So I have really struggled with writing this post mostly because I haven’t wanted to relive the details of it. Also because with all the pain, the meds and overall hospitalization/surgery, I basically experienced amnesia. I welcomed the lack of memory because I obviously didn’t know or remember some of what happened until I was reminded about it. Once the details were shared or something sparked the memory, only then would it come flooding back. When sharing the details of those two weeks, I would mentally feel broken down and just didn’t want to keep thinking about the kind of pain I experienced. Even now, honestly, it’s hard to have to process it enough to write about it. But this blog is mainly to help others with diagnoses, surgeries, hospitalizations and most specifically with PAOs and hip dysplasia. So for you, I will and can do this! Covering two weeks in one post is just too much, so I will get through it in a small series.
I checked into the hospital at 0600 on October 16th, 2017. I actually had the same nurse I had in pre-op for the last hip. Her and the OR nurse liaison were the same and both recognized me. I met with my OR nurse (who also had this same surgery and she said I had a killer OR team with me that day. She knew how to keep me calm haha. Nurse to nurse talk! I loved it and she was amazing.), the anesthesiologist and both of my hip surgeons. Both surgeons autographed my hips for their various procedures. I didn’t feel nervous and only joked with my PAO surgeon that I only wanted the PAO and not the amputation I had dreamed about the night before. He was of course reassuring, but did laugh that that was a dream I’d had. My BP was low in pre-op which just confirmed to me that I was indeed not nervous. Off I went to the OR!
I woke up in PACU (post-anesthesia care unit) and my nurse said everything had gone well and that Chris was there to see me. No one got to come to PACU last time because by the time I had really woke up, I was going to my room. So this time I was happy they let him in. The time there is still fuzzy. I know I spoke with my PAO surgeon and my anesthesiologist, but I don’t remember it much. I do remember waking up and seeing that it was 1900. WHAT?!?! 7PM?! Really? I first thought, damn that was a long surgery. Then the next thought, was shit I’m going to be that patient that is leaving one unit at change of shift and is transferred and admitted to another unit at change of shift. That scenario is no nurses dream assignment. And I’m a nurse! I know I can’t control how long my surgery takes, when I wake up or how I tolerate waking up, but man I felt bad being that patient. I definitely apologized profusely to my nurses who sweetly just laughed it off.
I think I got to my hospital room around 7:30 or 8PM. Chris stayed with me until 10PM and helped me “get ready for bed.” Which basically just meant that I washed my face and brushed my teeth the best I could from my hospital bed. Once I was falling asleep, Chris snuck out and headed home. Thennnnnn…………..my nurse came in at 10:30PM and enthusiastically said, “Ok let’s get up and walk!” I wanted to start crying. My first hospitalization I had told Chris he couldn’t leave me because I was scared that if he did, something bad would happen to me and I would be alone and with no advocate. That was for my neck surgery, which after that particular surgery I had no voice and couldn’t swallow because they manipulate the esophagus to get to the spine. My last experience in the hospital with my first hip was such a breeze that I figured I could try it by myself. My parents couldn’t come down until later in the month and I needed them for longer periods of time and they would be more beneficial once I was home, so that worked out. Chris is busy with work, so said he could only visit and maybe spend a night or two. I had two friends that offered to help fill in the blanks with Chris’ schedule to spend the night with me. Chris and I agreed that the first night I’d probably be so drugged from surgery and PACU, that I’d be ok by myself and hopefully just sleep all night. That was my experience with my first hip too, so I assumed it would be similar this time around. WRONG! I was not ok with getting up and walking and remembered that last time I transferred from my bed to the bedside chair for 30min. The nurse was adamant about getting me “up,” but also adamant that I didn’t stay in the chair for too long. So it surprised me that this nurse wanted me to walk when I had only been on the floor for a couple hours. I was upset that I didn’t have anyone with me to help advocate for me and that I was all ready for bed. I negotiated with her and she agreed to let me sit on the side of the bed. I had one of those triangle orthopedic bars over my bed to help me reposition myself. Last time, I did not have this and it really makes a difference! I started to pull myself up as the aide and the nurse helped swing my legs to the side of the bed. I screamed! I felt pain like nothing I have ever experienced. I’m usually more of a silent sufferer. You have to look at me to know if I am in pain because I usually only grimace or tears fall silently. So it’s a big deal when I say I screamed. And I mean, I literally screamed. It was an uncontrollable response and surprised me as much as the nurse and aide. I laid back down and was completely bawling. I took several deep breaths and pep talked myself into trying one more time because I figured I had just negotiated the side of the bed and if I didn’t deliver, then I’d have to walk. Which as I write this, doesn’t even make sense, but it’s how the nurse made me feel at the time with how demanding she was and how unsympathetic to pain she was. I was also obviously drugged up and not thinking logically. I didn’t even make it as far with the second attempt. It felt like someone stabbed me with a scalpel and dragged it down my leg. I was in 10/10 pain just from that little movement. I pointed to where it was, but the nurse never did a full assessment of the area. She just told me to lay back down and to lift my leg as she tapped on my left shin. I told her I wasn’t