Hip Replacement Surgery – I’m Back – Part 2

This is part 2. To read part one click here.

Bone on bone! Cartilage gone. Osteo-arthritis. 

I’m back! Lots to tell you. But first an unexpected emergency. Surgical dressing on my 12” slice started to leak. Ever try to find a doctor on a sunny Sunday afternoon? Well, luckily there is tele-health phone contacts who were so helpful. Then the absolutely fantastic Toronto EMS guys, especially the Scotsman, who got me to the hospital quickly and into the hands of NYGH’s dynamite team of emergency medical staff who “fixed it”. Kudos to all of you!

In last month’s Part 1 blog I wrote nice things about my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Hossein Mehdian. I certainly didn’t want to irritate him before I went under the knife. I let him know before my surgery, in my usual subtle way, that I would be writing a follow-up to my first blog. I just wanted to remind him that the power of a blog post should never be minimized – I also mentioned the 37,802 upvotes on my comments.

He was so impressed with my words, that this is what he did to me!

 He slashed open my leg, ripped out my hip and replaced it with titanium. I am now SuperBubbie. For good measure, he left 30 staples in my once thin and beautiful body.  He fooled me.  He did a nerve block and forgot to tell me that I wouldn’t start suffering until days later…or maybe he did tell me and I forgot.

So…..let the saga begin.

It is 5:30 a.m. when I arrive at NYGH. I am totally terrified, not so much a fear of dying but of having the new hip break or dislocate or something. It has been too long a time of no walking, running up and down the stairs for exercise, being able to get in and out of the car without flinching and just being pain free. I try to be optimistic.

Next I am in the pre-surgery room – there are more staff there than patients. Lots of friendly banter – that is good – because in order not to appear impatient, which is how I am feeling, I have to be nice to everyone – after all, who knows which face behind which mask would be in MY operating room.

Then they gave me an epidural – impressive – no pain, nice guy holding my arms – certainly a different experience from the C-sections I once had. Next I am wheeled into the operating room. It is quite embarrassing that three husky males have to lift me off the gurney and onto the table. Diet time is coming. Then I went to sleep.

I wake up 2 hours later. Pain free. However, staff had to spend another 3 hours trying to get some reaction from my legs below the knee. Now I am scared. I cannot feel anything below my knees – interesting as the nurse keeps poking and bringing what looked like a hammer down and I feel nothing. Ah ha! Nerve blockage. Finally after another 3 hours, I start to feel my lower legs so they take me up to my room. By now I am starving. A thoughtful nurse had kept a tuna sandwich lunch just in case so I gobbled it up.

Where is the pain? This is fantastic! My kids are in the room, playing with their ridiculous i-phones or whatever they are – they look up as I am wheeled back in – “hi Mom, you look good” before they turn back to their machines – current husband is doing crossword puzzles on my food tray – and I start trying to figure out how the bed works.

I am still terrified. Fearful that I will do something to dislocate the hip – like tripping or grabbing at something – yuck.

The next few hours are a constant battery of blood pressure checks, pills, and water. No pain! Ah ha – it must be my strong disposition and the fact that I never take pills beyond an occasional Tylenol or Aleve before a golf game. I’m thinking that I have been so lucky health wise – and that is why I have no clue about what is going on or about my hospital stay. What can I expect from all these pills and when can I leave?

The nurses are so overworked – it is too bad what this government has done to the medical care in this province. After all, if the politicians get sick, they can expect good care for themselves and their friends.. And the rest of us? Too bad – we are on our own.

Anyhow, into my room walks the charming NYGH staffer Dr. Irving Feferman and two medical students. He is just there to chat, to answer questions, to assuage fears, and to give the most honest and clear-cut responses to any concerns. Good for NYGH – what a great service provided to patients. I don’t know if other hospitals do the same – if not, they should.

There were several nursing students on 4W where I was located. Before I tell you the insane story about one of them and me, I have to mention their Supervisor/trainer, KAMAL. In prehistoric times when I was younger, girls didn’t have the options they do today. Most of us had the choice of going to Teachers college or getting married. What a delight it was chatting with a brilliant, confident and committed nurse trainer like Kamal. She had the right answers – she motivates her students to “go for the gold” in their skills training programs and she is so easy to talk to. Again, kudos to NYGH for hiring someone so skilled.

And now – trumpets must blare. When PETER, the nursing student assigned to me walks into my room, I think this must be a joke. Remember the song from Funny Girl? “I am woman – you are man”

So what can this mean? Equality?

“If you are not comfortable with me Mrs. Starr, I will get a female nursing student to help you”.

Okay, this guy is very confident and very cute. I decide to stick with him. The task at hand is for me to use my walker to get me to the shower in the main hall, get me inside the stall and back out again. Now I have always been a bubble bath lady – hate showers – but in my condition, showers are all that there is.

Okay, why not? It will make an interesting blurb in my next blog which you are all now reading. As Peter and I set off on our adventure, me pushing on my walker and beginning to have serious pain in my left leg, he tells me how nurses are no longer primarily female – but that one can refuse to be treated by someone of the opposite sex – or another sex – or whatever. So at least there are options.

We get to the shower stall in the main hall. One person can barely fit in it and I am already too fat. I take off the hospital gowns but I am still wearing my Halloween nightgown. There is a plastic cover over the entrance. I push my walker in – Peter says I have to sit down on the chair that is over the drain. There is now a line-up behind him of other patients who want to use this shower. He is leaning in and his back and rear are pushing out. How do I turn the water on? How do I make sure I don’t get burned? Do I turn the handle left or right?

“Okay, wait a minute” he says as he climbs into the stall to make sure that I don’t turn the knob the wrong way. The handle where water comes from has been left under the chair that I am supposed to sit on. He tries to reach it as I shift backwards to give him more space. Can’t be done. So he gets down on his knees and reaches under and frees the sprayer. He is now a little wet since the person who was in there before didn’t bother to leave anything in order. So – 6ft Peter, moi, my walker and this chair are squeezed in together. Neither one of us can even turn around.

We look at each other – insane laughter overtakes us. The line of people waiting has grown. “I have to make sure that you know how to take a shower” he howls, almost crying with laughter.

“Is your wife a good sport?” I ask. “Is she going to laugh when you tell her what is about to happen?”

“Yes, she is terrific” he answers.

“Okay”, I shout. “Let’s get this over with!”

Off comes my nightgown, Peter turns on the water, I grab a small towel and pour the 2 drops of liquid soap still in the container on my shoulders. I take the sprayer and wash off what little soap is on me as Peter tries to keep the plastic cover over the entrance. Let’s face it. Someone could misinterpret what is going on here.

Finally, Peter grabs two towels and two gowns and drapes them over me – including my face. Now I am really laughing as I cling to the walker, Peter clings to my arm, and he pushes me and my walker back to my room. Two minutes later the wonderful Kamal shows up. She heard that there was some insanity going on – luckily for Peter she was laughing as well..

We need better medical care in Ontario – the kind we once had – we need services, amenities, supplies and so much more. Surely our tax dollars are better used to help our doctors than pay for the perks of back room boys. Don’t forget to vote in the next election.

And, finally…a serious comment.

“Dr. Mehdian – not only are you one of Canada’s top orthopaedic surgeons, you are also a good sport. It is not always easy being on the receiving end of my jibes. Two years ago I was so lucky when you accepted me as a patient. Thank you for giving me a new hip – I will try to be nicer to you in the future.