How to Prepare for Hip Surgery

I attended a class today to learn what to expect when having hip surgery. It was okay information, stuff like what drugs to quit taking, when to arrive on the day, how long to wait before driving after surgery, that type of thing. The nurse was very helpful and patient with all my questions (“Can I ride home in my husband’s Camero?” Answer: No), but I found it incomplete. Here’s my more essential list:

#1 Get a pedicure. Your legs are going to be the focus of attention for at least the next six weeks. Doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and strangers wondering what is wrong with you—they’re all gonna be staring at your legs. At the bottom of your legs will be your feet. Often, your bare feet. Make sure your toes look pretty.

#2 Buy a new bra. You will be removing your clothes, stripping down to your essentials. You don’t want to be laying a janky bra on top of your heap of clothing. Take the time to get a nice, pretty bra. Or two. If anything’s worth doing, it’s worth doing twice.

#3 Make a list of people who need to be called with updates on your progress. The nurse recommended such a list, but what she didn’t say was to limit the information to three words: “It went well.” In this age of TMI, don’t add to the onslaught.

#4 As long as you’re making lists, make one for the chores your husband will need to perform the first two weeks following surgery. Most of what you do around the house is invisible to him. If you don’t write down, for example, “Get More Toilet Paper from the Closet,” he could find himself in a delicate situation.

#5 Do NOT review your living will. This will freak you out. Be prepared for Admissions to ask about a living will, but don’t dwell on it.

#6 Make up a cover story. In fact, make up several. Every time someone asks what’s wrong with you, use a different story. Your story can be extravagant (“I knew I wasn’t ready to do a half-pipe but, man, the snow!”) or simple (My favorite: “I fell on my ass.”). Just make it sound more interesting than arthritis eating away your joint and birthing bone spurs that hammer into your leg like railroad spikes.

#7 Buy sexy new panties. It’s bad enough you’re getting a hip replacement at your young age. The least you can do is not arrive at the hospital wearing granny panties. Do whatever you can to keep from feeling any older than necessary. (see #6 above)

#8 As you quit taking any type of pain relief prior to surgery (required), also quit drinking alcohol and caffeine and quit eating refined sugar and fatty foods (suggested by my very own internet search). While you’re sitting around chewing shoe leather, dream about a post-op banquet at Cafe Du Monde of beignets and chicory coffee (a fried doughnut covered in powdered sugar, paired with the strongest coffee known to woman).

#9 Gather unto yourself as many paperback mysteries as you can afford. Stack them beside your bed. Use them as an incentive: do one more set of exercises and you can read the next chapter. (p.s. I stole this idea from my mother who used her chapters to make herself write her wedding present thank-you notes)

#10 Take this opportunity to buy new shoes (odd how so many of my preparations have to do with buying new clothes . . .) The guidelines require flat shoes with a back, but I don’t want to tie laces, either. Currently, I don’t own a pair of solid non-skid shoes with no laces. I think I have a right to be picky about my shoes—after all, I’m going under the knife.

#11 This is purely optional, but light a candle. As you light it, whisper your deepest fears (don’t let a UTI occur and travel to the joint, crippling me for life; please let them find a hip to properly fit my small self; don’t let them leave my legs different lengths; please let my insurance pay for this). Then blow out the candle and watch your fears drift away with the smoke.

#12 This one’s hard to handle retroactively but try to have lived your life well enough over the past two years that you’ve acquired a friend who will make you a set of one-of-a-kind prayer beads featuring precious stones and antique silver and olive wood from the Holy Land and Buddhist treasures and African trade beads and then add puns to the gift tag. When you’ve got this kind of mojo working on you, you’re prepared for anything.

"Hippie" Prayer Beads
“Hippie” Prayer Beads

how to prepare for hip surgery, humorous advice, pre-surgery classes, pre-surgery preparation, pre-surgery tips, preparing for hip surgery, tips on preparing for hip surgery, when you're too young for hip surgery

Comments (14)

  • Oh my gosh, Ellen, what a sensible AND whimsical list! I think you should pass this on to the hospital staff for all hip-surgery patients. In fact, I’m going to forward this to my sister-in-law who is also going to have hip surgery in the very near future. Good luck to you – although with that extraordinary talisman, I think you’ll be fine.

    • I think the hospital staff already suspects me of being a troublemaker, or at least an odd duck—the nurse was nonplussed when I told her I had to have both hips done and how would I know which they were doing first? I hope all goes well for your sister-in-law, and yes, the beads from Suzanne Henley cover ALL the bases.

  • Ah, beautiful prayer beads. I’m so sorry you have to go through this, Ellen. What a rotten thing to go through. Your list is great. My personal favorite is #4. No kidding. Everything just magically appears in its place ;). When I had major surgery I wasn’t prepared because I didn’t know what to expect (neither did the doctor), and I think a list like this would have helped me get started on thinking about my own list! Speaking of lists, let us know when it’s going to happen so you can be put on our prayer lists!

    • Thank you, Luanne, for saying it’s rotten—I’m a little full of “it’s so routine now” comments. Not for me, it isn’t! Suzanne Henley is the artist who made the beads; she is wonderfully talented and a heck of a writer. Yes, I read #4 to my husband before I published this post—if I’m talking about folks, I like for them to know it (most of the time!). I’ll keep you posted as the time nears—we’re shooting for mid-January.

  • Thanks for the pre-surgery recs, particularly #9. Nothing beats a stack of mystery novels; although, I doubt I’d have the discipline to put them down after I started one. Take care! And here’s to a speedy recovery and wonderful 2015!

  • It is hard for me to decide which part of this list I like best (NOT#4): your practicality. your whimsey (really like that, but 2 bras?), your lucid writing, or your courage.?
    I can’t decide, but I am powerfully all of the above

    • Whining does creep in, I must confess. I could write a “what not to say to a chick having hip surgery” post, but I’m afraid it might carry a whiff of bad attitude. Thanks for the prayers and best wishes—hope you have lovely holidays.

  • Just read your post in anticipation of my husband’s upcoming hip replacement scheduled for mid-March and it made me smile. Granny panties not an issue for men and the pedicure is not going to happen but new shoes! There’s a great idea to go along with the nice soft sweats he got for Christmas! Your prayer beads are beautiful. Happy New Year and best of luck with the surgery. I’ll be thinking of you and hoping for a pain free 2015.

    • My cousin commented on this post and told me not to worry about the pedicure—they’ll remove the polish. So not so much difference after all. It gives me an odd comfort that Joe is going through this as well. I feel less decrepit. Happy New Year to you and your lovely family. Hope your 2015 (and Joe’s surgery) is a total success.

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