Monday, June 29, 2015

ProTips - Surviving Hip Surgery

*blows dust off blog*
Well, hello there! I haven't written anything, except essays for my Restoration Comedy class, since February. But, if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you probably know that I recently had arthroscopic hip surgery.
I'll probably write a post about the process by which I got to surgery at some point, but for now, I'd like to leave you with a list of the wisdom I've gleaned to get anyone through the lead-up and the weeks after surgery.

Get as Strong as Possible Before Surgery
Leading up to surgery, I was at the gym several times a week, either swimming or doing the PT exercises I'd been working on before I scheduled the surgery. It was good to move, especially in the pool, but I think that it's helped me bounce back, if you will, more easily.

Have Nausea-Friendly Foods Prepared
The anesthesia used in surgery can often cause nausea in patients, so it's a good idea to have food that you can eat without seeing it again later. I made some beef stock (popularly called bone broth on the interwebs these days) in the slow cooker in case I couldn't stomach anything, and we always have Pellegrino on hand (ever since Husband discovered Costco carries it, he can't live without it). It was also something that Husband could heat up quickly after we got home from hospital, and since I hadn't had anything since about 10PM the night before and got home around 5PM, I was hungry. I'd say I was hangry, but I was too doped up to be truly angry about it. Fortunately, I was able to get through the entire process nausea-free, but the beef broth was pretty delicious anyway, and it's supposed to be good for healing, so there's that.

Take Selfies in Your Hospital Gear
Not only are you gonna look BANGIN, but it'll help distract you from being ravenously hangry, which you will be by the time you are instructed to change into your gown and other sexy hospital clothing. And a little more seriously, doing stupid things like that will help ensure a positive mood when you head to the surgery room.

Bring Your Kid to the Hospital So Your Spouse Can't Come Back to Recovery and Take Pictures of You Before You Fully Wake Up
Children aren't generally allowed in the recovery area. HRH spent the day with Husband waiting for me, and because of being on daddy duty, he was extremely disappointed that he didn't get a snap of me with my tongue lolling out or some such. The Struggle is painfully real for him.

Have Protein on Hand
The nurses who prepped me for surgery were adamant about my protein intake post-surgery. I swear they gave me the list of tuna fish, eggs, chicken, and peanut butter about a billion times (super fun to talk about food when you haven't had food in 12 hours, bee tee dubs). "Take your pain killers with food, but it MUST BE PROTEIN IF IT ISN'T PROTEIN TERRIBLE THINGS WILL HAPPEN." OK, so that might be a wee bit embellished, but they did what they could to stress the importance of downing protein with my pills so that I would not get sick. And I'll tell you what - it was really all I wanted for the first few days anyway. I took down a rotisserie chicken like a hyena, and I ate all of the peanut butter and almond butter in the house.

Have a One-Story House
This one miiiiiiiight be tricky if you've already got a mortgage, but the stairs were an obstacle I didn't want to tackle for the first few days, and I even though I've been (for the most) walking sans crutches for the last few days, I only stopped using them on the stairs yesterday. It's slow going, so if you DO have a multiple story house, have someone be a gopher to grab that one thing you need on the other floor. HRH was actually awesome in this job; she was great about running upstairs to get my iPad, or downstairs to grab my water bottle.

Stay Ahead of the Pain
This is something that the nurses also urged me to do, but it was my step-mother-in-law, a nurse, who told me to set my alarm so that I took my pain killers at regular intervals. And that's exactly what I did, even in the middle of the night. I had a little container of peanut butter and saltine mini sandwiches, and when my alarm went off, I struggled to sit up, had a few sandwiches, took my pill and drank a bunch of water. While I did have some discomfort, the worst I hit on the pain scale was a 5 (focusing more on the pain than anything else), and that was one evening right before bed. Setting your alarm for 2AM may not sound like the most fun thing to do, but the pain killers kept me pretty sleepy, so I had no issue falling back asleep, and I've taken many naps over the last few weeks, so I haven't felt deprived of rest.

Bring Your Crutches Out in Public, Even if You Stop Using Them at Home
The crutches will bring you attention/sympathy, yes (although so far I've not gotten any free stuff like my friends got when we were kids….that feels pretty discriminatory; adults like cookies, too), but more importantly, they are a visual cue that "I am slow, and I need my space" to other people, and you're still going to get tired more easily. The other day we went to a birthday party for one of HRH's friends, and I had one crutch, just in case, and I did get tired, so I was glad to have the support.

Binge on Netflix

Insist on Doing Stuff
Obviously, if you're going to be taking narcotics for pain, as prescribed by your doctor, you're not going to be permitted to drive. I was housebound for two weeks to the day before I was cleared to drive. Before that, the only time I really left the house was for PT, which I started the day after surgery and go to three times a week. Husband came home from work, took me to PT, took me home, and went back to work. But I got really tired of the view from the couch, so I insisted we go to the farmers market last weekend, and even though I got really tired, it was so great to get out for just a bit. Otherwise, I may have actually started to get out the painting supplies and start painting the walls.

Have a Sense of Humor
My favorite hashtag on Instagram is #donttakeyourselfieseriously. While I take things like this surgery seriously, I need to be able to laugh about things, and I think it's important to do so in order to continue to have a positive attitude. I'm not saying I haven't thrown myself any pity parties in the last year, because I have, but since scheduling the surgery, I've been pretty positive about the whole process. I mark my feelings and milestones with random memes, and I named both my crutches (Click and Clack) and my sutures (Statler and Waldorf). The one thing I am sad about is that I was never able to use the phrase "bitch, I will crutch you."

Be Religious About PT
I go to PT three times a week, and I've already been able to "level up" on a few exercises (thanks to Past Allison's foresight about her pre-surgery workouts), but with the exception of a few days on which I was so tired I could barely get up, I've done my exercises, which includes pedaling on a little pedaler twice a day for 20 minutes each, every single day. At one point, surgery meant an overnight stay in hospital, but I was home that evening and at PT the next day. My ortho told me he wanted me moving as much as possible, so I take the time to complete it so that I can be running again sooner instead of later.

Prepare to be Humbled by your Body
Physical therapy is probably the most humbling experience. The human body is amazing in how strong AND how weak it can be, and exercises that look like they should be easy are proven difficult. So check your pride at the door at PT in order to heal. Follow your doctor's protocol, and proceed only as appropriate.

Celebrate the Small Victories
I'm almost three weeks out, and I've got a long recovery ahead of me (three months minimum), but I already feel better. I'm no longer dependent on crutches. I am off the pain killers and am able to drive again. The discomfort I feel is the post-surgery discomfort, not the pain I had before. I've gone from doing glute squeezes to bridges. Progress in tiny steps is still noticeable, measurable progress.

I'm sure there are other, better lists of ways to prepare for and get through hip surgery, and not everything on this list may work for every person who goes through hip surgery. Some people may want to not take a make-up-free, hospital gown-laden selfie. That's OK. But hopefully I gave a little insight to the reality of surgery and post-surgery that can help others heal as quickly as possible.

Have you had surgery before? What kind? What additions do you have to this list?