“You’re going to be able to walk right out of the hospital after two days in recovery.”
– My Surgeon
-Me, still a week and a half after surgery
For some reason, my surgeon and her staff led me to believe this surgery was relatively minor. I’m sure in the grand scheme of things it probably was for her and her staff considering the work she does on a daily basis. But hot damn, my hip hurts, still.
The day of surgery was quite reminiscent of January 24th, 2012. The day I had my tumor removed and cadaver bone put in. We got to the hospital at 6:30am, waiting for just under 2 minutes and they brought me back to the surgical prep room where all the other pre-surgery patients go. In this long, skinny room, sterile space where humility is thrown out the window. Wait, there isn’t any windows in this room…well, you get the point. You undress and throw on a pair of the lovely blue grippy hospital socks and a hospital gown. They start your IV. Ask you your name and address and why you are there 4 times over. They mark your incision points with marker. Also, this is your last point of contact with family and friends until you go into surgery. People are nervous, its a nervous non-comforting space. The last thing you see are people’s butts walking to the bathroom. Before you go into surgery you are asked to clear your bladder one last time so, every patient gets up and walks to the bathroom. However, the way some genius designed the gowns, everyones backside is exposed. I remember coming back from the bathroom and Ashley was just shaking her head at me because my butt was out there just catching some rays for all to see. Its always, the family members that notice too, the patients have other things on their mind…imagine that.
I was still conscious when they rolled me into surgery. My stats proudly displayed on a 60″ flat screen TV on the wall:
Jordan Schaefer. 28 years old. Male. 6’1, 188lbs. Expected surgery time: 2hrs, 45mins.
As I got to the last line of stats, I was out.
I woke up in post-op; another interesting place. Nurses seem like they are always in a hurry at this place. Rushing around checking vitals and trying to wake patients up from their nap. As if there were 1000 patients in this place and only 2 nurses. They want you to drink liquids and assess your pain levels. This is the place where you get the pump. Your own morphine pump in which the patient controls by a push button, its pretty great. I remember floating in and of consciousness. The nurse would stand hovered over me waiting for that grand moment when I would open my eyes again so she could ask me a million questions. Listen lady, I am more interested in sleeping right now.
I have no recollection of how long I was actually in recovery but, I do remember my family coming in and they said the surgery went very good. My dad told me they took three ‘scoops’ of my hip and placed around the non-union part of my arm. I was numb, I didn’t have feeling anywhere so all I could do was accept the fact that my surgery went really well. They next thing I know, I woke up and I was in my hospital room. All I wanted to do was sleep more. However, my new nurse had other plans for me. She was more interested in collecting my urine output than letting me sleep.
Since my surgery was around 2 hours this time, the operating staff opted to skip out on using a catheter. I remember fist-pumping my dad after surgery saying they didn’t cath me. For those of you who haven’t been cathed, you just wait. It’s pure bliss. However, this did pose a problem for me because I had to somehow go the bathroom to get this nurse off my back. I tried everything…slamming water, coffee, juice, I still couldn’t go. Mind you, I can’t stand up so I am on a 45 degree angle in my bed trying to put some output in a plastic jug, not the easiest thing in the world to do. The nurse kept popping in every 5 minutes to see if it worked. She had this sick look on her face as if she could not wait to cath me. Maybe its her thing because she was all about it. I relented and let her cath me. Its a humbling and seriously uncomfortable experience to say the least but, it worked.
I was only in the hospital for a day when they released me. Initially, they had me staying for two days but I guess, someone else needed my room. Before I could be let go the physically therapy staff came in to see if I could stand and try walking with a crutch. It was extremely difficult at first but I got the hang of it. Since the crutches were hospital property, they had to wheelchair me out to the car. At that moment, I realized its the little things you don’t thing about post surgery. How am I going to get in this car? How do I sit down? How do I get in the shower? All of these things are going to be a problem.
The car ride home was uncomfortable but I was somewhat at ease with the morphine I still had in my system. We arrived home that night and I remember the pain starting to hurt so I took the prescribed pain meds and went to bed. I remember waking up at 6am thinking my bed was on fire (funny story about beds being fire for another time). It literally felt like someone was taking a lighter and moving it up and down my thigh under where they removed part of my hip. My leg felt like it was on fire and that my skin was melting off of my leg. It felt hot and wet. I took more pills but nothing seemed to make it go away. We called the on-call surgeon for advice but, he said it was supposed to feel like that. I feel like I have a higher pain tolerance than normal considering what I have been through but this pain wasn’t even on the same scale as pain I have experienced before. We told him something doesn’t seem right but he assured us this was normal. The pain persisted, we tried putting bags of ice on it. Adjusting the way I was sitting. I tried crutching around but nothing seemed to help. We called him again, same thing this is completely normal…blah blah blah. I remember thinking this guy doesn’t know what he is talking about and I needed to call someone I could trust. So we did, my friend Kenny is a doctor and I called him right away. Mind you, he is not a surgeon but the kid knows his stuff. He said my leg should absolutely not feel like this and asked me to try and add an over the counter pain medicine like Motrin to the recipe of pills I was already taking. Well in a couple hours later the pain subsided. It worked! I can’t thank you enough for your help Kenny!
So where are we at today a week and half after surgery? I am starting to walk again on my own. I am sure it is uncomfortable to watch me hobble around but everyday I can do a little bit more. I am still trying to find the right position to sleep in. I think my incision area on my hip is still swelled up because if I move in a particular position, it being sitting or standing, I get an extremely painful jolt down my leg. I haven’t ever had a pinched nerve but this is what I would assume it feels like, not pleasant. The area around the incision is still numb to the touch. This is a little concerning for me because they said there is the potential for short term or permanent long term nerve damage. My post op appointment is this Wednesday so I should be able to figure out what is normal after this procedure and what isn’t. I just have this fear that they damaged part of a nerve and that they are going to have to try and repair it but, I am keeping my fingers crossed.
All in all, this surgery was a lot tougher than I expected. I definitely didn’t walk ‘right out of the hospital.’ I am still in pain but as to be expected I guess. I am learning to walk again and figure out what my new ‘normal’ might look like. Again, I just want to thank you all for your cards, prayers, and good thoughts sent my way during this. I will continue to update when I have some more information after Wednesday.
!WARNING! GRAPHIC POST SURGERY PICS BELOW:
The first picture is the incision they did on my hip. Its about 3 inches long. The next picture is on my arm. The used the same incision line as before but they didn’t open it up as big as they did last night…yummy!