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Old 12-13-2008, 09:19 PM   #1
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hip replacement recovery questions

Hello, I've just been scheduled for hip replacement surgery--a blessed event after several years of acute and worsening pain (osteoarthritis + an injury to my left hip five years ago, followed by *really* bad arthritis). I'm going to have orientation classes with my HMO, but not until a few weeks beforehand, and I'm trying to get a sense of what to expect in the recovery period. I'm a college teacher in my early 60's, live alone with a little dog but have quite a few friends willing to help out. I have lots of banked sick time, but probably not enough to take the whole semester off. Right now my plan is to start the semester in January, have subs for 4 weeks and then get back to work. My sister is coming from out of town to stay for about a week. I'm wondering--
1) A week after surgery, am I going to be able to manage alone in my apartment, given that friends can come help out, do errands and grocery shopping? (Mostly evenings and weekends--the people I know who drive and don't work are a very short list).
2) I'm assuming it will work out OK for the dog to be with me from the time I'm home from the hospital--he's a tiny toy dog, trained to a pee-pad and doesn't actually need to go out. In the past, he has never wanted to go out walking with anybody but me, and in the past year I haven't been doing much of that. (Later on, of course, he gets lots of good walkies and will be very happy indeed.)
3) My apartment is all on one level, but there are six steps up to the front door. Is this going to be a problem? If so, for how long?
4) Am I going to need transportation to and from rehab? Or is this normally an in-home thing?
5) Is it realistic to think I can drive and be back to teaching in 4 weeks? My students will be helpful and supportive, I think. Will it just be sitting at a desk doing as best I can from there, for awhile? Or will I be up to standing in front of a class, writing on the board, moving around the classroom? (Which is getting harder all the time now, mind you).

It would be good to hear from people who have done this.

Last edited by ahabt; 12-14-2008 at 09:02 AM. Reason: another typo

 
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Old 12-14-2008, 10:36 AM   #2
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

Dear Newbie ahabt:

One huge preparation you can make all by yourself, right now, is lay in a lot of groceries for both the freezer and pantry shelves of non perishables. Get enough for about 6 weeks so that you don't have to go grocery shopping or ask anyone to help with this before you start to drive again. I recommend dry non fat milk, several big boxes. This tastes just like liquid skim milk when mixed up and cooled in the refrigerator. Bread, meat, bags of veggies, bags of fruits frozen, etc. are wonderful to have and it is great if you have a large freezer along with your regular refrigerator. Also get toilet paper, paper towels, luncheon napkins - everything that you need every day. Pee pads for doggie baby. Dog food. Anything that you can get ahead of time!

This worked very well for me and the extra stuff lasted until quite a while after I was able to drive to the grocery again.

Start now putting everything on waist high shelves in the kitchen, bathroom so you don't need to bend down. Equip yourself with the many dressing aids available. They are wonderful and you can see pictures of them on the Internet and also research them on this forum. Get a reacher, cane, walker with wheels in front.

Shirley H.

 
Old 12-14-2008, 03:27 PM   #3
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

Hi again ahabt:

I live alone, and forgot to mention two items that I found indispensable - a "leg lifter" and a set of short grab bars that my grand daughter put on the sides at the head of my bed. These bars have long "legs" that fit under the mattress, which makes them very stable and supportive. I couldn't have risen from bed without these. I slept on the left side of the bed but also had a grab bar installed on the right side of the bed in anticipation of having my left hip replaced one of these days.

The leg lifter can be ordered from the Internet or gotten at a good local medical supply store. I found it necessary for both getting into bed and into my car. I was able to stop using it some time into my recovery. That leg lifter was worth its weight in gold. It is light and easy to use.

I still use the bed grab bar. My back is stronger now and I can rise from the bed without it, but the bar saves energy when I am tired.

Shirley H.

