We all know that surgery, in one form or another, is not always an enjoyable experience. It’s not the worst by any means (at least mine haven’t been) but if given the choice, most of us would opt out. Orthopedic surgery is a whole new experience for me. It’s the first opportunity I have to jeopardize my health by trying to recover too quickly. It doesn’t matter if I want to walk, if I want to push through pain, or if I want to test the limits of what my new hip can do. I can cause damage. That scares me. Everyone who is close to me is aware of the fact that I like to test my limits. The nurse who took care of me on surgery day shared with her coworker that I wouldn’t speak up if I was in pain. This was after an hour of knowing me. I’m not saying this is a good thing, in a lot of ways it can be my downfall. I don’t know how to follow the rules of recovery. I’m impatient. So here is what I learned after hip surgery….
- It Will Hurt
As the anesthesiologist kindly informed me, thirty minutes before getting sliced open, this surgery will hurt. Given, I was asking him if all the pain medication was necessary. Nonetheless he emphasized the pain inflicted during the operation. Shaving down bones, stretching a tendon and sewing back together cartilage is apparently not natural. Orthopedic pain is very different from others. It doesn’t hurt like my hip impingement, it’s sharp and hot. Almost a searing pain. Still better than my tonsils being removed, so I count it as a win.
- There’s no Wiggle Room
Recovery time takes FOREVER. I was bored on day two and that’s only because I slept all of day one. Apparently, when they say you’re on crutches for four to six weeks they mean it. Luckily, they didn’t tell me my other limitations until the day before because I might have backed out. There’s something about not being able to sit in a chair that’s bothersome. Laying in bed all day sounds nice but then your back aches and you run out of movies on Netflix. I’m keeping myself occupied by planning my next 5K.
- You Need Help
Writing this is making me aware of how unprepared I was for the reality of this surgery but I need a lot of help. Showering, getting clothes on, even going to the bathroom the first day took help. For me, asking for help is difficult. It dampens my spirits to feel so stuck, so helpless. Somewhere my therapist is laughing maniacally. This is exactly what she wants, vulnerability.
- It’s a Process
This is the first surgery I’ve had with follow up. Everyone else sent me on my way after surgery, “call if you have any problems.” they say. I have to check in with these doctors for a year periodically. This may sound very naive but you have to understand that this is a whole new ball game for me. They say, if I am strong enough, at four months is when I can start running. That feels like forever! I’m trying to focus on healing and resting but all I can do is visualize running. It’s something my physical therapist taught me, also a meditation like practice. Hopefully by telling my mind I can do it my body will catch up.
I’m lucky to have had this surgery. It was very clear once they got in there the extensive damage I had caused. This is difficult to accept on a couple different levels. I never want to inflict damage on my body. It’s something sacred, borrowed to me by the universe, who am I to hurt this treasured gift? On the other hand, I didn’t realize that I could cause that much damage. When everyone told me to stop running, I felt like it was a joke. This surgery brought into perspective the reality and weight of my actions. No, this tear wasn’t all my fault. There was a predisposition because of the extra bone but the extent was my fault. I chose to hurt my body for my own mental gain. I will carry this information with me. This is a valuable learning lesson. Pushing the body to its absolute limits is not within my best interest. I hope you all feel a great respect for your body. It serves you so well on a daily basis. Whether it malfunctions or periodically stops working, there will always be a million things it does right. They may be tiny. Almost imperceptible, they may seem inconsequential but without them it would be detrimental.