This is my journal about my hip resurfacing decision, surgery & recovery. I hope it will be useful to other people making decisions about surgery for their hips.
Top Things Needed When Home from Surgery
December 31, 2005
It’s the last day of December, and I’m finalizing those final details for surgery. Last night I picked up a couple of those essentials I never thought I’d get, even at 80. Yep, a walker and a cane. At 36. I ran six half marathons this year and took part in two triathlons. Now a walker?
I can’t help but feeling blessed with my circumstances as my surgery comes up in a little more than a week. Many people travel internationally. Others wait a year or longer to find the right doctor. Mine fell right into my hands two miles away from my home. And the fact that he has time to get it done in early January? Unbelievable.
Am I scared? A little. Hip surgery is a lot more complex than a little cleanup of my knee. Four days in the hospital seems a little daunting too. But it’s definitely going to be worth it.
January 7, 2006 10:30 pm
I received an email today from a man who’s really inspired me to do this. His name is Jack. Why’s he such an inspiration? He’s run 7 marathons since he’s received double hip replacement. So, how did I learn about Jack? Through Bob Dolphin. Bob, you see, has run over 350 marathons and manages the Yakima marathon in the spring. When I think about what they’ve gone through, my goals and desires pale in comparison.
Two days beforehand, and I’m now a little nervous. I’ve been through 4 knee surgeries and the last one didn’t even blink at going under. This one’s a little different. Maybe it’s the recognition that if I have to take three weeks off of work afterward; this has to be a big deal. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve now given two pints of blood, have had other blood samples, and a two hour orientation to the hospital.
I keep asking others “how bad can this be?” and keep getting the same answer: “It depends.” If others in their 60s and 70s get this done and think it’s the best thing ever, then it has to be. I’ve also been told that I immediately may notice the pain of my hip disappears. Jeez, I hope so. Don’t know if it’s psychosomatic, but boy am I sore right now.
Final note: a friend of mine asked if he saw me running on one last run before going under the knife. That’s been the furthest from my thoughts since October. And then I turned around and told him to get ready, because my comeback is about to begin.
I’m having hip replacement surgery, and I fully expect to be out there again — better than ever.
January 8, 2006
Jeez my hip hurts… a whole lot. I can’t wait to get this done. When my pain started two years ago, it would be a slight nagging in my back that would go away as I moved around. Then I ran the Olympia marathon. Even though I trained better than ever, I struggled the last several weeks, and blew up at mile 20. I still remember sitting at my desk doubling over in pain two days later.
Now, the pain is really higher than anything I can begin to relate to. The only way I can describe it is to suggest stabbing a screwdriver into your hip and then start scraping against the bone. Each step I take fires pain both through the front of my quad and out through the back. I can’t even think when it happens.
Sure, I can gut it through a hike during the day, but at night I can’t sit on a couch comfortably or fall asleep without it being the only thing I can think about. I can’t wait to get this done.
If you ever wonder why I’m going in tomorrow for surgery, let me just share a few pictures of what I did today. It’s really apparent that my hip has gotten bad enough that I can’t get out and enjoy things the way I used to. I just consider myself lucky enough to be able to go out and enjoy one last hike without the rain! There’s no way I can give this up. I can’t wait to be out here again soon.
January 9, 2006
Weigel’s comeback tour has now begun
It was kind of ironic; we were told that we needed to be at the hospital a little bit after 8:15, which made this almost just like a work day for me. I got up, took a shower and even shaved, just like normal. The only difference was instead of soap, I used some type anti-bacterial stuff they gave me in prep for surgery. But the cats somehow knew in my change in behavior and wouldn’t stop darting underneath my feet. Yep, I was going in for surgery and at this point there was nothing that could be done about it.
So there we were, at 7:45, grabbing our final belongings as we took off to Swedish hospital. I jumped in to my most comfortable pair of shorts and Vancouver marathon shirt. Best to let everyone know who they were dealing with.
Kristin was kind enough to let me drive. The ride was short – maybe 4 miles at the most – but with the gloomy weather and the traffic, it felt much longer. In spite of it all, we got to the front door just in time. Just in time to wait!
You see, Swedish hospital has a solid plan for the different steps you need to go through to be ready for surgery. The process is supposed to be something like this: first, you are taken to an admitting room were your blood pressure and heart rate are taken while you confirm the type of surgery you’re having. At the same time, you get out of the comfy clothes you brought with you, and transform into a green creature – one layer with the gap in the back, the other layer with the gap in the front. Special socks are added too, for effect. Then you walk to the surgery prep area, get onto a bed, (to look up and see a tree leaf), get your IV, finally see your doctor one last time, and then go into surgery.
We waited to even go into the admitting room for about 30 minutes as an admitting nurse yelled out “Mr. Weeeeeeeeee Gel?!” After getting to the room, confirming my details and cross checking all of my information, changed my clothes quickly trying to make up for lost time. But it didn’t matter. Any efforts on our part went unnoticed.
A full fifteen minutes after my surgery was scheduled to start someone walked in to say “we’re running behind”. It looked like things may have started a bit late on the first one, so we might have to wait for a while. If we had books or reading material, now was a goodtime to hunker down. In fact, I almost took a nap. We were finally called to move up to the transition room at 10:45. Yep, 2 hours and 45 minutes after walking into the hospital, and 30 minutes after we were supposed to start surgery.