 
Old 12-14-2008, 08:33 PM   #4
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

my doctor won't let me drive until my appointment on 5 of jan, i had my surgery the 18 of nov. 6 weeks. you will want someone at your house to help you with your first shower at about 10 days after surgery. i don't use a shower chair but one is recommended. i would also keep your cell phone on you being you are going to be by yourself. i called my kids from my room to help me instead of yelling at them. i agree with silver swan keeping toilet paper and things you use at a level you are comfortable with. it is hard to walk with your walker and a cup of coffee or breakfast. i would also put all your meds in one spot. i kept my pills , shots, hazardous container and little garbage basket all on my night stand along with h2o. you will be amazed at how fast you will fill better and how easy it is to over do it. i asked my ortho dr to go back to work at 3 weeks just a few hours a week and he said no. i would need the rest. so i am going to be off 6 weeks.
good luck

 
Old 12-15-2008, 04:30 AM   #5
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

Hi Kimberly48:

Yes, it is hard to handle meals using a walker, but it can be done with care.

I did purchase a tray that fits on the top of my walker, but didn't have it right away, so didn't get to use it that much. It was very good for transporting the plate, mug, silverware for meals. So now I have it to use for the next hip replacement - which I think is in the near future!

Good to have as many aids as possible when you live alone. They will make life so much easier as you get back to your normal state.

Shirley H.

 
Old 12-15-2008, 07:58 PM   #6
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

This is all very helpful. I hadn't thought through the issue of transporting food while using a walker. I think non-leaking containers that can go in a string bag slung over it? All that laying in of non-perishables is what we are supposed to be doing in CA anyway, in preparation for the Big One (earthquake). I'm sure I can line up somebody for shower duty. I'll bet it feels really good, after ten days--

 
Old 12-16-2008, 05:53 AM   #7
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by ahabt View Post
This is all very helpful. I hadn't thought through the issue of transporting food while using a walker. I think non-leaking containers that can go in a string bag slung over it? All that laying in of non-perishables is what we are supposed to be doing in CA anyway, in preparation for the Big One (earthquake). I'm sure I can line up somebody for shower duty. I'll bet it feels really good, after ten days--
Hi ahabt:

I can't picture the string bag technique but it sounds intriguing!

The tray snaps on to the front of my walker. I wish I had ordered it sooner, but hadn't thought out the meal prep problem. My kitchen island counter is close to the microwave and refrigerator. Sat on the counter stools -just the right height for after a hip replacement. I still use them for meals.

You have to think about your chairs - you will need sturdy chairs with good arms and right height - at least 18 inches from the floor. No lounge chairs or sofas! Hips should be higher than your knees when you are sitting.

I spent the first two weeks in a rehab place after my hip replacement. There I washed up standing in front of the bathroom sink. It worked all right. I only was given one shower each week, with an aide helping. I sure missed washing my hair, which I do every day in the shower - short hair, of course.
The oily hair was my worst problem and others were also very bothered by the lack of hair washing. I finally used a washcloth for my hair and it wasn't like in the shower but it made things look and feel better. The stand up sponge bath washes went just fine. Leaned against the sink. It was good physical therapy for my standing ability.

As for my home shower, I had a man come and install two grab bars - one outside and the other immediately inside. My shower is too small for a chair, but I didn't feel the need for one.

Shirley H.

 
Old 12-16-2008, 11:58 AM   #8
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

I'm *really* hoping to avoid the rehab stay after the hospitalization for surgery. It was mentioned to me as a possibility, but not always needed. I'm concerned about "doggie baby," whose pattern is not to eat when I have to board him--for a few days, it doesn't hurt him, but I really don't want to leave him for two weeks! Any idea how standard this is?

 
Old 12-16-2008, 02:13 PM   #9
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

For what it's worth, I was told that insurers have more stringent standards for approving rehab these days. It's not as automatic to order as it once was. If a patient is in good condition, has weathered operation well and has friends or family who can stay with them for a few weeks, then that is preferred. I had family members stay with me for the first three weeks. I really needed a lot of help the first and second week and was more independent by week 3. I just psychologically needed someone with me in week 3. I have wo dogs and hired a dog walker to come in for a while and walk the dogs twice a week until I felt able to do so myself.

