I can be honest now, now that it’s all over. I was terrified. When I first heard I might need hip replacement surgery, I was a bit cavalier. Ho hum. Then I was given a reprieve. My doctor thought that because my pain wasn’t constant that the problem might not be bone on bone but due to inflammation. That reprieve lasted until December 18, when the Kaiser surgeon called me and said that the arthritis was bad, advanced and that taking cortisone shots would be a very short lived band-aid. The surgery was back on. Only this time, I wasn’t at all cavalier. I was really scared.
Until I had this operation, I’d never been in a hospital. I haven’t even had my tonsils out. When I closed my eyes and tried to visualize what might happen, all I could see was a big knife going into my back side deep. That’s as far as I could get. I’d shiver and try to distract myself.
I talked to a lot of people. 99% of my friends raved about total hip replacement surgery telling me that they were walking, dancing, doing yoga so much better than before and had no sign of anything irregular in their hip. I heard them but I think the information didn’t lodge anywhere important or as one of my parents used to tell me “it went in one ear and out the other”.
Hip replacement surgery has come a long way since doctors first starting researching and experimenting with the possibilities in 1962. I have titanium in my hip. Initially it was stainless steel. The ball part of the titanium is stuck into the hip socket tightly and only loosens up as the bone accepts the implant. In the past, the replacement could come loose after only 10-12 years and cause more pain. I’m under the impression this replacement could last the rest of my life.
I had this surgery February 23rd. I was released to my friends’ home February 24th. I couldn’t go to my home because of so many steps. On March 5th, I left my friends’ house and came to my own home. I thought the 45 stairs going up to my front door would take me 30 minutes to climb. It took me 5 minutes. It was easy. I followed instructions and used a crutch. California stairs, as opposed to New York stairs, are not high and much longer. That’s my observation anyway. I didn’t have to lift either leg very high. I was so excited.
The next day, a Physical Therapist came to my home and told me I should start using a cane. He said I was walking well. I was given exercises to do three times a day. Today, I can walk around my house without even using the cane. I go slow and step carefully. I have to go up and down 10 stairs to go to the bathroom. Easy peasy!
Today I have two big problems: The first is trying to respond to all the people who have cared enough to write me an e-mail and ask after my recovery. I tire easily and it’s hard to keep up with the correspondence. This is what a friend of mine would call a luxury problem.
The second challenge is balancing out activity-meaning my leg and foot are towards the ground: I’m walking or sitting at the computer, making a meal with rest–meaning my leg is elevated and above my heart. Each day I feel different but I have learned to follow directions and I err on the side of caution.
I’ve seen three different PTs and each one says that this operation is one of the best inventions of the 20th century. I now agree. Two months ago, I was checking on my will and my living will. I was scared and non-believing of all these other folk who related tremendous success. And here I am today, feeling in great spirits, pleased as punch with my progress and looking forward to my return to Paris!
I also have a lot of gratitude to the friends who have brought me over prepared food so I wouldn’t have to stand too long to make meals. To those who have driven me to stores or gone to the Library for me. Especially to my friend Susan who flew out here from Arizona to help me transition from chez Koch to chez Sara. She was a hard task master but I listened. I hope I don’t have to have another surgery to remember how precious all these friendships are. You know who you are.