Disclaimer ** Some pictures may be too graphic for some **
I can’t lie and say I wasn’t nervous before going into surgery.
My skin was a mess and I was afraid something was going to go wrong concerning my health. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how well everything went, especially how kind everyone was regarding my skin.
One of the first people I spoke to on my own was a man named Jon. He had asked how to pronounce my last name and I said, “Baños, like a bathroom.” He chuckled and said, “Well, better you than me. Jon Baños would never work.”
Once inside my own room, I had to change into the backless gown and lovely grip socks. Jon and my other nurse, Pauline, came in and started my IV drip. Pauline was professional and placed an ‘allergy’ bracelet on my arm to inform them of my cortisone/prednisone allergy. I was able to chit chat with them about TSW and everyday life.
Then, the sports medicine guy arrived to fit me into my brace and deliver me my awful sleep boots (they are the worst!). As he was fitting me, a slew of the ‘green people’ came in — my surgical team. One of the anesthesiologists was a younger female with beautiful pale green eyes that stuck out even more due to her attire and mask. She asked if I get nauseous from anesthesia, which I replied, “I’m not sure, but I know my father does.” She got a mixture ready in a syringe and pushed it into my IV. That hit me so quick. I immediately felt dazed, yet still coherent enough to talk and answer questions.
They informed me before being wheeled in that I would also be tubed down my throat. My eyes grew semi-wide since I was extremely shocked to learn that fact so close to surgery. I asked them to please be careful around my mouth since it is very sensitive at the moment and cracks easily. They said they will be as gentle as they could be and not to worry.
When I was wheeled into the surgery room, I only remember the harsh white walls and the sensation of choking on air once they placed the mask over me. I started coughing and then suddenly… out.
I woke up groggy and long after my surgery had already ended. I felt a bit nauseous with a sore, scratchy throat, and absolutely freezing. I’m sure it was a mixture of adrenaline and cold that made my body shake to rapidly. They swaddled me in multiple blankets, plus one wrapped around my head, and an alcohol strip on my nose to help with the nausea. I also remember them being concerned with my pale color, especially my lips, and someone rubbed a bit of ointment on them to see if any color would come back.
Once I was able to wake up, a nurse showed me how to use my crutches, as well as helped me to the bathroom since I wasn’t allowed to leave unless I peed. This is where I learned that they had also placed a catheter in my urethra. Just tubes in every whole, I tell you.
The drive home was about 45 minutes and we walked (well, I hobbled) into my apartment around 8pm. The surgery had taken place a little before 12pm. I was situated onto my couch and given some soup to try and eat. For someone who gets super hangryyy if they don’t eat frequent meals, I wasn’t hungry at all. I could taste the anesthesia still in my mouth.
And then, before bed, came the drugs and dreaded boots. These things cost me $250, no insurance coverage, and will always be known as the most expensive pair of shoes I will ever purchase in my life. They literally strap both my feet together so they can’t fall to the side, keeping my locked into one position the entire night.
As for the drugs, I can say that I was given Percocet, but have yet to touch it. I didn’t want to if I really didn’t have to for this surgery. I did dive head first into the others. I have naproxen for inflammation 2x a day, aspirin once a day to help with clotting, Cephalexin for two days to fight any possible infections, Benadryl to take at night for better sleep, and cyclobenaprine for muscle spasms 3x a day. There is also an anti-nausea medication but I was able to manage the nausea without it.
That first night, I could barely sleep in the boots. They killed my back and weren’t exactly sleep friendly.
Day 1: Very sleepy, scratchy throat, and needed to use my CPM machine 4x a day, 1h at a time — or 4 hours total throughout the day. This machine was prescribed for me to use, however not covered by insurance. It’s way expensive to rent, but I really didn’t have any other choice. It’s a machine that moves your leg slowly to whatever agle you wish (0-90 degrees max was my prescription). I only got up to 45 degrees the first day. I set it up on my sofa since I didn’t want it in my bed. After using the machine, you must ice the area for 20 minutes to kill the inflammation. I also bought a machine that pumps freezing cold water into a pad that acts as an ice pack so that I wouldn’t have to keep getting up to grab ice once I was on my own — my mother is here with me for a week to help me do everything.
My skin was still a bit angry and flakey, but nothing worse that it was the day before. Score.
As for showering, my mother made me two bowls — one with soapy water and one with just water. I was able to wipe down the necessary areas while sitting on the toilet (that’s a seated 90 degree angle), as well as wipe some of the surgical antiseptic off of my skin (the orange stuff).
I went to bed dreading those boots, but I didn’t see any other way of doing it. Needless to say, I barely slept, even with the Benadryl.
Day 2: 4:45am wake up call — had therapy at 6am. Not fun getting up that early having not slept. I made it to my appointment at 6am and was shown a few exercises I could do at home. The exercises were to fire my hamstrings, adductors, abductors, glutes, and quads without actually adducting my leg or putting more than 20% of my weight on the operated leg. They also massaged around my surgery spot (that is still covered with a thick bandage), and iced the area for ten minutes. Once back home, I was back to the machine. Now, whenever I am just sitting around and not using the machine, I am supposed to use the boots. Well, I found a way around them! While icing, I would strap my left calf to the CPM machine and press my leg up against it so it doesn’t roll in any direction.
Once I found the trick that freed my right leg, I knocked out for a little. I am so grateful to have gotten some form of rest. I was also able to raise my CPM flexion to 65 degrees that day.
