Total Hip Replacement 7 weeks post op

If you do not know what posterior approach is to total hip replacement, I suggest you go to one of these websites to educate yourself on it and read up on how it is different from other approaches, such as direct anterior approach. I had posterior approach to THR on Aug 12 2013. Here are links for you to familiarize yourself with the approach I had, and why I would NOT recommend this approach to anyone wanting this surgery.

http://www.longstreetclinic.com/posterior-approach-total-hip-replacement/

http://www.sutterhealth.org/orthopedics/hip/anterior-hip-replacement.html

Now, since 1989 I have had a bad right hip. Don’t go out and fall down and dislocate your hip! Mind you, my hip was already loose at age 13. I had referred pain in my knee and had I known at that time what was REALLY going on with my body, I would have asked for an x-ray of my hip – not my knee! A fall like I had normally would not result in a hip dislocation at the age of 13. May be at the age of 83 or 73, but not 13. I was overweight by about 50 pounds or more at the age of 13. I don’t know how much I weighted, all I know is that I wore size 14/16 pants and I was shorter than I am now.

This is my progress. I already did a video on YouTube at 3 or 4 weeks post op. Sep 30th (tomorrow) I will be 7 weeks post op. I stayed in the hospital for 6 days instead of 3 since my incision was not closing up properly. I am a size 14 pants and I have big hips.

The first week was pretty bad. I woke up after surgery singing Blurred Lines with my raspy voice. I had no pain of course due to the wonderful pain meds that sounds like Duelait (not spelled that way). I was up and walking with a walker 2 days after surgery and walked 80 feet, 180 by 3 days after surgery. Friday I didn’t walk at all since my calf hurt so much and my surgeon thought I had a blood clot. Saturday (5 days post op) I walked over 200 feet and Sunday I went up three steps and down the same three. I hated those stairs. Mind you I was told I could put full weight on my right leg.

Home on Sunday night. I only had one day practice on the stairs! I was not happy about this. I also didn’t like how big my incision was. It is about 8 inches. I asked my surgeon to show me – he took a pic on his cell and then deleted it after I saw it. It goes from the side of my butt to the side of my right leg. No pain in hip. My pain that first week was in my calf. I couldn’t do any hamstring stretches! And getting out of bed was a learning process. You must keep your body (torso) straight with your legs. No leaning over the left or right side.

three rules with this approach:

1. No crossing mid line.  You don’t cross your foot over the other foot/cross at ankles. If you have a right hip replacement, you better get your upper body in shape and learn to push yourself up with your right arm and elbow. Why? It took me a while to get this, but you must remember that as your torso goes to the right or left – your belly button goes with it. That belly button is the mid line marker. So if you are like me and if your left side and your left arm was stronger in lifting you up from lying down. . .watch out.  When you lean to the left look what happens to that belly button line. That’s right. Your right leg is getting closer and closer to mid line and you can’t cross that invisible mid line. If you do, you could dislocate your hip. So how do I scratch my right foot? I bring my left foot all the way over to my right foot and scratch it. Or I use a handy reacher since I can’t bring my knee into my chest.

Number 2:

Do not flex the hip over 90 degrees. This means when you are sitting straight up, your knees must be even with the hips. If you sit is a low chair or low bed or low anything you are asking for trouble and your hips will be lower than your knees and that could cause you to dislocate your hip.  You also have to push yourself up to your walker if you are on a low bed or low chair. (when you sit down you must have your weak leg out straight and bend the good leg so you can sit).

Number 3: No pigeon toes.

No turning that foot inward. No turning that knee inward or your entire leg for that matter.  Not hard until you relax. This is why I had a abduction pillow between my legs that first week after surgery – and I was sent home with it and told to use it at night or when I nap – up to 6 weeks post op. (The pillow looks like a letter A between my legs with the tip at my groin).

All three rules are in place to prevent a hip dislocation. I was also on aspirin for 1 month after surgery to prevent blood clots. I didn’t want to take my zoloft the week before my period since that would contribute to more bleeding. I should have taken it since I was really bitchy at home – the week before my period.

I got home and it was scary going up one stair to get into the house. I was told from my best friend that I wouldn’t want to use stairs until week 3 post op. (we have a full stair case and our bedrooms are upstairs, so are our bathrooms) Well my best friend was right.  Even though I was told I could use stairs by week 1, nope. Not me. You must have strong muscles to go and down stairs and it takes time to gain that strength back.  I read online that week one is a major major energy drain and yes, that is correct. I was just so very tired that first week. By week 3 I started the stairs slowly. Before week 3, I I slept downstairs on the recliner in the love seat.

By week 2 I thought I could stop the narcotic pain meds I was on. Wrong. I needed to stay on them until 3 weeks post op. I became very demanding when I got home. I was totally dependent on someone else, which I hated. It was hard getting up from my bed since my bed is very low. If you have this, make sure you are in a high bed with a deep deep box spring and mattress. It will make it easier for you to get out of bed.

Week 2 I noticed my entire thigh muscles were very tight. I was told that is normal. Little by little my thigh muscles are getting back to normal feeling.

Week 3 I had cellulitis (skin infection often after surgery) and I got antibiotics. By week 4 I had tendinitis in my right hand. My tendinitis went away within 4 days, but it hurt like hell. I was grabbing my walker too tight. 

Week 4 I went to a cane but had to go back to a walker since i was told I must learn to walk “normally” with big steps not baby steps. My balance was off with a cane at week 4.

