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Saunders: Aftermath of surgery equally daunting; thanks to those who helped

The surgical ordeal has been over for awhile and now in this new year of 2020 it is time to tell you how the hip replacement surgery and follow-up went.

The hip is replaced and I did not flat-line, thank the Lord! When the surgeon whizzed by my recovery, he indicated that everything went beautifully — easy for him to say! And I thought, what would the next weeks be like since my thigh was swollen and sore?

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After surgery, the day involved drinking water and ginger ale to coat my mouth and throat — and yes, even some throwing up from the anesthesia. The next day involved finally getting up and walking with a walker. I think I was trying to get out of the hospital quickly as I went “scooting” around the hallway of the hospital, so much so that I was discharged the evening of the second day! Of course, the discharge was not handled very well as I was not given any real paperwork to tell me how to act and how to respond. I was left with lots of questions as the end of that first week progressed and had to email my doctor’s office often for advice.

Needless to say I felt very insecure. If it had not been for my dear friend Betty, I don’t know what I would have done. She stayed with me for three nights and brought me my food for a number of weeks and even put on those wretched Teds every morning and took them off every evening for over four weeks!

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My neighbors, the Halls, were also very helpful in giving me extra post-surgical equipment and getting my mail. And then there was dear Terri who visited my dog while she was at the kennel and helped me get her back home! Did you ever think how much we rely on others like these dear people to help us through the “rough patches" of life? They are indeed our heroes and worthy of our praise!

A person from HomeCare Maryland therapy came for an intake, but then actual therapy did not begin until the week following surgery. The in-home therapist was excellent at testing and developing my strength. I tried to do exercises on the days the therapist did not come, but not always with much enthusiasm early on. And of course if I stretched the wrong way and got an abnormal pain I would cower into helplessness for awhile.

However, into the second week of therapy, the therapist said I was ready for outpatient therapy which meant “hopping” on the shuttle to go over the hill to our medical suite for more “torture” — all of which was to stretch and strengthen my muscles and get me back to walking without the assistance of a walker or a cane.

My first out-patient therapy session involved in-take questions and tests of endurance and strength. The therapist then had me climb up eight steps and descend those same steps with the “good going up and the bad going down.” After that she had me do a few more stretching exercises while lying on a bed, followed by icing the hip and concurrent “tingles” or electrical stimulation for 15 minutes. Then it was back on the shuttle for the ride home, followed by several more weeks of therapy.

After outpatient therapy began I noticed some oozing from the incision and worried about infection. I was able to get a quick appointment with the surgeon’s PA who X-rayed the hip and gave me an antibiotic as a precaution.

Getting my dog home from the kennel was the next big event. It was Terri who took me to retrieve her after almost three weeks away. Once home she raced around as usual and sat in the chair with me as usual. I think the people at the kennel were good at spoiling her and taking excellent care of her, but she really needs to go to the groomer! The kennel bill was actually less than I thought it would be, for which I am glad. Now the chore became one of balancing when Sherry and Kim, the dog-walkers, came with my therapy time, getting those awful “Teds” put on and taken off, and meal times.

Speaking of the dog-walkers, they performed a very necessary task well. At least my dog always welcomed their coming with great joy!

That really has been the story of recuperating — keeping the schedule straight as to when someone is coming to take care of my needs or my dog’s needs and when I am obligated to be somewhere else. It sounds very much like the pre-operative days of trying to keep the schedule straight! I kept thinking how good it would be to get back to a mundane routine, though my life before hip replacement surgery was anything but mundane!

What happened when I went to see the surgeon one month and a day after the surgery caused much apprehension and many questions to be answered as I waited for the doctor to enter the room. I knew I had been walking well sans walker or cane because the outpatient therapists at Carroll Lutheran Village were excellent, but one never knows how the doctor will assess the situation.

His first instruction was, “Let’s see you walk,” which I passed beautifully. A look at the incision made him equally glad. To my questions about when I could walk my dog and bend down to pick up her BM’s and when I could drive, he answered, “Now!”

What a shock and relief to be given my freedom back! “To God be the glory; great things He has done!” And, of course, praise for Dr. Barry Waldman!

Hermine Saunders writes from Westminster. Her Prime column appears on the second Sunday of the month.

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