It’s PAO-time!


Ahhh, morphine!

So, as you can see from the picture, I was PAO’d (right hip socket) by Mr Johan Witt on 31st July at 9am. We arrived early at about 6.30 and I was the first into theatre. I can honestly say that the last hour or so before surgery was far worse than the ones that came after! I was so frightened. But all the doctors and nurses I met were so reassuring, I felt in very good hands.

When it came to the surgery, I was brought, shaking, into a kind of surgical ante-room, where they checked my details, and put a cannula in my hand. A very nice anaesthetist said ‘this might make you feel a bit woozy’, as he injected something into it.

‘I don’t feel woozy’, I said. ‘Oh well’ says lovely anaesthetist, reassuringly, ‘breathe into this mask’. He places a mask over my mouth, and that’s the last thing I remember.

The next thing I remember is a nurse calling my name to wake me up, and telling me the surgery was over and I was in recovery. She pointed out that I had a tube delivering local anaesthetic to the site of the surgery, and a pump that I could control which delivered Fentanyl (like morphine) when I pressed a button (this is called a PCA – patient controlled anaesthesia). She also told me that I’d had a spinal epidural which would wear off over the next few hours. She told me not to pull the oxygen tube out of my nose. The lovely nurse gave me some water and asked if I felt nauseous or in pain. I didn’t. I felt happy and relieved it was over. I dozed.

Then Mr Witt came and told me the PAO had gone really well, and checked the wound, which already looked so small and neat – a thin line of about 4 inches in length, along my bikini tan line. I was very excited by this. I felt quite high. He went over the various drugs and told me that my urinary catheter would be removed soon. I was happy about this – before surgery thoughts of the catheter had made me feel quite squeamish. I went back to sleep, with a smile on my face.

Then Irish arrived, having some how managed to bribe / kidnap the recovery staff into letting him in – this is not really allowed. I was so excited to see him and apparently revealed my entire naked lower half to the whole room in an effort to show him my incision.

I ended up having to wait several hours in recovery because there were no beds available on the relevant ward. This wasn’t a hardship, I was very drowsy and lovely nurse sat by my side all the time, giving me sips of water. She took my catheter out at some point – she asked me to cough as she removed the tube and it was out in less than a second. This was a huge relief, I had been inordinately worried about the catheter and was happy to use a bedpan instead. Once I put dignity to one side, the bedpan wasn’t an issue. I used my good leg to lift myself off the bed in a kind of yoga shoulder bridge (not unlike my blog photo!), and slid the bedpan under me. This hurt – but I topped up with morphine before and after and just got on with it. The nursing staff were great at giving me as much privacy as was safe. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

When I did move to the ward, it was lovely to see Irish and my parents waiting for me. I couldn’t stop smiling. I was unspeakably glad it was over. It was painful, but not unbearable. I was very conscious not to let people jerk my bed or approach me from my right side, because it hurt to press on my foot or move my leg. But I could wiggle my toes without much pain. I tried out the physio exercises I’d been given for post-surgery. They hurt, but it was rewarding to know I could start this straight after surgery. I started to feel a bit nauseous from using the PCA and yet another lovely nurse gave me a tablet which helped. The epidural wore off, but I had absolutely no increase in pain as a result.

I spent the evening dozing, watching a bit of TV, holding my mum’s hand and having a first cup of tea (heaven). My family left about 8pm and I dozed on and off through the night. I didn’t sleep much because I was woken regularly to have my blood pressure / oxygen / temperature checked (all fine), and because I needed to use the bedpan a lot because of the fluids going into my arm. I guess a catheter would have avoided that, but I didn’t really care.

Looking back, my memories of this day are quite sketchy, but more than anything else I had the sense that the wait was over, and that I was in the best place. My advice for the day of surgery for any PAO-ee is to just go with it, put your trust in the experts, and know that in a very few days you’ll be seeing improvements every day…

Leave a comment


  1. so glad to hear it went smoothly

  2. becky

     /  November 11, 2012

    hi im due to have this op on wen and im so scared and just like u i really don’t like the idea of having a catheter fitted and silly things r going threw my head like what clothes are the best to wear i have packed leggings as the stretch and r comfy,

    • Hi – good luck with your PAO! I promise you even though it took me a while to reply, I was thinking of you on Wednesday. You’ll be amazed how little the catheter bothers you. As for clothes – I think leggings will be good, as long as you have someone to help you dress yourself. I found loose-ish clothing easiest for the first week or two. And for the first couple of days I stuck to my delightful hospital gown, as it was easier and I really wasn’t bothered about how I looked until I woke up on day 3 and realised what I sight I must seem!


         /  January 20, 2013

        lol i was the same i stuck to hospital gown and i was determinded not to stay that long in hospital so i went in on the wen and i was out on the sat so wasent to bad but i cant beleave how long its taking me to recover its alot worse and longer than i expected how long is it since u have had the op now?

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