Hip replacement – Part two
In part one last week, Wan Like Hang described the process of replacing a hip and some of the issues. He described the operation he underwent and how he felt just after it. This amazing modern procedure encourages patients to walk (with crutches) within a few hours after receiving their new hip. And so it proved to be. After a short walk, supper, and lots of medication, we left Wan Lik Hang facing his first night with a new right hip.
0630 Tuesday 18th January 2022
Woke up early and realised I got a couple of hours of good sleep. Not enough but fine for now. Another lovely day. Pain is quite strong today – like a bursitis pain and like it was before the operation at times. Tried walking round the room without crutches. It was OK. But I almost fell trying one of the exercises I need to do. My balance clearly has not yet quite recovered.
The Surgeon visited and was impressed with my progress. I walked down the hospital corridor without crutches while he filmed me! He said I could leave hospital today if I wanted to. However, the occupational therapist explained more about things I must and (mostly) what I must not do. These include getting dressed only when sitting down, moving slowly, not picking up heavy weights, no baths, not picking things off the floor, aids to put on shoes and socks and so on. It is a long list of don’ts.
The physio took me up and down stairs with one crutch – to keep the pelvis straight. Must do exercises regularly. Crutch (in the left hand) must move at the same time as the right leg. With stairs, use the good leg first when going up: the bad leg first going down. Did a few flights. Noticed more pain and it was hard to sit down comfortably.
I realise finally – as everyone has told me – that the next two weeks are going to be difficult for me. I must be ultra-careful about what I do and how I do it. The only thing that keeps our legs onto our bodies are the muscles and tendons around the hip. Even though this was a highly skilled, minimally invasive procedure, the muscles have been stretched significantly and I have new pieces of metal in me. If I were to dislocate this new hip by being careless, it means another operation and could take weeks to heal again.
The physiotherapist is back with more exercises and scientific explanations about what I need to do. I must use at least one crutch when walking, even if I don’t think I need to, to correct my hip imbalance. It turns out that my ‘old’ right leg had become 6mm shorter than the left one. The operation has corrected that, but I had been unconsciously adapting my walk to it. My ‘new’ walk needs to regain the proper alignment of the hips.
What joy! I am allowed a sleeping pill tonight!
0800 – Wednesday 19th January
Slept like a log and still sleepy! I’m on a mixture of drugs for pain, anti-biotics, blood thinning and others. But feeling confident and relatively pain-free. I am walking around on my own unaided and feel safe doing so.
The Surgeon called again and talked to my daughter as she was already on the phone to me. “He will be OK. There’s no need to mollycoddle him!”, he said to her. But everyone I talk to is saying the opposite – take it easy. I should not be doing anything on my own for at least a couple of weeks.
How hard can that be? It turns out – very hard indeed.
Received pages of instructions about leaving hospital and what to do next. A huge bag of medication for various purposes. I walked down the corridor to the lift and so into the car taking me home. A friend prepared a lovely dinner for me. I went to bed tired but happy. It was all over!
But it was only just beginning…
A quiet day with lots of dozing. A friend kindly came around with dinner and we watched a movie. Went to bed and slept – for a while…
I woke suddenly with a serious panic attack. I can’t get out; can’t really walk, no way to burn off adrenaline. Cannot exercise. Can’t even walk up the steps. Can’t turn over in bed. Hip not painful either; so why can’t I do these things? No way out.
Very tough today. Claustrophobic. Must be disciplined. But am I getting old? Why should these silly rules apply to me? I hate people doing things for me. I am self-sufficient. I can manage anything. Yet I must accept it because I have no choice.
I’ve got no way out. I can’t escape. (Or if I try there’ll be a catastrophe.)
Well, I did escape and walked to buy some biscuits! It helped a bit but am still feeling helpless. Trapped.
I tell myself how lucky I am. Good operation, good health, recovering super-fast! What is there to complain about? Why the panic? What’s so bad about letting other people help you? And it will not be for long either.
0900 Saturday 22nd
Slept nearly 11 hours and a lot during the day too. Why so sleepy? Feel much better now. What am I complaining about? Daughter coming today Will have a shower and change of clothes. Do a wash etc. Life must go on…
The above are extracts from Wan Lik Hang’s diary that he wrote at the time. One week after the operation, he concludes:
Note – Wan Lik Hang’s surgeon is Mr Hugh Apthorp. The hospital is the London Bridge Hospital run by HCA. Wan Lik Hang has immense gratitude for the care and efficiency of everyone involved.
Worked on the article: