Building back, better

Since my earlier post announcing that I had a date scheduled for my hip replacement surgery, many friends have reached out to me and shared their experiences. According to these veterans of orthopedic surgery, I’m going to feel absolutely great…in about three weeks. (Alrighty, then.)

Several were quick to share advice, what to do, what not to do, and the things you don’t want to go through this without.

  • Do not refuse the pain meds. Apparently some of my friends were feeling pretty good following the procedure and felt like they were doing ok without the medication. Until they didn’t. Just like anything else, staying ahead of the pain is the way to go.
  • Get a special seat for the loo that will raise the seat by several inches so that you don’t have to sit too low for comfort.
  • Must have the leg lifter/yoga strap type thing that helps get your weaker leg into bed.
  • The sock putter-on-er.
  • Fiber, fiber, fiber.

In the same way that our children had a supply list to return to school, there’s such a thing as a Hip Kit. All the things you didn’t know you needed to have are packaged in these kits and loads of companies are offering an assortment of these.

As far as the stuff is concerned, I think that I have more than I need. But what about my mind? The patient materials include a timeline for preparing in advance with exercises, lists of medications and supplements to stop taking, the permission slip form that one’s dentist needs to sign to confirm that there’s no active inflammation or issues going on. Clearing your home of clutter and putting a plastic bag on the passenger seat so that you can get in and out of your vehicle more easily.

The list briefly includes a reference to one’s emotional readiness.

There’s not a lot of info out there on how to prepare for this mentally. It’s major surgery and it’s technically “elective.” You know that you will feel better and that this will improve as time goes on but I’m pretty sure that first-timers like me are cautious and nervous about the surgery itself. Fortunately, my surgery history is very light. I had my tonsils out when I was a toddler. Both of my children had surgical deliveries and you know, that’s a time filled with joy and all the feel-good mom hormones so that you get past remembering the feeling of surgeons’ pulling and tugging in your abdomen.

I was really shocked that there are people who choose to go through this completely aware. There’s a spinal block that takes care of the waist down but no general anesthesia. Loads of benefits for avoiding full general anesthesia and I’m all for that. But, I honestly do not want to be aware of power tools, saws, and hammers working on my body. I’m told there’s some kind of twilight sleep that they will give me so that I am out. I’m relieved.

In all honesty, I’ve decided to see this as an opportunity for a reset and to use this time to make some changes in my life. I will be relieved of the pain that has held me back for a few years. It’s time for me to re-envision what comes next for me. I’m certainly emotionally ready for that. And, at some point, we will emerge from this pandemic. We will be able to do the things that we may have taken for granted before. Our newly-elected president and vice-president used the slogan, “Build Back Better,” and that’s an apt theme for how I am feeling about life at this point.

I have the kit and my bedroom is ready for my return. I’m packing my overnight bag and getting my things together. I know when I am to get my test for covid and the date and time that I need to arrive for surgery.

My surgeon called last week and due to the surge that the University of Iowa Hospitals is experiencing right now, hospital officials are carefully budgeting staff and beds. My surgery was moved a day later than originally planned. He asked me if I was ready. I told him that I went from worrying about the procedure itself to worrying if I would be able to have it due to covid and if there would soon be restrictions on elective surgeries. I told him that I was relieved that this is still going forward.

“Yep, you’re ready.”


Published by Laura Nelson Lof

I'm a lifelong Iowan and a proud alum of The University of Iowa. I'm a writer, an armchair political scientist, and an accomplished sports spectator.

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