Two Scars and a Scalpel

The operating room is white and bright. Nothing like the OR’s on Grey’s Anatomy. The nurses move me onto the special table that the surgeon will use to pull my hip out of its socket. Behind me, the anesthesiologist begins messing with my IV. A young nurse in a scrub cap rubs my hand and tells me that I can dream of anything I want. The last thing I remember before the anesthesia kicks in is not being able to focus on the clock. Then my mind goes black.

A few hours later, I start to come around. A nurse is standing next to my bed, rapidly typing.

“Where’s my dad?” I yell. “I want my dad!”

The nurse reassures me that she’ll go get my dad. She doesn’t move from her computer, so I keep calling out for him until finally I hear his voice.

When I finally decide to open my eyes, I yell out in pain. I’m laying in my hospital bed with my knees bent up. My back is killing me and there is a dull ache in my left hip. The nurse re-positions me and the ache in my hip increases.

Eventually, I am forced to go home. The nurse takes away my heated blanket and I groan. It’s not until my dad leaves to get the car that I realize I have no underwear on.  I cringe remembering the one size fits all papery underwear I was given to wear before the surgery that the nurse told me would be cut off.

The nurse hands me my clothes but I’m still groggy from the pain meds and she ends up having to put my underwear and shorts on for me.

When I get home,  I slowly crutch up the stairs with my sister walking cautiously behind me. I’m almost to the top when I feel a wave of nausea roll over me. I throw down my crutches and hobble slowly to my room despite my sister’s protest.

I spend the rest of the day sleeping, waking up every two hours to take the pain pills. In the evening, I wake up enough to go to my CNA class.

I spend the four and half hours with my head on my desk trying not to vomit. We’re learning about infection control and so of course, the first day I’m on crutches, is the day I have to dawn personal protective gear.

The next morning, I wake up with just enough time to get dressed before my friend comes over to watch Cameroon play in the World Cup. She brings me lots of candy and I feel bad because I’m still queasy. My throat hurts too from being intubated during the surgery.

Later, my sister arrives to take me to see my surgeon’s PA so she can change my bandage.

When she removes the bandage, I get my first glimpse of my stitches. My skin is bruised and bloody. They put on waterproof bandages and give me a list of exercises I need to start doing to avoid muscle atrophy. The PA hands me two sheets of paper with pictures from my surgery.

After the appointment, I am fascinated by the pictures and insist on taking them into Panera with me, but my sister refuses to let me.

The next week, a representative from a machine rental company comes to set up my hip machine. He tells me that Dr. Pro wants me to use the machine for 2 hours everyday until I can flex my leg up 120 degrees.

The next few weeks pass in a blur of crutches, pain meds, and hours spent using the machine.

When the day comes for me to finally return my crutches, I am overjoyed. I’m exhausted from navigating areas that would be easy if I had two capable of legs and my armpits hurt.

I start physical therapy a week after I return my crutches. It’s at physical therapy where I realize that being on crutches for four weeks was the easy part. My left leg is extremely weak and I can barely manage to do 10 wall squats.

For two months, I go to physical therapy two times a week. My therapist pushes me hard. So hard, that I leave everyday soaked in sweat. I keep going until Dr. Pro clears me to run at the three month mark.

I start out at a quarter of a mile and work my way up to a mile quarter by quarter every week. I go to see the athletic trainer multiple times a week to check in.

When I finally reach a mile, I start to feel pretty good about my progress. My coach thinks that I could even run a 4k in a few weeks.

But then, I start to have pain. My right glute cramps up periodically while I run because of my body compensating. The athletic trainer refuses to let me run for a week and then suggests that I go back to half a mile and see how it feels.

At four months, I go back to the orthopedic surgeon for a six week checkup. He reassures me that it’s normal at this point to have some ups and downs. I’m relieved.

Overtime, I slowly start to get closer to where I was before I tore my labrum. Last week, I ran three miles for the first time in almost six months. This week, I ran three miles without feeling like I was going to die. On Dec. 12, it will be six months since my surgery on June 12. In a month, I will return to see Dr. Pro one final time before he determines me fully recovered.

Back in May when I first told I would have to have surgery, I thought six months was a very, very long recovery time. But it went by surprisingly fast. Everyday that I run, I feel so grateful for the nonexistent pain in my hip that plagued me for over a year. I’m thankful for my body and for Dr. Pro’s amazing surgical skills. More importantly, I am thankful for everyone that supported me along the way from my little sister helping me shower, to random kids on the cross country team that cheered me on when I ran my first mile.

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