Four years ago today I replaced my lame hip with a shiny new bionic one. I had prepared for the procedure from the moment I heard a nasty pop as I rushed to a Madonna concert in San Francisco. I had everything set for my surgery and recovery and then took my hip on a farewell tour before I went under the knife. In the end I have the best result I could have hoped for but I am still amazed I survived the hospital and nursing home.
My hospital stay coincided with a staffing reduction so nurses and other staff were a bit scarce at times, working in unfamiliar wards and covering more patients than they should; I do not in any way blame the staff for some of the errors as they were doing their best in a difficult situation. My experience has given me a definite perspective on healthcare and how one must prepare and be aware when being treated.
The biggest blip was that I was one of the very lucky few that had an epidural that did not take. Since there was confusion and I was given blood thinners, it could not be removed right away but since it was still in I could not get extra pain meds to compensate for it not working. That was fun.
Once I was left alone on a bedpan out of the reach of my call button and I had to wiggle myself close enough to my cell phone and call my sister to find a nurse to rescue me; man that hurt. The first night, someone left the blood pressure cuff on my arm for hours, luckily it was not pumped up too much but it still left a lovely bruise. I was given a stronger dose of Dilaudid than prescribed and thought my arm was going to burn off as it entered my veins.
For my surgery the doctor went in from the front, a newer technique at the time, and this required being moved in different ways than staff was in the habit of moving hip replacement patients. The time I was moved incorrectly was so painful I screamed louder than I ever knew possible.
My time at the nursing home had its own set of issues mostly because I was stubborn and wanted to do everything for myself when I could but the staff still treated me like I was a complete invalid. Words were exchanged many times but I always won.
I was given the wrong medication more than once but luckily knew the color and shape of my pills and could get my dosage fixed; I admit the one time I had an extra oxy in cup I popped that sucker and felt much better for a few hours. Because my primary doctor and my surgeon were not in the same practice, there was confusion over which doctor was supposed to sign my various medical orders, so no one did until a social worker finally got involved after I threatened to walk, well wheel, out. So much red tape.
I had a bit of an issue with a lady taking my blood who didn’t appreciate my suggestion that the vein she was trying to use was not going to work; I was right but I still had to take all her extra pokes. I really dislike her to this day.
Even before my procedure I had a couple issues while getting my first MRI, I learned that I am in fact claustrophobic, I have no “happy place” but I can eventually calm myself down with focused breathing and valium.
My stubbornness led to an early release from the nursing home and I continued my recovery walking around the hood with my cane. I was due one more set back as I overused my shoulder and had rotator issues, another MRI and more physical therapy.
But I recovered. While sometimes it feels like I am sitting on a cast iron ball, I no longer have pain, my scars are mostly faded and luckily I am not one of the 5% of the people who have a hip joint that squeaks when they walk. What a nightmare that would be.
So happy 4th birthday bionic hip, glad to have you aboard!