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Hip Hip Hooray! How to Get Through a Hip Replacement with Grace and Positivity

My hip hurt for years; I started limping. But I lived with the pain because I didn’t want to pay attention to it when there were so many more interesting things to do!

When friends suggested hip replacement, I recoiled. Hip replacement was a dirty word in my life. I felt shame. Hip replacement was for other people, for old people, not me. Not me.

So here I am, recovering from hip replacement surgery, feeling buckets of gratitude and amazing grace.

Who am I to think I can offer any new information about recovery? Hasn’t it all been said before? I humbly offer a few thoughts, and if they serve as the teensiest bit of inspiration to you, then I am grateful.

Care for Your Body Before and You Reap Rewards After

The better shape you are in before hip surgery, the faster you heal and the better your recovery. I did my last yoga practice on the morning of my surgery. The docs and the physio therapists remarked on my muscle tone which helped greatly in my new exercises to regain mobility.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Anyone Else

Everyone’s surgery is different; everyone’s recovery is different. Friends will say things like, “Caroline was driving within three weeks.” Well, good for Caroline, but I’m not Caroline, and I’m not driving in three weeks. So, keep your eyes on your own recovery and don’t judge yourself by anyone else’s benchmarks. You’re doing just great.

Everyone’s tolerance for pain is different too, so, ditto. Pain compromises your healing and is exhausting. If you are in pain, talk to your doctor. I am lucky that due to good pain management I never felt one ounce of pain and went off the painkillers within 10 days. But again, that’s me, not you.

“Surrender Dorothy!”

Remember that smoky sign in the sky from The Wizard of Oz? Don’t fight nature. Nature knows best. Give in to the different stages of healing.

First there is the mostly stay in bed stage to let the body recover from the shock of being invaded in the OR. Inflammation is the body’s response to surgery. The body needs to readjust; tissues need to sew together. It’s about peace. The body needs to say hello to and welcome the foreign body now residing in you.

Sleep Is When You Heal

Accept that fact of weariness. Nap whenever you can, like a precious newborn babe. Sleep is when the most important healing occurs. Accept your brain fuzziness. The body is so busy trying to heal and right itself, it can’t do everything at once.

Be kind and gentle to yourself 24/7. Listen to the docs. If they say you can get up to go to the bathroom, they will get you up and you will be able to do it.

Three Cheers for Physio!

When the docs finish their work in the OR, the physiotherapists take over. Do whatever they say and not an ounce more. Don’t think that doing five more repetitions will heal you faster or better. Doing more can compromise you. Your physios understand muscles and healing; they know what they are doing.

There are ups and downs, but in general, every single day is better than the last. Right after surgery take things hour by hour. Then, day by day. Don’t be impatient. Nature knows its schedule.

Step Away from the World for a While. This is Your Time 100%

Before surgery pre-program your bed entertainment: knitting or a craft you do, books, Netflix, computer. I have not been bored one instant in bed. There’s too much to learn and do, in-between those invigorating and challenging physio exercises and those refreshingly delicious naps.

I made sure to watch one comedy a day to laugh and feel happy. It’s a natural high that spreads through my body. Episodes of Portlandia, Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live worked for me. Whatever makes you happy and giggle.

The Power of the Word “Great!”

No one likes a grouch. I made the decision to be positive and cheerful. And it worked wonders. I fooled even myself when I felt less than. Whenever anyone asked me how I was I’d smile and say, “Great!” But of course, afterwards I told the doc about this or that issue. The word great made her more receptive and we addressed the issue. By saying, great your body tries to comply. It’s free medicine to say, great! It pushes you forward into actually feeling great.

Healing is Slower and Faster than You Think

Whilst you’re healing, it feels slow. When you look back, it seems like it passed in a blink. The best advice that so many people gave to me is: be gentle with yourself. And think about a pain free future! You’ve got a lot of living to do!

Have you had a hip replacement? What advice do you have to share? Any tips or tricks can be invaluable to someone who is pondering this surgery, so please share in the comments.

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The Author

Elizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who recently moved back to the U.S. after living in Merida, Mexico for 25 years. Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. As a Cambridge CELTA certified teacher of ESL, she considers herself not just a teacher but a dream maker. “Teaching English empowers people to reach their dreams.”

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