In this post Suzanne recounts her slow recovery from artificial hip revision surgery. Suzanne received a metal-on-metal artificial hip, and four years later the hip was recalled. Suzanne was forced to undergo revision surgery a year later.
Sitting on my night stand next to me here at home is a shiny steel sphere resting in rougher textured steel “cup.” When I hold it in my hand my fingers will not close around it and when I pick it up, the shiny steel ball is heavy and rolls back into the cup revealing a flat bottom with a hole in the middle of it. It was attached to an artificial titanium femur in my left leg just three days ago–prior to my revision surgery–and looks and feels so smooth and shiny it is hard to believe that it has wreaked such havoc on my unsuspecting body: staining the surrounding tissues an ugly gray, whipping up metal particles and spewing them into the orbit surrounding my recalled body parts and, worst of all, destroying any and all chances I may have had to develop a “J-Lo” like posterior due to irreparable damage to my gluteus medius and minimus muscles. Truthfully, I am more concerned with my ability to flow into a left legged lunge from a downward dog than to see my butt standing at attention, but that is too much to think about too soon and so instead I turn to my beautiful daughter who is giving me a bedside serenade on her guitar and think about how much I love my family and all my friends and the taste of lime popsicles.
I made it to the couch today! Yesterday I encircled and scrutinized the curvaceous crimson sectional several times, a bit unsteady, all the while trying to reconcile my personal vision of my recuperation–me all cozy on the couch in front of the fire reading and sipping ginger ale on ice, while the family bustles around me baking and cooking in the kitchen, busying themselves with holiday projects–with the realization that the couch was too low for me to sit on, not a comfortable chair was anywhere in sight and navigating the narrow passageways on my crutches between the couch and the Christmas tree, the coffee table and the couch, over computer chords and the like, even without medication, would be dangerous! I was facing the possibility of spending my recuperation holiday in my bedroom alone where the temperature seemed to grow colder as the fire in the living room grew warmer.
This morning I knew as soon as I moved from the bed to my crutches that my body had healed just a little bit more through the night. I felt lighter and moved more fluidly, as fluid as one can on meds and in skin-tight support stockings. I know that my nursing care–my husband John–has a lot to do with my comfort and progress. He has been my nurse, keeping track of my medication and administering it too, including daily shots in my stomach, my physical therapist, making sure I go through all of my exercises and moving my leg for me when I can’t, a parent, stroking my hair and cooing kinds words when I need them and a husband, the kind of person who looks at me with love as he kindly makes sure I am safe and have everything I need for my first shower in five days. Bliss. So now I am on the sofa, tucked in a corner of this giant, plush red nest that our family of four plus Weenie, our cat, fits on quite comfortably. The room is warmed by the fireplace and I’m getting ready to doze some more, wondering what tomorrows healing will bring.
Emerging from this drug induced haze, malaise, apathetic daze, it’s hard to want to do anything. Today I had a severe reaction to what I can only guess was caused by pain medication, Oxycodone to be exact. I’m not a medicine consumer. I had two natural childbirths and one of them in my own home and although I’ll take a sleep aid once or twice a year, ibuprofen is my drug of choice. So I was surprised to find myself covered in welts, looking like an avatar with the corners of my eyes and the bridge of my nose appearing as one facial feature, and itching uncontrollably, after scaling down my oxycodone intake to only two small pills at bedtime. Now it is after two in the morning and sleep eludes me. I am twelve days into my recovery after having a faulty artificial hip removed from my body in a revision surgery and replaced with a hopefully better model, and I’m angry.
Ironically the hip and site of the operation itself is not bothering me as much as a strange patch located just above my left knee on my quadriceps muscle. It is a site for searing pain that appears as fire, daggers and heat when I move my leg a certain way. Nerve pain. It causes blood-curdling, uncontrollable screams when it happens. I let one out at the medical center today after the nurse and my husband tried to get me off a ridiculously high examining table I had no business being on. I somehow managed to get on it without screaming. After several attempts at inserting an IV unsuccessfully, which required another nurse to give it a try, then lying for what seemed like an eternity on this sketchy, antiquated piece of medical hardware that was obviously not functioning, the contents of the IV dripping agonizingly slow, me completely uncomfortable, when it was time to be released, I couldn’t get off the table. All efforts to assist me were unsuccessful. I let out a good one. The nurse had no idea what to do and ended up leaving the room to let my husband and me deal with it. Soon we were walking, me hobbling along on crutches, out the door with the entire staff just looking at us as we exited their torture chamber. I guess blood curdling screams are not uncommon there. It did not really seem to faze anyone and to be honest, once the pain subsided, I kind of liked the feeling of this unbridled, wild and scary sound coming out of me.
This entire journey from my first hip replacement surgery until today has been almost ten years. I was only 42 when I received my first hip replacement. The trauma and the drama around the recall, physical damage and physical and financial aftermath consumed the entirety of my forties. What should have been some of my best and vibrant years. Today I am 51. The damages I sustained from the second surgery have left me with a partially paralyzed left leg. I have to pick it up with my hands to put my shoes and socks on. I live with chronic nerve pain and hip joint pain that I manage with ibuprofen. With that said, I can walk and I can bike. I also recently became a certified yoga instructor, and although many of the postures are unavailable to me, I have a strong practice that I share with other people who have physical limitations and who are searching for a way to move their bodies as best they can.
Disclaimer: This narrative is not intended to represent any specific person or specific product. Names and details have been changed.