Post Hip Op – Week 1

26 09 2018

One week post-hip replacement and I was back home but suffering… Getting up and walking around was actually great as it got your circulation moving and stiffness decreased but sleeping all night in one position in a normal bed was pretty awful and my heel pressure sores continued until I found a little cushion for under my ankles. I admit to getting plenty of sleep but I was on quite a few pills, one of which might have been inducing sleep…

Sitting was absolute agony within not many minutes. This was mainly due to the raised chairs – my arm chair had been raised a full 8 inches! I’d also put 2 cushions and a blanket on my computer chair and had a raised seat in the conservatory with 2 cushions. There was also an illegal sun lounger in the conservatory (which made it into the lounge quite frequently) – this was actually the only chair I could get comfortable in for a long time – I could also sleep in this and was often tempted to give up on the bed and just sleep in the lounger. Why was it ‘illegal’? because it hadn’t been raised and was too low!

As with all the chairs, I found that the necessity to raise seats was a bit of a myth. Granted my 3 piece suite, at just 14 inches seat height, was obviously way too low. But the 8 inch rise was excessive and merely served to cut off all the circulation in my upper leg and apply pressure to my already hugely swollen hip, thigh and knee! In the end, we removed all but one of the risers on my armchair making it a mere 3 inches higher. I’d tried booster cushions but they also cut off my circulation and irritated my sciatic nerve.

The sun lounger was only an inch or so lower than my raised armchair but softer and obviously you could recline it to alter position which helped enormously. The main thing the occupational therapists would hate about it is that, if you didn’t lower yourself via both arms of the lounger equally, it would tip up as it is only light. Falling on the floor on a newly-operated hip is NOT something you’d want to do!

However, the not being able to sit on a seat which hasn’t been raised is really one of the myths in my opinion. It all depends on how you sit down. Definitely, you have to be extremely careful whenever you’re sitting down and give it your full attention. But you can sit at any height you like really (except really low seats) by ensuring you stick your operated leg out in front of you, lean back while holding onto the arms or back of the seat and lower away – just don’t bend your leg at the hip more than 90 degrees…

I also had a toilet riser of 8 inches but it was a frameless one and there was no actual way to fasten it to the toilet so it was a complete balancing act. Luckily, my toilet is very close to the wall and there is a wooden ledge you can hang onto whilst wedging yourself against the sink the other side. All very precarious in my first week! I removed the pedestal mat so my feet wouldn’t slip anyway…

My hip, thigh and knee, as already mentioned, were hugely swollen and black and blue for the first week. My thigh didn’t hurt providing you left it alone and the seats weren’t cutting the blood supply off but I had the great idea of rubbing healing comfrey oil into my thigh each night. This was excruciating as, even the lightest touch, was severely painful. I suppose I did have the equivalent of a broken femur though after they’d bashed a metal implant down the middle of the bone!

By the end of a week, however, my hip swelling had gone down – the thigh still hurt if you touched it but the bruising had more or less gone. My knee got so huge it was almost bursting my trousers but, luckily, a few days after the hip had, it also went down. It still hurt though – strangely, the hip itself never really did – nor did the wound… As soon as my knee went down, it was obvious the excess fluid had simply sunk down to my ankle. That was so huge I looked like I had a club foot and the skin was so stretched, especially in an evening, it felt like it would split open. I tried to put my feet up but my leg didn’t really like it – it also cut the circulation off in the back of my leg.

I tried a night or so of icing my ankle but it didn’t help… then, I had a much brighter idea… I soaked my face flannel in cold water, only barely wrung it out so it was plenty wet, and then applied it to my raised ankle. Much, much better as the wetness made my skin stretch easier so it didn’t feel like it was about to split. Also the cloth stayed put and was quite cold enough. I would thoroughly recommend this instead of messing about with bags of ice. I needed a resoak between each half-hour episode of whatever we were watching on the DVD player. Luckily, within another week, it also went down…

I was still doing my exercises but, instead of 4 times a day, was only really doing them twice as I was insistent on a couple of short walks per day. At the end of week one I was only walking quarter of a mile twice a day but it really helped. I also pottered as much as I could around the house on my crutches. By the end of that week, I could potter happily on one crutch – much less trouble as I could then carry food and drink in the other hand.

Now for another myth – that of not being able to pick up things out of low cupboards or off the floor without the picker/grabber thingie… Well of course you can! the restriction is that you mustn’t bend your operated leg at the hip beyond 90 degrees (or cross it past the midline) to avoid dislocation. To pick something up off the floor, you don’t need to bend your leg at the hip at all! You just lower yourself on your good leg at the knee while holding onto a work surface, cupboard or similar with the same hand, lean forward and cantilever your other leg straight out behind you and you can bend right to the floor if you want. Think giraffe! they don’t bend their legs to graze, they just straddle their front legs sideways out of the way so that their head can reach the ground. Incidentally, you are allowed to kneel on your bad leg providing you don’t exceed the 90 degree bend at the hip but you probably won’t for the first couple of weeks while your knee is still swollen and sore.

The picker/grabber thingie is essential for getting dressed however as you can’t bend to reach your lower leg and foot on your operated side and won’t be able to for a pretty long time! So, to don knickers, trousers etc. you have to hold the front in your grabber while you wriggle your bad leg into the first leg and then pull up till you can reach with your hand.

Washing feet is a nightmare and I didn’t have the equipment to do it properly. Luckily, Richard was there for the first week and a bit, then my friend came up for a couple of days, then he came back. Then I had three days on my own so got the farmer’s wife to come up and do my feet. Now, when I’m on my own, I have to stick a soaped loofah in the bottom of a bowl of water and slide my foot about on it and that has to do – my bath brush for my back isn’t long enough for my leg length. To dry them I just stand on the towel and rub the top of my foot by pushing the towel over with my good foot. My friend Nicole, who had her hip done a couple of years back now, ingeniously thought to dry her feet with the hairdrier!

Nicole has been a great help as I can ask her lots of stuff and she’s been through it all before. She sent me a great link the other day to a company who sell lots of useful stuff and I’ve ordered a special foot-washing device which sticks to the bottom of the bowl and you pre-soap it and then rub your foot on it to scrub – it even gets between your toes which, obviously, the loofah doesn’t. This, and many other helpful items including long brushes/sponges etc. can be bought from the Complete Care Shop here

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7 responses

17 10 2018
tessapark1969

Managed to miss this somehow – sounds painful – hope the recovery is progressing well.

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18 10 2018
mountaincoward

the only problem I’m now having is the leg length difference

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27 09 2018
Blue Sky Scotland

Lot of stuff there I never knew or even thought about. I used to love my old 1970s sun lounger and would still have it today if it hadn’t snapped apart eventually. Hope you are improving slowly but surely. I found after I got knocked down a few years ago and was in severe pain afterwards for around a month, sleep really was the best and most enjoyable part of the recovery.

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28 09 2018
mountaincoward

Well sleep after a hip op isn’t – I dread going to bed really as I know I’ll be really uncomfortable for a lot of the night despite my efforts with the cushions and pillows. You just can’t vary the positions enough if you have to stay on your back.

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26 09 2018
Jim R

It sounds like you are coming along ok. As I read the first several paragraphs, it sounded like you were having a tough go of it. I guess it was normal. Good to see you are making do. Friends are a blessing.

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27 09 2018
mountaincoward

The first week was very tough but I suppose there are many who have far worse first weeks. And I’m damn sure there are lots of folk who have far worse following weeks too!

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27 09 2018
Jim R

True

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