I am 10 days post-op today!!!! I am so relieved to be this far out. With this one I am even more relieved than the first time for 2 reasons. One reason is that I know this was my second and last hip that needed a PAO. The other reason is that nothing to come will be as physically challenging as that first week. I will have physical challenges during the next stages of recovery, but I know they will be in doses I can handle. So let’s talk about the physical challenges of the first week…but first I do want to say that the first week was not as hard for me the second time. I have definitely learned how different every recovery can be from the same surgery.
The day before surgery I had my left hip check-up and right hip pre-op. My left hip X-rays looked good, but my superior pubic ramus cut was still healing so Dr. Schrader wanted to leave my screws in for now. If my right heals at the same rate we will look at getting screws out of both sides in December (6 months after right, same insurance year, break from PT school).
Dr. Schrader showed me my right angles. Tonnis and LCE were worse than on my left. The ACE was not as bad, but still about 10 degrees under the minimal sufficient coverage. I had a small labral tear according to the MRI, but just as with the last one he decided to leave it alone. So far, so good on the left.
After my pre-op appointment I had a physical therapy appointment to get measurements for a research study Dr. Schrader is conducting! Usually that is also when you have crutch training, but after my last PAO I feel like a pro with my mobilegs. 😉 After that I had to get blood work done and some other registration business with Northside Hospital.
Finally after driving to Atlanta from NC early that morning and having all of those appointments my mom and I were tired and a little hangry. So we found a place to eat and relax then walked around for a while since I knew it was my last chance to for a couple months.
The day of surgery!! We arrived at the hospital at 6 AM. Once I was prepped for surgery Dr. Schrader came by to say hi and answer any last minute questions. I was definitely nervous. Not because I was worried about the surgery. I knew I was in good hands with my medical team. I just knew the first few days would be hard, and I think it’s just natural to be nervous before surgery. So when Dr. Schrader left I was wheeled back to the operating room. When I got there, Dr. Schrader was already in there on his laptop so I said hi again. I had the same nurse as last time, and he was so so nice! We talked about the trip I took to Florida as my pre-surgery vacation. He definitely helped distract me from the fact that my arms and legs were being strapped down, and if I looked around I could see all of the tools that I guess they were about to use. Ahhh. Luckily, I had already been given the medicine to relax me so it didn’t stress me out that much, but I definitely remember it. It wasn’t long until I was out though!
When I woke up I was in the recovery room. Now don’t take whatever I say too seriously about this part of recovery. I was in and out and who knows if I am remembering correctly. I do remember my vital signs being pretty much perfect the whole time whereas last time my blood pressure was pretty low. I also remember having a super dry mouth, which was the same as last time and wanting ice chips. The difference is this time the nurse got them to me pretty fast! I think I was there for like 3 hours even though I did not need to because they were running behind. Overall, nothing too exciting to say about this part of the experience. Oh, apparently when I was waking up I told Dr. Schrader I was ready to do some physical therapy! Haha, can’t help it…it’s in my nature!
The rest of my day went like this:
Even though to many people who follow my regular Instagram it was all smiles:
I mean, don’t get me wrong, part of me was smiling. I was so happy knowing this was the second and last hip and I was on the other side. But the reality was more like the first picture for the first few days. I will try to summarize it as accurately as possible.
Day 1 post-op:
In my head I was like, I’ve got this because I have been through it before. I was so confident and ready to stand up and walk when my physical therapist, Perry came by.
Getting out of bed for the first time is probably one of the most painful parts of recovery. Ahh it just hurts, and there’s really no way around it. But for anyone pre-op reading this I promise it gets so much better with each try. So just moving my leg hurt. To get out of the bed I pulled up on the trapeze while my PT rotated my leg at the same rate that I rotated the rest of my body. Then once I got to the edge of the bed it was time to stand up. I stood up on my left leg, and immediately the room when almost black, I had pressure in my ears, and I was pretty close to vomiting. Even worse, when I tried to pick my foot up it just wouldn’t budge. This was not something I experienced the first time. It was hard to pick it up the first time, but it came off the ground. This time it didn’t matter how hard I tried, I just could not get it to move. It was scary, and I must say I cried a little. I got back in bed to rest. The next 4 hours I could not stop worrying about how my next PT session would go. So how did it go??
To warm up my muscles, Perry helped me with some heel slides then I stood up. It was extremely difficult, but I lifted my foot off the ground. I had to use momentum with each step to walk, but I made it down the hall. I was just so happy and relieved. I was still a little worried this recovery would be more difficult. This time I also had terrible nerve pain on the front of my thigh when I stood up. I did not think I could handle that kind of pain for the entire recovery period. Last time I had a patch of skin that was numb at first and eventually started burning a little when touched. However, this was another level of burn. It felt like someone was pouring rubbing alcohol. In a wound. That was my entire thigh. Luckily this only lasted for 2 days.
What else happened day 1?
