Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Bright and early Thursday morning I was scheduled to go to my pre-surgery hip class.
I was flying home from Montana the night before, but thought I’d have plenty of time to sleep before I had to get up for class. Boy, was I wrong.
After what was supposed to be a five and a half hour journey back to Indiana turned into a twelve and a half hour affair, I was exhausted, in a lot of pain, and ready to sleep until Wednesday.
But, after a few hours sleep, I rolled out of bed to head to the hospital for class.
The purpose of this pre-hip surgery class was to cover any and everything a total hip replacement (THP) patient would need to know.
It was also for coaches, so they know what they need to do to best care for their loved one.
As I expected, my classmates out-aged me by at least 35 years. Who knew at 30 years old my body would have more in common with the 50+ crowd that the 30-something crowd?
Aah, hip replacement class, I've never felt younger.
My mom is my THP coach. They said they’ve found a significant difference in the speed of recovery with people who have had coaches vs. not. One other person in class had someone with them. The others didn’t bring anyone along, and didn’t seem to have anyone specific lined up. This made me both unbelievably sad (#empathproblems) and also immensely grateful.
Having two failing hip joints and facing two total hip replacement surgeries can feel isolating. It’s not only because I’m having my surgery hours away from most of my community, but also because young people needing joints replaced isn’t common in most circles. Not everyone knows how to show up for you, or what the process and recovery actually looks like.
Maybe if I were 30 years older, it would feel less intimidating, because everyone knows older people need hips replaced all the time. All the papers and info and packets I’d be given would have my peers on them. And hell, maybe someone else I knew personally would be going through it at the same age. This is most definitely not the case for a 30-year-old.
Mom & Dad to the rescue...
My mom (lead hip coach) and dad (assistant hip coach) are my ride-or-dies through these surgeries. Big shoutout to Maureen and Larry.
What I’m learning from this process, is that while total hip replacements have become more mainstream and medical advancements have made them much more accessible and “easier” than they once were, it’s still a serious, painful process and a major surgery.
Hip Replacement Surgery ain't a Walk in the Park... or is it?
Because of what people have said about total hip replacements, I’ve had it in my head that once I’m awake, I’ll be up walking like a champ the same day, have very little pain, and everything will be easy-breezy.
I’ve since learned otherwise.
It’s true, I will be up and walking some the first day. The goal is to add a little more distance every day. But, I won’t be walking unassisted (Oh hey there, sexy walker) and there will be pain. The pain will be different than what I’ve been experiencing the past 5 years, but it’s pain nonetheless.
I’m probably most intimidated by the fact that once I make it through this, I’m going to have to do it all over again when I get my other hip replaced. Some hospitals will do bilateral total hip replacements the same day, but mine isn’t one of them. They don’t recommend doing both at the same time, as it can increase the risk of blood clots and other pulmonary complications as well as make recovery more difficult. No thanks!
So, for those of you wondering what the total hip replacement pre-op process looks like, here’s a Readers Digest break down of what I’m doing to prep for surgery.
Schedule/register for surgery with my coordinator.
Pre-admission medical testing.
Preoperative total joint replacement class.
Preoperative Physical Therapy to go over at-home exercises.
Make a game plan for after I’m discharged.
Fill out Discharge paperwork.
Come up with two skilled-care facilities just in case things go south.
Stop taking all anti-inflammatories, products containing aspirin, herbal supplements and vitamins 10 days before surgery.
Consider filling out a Living Will.
Make sure you’re not constipated going into surgery because the narcotics are only going to make it worse. (This is unofficial advice. But if you’re like me, and you struggle with this chronically anyway, the nurse who taught my class said, “clear out”).
Remove nail polish
Night before surgery: Wash from the neck down with Hibiclens Skin Cleanser with a clean wash cloth for 3-5 minutes. No lotions, deodorant or anything else after. (read: My skin is going to feel like the Sahara Desert).
Repeat the Hibiclens again the next morning before leaving for the hospital (read: Dear God, someone get this girl some lotion).
Things to buy/acquire before total hip replacement surgery:
Walker and crutches.
Raised toilet seat.
Long-handled grabber tool.
Some kind of laxative to offset the narcotics.
At least two pairs of compression shorts.
At least two pairs of compression socks (hospital provides).
A chair that isn’t too low to the ground or too soft and has arms.
Slip on shoes with backs.
Non-slip tub mat/outside the tub mat.
Hibiclens medical-grade body soap (hospital provides).
Have I mentioned I hate to-do lists? Especially when paperwork is involved? I have mostly everything taken care of at this point… Except things like, calling to find out what nursing homes or “skilled-care” facilities my insurance covers. You know, just in case (double gulp).
On the upside, I finally have an excuse to buy myself a pair of Vans, which I’ve wanted for a while and here's the link so you can “OoO and Awe” over them. I also had a hell of a time finding compression shorts that were longer than my vagina. Tommie Copper and 2XU were the winners in this category. I’ve linked those as well, in case you need some suggestions.
"But Ronni, why didn't you get two shorts of the same brand?"
Well, because when dealing in shorts that are going to try and make themselves one with my hoo-hah, I'm an equal opportunity buyer. But mostly, I bought the 2XU pair first, before realizing I'd need more than one pair. Tommie Copper won for second purchase because they are less expensive and have equally great reviews.
Eagerness and Anxiety are the Name of the Game...
I’m eager for surgery and definitely feeling anxious at this point. I’m most nervous about the anesthesia. You can pretty much wave a flag in front of my face and I’ll get nauseous, so I’m a little worried about waking up feeling like I’m going to puke. But, the nurse said to tell the anesthesiologist about it and they’ll take preventative measures. That’s good. I’m all the way down for preventative measures.
I’ve caught myself feeling a little down and lonely the past couple of days. But, that probably has a lot to do with coming down from getting to hang out with several of my favorite people for two weeks. One of which is a baby who thinks I’m the coolest thing since breastmilk and who let me snuggle her every day. Baby snuggles are the best (as long as the baby isn’t a monster).
Distraction for the Win!
For now, I’m busying myself with work, writing my next book, rejecting the wearing of pants inside the house (and on the patio, because I do what I want), slathering on ample amounts of lotion as a pre-I’m sorry to my skin, trying to opioid prep by working on remedies for my chronic constipation (a side effect of my endometriosis and food allergies. Don’t give me suggestions. I’ve been dealing with this for over a decade, I know all the things), reading and re-reading my surgery prep guide, and drinking loads of water to try and off-set my impending nausea. Get like me, ya’ll.
My life > pretty much everything else.
This Total Hip Replacement life is weird and I feel a bit like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. I’m in unknown territory, but my doctor, surgery coordinator, nurses, physical therapist and Google have made me about as prepared as I can possibly be.
In two days, I’ll be rocking my first of two bionic hips. They’re all the rage among the chronic hip pain crowd.