When I started this blog nearly a year ago, my original intention was to write about my own hip-replacement experience so that people going through the same thing would hear something more than the "OMG, it's going to be the best experience ever! It's the surgery version of Disneyland! You will be skipping around in fields of wild flowers while lute music sweetly serenades you in no time!" you get from most people in the hip-replacement world. (Yeah, I might pretend to be the Mother Theresa of the Arthroplasty, but everyone knows my real motivation was fame and fortune. Google AdSense, you owe me $20.18!)
I may not be able to offer any useful tips (beyond "try not to have your ass fall off"), but I sure can provide a travelogue of the hip-replacement wilderness for future travelers. I'm like the Lonely Planet Guide, but instead of telling you about what hostels are less likely to give you fleas, I'm telling you about how it feels to be awake while someone takes a power saw to your midsection. If you're squeamish, you might want to move along to the next post while dreaming of fluffy kittens.
On the day of the surgery, I got up at 4:30 a.m. so that I could have a shower. You might be thinking, "Why not get up at 5 a.m. and skip the shower?" Quick answer: Because I knew that my next shower would be three or four days later when I would be dizzy, covered in pink antiseptic wash and sitting on a shower chair swearing a blue streak because a) I dropped my washcloth and there is literally no way to pick it up without breaking hip precautions b) every time I look down I see the 30-something staples along the side of my leg and c) I have to juggle a hand-held shower that is twisting in my hand like a cobra and spraying water all over my towel. (Okay, that wasn't a quick answer).
After you check in to the hospital, you go to a pre-op holding pen where you are visited by a never-ending stream of medical professionals. It's like being Scrooge in "A Nightmare Before Christmas" but with fewer figgy puddings and more needles. For some reason, most of these medical professionals turned out to be young, attractive males. At first, I was like "screw Plenty of Fish! Bring on Plenty of Interns With Incredible Earning Potential! Let's hope that sleep deprivation has the same effect as beer goggles!"
Alas, it ended up like the most disappointing romance novel ever. Instead of having the hot young intern give me his phone number, he signed his initials in felt pen on my upper thigh so that the surgical team wouldn't slice up the wrong leg. (It's actually still there). When I originally met the hot anesthesiologist intern, I was like, "Damn, you can slide your epidural needle into my joint space any time." After the 5 attempts it took him to get my IV in, however, I had to amend that to "no...seriously...any time now....whenever you're ready."
After an hour of that, it was finally go time. I was wheeled into the OR room and transferred on to the table to get my epidural. I mentioned in a previous post that it took two epidural injections, probably about 8 or 9 attempts, and over a dozen local anesthetic doses to get me frozen. Seriously, if I heard the phrase "you'll just feel a little poke here...." one more time I was going to give them a little poke with my fist in their face. Now, I had a terrible case of mono a few years back and the result is that when I get tired, dehyrated, hungry or...I don't know....all of the above while being jabbed with needles over and over again, I tend to faint. Long story short: I keeled over like one of those goats that George Clooney stares at. They had to finish the epidural with me laying on my side.
This time, they did the hip replacement through the back way, which unfortunately means that I cannot look at my proper, gentlemanly, pink-polo-shirt-wearing surgeon without hearing Howlin Wolf's "Backdoor Man." So that I could assume the back-door position, (I'm not being dirty! That's what they call it!) they set up some vises, laid me on my side, and clamped me on to the table as if I was a 2 X 8 on a sawhorse. The powertools laid out by me did little to detract from the effect. It was a little like being part of some "saw the woman in half" magic trick, since people kept draping me with fabric and, you know, actually sawing through my bones.
To sedate me, they gave me a little sip of the Michael Jackson cocktail, Propofol, so for most of the surgery I was in and out of consciousness. I could feel twisting and hammering and sawing and pulling, but was drugged up enough to feel that the most appropriate response would be to have a conversation with Hot Anesthesiologist Intern. Lord knows what we talked about. I shudder to think. (Maybe this is what I need to talk to guys....surgical-grade sedatives). My final memory of the surgery: seeing one of the assistant surgeons with his face shield sprayed with drops of my blood informing me that they were just stitching me up.
After that, it's on to the recovery room. Because of the problems with the epidural, I was frozen for much longer than expected, which means that I spent four hours listening to an endless parade of morphine-addled old people, one of whom would not stop noting aloud how sorry she felt for a nurse who was a recent single mother, how very, very sorry she was, how unfortunate it was that some poor children were growing up without a father. It also meant that they had to put a catheter in which, even though I was partially frozen, still wasn't the most fun thing to ever happen to my lady business. (Those of you asking what exactly would be the most fun that ever happened to my lady business need to check yourself). Yes, having a hip replacement definitely means checking your dignity at the door.
And on that sexy note, I'm going to go back to sleep. Yup, still blogging with a little help from Vitamin D...and I'm not talking about the kind you get from sunshine.