That night, I was able to endure a car ride to my boyfriends house and prop myself up on his couch to enjoy some pizza on a Friday night. I am not a sit down and do nothing person, so these two surgeries are really going to test my spirit, but getting to be a part of these little things, like “Cantina Fridays” (that’s what we call pizza night), helps me stay sane. I also miss my wine a lot but can’t drink for a while due to the surgeries. I also had to go off birth control. This is huge for any females looking into this surgery. I have heavy and crampy periods and not being able to stay on my pills has really bit the big one. And I know, come my second surgery, I will start my period right before or right after — and who wants to deal with that! Uh, frustrating, but they say it is to prevent the likelihood of clots forming. C’est la vie.
But, on a positive note, I tried sleeping on my couch that night instead of in my bed with the boots. I just strapped my leg to the CMP machine so it didn’t move, and I got infinitely better sleep that night. Due to the anesthesia and scratchy throat, I’ve developed this tickle cough that wakes me up at night a few times, but at least I am actually able to sleep now.
Day 3: I woke up much better this day, claiming my spot on the couch as a double duty day and night place to be. There are few differences from this day that I noticed —
One, my hip felt a bit more stiff. Even if I did my exercises and used my machine for four hours, my hip still felt moderately tight when I stood up. I am only allowed to put 20% of my weight onto my left foot, but I still found it hard to extended it fully to the ground. Two, my mother placed a chair in my shower so that I could use my pull down shower head to soak whatever areas I needed to wash while being a bit more comfortable, as well as leaving my bandage spot dry. Showering is probably my least favorite activity with a bum leg. It’s not relaxing, you’re cold part of the time, and with my skin, it provokes a bit of anxiety in me. Lastly, I hadn’t truly realized the massive bruise forming on my left hand from where they had to put in another IV during the surgery. It only hurts if you touch it right on the spot they poked, while the rest is just color for show.
Day 4: The ‘Groundhog Day’ syndrome started to kick in. Being immobile and having to lean on someone all of the time and having the same routine over and over is a bit mind numbing. I’d much rather be a carer than the one being cared for, yet I feel I am always the one who needs to be rescued. First it was TSW. Now, it is two massive surgeries. And, I also started feeling sore in my right hip from having to lean on it more and baby my left leg. It’s the paragon of metaphors for what a caregiver must go through — to be the one who is needed and always has to pick up the slack. They may not have had the surgery, but they are the ones who have to take on an exorbitant amount of responsibility. Knowing my father, boyfriend, and close friends will have to pick up the slack once my mom leaves really does crush me. Everyone having to go out of their way to help me, while humbling, is also depressing. I am so grateful for the support system I have and I hope they always know I feel so lucky to have them around.
Today was also a day where the dreaded ‘solo’ questions began appearing. How am I going to strap into my machine by myself? How will I make certain food? How will I fill up my ice machine if I can’t bend down or carry it with crutches? How am I supposed to do laundry? Reach cords? Get my brace on? Get to places? Grocery shop? Get clothes from certain drawers? Uh. So much to think about.
Day 5: Nothing too different this day other than (TMI) I finally used the bathroom. All the drugs and anesthesia really blocked me all up. Anyone who has surgery, please note that constipation WILL be a thing. Use whatever you need, be it softeners or laxatives. I go back to school in two days and didn’t want to still be all blocked up. But, on a positive note, I am to the 90 degrees flexion on my machine (woot).
Day 6: Last day before braving work (at a school). I also saw my surgeon for a post operation appointment.
It went really well! They gave me paperwork to get a temporary handicap since walking a long way on crutches is hellishly annoying and tiring. He also cleaned up my bandaged area (which, holy crap, that tape gave me a wax) and put new steri-strips over my two incision areas — amazeballs! I thought I’d have 3-4 incisions and was stoked to only see two! I have to change my bandage every day before my next surgery (so 7 more days). The yellow you see in the pictures are the bruising areas.
Then, he even showed me pictures of the operation and what he fixed inside my hip. Pretty cool souvenirs. He showed me how they repaired one small tear on one side, then how part of the labrum roofing was coming off and creating a bulge (which he sutured up to stick back to the roof). He also showed me part of a ligament that is wayyyy detached but that he wasn’t going to do another surgery for that since there hasn’t been any studied evidence, even in 2021, that states it helps at all (so he doesn’t want to put patients through that with no proof that it will actually benefit the patient). The last thing he showed me was where he put the PRP (platelet rich plasma) to help it heal faster (there isn’t too much evidence of this, but they do like to do it since it doesn’t hurt either way). I also had a bit of calcification (it runs in my family), which he shaved off of the bone.
I was really happy with the appointment. He then scheduled me another appointment 4 weeks out in order to let me heal a bit from the PAO surgery that is coming up on March 24th.
Tip: Wear side-tie bikinis. Makes their life easier to get to the incisions. Also, he seemed just fine (almost tickled) that I tie my leg to my machine in order to keep it from rotating to the side. I truly can not stand those boots and will do anything to keep them away from my feet!
Also, which I made an oops on — don’t use your muscles to move your surgical leg. I’ve been half lifting/half muscling my leg to move for certain things. He wants complete weightlessness for the healing leg since using the muscle can inflame it quickly. I definitely don’t want inflammation past tomorrow since I am not allowed to use my anti-inflammatory meds anymore (due to the upcoming surgery).
Cheers to Week 1 being a success! Thanks momma! Couldn’t have done it without you!