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.
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