The transition room: let the waiting continue. In this large room of 8 beds of so, you almost get the feeling like you’re part of a religious awakening. Each patient shows up in strange garb with weird socks. They’re then placed on a stretcher and then taken away to a strange place. Bonnie with host nurse, was nice. She told me we’d be on our way quickly so we shouldn’t get too comfortable. We’d meet the anesthesiologist, my nurse, and then my physician. Then, boom! I’d be off for the hip procedure.
Well, first I met another nurse who decided to put in my IV, and then we met three other nurses who couldn’t believe we had waited for so long. At 12:00, it was like rush hour – different doctors and patients finally meeting, running off to surgery – and there we were, still waiting.
And then 15 minutes later Dr. Pritchett walked across the room, grabbing his surgical cap and wadding it in his hand. When you look at him he doesn’t demonstrate this huge aura of power. He’s a smaller man who appears to be incredibly shy. As he walked over, I’d swear he looked down while being introduced to Kristin. This is the man who’s going to change my life and he’s timid?! His final check of the leg was rather curs Tory – it was still there. – so we might as well cut on it. He slapped my hip like one would slap a side of beef
Five minutes later we had an anesthesiologist – we agreed on the spinal tap epidural along with the general anesthesia. Theory being with the epidural, you will have less pain and less general anesthesia to recover from. Easy decision.
Finally, we met our surgical nurse. She told us I’d be taken off for surgery and would be available for viewing in about 4 hours. Kristin was told she could leave, and I was taken off to surgery.
Maybe it was the drugs starting to kick in, but I’d swear we followed a maze to get to the surgery room. We followed down one long hallway, through a closed door, down another hallway with great windows and views, and then into the back hallway of what I’d swear is behind the scenes for several Broadway plays. I could imagine little shows in each room. Mine even had a cast of characters waiting to come onto stage!
My stage was brightly lit with different appliances and props to be used during the play. I even could see the boxes labeled “Wright C+ resurfacing device.” Whew. I was getting the right thing.
Then we moved quickly. I received my epidural – really what may have been the most pleasant shot I’ve ever received. And then out of fear it happened – I told my anesthesia joke. “Did you know that morphine used to be called phine?” “Turns out every wanted (here it comes) MORE PHENE!!!”
Two seconds later I received the drugs that put me out for the surgery. As for the next two hours of surgery? They’re pretty much a blur for me.
The post surgery notes will take longer to put together – they’re much more a mish-mash of different memories of different people and different situations. I’m not exactly sure how they work together, but with time it will all come together.
I don’t remember the recovery room. I don’t remember much of the first night. From what I’ve been told, I got out of surgery around 3:00, and was in recovery for a couple more hours before going off to my room. The only thing I do remember was the damn oxygen tube in my nose. It itched. It scraped. It hurt. My hip didn’t bother me and neither did my knee – but the oxygen tube certainly did. Regardless of how many times I took it off, some large hand came from nowhere to put it back.
How did I get here? I don’t know. How did I know it was the right place? Dad’s turtle cookies were there. Hooray Dad!
Kristin came in a few minutes later, Vincent the nurse came to introduce himself and the world seemed overall pretty easy. He told me that it would take a while for the drugs to get out of my system. But I was fine almost immediately. Kristin and I were even eating smuggled goldfish crackers. Vincent made me order chicken broth soup ~YUCK~.
I didn’t hurt. At all. They kept asking on a scale of 1-10 what my pain was like — my answer was almost always 0. Even the pain I had in my hip beforehand – gone. GONE!
At about 9:30, Edna the nurse came by. She wasn’t even our nurse, but she made a point to take special care of us. We needed to order a peach fruit smoothie. Yuuuuum!
So Kristin and I talked for a while. I’m sure I was groggy, but overall felt pretty good. After going to sleep, Anh took over as my nurse, and life was as good as I could know it, especially since I just had major hip surgery.
The entire time I’ve been getting healthy and dealing with all of this, Kristin has been there. She’s been one of the first people that I’ve seen in the morning, and one of the last faces I’ve seen at night. To be honest, she’s been there so much that I’ve taken her for granted. She’s been the one person I could count on through this entire experience, and has been my rock when I’ve been overly grumpy. To be honest, she’s put up with a lot of things during my recovery, and I can tell you, a grumpy Paul isn’t one of the best things you want to deal with!
Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy
I got in two sessions of PT along with one of OT that first day. As I mentioned, the first time with PT was Hell. We went to the door with a walker. It was all I could handle. I basically passed out afterward, especially with Mary K’s special treatment, until it was time for another walk. This time I really felt some magic and got about 100 feet. (Talk about a dramatic improvement!) I also had my first OT appointment which was pretty humbling. We worked on helping me put on chothes. Toss the clothing down in front of you and use the grabber tool to help you pull things up, then pull things up on your good side. Easy as that. Socks weren’t as easy, but that’s what the sock tool is for.
Tuesday night trauma. At about 4:30, Anh walked in and said “We’re going to be taking out your Foley Catheter now.”
After all of the discussion, it turns out the removal of the catheter is more of a surprising feel than a painful one. It stings and feels like a specific pulling from the inside of your body, but just as the pain sensation starts, it’s over. Thank goodness! The only physical reference I have is having gauze removed from your nose. It’s uncomfortable and clumpy, but before you know it, the whole procedure is done. No tears on this boy’s part.