I’m a new 69 year old surfacehippy that was in pretty good shape before the operation and am now 10 days post op in Montreal. Staples were removed yesterday and I’ll be returning to Nova Scotia tomorrow.
At the outset I have to say that I think I read too many stories of surfacehippies who with few problems and little pain were walking without aids and back to a normal life within weeks. My recovery hasn’t been so smooth or quick, and part of the mental problems I encountered during my recovery were a result of the illusions I had accumulated. So for those of you that might encounter similar problems here’s another look at what you might expect.
The operation was easy. I got a spinal and was awake or drowsy through most of it. Time passed quickly. The drilling and pounding didn’t even appear to be on me. I definitely recommend the spinal. I was wheeled into the recovery room wide awake and feeling good. Of course, I was still frozen from the waist down. Several hours in the recovery room passed uneventfully and eventually I was admitted to a bed on the eigth floor of the Jewish General Hospital. Orthopedic ward. Nurses hooked up a morphine pump and I was advised to use it frequently to stay on top of any pain. I did, but I didn’t have much pain just lying in bed, and I slept fairly well the first night. I wasn’t too bad the second day until the physiotherapist arrived and got me out of bed for a short walk in a walker. It was then I discovered how intense pain can be. Groin, down the front of my leg and over the incision â€” it made my hip pain before the operation look like child’s play. I was a bit shocked and it was hard to imagine I would ever walk normally again. It was also during the second day that I began to experience nausea at the sight of food and this bothered me for the next 4 or 5 days despite various anti-nausea medications. This along with a low grade temperature that left me feeling achy meant I was able to eat very little for about 5 days. I can’t entirely blame the hospital food. Even some St. Hubert chicken my wife brought in from the outside could not bridge the nausea barrier.
Each day for the 5 ½ days I was in the hospital I got up several times, did some very painful walking with a walker (on day four they showed me how to go up and down stairs with a crutch), tried to sit up for awhile and do my (painful) exercises (some of which I was completely incapable of doing, but the low level temperature made if difficult to throw myself into any of these activities with any enthusiasm. Probably as a result of my selective reading I hadn’t expected any of these problems and that made it all the more discouraging. I don’t think I’m entirely unusual in speed of progress. Other patients on the floor seem to be doing about the same as I was. I didn’t see any of the miracle cures I had read about.
I’ve since joked that I improve every other day. The days in between it’s usually to detect any improvement though it must be going on.
In the hotel my appetite has improved a lot and I’m walking more every day, but I can see that this will be a long slow process with lots of pain along the way. I’m still using a walker with about 50% weight bearing on the operated side. I read the stories of 100% weight bearing and no cane within two weeks of surgery with astonishment. I suspect that unless you’re much younger or in extremely good physical shape that won’t be your healing curve. It’s not mine.
I had the staples out on day nine and the wound is healing well, but the nights are still long. I was never a back sleeper and it’s been difficult to adjust. I usually wake in the early morning with a very stiff and painful lower back, but once I’m up it quickly goes away.
I was fortunate to have encountered Chris Saunders on this board and his detailed information on what I was likely to encounter was invaluable. Anyone considering a resurfacing in Montreal should definitely get in touch with him.
I’m continuing to take a few Tylenol during the day and Tramacet at night. Tramacet, a combination of Tylenol and Tramadol Hydrochloride â€” a synthetic opoid – was the only pain killer that did anything for me before the operation, and I tried most of them. It also tends to help me sleep at night though it doesn’t make me drowsy if I take it during the day. No problem for the stomach either.
I’ve seen questions from time to time on this board about the maximum age for resurfacing. For those of you still wondering, I met another patient who was resurfaced a few hours before me who is 74 and plans to have his other hip resurfaced in three months. He seems to be recovering at least as well as I am. He had been told in Ontario by one surgeon that his cutoff date was 45 and by another, 60. We all know what balderdash that is.
I don’t mean this to scare off potential surfacehippies, but just to outline another recovery path that may be followed by more patients than I at least read about on the surfacehippy board. I don’t mean any of this to reflect on the quality of the medical care I received which has been the very best. I’m very pleased with having gotten it done. Dr. Antoniou is one of the premier surgeons in North America with a great many resurfacings under his belt. I don’t think you could find a better doctor. The Jewish General Hospital staff were terrific, thoroughly professional and helpful. There are just different recovery paths and mine appears to be one of the slower ones. Now that the nausea and temperature are gone, I’m feeling good and determined to be off walking aids as soon as possible.
To sum up at 10 days post op: Still tire quickly. Swelling down to the ankle continuing but I’m told this will disappear in a month or two. I’m walking with a walker and at about 50% weight bearing an estimated 1/6 of a mile three times a day. Still taking pain killers at night but not much during the day. Doing most of the physiottherapy exercises but some are still very painful. A few I still can’t do. Getting up and sitting down are the two most difficult things I to do each day.
Richard from Nova Scotia Antoniou RASR April 10 2007