Post-Op Hippiness.

As mum’s new hip has not been cemented (as she is relatively young and the hip may need to be redone in 15+ years) she has to be very, very careful of it and has a lot of rules to follow for at least the next 6 weeks:

* Two crutches to be used at all times so that not too much weight is put through the hip
* Hip to be kept straight, always higher than the knee, and the leg must not be bent more than 90 degrees
* Chairs to be raised to the right height so that the hip does not bend too much, and leg must be out in front, not bent back or crossed over other leg, nor can legs be raised on a stool, pillow or anything else
* No sitting for more than 45 minutes at a time
* At least twice a day, she must lie down on bed for rest to aid circulation
* Sleeping position must be on back, with leg out straight
* No bath or shower as mum’s is not a walk-in shower, so she has to make do with washing at the sink
* No bending down or reaching up, or leaning over
* No swivelling the hip
* Exercises as instructed by the physiotherapists to be done at frequent intervals throughout the day, and short walks to be taken daily
* Ice pack to be applied to hip regularly, especially after exercises

So, mum faces six weeks of being very restricted in terms of getting comfortable, and doing everyday tasks. Before the op, an assessment of mum’s needs meant she was provided with some essential equipment to help: 2 perching stools for sort of sitting at the bathroom sink and the kitchen units; chair raisers for one dining chair and one high backed chair in the living room; one trolley with trays (like a hostess trolley, for carrying food between kitchen and table etc.); raised loo seats and frames. Then she also bought a couple of pick-up sticks (long handled tools with pinchers for picking things up from the floor); a long handled sponge for washing legs/feet; a long handled shoe horn and a sock-donning aid. On top of all this, mum rearranged her home a bit to try and allow for her restrictions.

So the week was one of rest and recuperation, and overcoming challenges as they arose. Obviously mum had to recover from the sedatives as well as the trauma of surgery, but she has also had to use her arms to take some of her weight, and apart from having weak wrists anyway, has never been athletic or overly active. She’s also had struggled to do her daily anti-coagulant injection and has been unable to master the technique so is covered in bruises. (She was shown how to do this just once, given a DVD to watch, which isn’t particularly helpful, and then left to inject herself for 28 days with no further help.)

Some of the things we’ve discovered include:

* Getting in and out of cars is a major challenge
* Getting on and off/in and out of bed is even worse! (In fact this is the one thing mum hates doing the most besides those injections.)
* The wheelchairs available for use in the supermarket are totally unsuitable for hip replacement patients and we had to give up after 10 minutes as it caused mum so much pain.
* Manoeuvring on two crutches within the house is more awkward than walking outside on them. (Changes in direction mean shuffling about)
* Crutches need an anti-gravity gadget for when they are not in use – how does one pick them up from the floor when they fall, without bending? (We ended up weighting down a large coffee tin and “parking” the crutches in that.) Handy gripper sticks (AKA “Handy Andy”) also fall over all the time!
* Getting washed and dressed takes ages and is exhausting
* At times, cold feet are preferable to fighting the sock donning aid to put on socks.
* No matter how much thought one puts into a pre-op rearranging of the house, it won’t be quite right and more re-arranging will be needed! (Not least because the chair-raisers collapse (whilst the convalescent is in the chair!) so you have to give up on them!)
* The high backed throne chair in the living room is extremely uncomfortable – even if you HAVEN’T had a hip-op!
* Doctors and physiotherapy waiting rooms do not have ANY chairs at the right height – meaning one has to stand whilst waiting to be seen.
* One cannot reach the oven or any freezer shelves below the top one, so microwave meals are the only option – though the frozen peas for ice-ing the wound take up half the space!
* Emptying bins and putting out the bin bags for collection is impossible. (We have not found a way round this at all yet!)
* Doing any laundry is also impossible. As is housework, but hopefully mum has sorted this one by paying a cleaner to start once I am no longer staying. (They might even do the bins if we’re lucky.)
* No matter how much room one clears around the house, there’s still not going to be enough to allow for the crutches and food trolley.
* Toilet frames take up a lot of space too so the loo doors won’t close once crutches are in there too (and are flippin’ cold on bare skin where they touch! Brr!) which also means the loo roll behind the door is not accessible – it now hangs on a ribbon on the door handle! (And mum’s singing a lot 😉 )
* The cat’s food bowls can be raised and lowered using Handy Andy if mum is very careful, stands just right, and takes it slowly. Not easy with a kitten under her feet wanting her to go faster.
* The wonderful contraption I made for easy changing of litter in the cat’s litter tray works brilliantly! But he’s now decided that he likes his cat-flap and will go to the loo outside thank you very much. (This is good though.)
* It’s not safe to try opening and closing the windows (which are those that just open at the top) so mum will just have to get her fresh air by standing at the open door.
* Carrying things up and downstairs is very difficult so two Handy Andy’s are needed, as are two of anything one might use both upstairs and down – e.g reading glasses, water cups, packs of painkillers etc. (Carrying water upstairs is best done in a plastic bottle!) Crutches could do with a little bag attached for carrying small items (yes I KNOW this isn’t their intended use – but with hands holding the crutches, how does one carry anything anywhere?!!)
* There is no help available via Social Services etc for people under 65! AND there is no hospital transport available for community physio appointments at the local hospital. It does make me cross! And so mum has spent a lot time on the phone trying to get things organised – and gets no help with any of it!
* However, we’ve learned that with patience, honesty, lots of love and a bit of laughter, there is nothing so far that has been entirely insurmountable.

It’s been a challenging week or so (more so for mum of course) but I am so glad I’ve been able to help – and there is no-one on Earth more deserving than my wonderful mum! We’ve also had lots of love and support from family and friends, particularly mum’s sister who has been posting daily cards and gifts – and not just to mum, but to me too.

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  2. […] time – in fact I’ve just read it again here and am in fits. Again, we got through the post-op challenges by being able to be honest and by laughing together and the experience cemented our […]

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