By week 6 my thigh felt as if it was half awake (the bottom part of my thigh) and half dead or tight . . .My hip area is tight, my buttocks are tight, my groin is tight . . but my knee area is all normal feeling.  Everything half way down my thigh feels normal.  The bad part is my incision area is very numb and my buttocks were cut up – literally. I also was told at week 6 that I could go swimming, I just don’t have any income to go. I can get in a bath if I had one of those special walk in tubs. Don’t have that though so I’m waiting. . . .

Now that I’m 7 weeks post op, I’m still using a walker. Last week I just started to get “used to” going down the stairs, no kidding. Looking at stairs going down is very scary. (no railing at top of stairs, but hold onto the wall for those two steps).  Today Monday Sep 30th I just walked (with walker) about 400 yards. It is about 12 houses to the end of the street, then one street over I must pass about 12 homes to get to the baseball park.  So about 2 football fields to get to the baseball park and 2 more to get home. It took me 20 minutes, normally it would be a 13 minute walk. I did take small 5 second breaks. It felt great to walk that far with my walker.

The biggest thing that I notice now (besides not getting enough sleep at night due to the muscles being so freagin’ tight) is that I feel like I have a large tennis ball in my right butt when I sit down. I also feel like  I have a metal plate in my right thigh. I have read so much on this that I should be an expert on it.  I was told that by week 6 my hip will feel better and my surgeon….  YIPPIE, he was right.

Then he said week 12 I’ll feel much better. . .and 6 moths will be another mark..and 1 year and then 18 months it will start to see a drop off of improvement since by 18 months, I’ll be pretty much back to normal. I hope so.

Others have said they feel like they have a metal plate so I’m not the only one that feels funny. Mom went to Rite Aid the other day since our dog bit her on accident. She had an apple in her mouth and did’t want to let go.  I went with y mom and I think I set off the Rite Aid alarm!!  It was funny since the boys behind me I guess came out right after me and I guess they were under 21 and near the beer area and the owner came out to talk to THEM, not me.  I really think I set the buzzer off with my hip.  I heard it go off right as I walked through it, those boys didn’t come out until after I was already out of the store.  This could be a funny thing if I go shopping at Rite Aid.

Wait until I go to  a really sensitive airport. I’ve read online that the TSA agents don’t give a shit if you have a card from your doctor saying you had a THR – and that anyone can print a card saying you had a THR and you can print it up online. WHAT??  I never heard of that!  I don’t have a card from my doctor saying I had a THR. I read that people have had to show their butt incision to the TSA agent. Fine.  If they want to see my big white ass, I’m fine with that. Better than a pat down. may be I should take a picture of my white ass and then post it online to the airline and to the TSA for public information?  I don’t think the TSA would care.

I go to physical therapy on tuesday/thursdays and I only get 12 sessions. I’m at session 10 tomorrow. I must go back to my surgeon to ask for more so I can learn to walk normal. In PT I use a treadmill, walking sideways (both ways, leading with the one leg, then the other), walk backward and forwards. Speed? Only at   0.5 mph or 0.7 mph if I am going forward.   We don’t own a treadmill…so ….

Again. big steps. I do have a limp still.  I may go on a exercise bike tomorrow at PT. Speaking of PT, I need to learn to not sit over 2 hours at a time. No three hour movies at any big screens.

I was told that by 3-6 months post op, I should not be using a walker. Lets home I don’t have a limp by 12 weeks post op. So, may be I’ll give my walker another 2 weeks and then I’ll try the cane again by 9 weeks post op. My next check up is Nov 5th and I can’t work until Nov 12th. I’m hoping I’ll be able to go on interviews by Nov 12th. Well, I guess it all depends on the type of job I’m applying for. I’m not going to be applying to UPS and I’m not applying for any jobs that have a 70 pound lifting requirement (yes I used to work for UPS back in 2001 and 2002). As long as I can do the job (like desk job) I’m sure I can tell the interviewer I’ll be fine.

I just got in the driver seat the other day. I can’t reach the lever to pull the seat forward. Our driver seat lever to adjust the backing (to lean the back) is gone. No lever. But we have the lever to pull the seat forward or backward. I just can’t bend over to reach it.  I must use a pillow under my butt since the seats do go down in the back. Don’t you hate it when car seats are made that way? I sure do. Why can’t they make cars with seats that are level through the back?  I don’t like to lean when I drive. I like to sit straight up.  I’ve seem people lean the seat so far back the look like they are laying down while driving. Stupid.

For now, my main concern is my morning stiffness in my right hip and thigh. I call it my morning stiffy!  Can’t wait until that is gone! Right now when I sleep on my right side my calf hurts like hell.  So instead I sleep on my left side with a pillow between my legs. i also take ibuprofen 600mg at night to help me sleep. May be by week 9 I won’t need them anymore?

Update: Week 8 post op and I’m walking on a cane in the kitchen at home. And I’m taking normal steps. I practice this three times a day – each time is about 25 minutes. I did make it to the couch from kitchen on a cane but it took me a good 24 attempts to get that far (40-50 feet). I can go back and forth in kitchen (15 feet one way) on a cane just fine.

I also moved back to my own bed since I feel my hip is much more stronger now than it was at week 4 or 5 post op. Just don’t do what i did: see someone else with a total hip at week 4 post op and see that person using a cane and then think “I can do that too”.   You will know when you are ready to go to a cane. Your body will tell you.

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