A Loco Viewpoint
The Hip Revision
Recently, I underwent a hip “revision”; not a replacement, but a “fixer upper”. Like all hip patients, which you, gentle reader, have a great chance of eventually becoming, I wanted answers to my many questions. Luckily, the surgeons provide a compulsory “hip class” where you learn the do’s and don’ts of the procedure. Afterward, instead of a degree or certificate, I received the official guide to having your hip replaced in the form of a booklet called, appropriately, “The Official Guide to Having Your Hip Replaced”. (Not a bad read; long on facts but painfully short on plot or character development.)
As informative as the booklet was, however, there are a number of info-nuggets the author neglected to mention. For instance, they don’t tell you not to worry if you forget to shave your surgical site since the Krazy-Glue on the adhesive bandages will eradicate all your pesky hairs at the first dressing change.
With my vast experience of having two hip jobs behind me, I have expertise to share. (I’d write a book about it, but don’t want to be bothered by a swarm of hip replacement book author groupies.) The expertise regards the equipment and activities that are an enormous part of life for the long months on the way to hip-hip-hooray.
The first thing you’ll need is a walker. Yep, a walker. Nothing screams “Cranky old guy” like a walker. Just feeling the rubber covered grips makes you want kids to stay the hell off your lawn. However, since you will find that your vanity and dignity are the first two casualties in any medical procedure, you will come to appreciate your walker as you might a faithful pet. After all, in a suddenly unsteady world, the walker provides four more points of balance with the ground, giving you a wonderfully false sense of security. Better still, with its cage-like design; one can pretend they are hang gliding about the house, depending on the level of pain medication in your system. Pimped out properly, with reusable grocery sacks as saddlebags, your walker can also be your pack mule for lugging all the stuff you’ll need for wherever in the house you collapse from exhaustion.
Crutches, on the other hand, are infinitely cooler than walkers. With crutches, you can pretend you broke your leg racing down the ski-out at Sunshine or anything else that sounds way cooler than having a hip replaced. (Sadly, there are darned few things less cool than having a hip replaced… having a goiter condition, maybe.) Crutches are only half as stable as a walker, though, and look ridiculous with saddlebags. In rough terrain, crutches are your best choice, unless your walker has a gas engine and ground grip tires. Make sure you get the spring-loaded cleats for the end of the crutches with sharp steel picks for digging into snow and ice. Not only do they give you better grip on uncertain surfaces, they are really handy for hurrying up slow-pokes in the Wal-Mart express line.
As you strengthen, you will eventually exchange walker and crutches for a cane. On the coolness scale, canes fall somewhere between the other two modes. You can increase the coolness quotient of a cane with a top hat. The top hat, however, only works if you’re wearing a tux. Wearing a top hat with sweats, for example, or a tight fitting track suit, just looks stupid.
The best thing about canes is they allow you to have one hand free when walking. What a blessing! Just being able to carry a bowl of cereal to the table is a bigger deal than winning the bonanza at the Calmar Legion bingo. It’s impossible to explain the thrill to someone who has never lived with needing their hands for walking. A cane will be the last walking aid you will use before you graduate to aids-free living. An important tip; when you finally toss your cane, don’t post on Facebook “I am finally free of aids!”.
Also part of the rehab process is a cruel form of sadism called “physio”. This is a series of 15 very specific leg movements that must be done just so, twice a day, or your new hip will spring from your poor stapled body like that dude in Alien. The exercises sound easy; lift your knee straight up while standing, slide your bad leg to the side while lying down, that sort of thing. Don’t be fooled, however. It starts out so painfully, you’d prefer water-boarding to doing your physio.
After all this talk of excruciating agony, we now come to what was supposed to be, the fun part of the ordeal; the pain medication. Unfortunately, however, I was keenly disappointed in this regard. I was given Oxycodone of which I only knew three things; if you take one with booze, you’ll die, they’re so addictive, three or four will hook you for life and they are, amazingly, a popular street drug. What I didn’t know is they bung you up worse than eating an entire cheese factory’s daily output in one sitting. It’s like getting a Polyfilla enema. How they could possibly be of interest to recreational drug user is inexplicable. I quickly decided I’d rather experience the increase in hip pain than the soul-wrenching agony of trying to poop a cantaloupe and chucked them as soon as I could stand it.
There are other aspects I could cover; the crotch pillow, the grabber, the sock puller-onner that almost works, to name a few, but don’t want to spoil all the surprises. For those that face a hip op imminently or even eventually, I wish you luck. For the rest, you should count your blessings.
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