The hospital stay is lot of the same stuff over and over again with a few milestones.
I spoke about Day 1 in my “The Day of Surgery” post. Lots of waiting and by the time my surgery was done there wasn’t much time left in the day. It’s an afternoon of relaxation… if you can call it that.
Day 2 – Full Day in Hospital
After being woken up every 4 hours for medication I surprisingly felt well rested. It was a quiet night without roommate interruptions or anything like that, which was nice following the long and busy day before. I utilized my ear plugs and eye covers to ensure that nothing woke me up that didn’t need to wake me up.
However, I didn’t get breakfast. My roommate did, but no one had put an order in for me, as I had come up to the room so late. I had to wait. I was so hungry, especially since I didn’t get to eat the day before either, but there is nothing I could do about it. It took about an hour or so for the meal to come upstairs and boy was I happy when it did! Except, funny enough, the breakfast tray was set on the table beside my bed and I couldn’t reach it… I couldn’t win! I had to page the nurse to help adjust the table and bring the food closer to me. Finally it was breakfast time! (This is how close a tray can be to your bed and you still can’t reach it because you can’t twist or basically move much outside your arm reach)
After breakfast they ended up moving me to another room as my roommate was leaving and they needed to make my room a male room. So I was moved to a corner room with a new roommate who also had a hip replacement.
Side Note: They don’t necessarily room you with an orthopedic patient. The first time I was in the hospital I was in a ward with 2 other hip replacements and on the second night a women who had a hysterectomy joined us. She was in a lot of pain and caused a lot of disruption to our room, it was very frustrating. I was worked about that this time around (I packed ear plugs for that reason) but luckily that was not the case.
This is the first time I get to work with the physiotherapists. They help me get out of bed and to walk with the walker. I walked into the hallway, turned around, walked to the bathroom (at which point I apparently went white and they were a little worried I was going to pass out), and then headed back to my bed (which they were worried about me passing out again). The amount of work that it takes to walk, even a few feet, is intense. The amount of energy that you have to put into your newly operated leg is a lot. You won’t just be walking like normal immediately.
Throughout the day I went for walks with my walker to practice and make sure my legs were moving and muscles were reacting. They were just simple walks out to the hallway and back. Only about 20 feet out to the hallway and then 20 feet back (generally). I took my time and rested when needed. (I have a video on Instagram on me walking with the walker @younghipandbionic – the link is at the bottom of each page)
They showed me the 6 exercises that I needed to do:
- Ankle pumping
- Thigh muscle settings
- Buttock muscle setting
- Hip and Knee Bending exercise
- Active assisted quads over roll exercises
- Single Leg Bridges
I’ll do a separate post to identify what each of these exercises are, or feel free to google it.
I was able to work on all of these exercises except one. I wasn’t able to complete the Active assist quads over roll exercises without someone lifting up my operated leg’s foot. My quad did not want to respond to anything this time around (and it would take a while to get it back) and it just felt like a 1,000 knives in my quad.
With the initial assistance of physio I sat up in an orthopedic chair. Meaning that the chair is set up higher then a normal chair (so it doesn’t need a wedge). After my first hip replacement I was not comfortable sitting. It just caused to much discomfort for me so I didn’t do it a lot. This time I felt very comfortable sitting and actually sat up in the chair and read for a while. It’s amazing how different things can be from the right to the left.
There is a lot of time to kill while in the hospital. Honestly, most of the time you will probably be napping, but I also make sure that I have a book (although, depending on the drugs, sometimes it’s hard to read and retain anything), my iPad and headphones (for Netflix, since there is WiFi) and colouring books (these are so relaxing and just a fun way to kill some time).
A friend of mine that works in Toronto came to visit over lunch. It was nice to see him. He isn’t a fan of needles or blood so he wasn’t to curious to see the bandage but that’s okay, it was still nice to have someone to talk too.
Besides physiotherapy (getting out of bed, walking, etc.) there are other milestones that you accomplished while at the hospital. Some may seem so small but when you have just been cut opened and been through such a life changing surgery, ever little thing deserves a little ‘Yippee!’
- You Walk (with a walker)
Pretty impressive for only having a new joint put in the day before.
- You Take Bathroom Trips
So how do I put this… you may be peeing in a pan for a little bit. A trip to the bathroom takes a lot of work! For my first hip replacement I couldn’t always get up easily enough to make it to the bathroom. During the day I would be able to plan a trip and take the time to get there, however, at night my body wouldn’t necessarily wake me up until I had to go! My first bathroom trip this time was with physiotherapy and it was great. Yes, I am referring to a bathroom trip as great but you will understand if you have been through it.