allowed to lift that leg for three months due to the involvement of the hip flexors. She didn’t believe me, kept saying I have no restrictions and to lift my leg. I flat out defied her. She checked the computer and said she confirmed that I didn’t have any restrictions. I explained to her again that I wasn’t allowed to and why. I told her no matter what she thought, I just wasn’t going to lift my op leg. I called my two friends to see if they could come spend the night with me. One was at work still and didn’t answer and the other one was just getting home from a 16 hour shift at work and I didn’t have the heart to tell her what I was experiencing and that I was alone. So I called Chris. I was crying because I couldn’t hide it from him. I told him what had happened, the pain that I was in and that I had tried my two friends and they couldn’t come. He packed up Lucy and headed right back down to the hospital and it was close to 0100AM at that point. The good thing about that night was that Lucy got to be with me too! They allowed her on the unit which was a surprise to me, but we didn’t really have any other choice if Chris was going to spend the night with me. I think the nurse came to my room maybe one more time that night. The next morning my surgeon came in and was so mad. He had been updated from my day nurse about the night before and came to my room with the charge nurse and the director of the floor. I had to explain to them what happened the night before and none of them were happy. They were very kind to me and apologized a bunch of times. However, due to the pain I was in, my surgeon ordered a nerve block. I had to go back to pre-op later that day to have this procedure done. The day nurse and my surgeon also assessed the area that was causing so much pain and they rebandaged one of my arthroscopy holes. The thought was that the sutures were being tugged when I moved in bed so if they padded it more, I would move more comfortably. It did help, but until those sutures were out, I always had more pain with that hole.
My good friend, who has also had two arthroscopies, visited me just before I went for my nerve block. It was great timing because she was able to accompany me to my procedure. She held my hand, kept me distracted and comforted me. I was so appreciative! My pain was almost immediately better with the block and the hefty dose of good ol’ Fentanyl. It was such a relief to finally have a break from that kind of pain. My friend, my nurse and the PT all commented how much better I looked and that my color was improved as well.
My day was looking up after that nerve block. Then got even better when Chris texted me that afternoon that he had gotten a surprise for me and wanted me to guess what it was. (Side note for all you caregivers or friends out there, a guessing game is pretty fun with a drugged patient haha!) I got three guesses and the only clue was that it was big. First guess- giant teddy bear. Second guess- a castle! (I’d recently returned from Europe and apparently a castle was on my mind lol.) Third guess- a new mattress. Ding Ding Ding! A mattress! I was elated! We’d been talking for months about getting a new mattress. Our’s was only a little over a year old but both of our backs hurt with it and from when I was bedridden for two months from the last hip surgery, there was a nice Caitlin size dent in my side of the mattress. It was just too soft for us and we both need good support for our backs. The best part was that it was delivered the Friday I was discharged from the hospital so I basically got home to a new, comfortable and supportive bed. He also gave me a goody bag for the hospital with snacks, fuzzy socks and decorations for my room. All of it was Halloween themed and the skeleton was the perfect decor for an ortho hospital room. In fact, several nurses asked me if the skeleton was mine or their’s lol! The rest of my nurses (after that first night nurse) were all amazing. I even got my favorite nurse from my last hospitalization for a couple night shifts.
That night my friend came to spend the night with me. I’m so thankful to have her as a friend. She’s a wonderful nurse who worked all day that day, stayed with me over night and went back to work early the next morning. She basically lived in a hospital between her job and my hospitalization for like 40 hours! Now that’s a killer friend if you ask me.
Wednesday was the original goal for discharge, but because of the pain I’d been having, I hadn’t gotten far enough with PT to be sent home. I don’t think my pain was truly well controlled until post op day 3 or 4. The things I needed to be ready for discharge, was to walk some with two crutches, do the stairs so I could be able to get into my apartment, have a bowel movement, control my pain, get my foley catheter out and have my IV taken out and to have stable vital signs. All those things took me until Friday and even then, I think it was too early for me to leave. When pain meds were due Friday afternoon, I asked to hold off for a bit and instead to take a zofran for nausea. I didn’t feel well, but I couldn’t quite explain how I felt. When I was being prepped for discharge, I told the nurse I wasn’t feeling quite right. She took my vitals and my BP was 80/50 something, my HR was 130’s and I was really dizzy, couldn’t focus my eyes, felt pretty out of it and had a headache that wouldn’t go away. I was motivated to get home and knew Chris was already on his way to pick me up, so I told the nurse I really didn’t want to stay. She was the same nurse who discharged me last time and she knew I was a nurse. We talked about symptoms for awhile and she retook my vitals until we got sort of acceptable numbers. My BP stayed low and my HR tachy but not as bad as it was the first time. So I was discharged…….
I got home Friday evening and puked several times that night. I was really out of it, still dizzy and just overall did not feel good. I was so close to saying I needed to go back to the hospital, but I stuck it out. At some point I fell asleep and made it through the first night home and felt a little better the next day.