Day 1 and 2 post right PAO

The first couple of nights post-op are rather unsettled. I grab a half hour sleep every now and then, but it’s not easy to sleep – very sore, rather than very painful though. I find it hard to sleep through the soreness and with the tubes sticking into my arm and right side. I am quite glad when the ward starts to wake up and bustle again. Days start early in hospital. The meds are brought around at about 6.30am, and the first cup of tea comes at about 7 – and I’m really grateful for it.

Irish is staying with his sister and I’m so glad to see him at about 8am. He tries to persuade me to eat a piece of toast – I manage half a piece but don’t feel hungry. Tea is good though! He sits next to me as I doze on and off. Upping the PCA helps me to nap, but the payoff is more nausea so I get another tablet from the nurse to help with that. It does work – phew.

At about 9am Mr Witt arrives to look at my wound and pronounces everything to have gone very well and tells me the wound is looking great. I am rather transfixed by the incision and rainbow bruising – you can judge for yourself here:

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Looking good? Well I have just been sawn apart , chiselled and screwed back together! Irish’s hand gives you a bit of a guide as to the length of the wound.

I am given a bed bath. The nurses let me do as much as I can by myself, but I can’t sit up without help and I can’t reach my legs easily. They help me so kindly and offer to use my own shower gel etc if I want. It’s lovely to be clean again.

My parents also arrive in the morning and it’s another little slice of normality. Lovely and so welcome…but I’m too tired to do more than hold their hand, smile at them, and accept offers of tea. I try to eat but am not really interested in food.

The physiotherapists also arrive on the morning of day 1. They are lovely, young, smiley women who are so encouraging. ‘Oh, you’re a PAO’, they say. ‘We like PAOs, they are always so keen and competitive’. Maybe that’s because we can’t wait to get back to a life of mobility!

In a keen and competitive manner, I have been trying out the physio exercises given to me pre-op, and they hurt like hell and are so hard to do! I can’t move my leg out to the right at all – ouch. I realise this is because the outside hip muscles were cut through in the surgery, so it’s not surprising and apparently completely normal. I am keen to try to stand up using a walker, but am amazed at how difficult it is. I manage about 20 seconds before collapsing, panting, on the bed, with my ears ringing. The smiley physio girls help me get my legs back on the bed. I am gutted. I wanted to be the one doing stairs on crutches day one after surgery – but clearly that’s not going to happen. ‘Never mind’, say the smiley physio girls. ‘It’s a common reaction to the meds. When you’re taken off the PCA you’ll feel less dizzy.’

They leave the walking frame behind and of course I can’t resist a couple more efforts at standing up with Irish’s help – but am shattered after 20 seconds or so and have to lie down for several minutes afterwards.

On day 2, I feel much the same. Everything is a tiny bit better. I eat a little bit more. I can move my right foot a little bit more (but still -oooww). I feel up to leafing through the magazines my mum brings me. I am told I am not relying on the PCA enough, so I try pressing the button more – this didn’t work for me, I just ended up feeling sick and have to get more meds from the nurse. The anti sickness meds do work though! In the end the nurse injects some into my vein rather than offering me tablets, and the difference is amazing. I feel human.

I begin to be very grateful for the Olympics on TV. I brought a DVD box set with me but don’t feel up to following a plot. But London 2012 is perfect. I can doze off, wake up – and yes, it’s still the Olympics. On day 2 I am moved to another ward where I can see the Olympic park from my bedside. It looks amazing lit up at night.

In the morning, a nurse removes the local anaesthetic tube from my right side. For some reason the thought of this freaks me out, but my mum holds my hand and actually, it was nothing at all. Doesn’t hurt, nothing. I have no idea why I was so nervous and put it down to post-anaesthetic exhaustion. I expect to feel more pain as the local wears off – but I don’t.

An orthopaedic consultant visits every morning and tells me I’m doing really well and that I’m on track to go home soon. I find out there are 3 screws in my hip. I am visited again by smiley physio girls, who get me to stand up a little longer. They tell me I can put 30kg of weight through my operated leg and ask me to stand with my right foot on a scale so that I can feel what that’s like. I can’t even press hard enough on the scale to get up to 30kg! I find this quite reassuring. However, efforts to walk using the walking frame are less fruitful. The nausea comes back and I feel so faint. I try not to get downhearted.

That afternoon, the PCA is taken down and I start using codeine and paracetamol for pain relief. I still feel very sore so am nervous about how I will cope – but I do cope. In fact it’s great to be free of all the tubes! Just the cannula in my hand now, nothing else. I ask for something stronger pain relief-wise at night, and am given oral morphine. It gives me judders all night so I decide to stick with codeine and paracetamol in future.

So the summary of day 1 and 2 post-op is:
1) I was pretty out of it.
2) the meds affected my ability to progress with physio.
3) I was pretty sore, but not unbearably so.
4) The nursing and medical care was faultless.
5) It felt great to have my family around me.
6) It wasn’t pleasant – but it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined.

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