Monday, February 15, 2010

My First Week as a Cyborg

Today is one week since my hip replacement surgery. At this point i can walk fairly well with a walker and my pain is minimal. I actually managed to get up (and down) my driveway this afternoon with my physical therapist. That was encouraging because going up and down inclines prior to my surgery was very painful. My leg is still pretty swollen and the area around my incision is so stiff that it feels kind of like i have a 2x4 taped to my thigh.

The surgery last Monday went fairly well, although it started later than it was supposed to. Surgery is sort of a 5-phase process. There's pre-op where they get you into an embarrassing gown and nifty socks, set you up with an IV, take your vitals, shave appropriate areas etc. Pre-op has this monitor with all of the on-going surgeries, like flight departures at the airport except it doesn't update to show you delays.

After pre-op is another staging area, where multiple people come around and ask about your medical history, and they mark the area for surgery so that there's general agreement about what's being done. This is also where you consult with the anesthesiologist. In my case, she recommended a spinal, which basically means that your lower half is completely turned off, so they give you an extra sedative to keep you in a medium sleep.

Next they take you to the actual operating room. Here they administer the initial anesthetic (spinals feel really strange), transfer you to the operating table, and knock you out. If you're lucky (as i was) that's the last thing you'll remember. I don't really remember much about the operating room. It was larger than i expected, almost like a classroom. My x-rays were on one wall. There were several people there when i was rolled in, but not the surgeon.

After the surgery, there's a post-op area (although that's not what they call it). I'm not really sure how long i was there. I woke up there, and was still pleasantly morphined. I can remember being in the room, with other patients and a few nurses, but i'm vague on what they actually did in this room.

Finally, they take you to a regular hospital room. I was catheterized and had a blood drain connected to my incision, but i didn't feel too terrible. I think it was around 2 in the afternoon at this point, but i'm only sure that there was still daylight. I was happy to find that i had no post-operative nausea, but i kept expecting it, even after i ate dinner.

I made it through the first night, and at 10am on Tuesday the physical therapist arrived to help me stand and walk for the first time with a walker. It was fairly hard, but i still had some morphine in my system so that helped. I managed a full lap around the hospital floor, which is apparently unusual. I did another lap later in the day with an occupational therapist, and finally made another excursion in the afternoon.

I was originally expected to go home on Wednesday, but because i had shown good progress they arranged for me to go home Tuesday night. The first couple of days at home were a bit tough (on me and my family). All of the biomechanical processes of standing, sitting, lying down, etc. are pretty tough. It hard to get from place to place with a walker, and you can't really carry anything with you.

So far, i've been really lucky. I never had any post-op nausea, and i haven't had any bad reactions to the Vicodin i take for pain, or the blood thinners i have to inject myself with every day. I've had a decent appetite, and i haven't had any problem with infections or fevers. My physical progress is encouraging and i get a bit more mobile every day. I'm hoping that this week will show as much progress.


J said...

Welcome to CyborgLand. Actually, all of my Borg parts were acquired so long ago that I used to refer to myself as the 6 million dollar man - that should give you some idea of when it happened.

But I've went a couple of decades now without a new borg part, just enhancements to existing borg parts.

I'm thrilled to hear all went well because (I guess I can tell you this now) I have been scared sh*tless for you. I'm not a fan of surgeries, but when one is as extensive as yours, it is almost too much for my little mind to comprehend.

Congrats, my friend. We're now on the other side of this.

How long a warranty do those puppies come with?

Mike said...

I have a newer model hip that has ceramic parts on the joint surfaces. These have extremely low wear, so it is presumed that they will last almost indefinitely if some care is taken not to damage them. On the other hand, nobody knows since they haven't been around long enough.