In this series community contributor Jill Nash explores the ups and downs of life after a hip operation.
HINTS FOR HIP-OPPERS
You are going to have a hip replacement. People will tell you that “you will be a new person, you won’t know yourself”.
I am 80 and have just had a total hip replacement. It was done in a private hospital and was successful.
I live alone, my son lives close by and I have a close circle of friends. But basically, I’m on my own.
Some of what I have written about are practical issues; others are what I call the emotional fallout. I am a very independent person. For my age I am extremely fit and healthy. My expectations, and those of others about me were high.
What I didn’t plan for was the roller-coaster of emotions, before, immediately after the operation and on returning home. And my moods have swung like a pendulum in a grand-father clock.
THE EARLY DAYS
Dealing with the emotional fallout
On returning home post-op
1. Fluctuating emotions
Anxiety beforehand, elation that the operation is over and apparently successful, frustration about progress, doubts about what is normal, remaining positive. It’s an emotional yo-yo – exhausting and energy-consuming.
Are my expectations reasonable? What if I and others have miscalculated?
In other words, I have had to deal with self-doubt and the consequent anxiety.
Be gentle with yourself. It’s ok and perfectly normal to experience these fluctuations.
2. Loss of independence
I take my independence for granted. I do what I want, when I want. For the next few weeks, this is impossible. I must accept this and remind myself it’s only temporary.
3. Accepting limitations
I am adjusting to accepting my limitations, and am gratefully accepting offers of help, and sometimes asking for it. You will get easily tired. Don’t fight it, bed’s a lovely place.
It also means realizing what’s important and what’s not – in other words, letting go. My home is not as tidy or clean as I would like. I don’t make my bed. I just prepare it for when I will next want to use it, which could be anytime. That means making it as easy as possible to get in. See above re tiredness.
Your greatest dangers. Avoid them, by:
1. Managing your balance. As we get older our balance deteriorates. It is wise to do exercises to improve our balance whether we’re going to be hip-oppers or not. This will really help recuperation.
2. Using your sticks as much as possible. This give you confidence; it takes the weight off your feet and it provides a barrier around you, to ward off well meaning friends who greet you too warmly and throw you off balance.
3. Making sure there is support nearby, should you start to topple (kitchen bench, sturdy furniture, doorways).
4. Watching out for uneven surfaces.
More hints for Hip-oppers coming soon