- Your Anticoagulant Shots Begin
This is the first time you will receive your anticoagulant shot, you will also be shown how to take them yourself for a total of 21 shots. You are shown to take them either in your Quad or in your stomach. Your preference. (My least favourite part of recovery)
- Disconnected from IV
Sometime during the day you are disconnected from the IV. Now, what I mean by that is they leave the IV in your hand but disconnect you from all the bags, so you are free to move around. The reason for the disconnection but not removing the IV is so that if they need to connect you back for for anti-nausea or anything else they can easily do it. They don’t have to put the needle back in or anything.
The thing that always bugged me about having the IV left in my hand (I mean, I completely understand why it’s done, don’t get me wrong) was that when I would later work with crutches blood would get back into the line, and having a needle in the back of my hand for 3 days just grosses me out a little… but what can you do.
I now have a few little scars on the back of my left hand from IVs but they are fading away slowly. Eventually, they will be gone, but for right now they are just a reminder of how strong I can be and what I have been through.
- You start taking a stool softener
This is the part that no one really talks about. Your body has been through a traumatic event and your now on pain killers. Your system won’t be moving for a while. Starting in the hospital they give you stool softeners, for which they also give you a prescription to take home. Trust me, it’s needed. You will celebrate a little when you finally poop.
Day 3 – Discharge Day
Again, throughout the night I was woken up every 4 hours for medication, but still felt well rested. Which is fine with me cause otherwise I would have woken up in pain. I got breakfast this time but no bagel (I can’t win!), so I asked my boyfriend to bring me a bagel from Tim Horton’s to make up for it.
I worked with physiotherapy again today, this time with crutches and we did the stairs. There is a set of stairs in the hallway of the hospital (something that can be moved around), having about 2 steps up and 2 steps down, to train on how to walk them.
Up with the good leg and down with the bad (operated) leg. The way that they got me to remember this the first time we did it is by thinking of it this way: Up with the good (heaven) and down with the bad (hell). It can feel overwhelming thinking about it with every step but just take your time and you will get there. Rushing up or down stairs is not worth it when recovering. (I know that sometimes I can get antsy taking the stairs slowly so I have to slow myself down)
Once I finished with physiotherapy they told me that I passed with flying colours, that meant I was allowed to go home if my vitals were all looking good.
By day 3 this is mostly just physiotherapy training. Or perhaps you can reach your breakfast… that also counts.
- Walking with crutches
Working with the physiotherapist is so important and this is another step towards full recovery. Being able to walk with crutches is an easier and more efficient means to getting around my home.
- You Learn to Walk Up and Down Stairs
I can now comfortably go from upstairs in my home to downstairs, and visa versa. Good up and bad down (I honestly recite that every time I walk stairs with crutches).
- Being Discharged
My vitals are good and the physiotherapists says that I’m all set. Home time!
By the time my boyfriend made it to the hospital I had been told that I was free to go! This happened much differently then my first time. Last time my heart rate was high and they almost did not let me leave the hospital because of it (the reason it was high is because I had a ward mate that caused me a lot of stress in relation to their family and young children running around late at night). They were concerned about my high heart rate but could also see that it was in relation to stress and eventually did let me head home to rest.
At discharge they give your prescriptions (for pain killers, stool softener, anticoagulants and physiotherapy) and your discharge papers. Keep all of this as your family physician and physiotherapist will need it. I keep mine in the grey folder that I go at Pre-Admission as a central area to store key documents.
I also meet with the social worker prior to leaving. Actually, this time around I didn’t as I had everything and no concerns, but the first time it was very re-assuring to know that she was in my corner and would help with anything I needed.
We were provided a wheelchair and my boyfriend wheeled me out to the vehicle. The first time an orderly took me to the car, which I greatly appreciated, but this time we didn’t worry about it (we knew what we were doing).
Over all I felt more comfortable being alone in the hospital and the entire process. For the first surgery I was so unsure of everything and didn’t want my boyfriend or family to venture to far. I wasn’t sure of the process and what to expect. I wanted someone with me to help me remember things so I wouldn’t forget something important (Yes, I’m a bit of a worry wort).
This time I had more confidence. I felt more independent and like an old pro. Fear is completely understandable and part of the process. Modern medical science has allowed humans to replace entire joints and basically walk the next day! It’s insane. And while you, if anyone out there is reading this, aren’t surrounded by this everyday the people at the hospital are and are more then willing to answer any questions or address any concerns. They are so supportive and want you to get onto the best path to recovery.