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A lot of disabled people live with dislocated hips which is totally harmless to walk around with and doesn’t need to be corrected unless it starts to give you pain. When I was born my hips were totally out of the socket and my whole life, I had no issue with it so doctors told me if it doesn’t hurt don’t fix it! Recently one of my hips started to give me a lot of pain so that is when I knew I had to consider surgery or learn to cope with the pain. This surgery is more extensive than your standard hip replacement because my hips already dislocated (they usually are already attached) and doctors have to cut the bone which they don’t typically do in a standard hip replacement. There was so much I wish I could have known before I had surgery because my decision might have been different if I knew more. If you are considering hip replacement surgery and are disabled and want to know more of what to expect besides what your doctor will tell you here is what I experienced during my hip replacement recovery.
Walking will be incredibly slow- For the first six weeks of my recovery, I was on total bed rest because with my level of Spina Bifida you can’t teach me how to apply ten or fifteen percent pressure like you can with most people. I have limited feeling below my knees and none in my feet so you can’t ask me to apply limited pressure like you can for most people. For most all my surgeries I am usually up walking around within four weeks but this one was different and I couldn’t walk around even if I wanted to because it was necessary for me to on total bed rest for at least six weeks. My muscles got weak and I lost movement I have never lost before because I was not moving for so long. At first, it kinda scared me because I wasn’t sure if it this loss of movement was permanent but thank goodness it’s coming back slow. For the first couple of weeks I had a therapist come to my house to do rehab but now since I am able to go to a doctor’s appointment my insurance won’t cover at home therapy so I am tranferring to an outpatient facility to continue to get physical therapy.
You may need to take a taxi home- After a hip replacement transfers are hard because you have so many hip precautions and often take two people. Before I had this surgery I never thought that transferring into my mother’s vehicle would be that much of an issue because with previous surgeries it never has been. Before they discharged me from the hospital the first thing they asked me is how am I going to get in my vehicle? I never thought about how this would be an issue because usually I don’t have restrictions into how I can get into a vehicle but after hip surgery you do. If you have a low vehicle like an suv than you probably will be able to get into your car with some help but my parents vehicle is a little higher up so getting in their car days after surgery would have violated some hip precautions and wouldn’t have been safe to try. We figured the best and safest way to get me home would be not to try and get me in the car but to just take a wheelchair taxi. This was not the first time I have taken public transportation and used to take it all the time but this was my first good experience because the driver actually took into consideration I had surgery and tried to drive careful. A lot of public transportation drivers don’t care and just want to get you to your destination quickly because that’s how they get paid!
The pain to be the worse you will ever experience!-My whole life I thought a vesicostomy surgery was the worst type of surgery you could ever have until I had a hip replacement and realized there are worse things than stoma surgery! I have had over thirty surgeries throughout my life and expect to have high pain when I wake up from a major surgery but what I don’t expect is to have unbearable pain where I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My medical team was awesome though because with previous surgeries I have only been given one option for pain management and if it doesn’t work that’s too bad. It was different this time because I was given many different options for pain management and had enough medication to stay on top of my pain for several which usually I am only given a few days of.
You may need need a blood transfusion- I lost a lot of blood during surgery because the procedure was just over six hours and it didn’t help that I was not allowed to take any sort of vitamins prior to surgery to help keep my levels stable. With the many surgeries that I have had I never have needed a blood transfusion but this time my iron got dangerously low and it was necessary. At first, I imagined a blood transfusion to be this horrible thing but it’s not any worse than putting medication in an iv and it makes you feel so much better!
Don’t lay on your side!- Before I had surgery I knew things were going to be super uncomfortable for a while because all surgeries are so I thought I’ll just lay on my side for a while to get in a more comfortable position. Think again because this is the worst possible position you could choose to lay in and you will learn that very quickly Both side are equally are uncomfortable so it doesn’t matter what side you choose to lay on because neither way will be comfortable. If you want to have more pain lay on your side but if you want to have less try to lay more flat and elevate your leg as much as you can to reduce the swelling.
You may not get a toilet in time- When you have a hip replacement doctors don’t really want you to use a regular toilet because you have to squat too low which can make it so your hip pops out of place. Before I had surgery I was told I would be given a special toilet seat that would raise higher before I left the hospital but unfortunately that did not happen. They brought me a toilet seat but it was one that is typically used after gastro bypass surgery and it was for a person that weighs one thousand pounds which would have been fine if I would have fit it in the bathroom and was able to fit my butt over the hole. I am a small person and was very stiff from the surgery so I couldn’t move easily and this couldn’t have worked even if I wanted it to. Eventually, we got the right one but weren’t able to leave the hospital with it like we were orginally told would but had to wait a few days to have it shipped to our home. In the meantime, we had to get creative with my bathroom routine because it had already been too long since my last bowel movement and we had no toilet seat.
Swelling is incredible– I expect swelling because before surgery my doctor told me there would be some swelling but I didn’t not expect that much. I was told that there would be some swelling so in mind that’s just a little bit and nothing too alarming. I was in for a real treat after surgery because the swelling has been insane and nothing that I would have ever expected. My leg swelled so much that it restricted some of my movement which is something I wish I would have known before surgery because I don’t know if I would have done this surgery as quickly but is something you learn along the way!
Don’t expect to take a real shower- For about a month I was not allowed to take a shower because I was connected to a medical device that was helping prevent infection which is awful to get removed and I think one of the worst parts of the whole recovery process. You may be thinking that is gross to not shower for that long and it is so don’t have this surgery if your a germaphobe but I didn’t not clean myself for that long and I relied on sponge baths and dry shampoo. It’s not the same as a real shower but until your able to take a real shower it’s better than not doing anything. I am able to take real showers now with help because I am stronger and can get into one more easily but that first month was hard because I could barely support my own body weight so someone would have to physically lift me. Dry shampoo and sponge baths are great if you have to do it but nothing beats a real shower!
Transfers will take two people– People that tell me I should have done both hips at the same time to know it out all in one surgery I don’t think truly understand what they are asking of me. I don’t even think doctors do both hips at the same time on anyone because it’s too extensive of a surgery and it’s not possible to live like that for even just a few months. In the beginning, I was not much help and totally relied on both my parents to help me do even the simplest of transfers because I couldn’t support myself and do it on my own. Now I can do my own transfers with minimal help but in beginning, it would have not been possible to even consider this surgery without my caregivers!
I have always known I would probably need a hip replacement at some point but never really thought much about it because I didn’t think it would become a reality. A lot of disabled people have dislocated hips and never have a problem but if it does start to cause you pain don’t worry about being stuck in bed for months like I have because it’s not the same for everyone. This is the painful surgery I have ever had and the thought of having to do this again scares me, but I could not have asked for a better medical team which makes all the difference in the world because most people wouldn’t even consider this surgery if they hated their doctor. Before I had surgery, I had pain that got progressively worse over time and if I wanted to, I could have chosen not to learn to cope and not have a hip replacement. I didn’t want to do that because it seems kind of silly to learn to cope with pain when I have the option to get relief! I still have some discomfort from surgery and my doctor says it will be like that for a while because it wasn’t your standard hip replacement and it going to take my body some time to heal but it’s much better than it was before. Have you had hip replacement surgery and what was your experience? If you need hip replacement surgery and still have questions not addressed in this post, please don’t hesitate to ask because I will do my best to answer.
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