Preplanning Key to Hip Replacement
A holiday Hallelujah to you! Four weeks after hip replacement surgery, I feel much improved.
I shrieked a joyous whoop when I finished my anticoagulant medication. The treatment is mandatory to prevent post-surgery blot clots. It involves three weeks of shots, right into the belly. I still have two to three more weeks to worry about dislocating my new hip. I cannot sit on a regular toilet, bend to the floor, cross my legs or drive. My physical therapist explained, “You are waiting for the ligament that surrounds your new hip joint to heal. Ligaments heal slowly. Couch potatoes and athletes heal at the same rate, at about six to eight weeks.”
Although I do more each day, including walks and rehabilitation exercises in a pool, I still needs lots of help. If you undergo this arduous surgery, here are some tips.
- Plan ahead for your post-surgery needs.
- Do not go home alone. During the first three weeks after surgery you will need round-the-clock help for personal care, driving, housekeeping, shopping and meal preparation. Consider asking a relative to stay over, hiring help, or staying in a rehabilitation facility.
- Organize a small army of assistants. At first my spouse helped, then when I felt safe to be alone, he returned to full-time work and my friends pitched in. They brought me lunch, books, ran errands, drove me to the pool, etc. I also used housekeeping help for general cleaning and the laundry. I planned my surgery over the holidays so my husband lost less work time and my children could help.
- If you have a spouse, set up an easily accessed separate room for yourself. Put all your equipment there: the toilet-commode, medications, dressing tools, clothes for home wear, walker, crutches. During the first three weeks I woke up frequently during the night. Separate bedrooms allowed my husband much-needed sleep.
- You will not be permitted to bend more than 90 degrees at the waist. To dress easily, buy slip-on clothes such as sweats, turtlenecks, T-shirts, leggings and over-the-head pajamas; and slip-on shoes.
- Purchase several grabbers, which are long-handled tools with pincers at the end that allow you to pull up bedcovers, grab objects on the floor, help you with your clothes. The hospital discharge planner can help locate them. Buy more than one, in case you drop a grabber on the floor.
- To prevent your crutches from crashing to the floor when you rest them against the wall, turn them upside down. The rubber underarm support provides a better base than the crutch tip.
- A heating pad provides me with more pain relief than most medications—and it doesn’t have side effects.
- Start rehabilitation exercises before surgery to build the extra strength you’ll need. Visit a physical therapist and master the necessary exercises. If possible, locate a physical therapist who uses a swimming pool. My favorite is El Cerrito’s Physical Therapy Innovations; (510) 524-2177.