Diary of a hip replacement: week 2

Helen Pierce / 30 March 2015

In week two of her week-by-week diary of recovering from a hip replacement operation, Helen has her first outing but faces up to her limited independence for the time being.



Day 8: my first day out since my hip operation

I have my assessment appointment with the physio. My mother picks me up and I go out to the car carefully. This is my first ‘outing’ since I got home. We use the carrier bag on the passenger seat again, and Mum helps lift the operated leg into the car, I sit with the leg straight out in front of me, its ok to bend the un-operated one.

I ask my physiotherapist if it is normal for my leg to swell up. He says one week after surgery, this is quite normal. He watches me walk with the crutches and reminds me to keep the operated-leg foot straight and not pointing out to the side. He adds a couple of exercises to the lying down ones, and introduces the idea of using a carrier bag under the foot, this allows the leg to glide along further than it would normally; anything to get that joint moving.

Related: The benefits of seeing a physiotherapist

Day 9: keeping my swollen leg lying straight

I am disciplining this ‘naughty’ foot on the operated leg which keeps trying to splay outwards. It has now swollen up along with the rest of the leg, and we have nicknamed it ‘the trotter’. It is painful, puffed up on the top of and almost wilfully trying to do its own thing. My husband wedges a pillow up alongside it to keep it pointing straight ahead. This works at night but obviously not when I’m moving around the house.

The physio phones to say I am on the list for hydrotherapy. As a regular swimmer, this water therapy will be invaluable to me. I have another appointment with him in a couple of weeks’ time. I ask him if I will have to use these crutches until then, he says yes, but they may change to walking sticks at our next session.

The crutches are hard on the palms of the hands and I have read that some people actually develop callouses. I continue to complete both sets of exercises 4 times a day. My appetite is completely returned and I’m aware that I’ve cut down on the painkillers, too.

Related: The health benefits of swimming

Day 10: accepting my temporary loss of independence after my hip op

An old school friend comes and sits with me, we watch TV. I know that I cannot just leave the house and get into my car and drive off, or go for a walk. I am limited in what I can do. Continuing with the exercises. Beginning to think I’ll have to undergo TV detox after all the terrible rubbish I’m watching. 

Day 11: my first time alone at home since the hip op

My husband has to go into work so my school friend comes back, and gets stuck in to the washing-up, and later she brings me delicious soup and posh crusty bread. She has to leave an hour before my husband returns. I am ok for a time on my own, but so many people are on their own when they get home from this operation. I am able to cook a casserole, chopping up and putting it together while sitting on a tall stool in the kitchen.

I still need the help of the crutches, I cannot step down onto the operated leg without their help.

Day 12: getting back into a routine after my hip replacement

Quite a quiet day, my husband and I are now in a routine of getting me up, breakfast, exercises, nice to get the odd phone call from friends and relatives. My left thigh is still significantly swollen. 

Day 13: another four weeks before I can drive

My son comes in the afternoon and my husband and I go out for a drive with him. While they both go into the supermarket, I sit in the car watching the people go by, simple pleasures, the sun is shining, just nice to get out of the house. It will be at least another four weeks before I can drive. I’m not setting that as a specific target date as I’d hate to be disappointed.

Day 14 : how a plastic bag helps me do my post-hip replacement exercises

A really quiet day, exercises all in the bag; literally in the case of my standing-sideways hip movement. I put a plastic bag over the operated-leg foot and can slide it across the bedroom carpet. It’s funny but this a significant step in independence, as I can also do this exercise in bed by myself. 

The hydrotherapy department call me to set a date for my first session. This perks me up no end. I do miss the water. I have been able to all-over wash and shampoo my hair but a bath itself is off the agenda for the time being as I could not get into the bath itself and the wound dressing would have to be replaced immediately.

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