How my recent hip replacement operation has resulted in pain free living, and has given me a new lease of life.
Yes, it’s a happy and positive blog post!!
Three months and three weeks ago I had a total right hip replacement due to degenerative osteoarthritis. Today I Nordic walked for 5.5k totally pain free and very fast (for me!). This, after my 4.5k dog walk earlier in the morning. I’m feeling very tired now, but very happy.
Back track to 2nd July when I wrote a post called “the one about pain“. I was in severe pain back then and was unable to walk Sid & Stan, my gorgeous whippets, for more than half an hour if I was lucky, and without crying. If you read that post, you’ll remember that my worst pain was the acute sciatica in my left leg caused by spinal stenosis. The arthritic pain in my right hip was pretty bad too and both combined to cause me to live a mostly sedentary life.
I was back and forwards between my spine and hip surgeons trying to decide which treatment should come first – the back injection or the hip replacement. The hip replacement won out and I had the operation on 26th July. I knew that the procedure would eliminate the arthritic pain but I didn’t dare think that the sciatic pain in my other leg would also disappear…
But that is what has happened!!!
I’m very grateful to my surgeon, Tim Waters from West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust who did a marvellous job on my hip and enabled to me to be up and about, off pain medication and walking stick within three weeks of the operation. Back to the tennis court for me next summer!!
Of course, me being me, I was more than a little bit anxious about having another major operation – my fourth in two and a half years. As I’ve written before, the scariest part of an operation for me is the general anaesthetic. I hate being out of control and being put under is probably as far out of control as its possible to be. On the day of the operation, there was good news and there was bad news.
The good news – I would be having the operation with a spinal block rather than a general anaesthetic, meaning that I would be awake during the surgery. I can’t begin to explain how happy this made me…more to follow on how this actually felt.
The bad news – the operation was on the hottest day of the hottest summer ever! And my lovely ancient hospital had no air conditioning and no fans – trying to sleep after the operation was going to be fun…again, more on this shortly.
Many hip replacements are done with spinal blocks now as it means a quicker recovery, and a quicker discharge. I had my phone and noise cancelling headphones with me and I’d put together an operation playlist – an eclectic and random mixture of Simon & Garfunkel, Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet, the Hamilton, Greatest Showman and Saturday Night Fever sound tracks, and last but not least, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
After a light sedation, I was wheeled into the theatre, manoeuvred onto my side and had a lovely warming blanket, made out of a kind of big bubble wrap, placed over my body. Once I’d got my music playing I felt like I was in a cave – all warm and snuggled up. Seriously, it really did feel lovely. And I didn’t feel any pain, just some tugging. The senses that were used were my hearing and smell – there was quite a lot of sawing and hammering – muffled by the Bee Gees & Co – and some interesting odours. I’ll leave that to your imagination!
All too soon – I hadn’t got far in my playlist – I was being wheeled into recovery where I stayed for only about 30 minutes, compared to the three or four hours that I spent there after my generals. Another big plus for the spinal.
Back on the ward, the heat really kicked in, exacerbated by the lovely surgical stockings, which I’d have to wear for 28 days, and the pumping contraptions on my legs which are used to prevent blood clots. It was one of the worst nights that I can remember, as I did have some pain and the Oramorph that I was prescribed just made me feel sick. Still, it was only one night.
The next day, the physios got me out of bed and walking down the ward on crutches. I was discharged on the second day after surgery, was off the crutches after 10 days and haven’t looked back.
This operation has had an amazingly positive effect on my life. Not just in terms of my pain, but also my mental health. Now, almost four months on I realise how terribly affected I was by the chronic pain that I suffered for three years.
I intend to set some fitness goals and they will include regular nordic walking, a return to the tennis court and a long distance walk – something like the Thames Path Challenge. It will also be easier for me to look after my Sunnypatch blooms cut flower patch.
So, thanks again NHS. I’m grateful for the care and expertise that I’ve been given and I don’t intend to squander my new lease of life. Onwards and upwards!