The theatre nurse pushed my trolley along various corridors and eventually into the lift going down to the theatre where she parked me in the pre-op waiting area. I looked around, watched outpatients being seen to and tried to figure out what they were here for while trying to keep my thoughts away from my impending operation.
After a short wait, a male nurse pushed me into the anaesthetic room. Here I met the anaesthetist again who I had spoken to in the morning and a colleague of his. The man who appeared to be a nurse also remained in the room. I started shaking like a leaf again, couldn’t stop my teeth rattling and I was terrified. The doctor explained that he was about to administer the spinal anaesthetic and that both my legs would go completely numb. I had to roll onto my side while he prepared the anaesthetic, but I was still panicking. The nurse engaged me in conversation to calm me down and the two doctors were making casual conversation and talked about funny things to put me at ease. When I still couldn’t relax, they suggested that I should hold hands with the man who had been talking to me throughout the prepping. I squeezed his hand really hard and remember smiling and saying that I hadn’t held another man’s hand since I got married many years ago.
Shortly afterwards, I was taken into the operating theatre. Overhead, I saw the theatre lights that looked like the lighting I’d seen in hospital TV programmes…and then I came to in the recovery room 2 hours later.
The early Stages of Recovery
I opened my eyes and realised that I couldn’t move my legs. This nearly sent me into a panic again, when a nurse came over and told me that I was in the post op recovery room and that I’d be taken back to my room shortly.
A short while later, I was taken back upstairs and was transferred to my hospital bed. I had a tearful reunion with my husband who had patiently awaited my return. I was then put on a drip containing antibiotics and a nurse put special green compression socks on both of my legs to lower the risk of thrombosis developing. My feet were also fitted to a compression foot pump that gently moved them to prevent blood clots from developing.
Not long after, one of the surgeons came into my room to inform me that the operation had been a success. The anaesthetist also popped in to let me know that everything appeared to be ok and that my operated side would hopefully be numb till the morning. I told him that I was amazed that I hadn’t witnessed any of the proceedings in the operating theatre and he admitted that it had taken him a while to sufficiently sedate me.
I felt grateful, tearful and exhausted and was immensely relieved that the operation was over and deemed to be a success. I was unable to move my legs, but over the next hour or so feeling was slowly returning to my left leg. The right one remained numb, just as the doctor had promised. I could feel a large dressing on my upper right thigh and hip but no pain at that moment in time.
Strangely enough, I was very hungry and wolfed down my hospital dinner before dozing for a while.
The first Night
After my husband left in the evening, I tried to sleep some more, but sleep wouldn’t come. My right leg was still partially numb but I could feel a little niggling pain. I had already taking some homoeopathic arnica tablets to assist the healing process and when the nurse came around to offer me painkillers, I advised her that I would only take ibuprofen. She was doubtful that a dose of 400mg of ibuprofen would be sufficient to deal with the pain, but I insisted on not taking anything stronger. Funnily enough, the nurse even allowed me to use my own supplies of ibuprofen which she afterwards locked away in my locker again.
Sadly, the night staff weren’t as nice as the day nurses. Unable to get out of the bed to go to the bathroom, I had to call the nurses who used a bedpan. Although the operation had only been performed a few hours ago and I had been told to lie only on my back, the nurses roughly rolled me onto my operated side to push the bedpan underneath me. This really hurt and I was concerned about any damage being done to my new hip.
When I needed to use the bedpan for a second time that night, the nurse didn’t put it properly underneath me and the sheets needed changing. Again, I was at the receiving end of some rough handling and one of the nurses treated me in a condescending manner. Under normal circumstances, I would have given her a piece of my mind, but I knew I depended on her and her colleagues and was too tired and exhausted to have an argument.
I made it through the night but only slept for an hour or so as the numbness in my right leg and hip was fading and I was in a certain amount of discomfort.
First Day with a new Hip
In the morning, I took another 400mg of ibuprofen and tucked into my breakfast. I was in some pain, but it was manageable.
Shortly afterwards, the occupational therapist came to my room and brought me a walking frame and a pair of walking sticks. She then assisted me in getting out of the bed for the first time since the operation. This was difficult and painful, but I got there eventually. Walking with the frame wasn’t easy, but I made it to the bathroom. Later on, I was encouraged to sit in a high back armchair rather than go back to bed.
When the physiotherapist arrived, we practised some walking with the frame which was slow and painful but I asked her for a second session that day. I also managed to walk to the bathroom myself and used the frame for a slow walk along the corridor of the ward I was staying in. All I could think about was getting better and going home.
I was exhausted but managed to sleep for a few hours during my second night in hospital.