Four Weeks From the Surgical Suite

When last we saw our heroine, she was in and out of awareness in the post-surgical recovery area. Our last episode ended on a note of hope, on the next stage of the journey to pain-free walking.

Truthfully, gentle reader, our heroine felt like she had been blindsided by a truck.

When I started to regain consciousness, I was surrounded by an entirely different medical team. My personal escort who said comforting and encouraging things was gone and replaced by a nurse who said that I really needed to pee. Like right now. Apparently I was loaded with fluids and I have a cast iron bladder because the entire care team was astonished that they pulled almost two liters out of me. I could not move any part of my body, even opening my eyelids was an ordeal. I do remember a nurse saying that I was able to have additional pain medication at that point if I wanted it. I was responsive enough to remember that everyone said to “stay ahead of the pain.” So, yes, please. Shoot me up.

Turns out, that was the entirely wrong answer.

Within moments they began wheeling me through the hospital halls, in elevators with other medical professionals, and into the corner of the shared room where I would spend the night. I was so woozy and ill when this team of caregivers swooped in to put squeezy things on my lower legs, took my vitals, and introduced themselves to me. I remember that I wanted to throw up when the physical therapist spoke to me about getting up to walk.

As the evening went on, I had no strength whatsoever. Just sitting on the edge of the bed made me faint. I was going to have to get up to use the commode with no idea how I wouldn’t just fall flat on the floor. I mean, how does my brain know how to make this new thing work?

My blood pressure is usually ideal, textbook perfect. However, there have been times when it has run low. Like 96/60. That evening post-surgery, it dropped to 70/55. I was dehydrated and was later told that I had lost a fair amount of blood but not enough to require a transfusion.

It was a crummy night. Hospitals do not advertise that they provide an environment for a restful night of sleep. I remember being envious of the tiny 86 year old woman who softly snored on the other side of the curtain. In the morning, I was absolutely certain that I would not be able to go home that day as planned. I hadn’t walked any farther than a few feet to the bathroom and back. The idea that I could walk up even one stair was out of the question.

And then Tyler came in. He was a tall lanky cheerleader who was also a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Within 45 minutes, I had walked the hallway with my new spiffy walker and up and down stairs. Tyler said that I would be safe at home following his instructions and a brown paper bag of coated aspirin, senakot, tylenol, celebrex, mid-level pain meds, and the next level pain medication that has been mentioned many times in the news over the past several years.

I have been at home now for four weeks and I am utterly astonished at my recovery. Week one was no joke and I often wondered if I had done the right thing, getting this surgery. But I grew stronger, walking came easier, getting in and out of bed is still a bit of an acrobatic maneuver. I am a little surprised that it takes a much smaller incision to birth a human being than it is to replace a hip joint. I’ve also learned about myself through this entire experience. After living with my poor arthritic hip for so long, it now feels perfectly natural to walk completely upright with no limp, no sway, and no pain.

Our heroine has now, honest and for true, started on her new journey to unassisted, pain-free walking.

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.

3 thoughts on “Four Weeks From the Surgical Suite

  1. Laura, So happy for you that this surgery worked out so well. Living with pain is no fun, but a part of growing older. We need to maintain our bodies the best we can with proper diet and exercise to stay healthy. But I can understand how difficult that can be when it is painful to walk. You made the right choice to get over this speed bump in your journey. Now you can move on, pain free! I broke my right knee over backwards when I was 17. The surgeon sewed and wired it back together. I didn’t bother me that much when was younger, but as I got older the arthritis set in and the accompanying cartilage deterioration. The more that I accepted the pain as my new normal, the less it bothered me. I am bone-on-bone now in this joint and can get it replaced at any time. But I am going to wait it out. Not out of fear of the surgery or pain, but out of curiosity of what else it has to teach me.

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  2. Laura, so glad to hear you are on the mend. Sounds like you had a pretty rocky start. I totally understand your thoughts about doing the right thing. I sure thought that after having a knee down. Here’s to many years of pain free walking .
    🚶‍♀️

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  3. Hi Laura.
    I so enjoyed “catching up” and reading of your journey (thus far). I too am on a journey – having had Major spine surgery to remove a benign tumor in my neck. I TOTALLY relate to the whole process of sitting up in bed and getting to the bathroom and back! 5 months out and I am doing better and better every week. I pray your recovery continues to progress quickly and smoothly. Blessings.

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