I got my catheter out. This time instead of struggling hardcore on a bedpan immediately after, we waited like 2 hours then I tried on a bedside commode and it went so well. I definitely still had to consciously contract my pelvic floor muscles, but I went on the first try. That was a success in my book! After my physical therapy session that afternoon I started walking to the bathroom in my room!
Pain-meds-I was given Percocet pills that morning and then when it was time for the next dose they took the PCA pump with Dilaudid away. I only used it a couple times during that time. Percocet controlled the pain well.
What I ate-well I kept trying to eat crackers, but my mouth was a little too dry for that. I had throat drops for that, and they helped a lot. I think I ate a bagel, chips, and some bunny grahams on day 1.
Other than all of that I just slept. I think I was more relaxed the second time around and slept much more than the first hospital stay.
Day 2: To go home or wait another day??
I was a little worried about going home because it was so much harder to walk than the first time. We had a 5 hour trip home, and I knew I would have to stop to use the bathroom multiple times. Everyone seemed to leave it up to me. If I felt ready then I could go. I was off all IV medications and my vitals were fine (slightly low blood pressure but that’s pretty normal after this)
Dr. Schrader’s fellow came by that morning to change my bandage. She put a tegaderm waterproof bandage on (10/10 would recommend for showers early-on). She also added a medication to wake my bowels up in addition to the stool softener I was on (Colace).
In PT that morning I conquered the stairs!
Oh the one scary thing that happened on day 2 was that I could feel the side-effects of Percocet coming on strong like they did a few days later in the first recovery. I felt so so awful that morning before his fellow came by. I had a terrible headache and the room was spinning. I was given Toradol through an IV and instead of being given Percocet again I was given Dilaudid through an IV until I could get a different medication which ended up being Norco. Luckily it all worked out, but I simply refused to take more Percocet once I started feeling like that.
After PT, I rested for a while until Dr. Schrader came by. I wasn’t expecting him to come by because his fellow had come by earlier, and it was Father’s Day. However, he did, and it was very nice. He said it was up to me with going home, and I said I was ready so he discharged me! We talked a little bit before he left. He was heading to Norway and Germany for vacation and to visit family for the first 2 weeks of July, but as always he said I could email him with any questions. Luckily everything has gone smoothly so far and I haven’t needed to email him yet!
The ride home…
Lots of pillows, lots of bathroom stops (at places with easy access like Starbucks, and lots of pain.. So much pain. But I made it through.
Days 3 and 4:
I showered, watched Netflix, and slept. Day 3 was pretty painful. I iced a lot. However, I was already tired of the side-effects of pain meds. So on the morning of day 4 I switched to Naproxen. Now I am off all meds for pain even Naproxen (day 10).
I started walking outside! Without pain meds I just started feeling like a whole new person. It’s incredible how much my walking improved in 5 days. It was so much harder than the first time while in the hospital, but by day 5 I was doing 100x better than the first time. I was showering on my own daily, off pain meds, and going for walks. Showering daily didn’t happen for 2 weeks last time, got off pain meds on day 6 but was still in significant pain for another 5 days or so, and didn’t go for walks for the first 10 days or so. This time my pain was barely there on day 5, just a little stiffness that decreased every day. Ice helped numb any pain I had.
The only thing I was focused on day 5 was having a bowel movement because that’s the awful thing about pain meds and anesthesia. Luckily, peppermint and dandelion tea plus some lemon water did the trick.
Pain and stiffness decreased every day. I just started going a little stir crazy in the recliner. My kitty passed away, and it was very sad because she was by my side for my entire first recovery, and I have her since 2nd grade. It is just sad, and it’s not the same around here. That was day 7, and my sweet friends came by to visit that night. The next day my mom got me out of the house for coffee. It was nice to finally get out of the house.
My dad took me out for brunch, and I sat up in a wooden chair (sat on a pillow) without pain! I just feel so much stronger this time. Like my core and back and support me so much better.
Today!! Yay so glad to be this far out. The first 10 days were tough, but they were not as bad as the first time around. I am so thankful for that. I do not think I am even as swollen as the first time. It’s just amazing.
My mom and I made it out for lunch today. After lunch, we went by Whole Foods…it’s always fun to drive around in the motorized cart! Speaking of my mom, I am so thankful for everything she has done during this recovery so far. From driving me down for my pre-op and surgery to being there all day in the hospital to bringing me ice and propping my leg and doing my laundry and bringing me food. If I write it all out it’s crazy what the caregiver has to do, and I am so thankful. Also thankful for my dad and brother for propping and bringing ice all the time and for helping with my exercises.
I thought I should include a scar pic and X-ray!
I want to go back to the title before I conclude this post. Every recovery is different. My RPAO has led to a totally different experience than my LPAO. It was more difficult at first, but now it is so so so much easier because I have so much less pain. I think it also helps that I know what helps and what doesn’t now. Either way, other people with the exact same surgery are going to have a different experience. It is really helpful if you are pre-op to look at blogs and accounts documenting someone’s journey, but ultimately you just have to take it day by day and listen to your body!