confess to getting a bit fed up now. My roots need bleaching but can’t be done for 9 more weeks and I want my toenails painting but after seeing Rory paint a wall, I don’t think he’s up for that job!