Post Hip Op – Week 2 Onwards

8 10 2018

My ankle, the last of my swellings, had gone down and my hip was now unbruised. I still had two weird and nasty scratches across my bum parallel with the scar – we all wondered about those including the nurse who took my clips out at the end of week two. Maybe the surgeon was frustrated by how it was going at some point and took it out on my bum? who knows…

Having my clips out wasn’t much fun as, essentially, they are just huge metal staples. I did have a laugh with the nurse though with us picturing him there with a huge stapler punching away! It wasn’t very painful anyway, just uncomfortable…

I was now sleeping better as I’d found a combination of things to stuff in my bed to help me. I’d put a rolled up sleeping bag behind my pillows and two pillows, one above the other, on it so that I could start the night fairly sat up and then gradually sink to a flattish position during the night. Sleeping completely flat on your back I would think was fairly impossible without ruining your back as your back isn’t that shape. I found it helped to put another thin pillow below my thigh and knee so my back and leg were both in a happier position – otherwise I just got vile back and bum-ache. My hip preferred it too. So now I had a cushion and a pillow stuffed in my bed, one for my ankles to prevent heel pressure sores and one behind my knees so I wasn’t too flat. With the pillows and drugs I slept tolerably well and managed to get my eight hours in…

I continued with the painkillers at night (but none in the day at all) from when I got home post-op until around my fourth week when I dared to try a night without. I was uncomfortable by the morning but not in pain as such so I decided not to take any more…

The weirdest thing was each morning, when I awoke and my body automatically went to stretch, my operated leg didn’t stretch at all but did completely the opposite. It compressed upwards as hard as it possibly could with all the muscles contracting really hard – and it would do this several times in succession. I was really worried it would cause some damage and in the end asked Dr. Google (as always). Apparently muscle spasms are common post-op and I gather these must have been a type of these. I also ran it past the surgeon when I saw him in my third week and he wasn’t concerned either.

In my second week, I set out for a walk on my own towards the next village. I passed the distant house I’d reached before and knew, just around the corner, was my favourite horse who gets put out to graze the verges. I continued to the corner (quite a way) to see him. He was a fair distance further on but I really wanted to go and have a chat so I continued to him. He was a bit taken aback with the crutches and I had to kind of hide them as they were upsetting him. We had a brief chat and I realised my leg was now pretty tired and I had all that way to go back again. There is a bench another few hundred yards further on and, although it meant extending my walk even further, I decided I had to go to it so I could sit for a while.

I reached the bench and had a good ten minutes sitting to rest my leg. I then had a really long walk back! I stopped by the horse again and then, about half-way back, to talk to some baby cows for five minutes while I leaned on their gate. They found the crutches fascinating! In total, it took me half an hour to get back excluding rests and, when I measured the walk on the map, found I’d done around 1.5 miles. Quite a pathetic distance really but it seemed a long way and my leg didn’t thank me one bit and was stiff and sore for a few days! I despaired of ever reaching the next village which is where the bus stop is…

By the end of the second week I was pottering around the house with no crutches at all. I was still taking both to go out walking though. By the end of the third week, I did a short half-mile walk with no crutches at all – down and up a big hill. I managed but it seemed pretty hard – it didn’t hurt though, just a lot of effort.

I’d by now discovered that my operated leg, previously exactly the same length as my good leg, was now around two whole inches longer! This was causing me problems standing – I either had to put a leg out to the side and have my knee at a funny angle, or put it out in front of me. It was interesting standing at bus stops in week three as I’d stand awhile on my normal leg and then swap to the other leg for a while, shooting up two inches and causing some very funny looks down the queue. I’m now 6 foot 1 on my bad leg – I was originally 6 foot tall but had shrunk an inch or so with age and sagging to 5’11” – not that I’ve ever admitted it before – I’ve always been proud of being so tall…

The leg length difference doesn’t cause many problems while on crutches, although I have to walk on the right-hand side of the road to take advantage of the slope down from the crown of the road for my longer leg. Walking without crutches however is extremely ungainly due to the difference. I don’t think it bodes well for my joints on either leg unfortunately…

I’d been having to inject myself in my stomach daily with blood-thinning injections. I’m perfectly used to doing injections as I’ve done them for my mother and also on many animals in my farming-training at college. It’s a bit different having to do it to yourself though, especially when you know it’s going to really hurt (it does in your stomach) and, when your skin leathers up with the constant injections, it gets really hard to get the needle to go in at all! By the end of week three, I decided I wasn’t doing my last week – I was surely active enough not to need them. I did two more injections for good measure and then took the sharps bin and unused syringes to the doctor for disposal!

At the end of week two I had a drugs shortage – the pill I considered the most effective at nighttimes (partly because I think it also helps you sleep) was the Gabapentin and I only had three left. I tried a night without them and had a bad night so rang the doctor the next day to see if I could have some more. As I was only on Paracetamol and Ibuprofen anyway, and only at night, he said yes and gave me another 2 week supply.

