Having a major operation can be very daunting. Maybe you have never been in a hospital setting before and maybe you have no idea what to expect. So, to help we asked a few of our recent post op patients what their advice to you would be.
A Total Hip Replacement is a wonderful operation that can significantly improve your quality of life. However, the first few days and weeks post op can be painful and tricky at times. Some of our patients live alone or have family that are working in the day so we thought it would be a good idea to build up our top 10 lists of recommended advice ready for your hospital visit and the first few weeks of your recovery. Most consultants still recommend hip precautions from anything between 6 and up to 12 weeks post op. That’s no bending, no crossing your legs, no twisting and turning, no lifting your leg above 90 degrees flexion until your consultant says otherwise. This can make washing/showering/dressing and picking things up from the floor difficult especially if you live alone. Pain and a large amount of swelling post op are very normal but can also limit your ability to carry out normal functional tasks. You will normally go home with a long handle shoe horn, a grabber and a raised toilet seat but there are a few extra things your might want to purchase or hire. Here is what our patients came up with:
MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME
Being in hospital can be boring at times. Take a music source and headphones eg. Smartphone or a tablet. A good book that is easy to read as your concentration levels can be a bit depleted with medication and tiredness, a puzzle book or maybe knitting/sewing or similar if that is something you do normally enjoy. And, don’t forget your chargers!
KEEP FED AND WATERED
It’s good to keep your energy levels up but you may not feel like eating much. Some people find the anaesthetic and painkillers make them very nauseous so take a bag of energy drinks, energy bars, dried fruit, ginger biscuits, sweets, squash or small cartons of fruit juice. Make sure the day before your op (before you need to be nil by mouth) that you have a high energy meal maybe pasta or potatoes. It’s common to be sick post op so nothing too fancy! Read our post op food blog for more ideas for when you are home and maybe consider buying a ‘camelback style’ rucksack to help keep you hydrated at home. Stock up the freezer with meals in the weeks before your op.
KEEP THOSE BOWELS MOVING!
Being out of routine and some of the medications (especially Codeine) can make you constipated so prunes or figs and plenty of water might help
CAN I SHOWER?
Showering and keeping clean can be one of our patient’s biggest concerns post-op due to reduced mobility and enforced hip precautions. The dressings are most often waterproof these days (check with the nursing staff) but some people like to avoid getting them wet while the wound heals in order to avoid infection. If you have a shower over the bath at home then it may be easier to strip wash until you are more mobile. One of our patients recommends ‘Drench’ no water shampoo caps which you can get from amazon and ‘Drench’ Luxury no water shower wipes for strip washing also available from Amazon. If you have a walk-in shower then you may wish to hire a perching stool and a non-slip mat from the Red Cross or a local mobility shop. Another patient said she found a ‘soap on the rope’ helpful as she lived alone and couldn’t bend to reach the soap if it fell on the floor. A long handle elliptical-shaped shower brush was also found to be handy for washing her back and other areas that are difficult to reach.
HOW WILL I PUT MY SHOES AND SOCKS ON?
Getting your shoes and socks on can be the most frustrating thing post op. In the summer slip on shoes are best and you may even want a cheap pair that is a size bigger for the operated leg, as the foot and ankle can be very swollen (As long as you feel safe to walk around, we don’t want you falling!) The long handle shoehorn comes in handy for reduced mobility and getting shoes on with a swollen foot. As for slippers – again a cheap pair that is a size bigger and maybe ones that you don’t mind cutting slits into to widen where your foot goes into the shoe. Grippy soles are important for doing your physio – hospital floors are kept very clean, but this means they can be a bit slippy at times! In the summer it’s easier to go sock less but for the cooler months a sock or stocking aid can be useful. Avoid laces if possible.
HOW WILL I GET ON AND OFF THE BED AND HOW WILL I SLEEP?
Getting on and off the bed with a heavy swollen leg can be a more difficult manoeuvre post op especially if there is nobody at home to help you. Our patients find the leg lifter very helpful for this. Take some extra pillows with you as these can be a bit difficult to find in a hospital. Take some earplugs and an eye mask. Sleep is important for your recovery and it’s normal to feel very tired after your operation. Hospitals can be noisy places and you may have a shared ward or room depending on the hospital. Sleeping on your back as per most consultant post-op guidelines is often not comfortable so make yourself as comfortable as possible with extra pillows.
WHAT SHALL I WEAR?
Getting dressed can be very awkward, especially in the first few days. Take some baggy/loose trousers and loose-fitting underwear or pyjama bottoms that are easy to get on and off over a swollen painful leg. Underwear can sit a bit uncomfortably on the scar. Use that grabber for getting your clothes over your feet. Consider buying a second grabber for upstairs when you go home. Take some make-up/toiletries that make you feel nice - evidence shows that patients who get up and dressed feel more motivated.
HOW WILL I GET IN THE CAR?
Getting home from the hospital can also be a bit awkward – maybe don’t get a lift with your friend with a low to the ground fancy sports car or bucket style seats! Some wards will give you a take-home slide sheet or have a plastic bag handy to allow you to swivel on the car seat.
HOW WILL I MANAGE AT HOME?
On arrival, at home make sure all your creature comforts are close to hand so you don’t have to keep going up and down the stairs. You may want to hire a commode from the red cross if you are anxious about getting up in the night for the toilet or a ‘shewee’ might be useful for females! You will have the raised toilet seat until you no longer need it any more. Most hospitals are unable to take these back, unfortunately. If you want to go out for longer days out you can hire a wheelchair from the red cross or a mobility shop but do try and keep as mobile as you can as advised by your physio as well. Try and do things that you enjoy maybe get someone to take you out for lunch to a pub with good supportive seating and a disabled toilet. Pace your self though, we don’t’ want you to get too tired and sore too soon.
DON’T BE A MARTYR!
Think about getting a pill box to make sure you take your painkillers regularly. It is important that your pain is under control for you to get mobile and rehabilitate well. During your hospital stay don’t be afraid to ask the nurses for medication and once home take your medication as prescribed by your GP or pharmacist at home. A bag of peas from the freezer wrapped in a damp towel can help with pain and swelling or speak to the Physio Lab team at www.physiolab.com for their cryotherapy machines.
We hope this advice is useful. Please check with your medical team prior to following any of this advice as some hospitals and protocols do vary. We would love to help you further in your recovery both pre and post operatively. Please visit our website www.dentonrpa.com for our remote monitoring sensors and rehab packages. We wish you all the best for your operation and look forward to hearing from you.
Specialist Physio Lead
Denton Physio Technology.