Monday, March 10, 2014

One Week Later

There! Surgery done on both hips, no third hip hanging around to require me to get this done again.

It was easier this time, knowing what was coming. I was much calmer the night before, and going through the pre-op steps. Maybe too calm. Last time I cried as I was being given my spinal on the operating table, and woke up just as it all finished. I think the tears earned me stronger sedation. This time, I was awake, though drifting. The spinal deadens any sensation from the waist down, and I was shielded from seeing by a blanket tent. There was a plastic covering over me, like a thin air mattress, with a vacuum cleaner hose constantly blowing warm air into it. Though my ears were full of the hum of the air, I could hear a rhythmic banging. In my stoned state, I called out a few times 'Hey! What're you guys doing? What's the banging?".  No one replied, and when I asked them before being wheeled out, they said they couldn't hear me either due to the noise of the machine. Good thing! 

My roomie, Flo
I got into the operating room, out of recovery into my hospital ward much sooner this time. I wasn't lucky enough to have a private room, or a great view, but I did learn a lot from my roommate. Her name was Flo, 91 yrs old with dementia and epilepsy. She doesn't always remember to take her meds, and this year, same as last, her husband found her on the floor having a seizure, in which she broke her hip. So, just like me, second time round of hip surgery. That's where the similarity ends. She doesn't remember where she is from one moment to the next. All she knew for sure is that she wanted to get up and go home. So if she wasn't taking off her gown so she could get dressed, she was removing her IV, or trying to sit up. Her husband and the nurses explained to her over and over, "Flo, you've broken your hip, you have to stay here and heal." To which she'd reply 'Ah!" as if she'd finally understood, only to to go back to trying to escape. I was impressed with the kindness of the nurses, and the fact that they never resorted to tranquilizers, or strapping her down, which I remember happening to my Grandma.

As before, I was complimented often on the speed of my recovery, how soon I was able to sit up in bed, swing my legs off the side and walker myself to the bathroom. With Flo as an example of the more usual hip replacement patient, I understood why. On my third day after surgery, I was practicing stairs, and checking out. On Flo's third day, she was lifted into a wheelchair, to practice sitting up for awhile. Poor Flo. I hope she's gone home by now. She really helped me to count my blessings!

The pain seemed worse this time. There is a screaming entry in my journal from the day after, saying, "It hurts too much!". Though I haven't experienced it, I suspect it's like childbirth. The pain recedes into a distant memory, with other happier details plastered over top of it. Already, I don't remember how badly it hurt that day, less than a week ago. 

On that note, I've been juggling meds, to manage the pain. My first night home from hospital was a bit intense. First, the hospital bed that changes positions at the push of a button really helps with getting into a comfortable position. Second, there are more drugs at the hospital. Every four hours or so, I got 2 tylenols, 1 celebrex (anti-inflammatory) and two dilaudids - and 2 stool softeners. They send you home with a prescription for Dilaudid, and no advice other than '1 - 2 every 4 hours'. The next morning, I decided to supplement a bit with Tylenol, which has helped a lot. 

On the stool softeners, there is some pain I do remember from last time - wicked constipation from the drugs! I thought my healthy, high fibre, home diet would kick it out, but it wasn't enough. So this time I'm taking a couple healthy scoops of natural fibre in water every morning, and everything's moving smooooothly. Sorry if that's TMI, but I thought you'd like to know if you're going into surgery too. 

Same as last time, I have to take an anticoagulant for a month, the same time every day. The change was that this time each does was a little needle in its own packaging, that I had to stab myself in the belly with. I'm not afraid of needles, but I've never had to self-administer. I was not keen! Luckily, when the surgeon came to gave me my walking papers, he said I didn't have to use that method. In fact, I can just take 325mg of Aspirin every day. Phew! Also preferable as those needles were worth about $25 each, ringing in at a few hundred dollars for the 28 days.

Today's Inspiration is from Pema Chodrun ~

There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.

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