By week three, I managed finally to walk to the bus stop with Richard and go into town. It was wonderful! I could people-watch (and Wigton can be pretty interesting), I could sit on a bench in the sun and eat cream cakes, I could go to the bank and I could enjoy a ride out on the bus. This was great and I started to go most days – Richard was going most days he was at my house anyway for something to do. I even managed to find a cheap pair of lightweight shoes which gave good foot coverage for the oncoming cold weather and I could slip straight into them without even a shoe-horn – result!

The only time the trip into town went wrong was this last week (week four). We got on the bus and it was one which went the long way round to town. When it got as far away as possible from town, it broke down. It was a freezing cold day and I was in sandals with no socks and not enough jumpers so I was frozen. It was too far to set off and walk so we had to wait. They diverted the next bus our way and we reached town and did our shopping. We then waited at the town bus stop for the return bus (me amusing the other waiting passengers with my growing/shrinking trick)… as the bus neared the stop, the driver was signalling to us – it appeared he wasn’t going to go any further. Turned out that bus had broken down as well! The whole trip was over four hours instead of less than two and I was frozen when I got home!

Today I went for another crutchless walk and managed 1.5 miles – I was sore when I got back though and found it hard and slow…

Now, approaching my fifth week post-surgery, I’m due to have my first physiotherapy! Why so late? Well, the first appointment she reckons she made with me I had no knowledge or record of (strike 1). The second appointment, I rang the hospital transport detailed on the reverse of my letter… and it never turned up! (strike 2). With the NHS system, two strikes and you’re out so I was struck off the list. We eventually got to speak to each other and I explained it wasn’t my fault and so she agreed to put me back on the list but said she could only offer this appointment which was exactly five weeks since my operation. I’m back at work a week after that so not good! I hope they let me drive…

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11 responses

17 10 2018
tessapark1969

Glad to hear you are getting out and about. Agree the length difference is a worry though, hope there is a solution.

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18 10 2018
mountaincoward

the only solution, unfortunately, is built-up shoes – and you can only get two pairs per year! 😮 I go through a lot more shoes than that with walking everywhere.

I’m wearing odd shoes at work – one red, one black – simply because one has a heel and the other is dead flat. I don’t really care how funny it looks and it’s a conversation point 😉

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15 10 2018
chrissiedixie

Glad you’re making progress, but a bit of a bummer about the physio appointments!
I can’t get my head round the 2″ difference though…..

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15 10 2018
mountaincoward

I can hardly get my short leg around it either! 😉

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9 10 2018
underswansea

Good to hear you are up and around and on your way to a full recovery. The longer leg may yet become useful. You can walk with it on the downhill side when you are traversing the slopes when you get back in the mountains. 🙂 Take care. PS Sorry for prematurely hitting send, making two replies.

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9 10 2018
mountaincoward

I’m seeing it as one reply… There is one walk I love to do where the downhill side is on the correct side. But there’ll be lots of occasions when it won’t. My walking buddy Richard says I’ll have to walk backwards then!

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9 10 2018
Blue Sky Scotland

Enjoyable post to read if not to go through. All you need is some plastic surgery now every few years and some body reconstruction and you’ll be living the life of the old Hollywood stars. My sister had her knees and hip done in OZ and she is improving slowly week by week( in her 70s now) as well but it takes time. After getting knocked down it took me two full years to kneel down on a carpet and sit back on my heels without any pain but I was back hillwalking within six months as you don’t kneel down for that.
Onwards and upwards Carol- one km at a time…
Best wishes.
PS have you got your bus pass yet? I see England is starting to scrap concessions for public attractions and charge for bin uplifts in a further erosion of things you used to get for free.

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9 10 2018
mountaincoward

I haven’t been able to kneel right down for years now – my knees won’t fully bend with my weight on them (little as it is!). Also don’t think I’d be able to crouch on my heels any more either, although I was so good at that in my youth, my parents said I must have been a red indian!

Oh, and WE won’t be getting bus passes 😦 They’ll put the age up and up and then pull them before they ever let us have them

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8 10 2018
Jim R

Oh the trials and tribulations you must endure. It does sound like you are making progress. Good. I’m concerned about the difference in leg lengths. That can’t be good for you in the long term. Being out of balance might cause other muscle and joint issues to develop. Can’t the docs just saw out a 2″ section to get your legs the same? 😳 (Probably not funny) Or will you need a shoe with a lift insert?

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8 10 2018
mountaincoward

There actually is an operation to saw 2 inches out of your other leg but not sure how much room the prosthesis down the femur takes up – might not leave a lot of room. But you’re right it will, and does, cause joint problems and other problems to my legs. My knee on my operated leg is being worked on the side instead of straight so is hurting after a longer walk. Also, my good hip is also agony after a longer walk. Will have to be the built-up shoes but I can’t get those until around January I don’t think…

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9 10 2018
Jim R

Thanks for the explanation.

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