A Fine Line
I’m walking a fine line here. Let’s set aside for the moment the fact that I’m glad to be walking any kind of line these days. Let’s focus on the fine line. The one that exists between surgeries. One hip done. One to go. What do we now know?
* Don’t do a hip surgery without zippered shoes or velcroed shoes or something other than lace-up shoes. This was the most brilliant thing I did. Worth every moment of Tom not having to bend and tie my shoes. He was having to bend over to help me with just about everything else, at least not the shoe-tying.
* Don’t carry a long-fringed purse as your only purse. Long fringe. A walker. A cane. Don’t do it.
* Let anyone who offers to help do so. My physical therapist cousin came on an early weekend; my attentive sister came later. Both were essential breaks we gratefully needed. I will love them even more for it, if possible.
* When they send you home from the hospital (or in my case the ambulatory surgery center), with a pain prescription, either stop on the way home or give your driver’s license to whomever returns to get the prescription filled for you. Pain pills are narcotics. They won’t fill a narcotic prescription without ID. If you’re not used to taking narcotics, you might not know this. If you run back and forth trying to get the prescription filled, you will use up your time between pills. That’s not good, particularly on your first day after surgery.
* When they offer you a bedside toilet that you can set over your home toilet and have arms to help you get up and down, TAKE IT! We have a tall toilet and the nurse had to suggest three times that I take the toilet seat home. Of course, I was on heavy pain meds, but I thought the tall toilet would be enough. It never would have been. Take the toilet.
* Get in as good of shape as possible before surgery. My PT said he tells all his relatives who ask how to prepare for surgery, “Lose 20 pounds.” My home health nurse said, “It’s a lot harder to suture up fat.” I am back on the elliptical, readying for the next surgery. It’s this image of sewing up fat that’s gotten me there.
* Stock up on Gatorade, Pedialite, or other fortified drinks. Pain pills need lots of fluids to counteract their tendency to stop you up. If you drink water, you need to add potato chips to your diet. I’m not lying—this is what the nurse told me: “If you’re going to be drinking that much water, you need to eat potato chips.” So you can do water, but in that case stock up on potato chips.
* They advise you to wear loose pants after surgery, but “loose” is relative. I didn’t realize how tight all my pants were until I had a tender incision zippering down my hip. Think pajamas. Lots of pairs of pajamas. Wide elastic waists. Full thighs. Same goes for underwear. Don’t ask a lot out of yourself, or your clothes, during this time.
* Don’t plan on doing anything requiring concentration for the first week after surgery. I thought, ahhhh. I’ll be lying in bed. I’ll get SO MUCH WRITING DONE. I didn’t. I read mystery after mystery, which, in hindsight, was much more beneficial. But, Lord, I’m thankful I had those mysteries at hand ’cause I wasn’t up to anything else.
* Realize you will heal at your own rate. Fast. Slow. Somewhere in between. If you’re good with your surgeon and your physical therapist, don’t worry about anything else. People will brag about how quickly they got off the walker or the cane or went back to work. Don’t listen to them. You are doing however you are doing on your recovery. It’s okay.
* Finally, and if you don’t listen to anything else I say, listen to this: Don’t talk to people about your upcoming surgery. I can’t stress this enough. People will do one of two things. Dismiss your surgery as no big deal. This will fly all over you. They’re not the ones getting cut on. Or, even worse, they will tell you the horror stories of friends, acquaintances, Russian dissidents they’ve heard about who had terrible results with their surgery. Terrible results. You don’t need to hear these disaster stories. Surgery is serious business. Any surgery. You need to go into it with the best possible frame of mind. Protect your frame of mind by saying, “Yes, I’m getting a new hip. How are your (fill in the blank: children/grandchildren/dogs/pet iguanas) doing?”
Fine lines. Walk them carefully, and you will be fine.