Maggie

 
Old 12-16-2008, 03:27 PM   #10
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by ahabt View Post
I'm *really* hoping to avoid the rehab stay after the hospitalization for surgery. It was mentioned to me as a possibility, but not always needed. I'm concerned about "doggie baby," whose pattern is not to eat when I have to board him--for a few days, it doesn't hurt him, but I really don't want to leave him for two weeks! Any idea how standard this is?
Hi ahabt:

I believe I was sent to a rehab facility after my hip replacement mainly because I live alone - my health plan is strong on prevention and possibly my age was a consideration (78). However, I am in excellent general health.

I suppose they figured better to spend the money on the facility than to have me develop problems at home, where I also would not have professional attention for meds, incision care, vitals taken, etc. and avoid a return to the hospital.

I had wished to go right home after the surgery, but when awaking from the anesthetic, knew right away that I could not manage at home alone.

My kitty was not happy being left alone for the time I was in rehab - even though my grand daughter lives in the same building, and came every day to keep her food and water filled and clean her box.

When I did get back home, Leila would not let me out of her sight! To this day a year later, she follows me from room to room. So I understand about your dog. They do miss us terribly.

Shirley H.

 
Old 12-16-2008, 08:15 PM   #11
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

I'm going to have my sister staying with me for the first week, and then can arrange for people to look in on me--enough people have offered so I can probably schedule somebody every day for a few weeks after my sister leaves. My landlady, two doors down, is a stay-at-home mom and can be summoned in case of a real emergency. And another friend who lives a few blocks away has a husband who was recently laid off, also available for back-up--so with any luck I can convince them I have enough of a support system to just go home.

 
Old 12-17-2008, 05:26 AM   #12
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by ahabt View Post
I'm going to have my sister staying with me for the first week, and then can arrange for people to look in on me--enough people have offered so I can probably schedule somebody every day for a few weeks after my sister leaves. My landlady, two doors down, is a stay-at-home mom and can be summoned in case of a real emergency. And another friend who lives a few blocks away has a husband who was recently laid off, also available for back-up--so with any luck I can convince them I have enough of a support system to just go home.
Hi ahabt:

It sounds to me like having your sister there for a week after the surgery will get you nicely through the neediest part of your recovery. You and she will work out some routines to make things go smoothly after she leaves. Please let us know how this all works out. Sounds good to me.

Shirley H.

 
Old 12-17-2008, 12:41 PM   #13
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

you are going to feel so much better at one week that you will truly be amazed. i surgery was 4 weeks ago yesturday and i really need little help other than having people drive me where i need to be such as pt. i am going stir crazy and try to go somewhere everyday and this has been since about day 10. i use my grabbers to load my wash machine, even to help get my pants on. i only am wearing loose sweats because i can't stand to think of jeans rubbing on it and also my hip is still swollen. don't know how long that will take to go down. a friend of mine said hers was larger for about 3 months. i think it is like everthing, a little different for all of us. i can only hope for you that you have a great experience like i did.
peace and health
kimberly

 
Old 12-17-2008, 04:58 PM   #14
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

Hi, just thought I'd recommend getting a boat cushion to carry around cuz it is firm enough to boost you up a few inches in case you get to eat out and helps at home also. Also, the drug store can get you some rinseless soap which works really well and is supposed to work on your hair also. I knew about this from a hospital stay many years ago and had a couple bottles on hand for after the surgery and the occupational therapy girls gave me a few more bottles to tide me over. This stuff works great until you can get a proper shower.
Get your doctor to provide you with your prescriptions for pain or whatever, prior to the surgery and have them filled ahead of time so this wont be a problem.
Am 5 months post op and doing well. I used my recliner during the day after surgery, but put 3 pillows on the seat to keep my hips higher than my knees and also my hubby bought me a new rolling office type chair that was the highest one in the store when raised to its ultimate height. These are NOT recommended because they can roll out from under you so sit at your own risk- it worked great for me when I was ready to do stuff sitting up and I had been forwarned about the rolling out from under bit.
Good luck,
Darlene

 
Old 12-17-2008, 06:04 PM   #15
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Re: hip replacement recovery questions

Don't forget to pick up a raised toilet seat... A grab bar next to the toilet would also be helpful.

Good Luck.

 
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