When a stranger has made a nine inch cut in your thigh, rummaged around inside it, cut off the top of your femur, fastened in a metal replacement part, carried out some other renovation work and stitched the whole thing up again, it is bound to hurt afterwards isn’t it?
This happened to me on Thursday, but the fact that I am in pain has caught me by surprise.
Why on earth would it be a surprise?
I’ve known for months that I was to have a hip replacement and did plenty of research into the whole thing. So how come I didn’t sus it was going to hurt this much afterwards?
The overriding message from website and blogs is that from day one after the hip replacement operation my life would be transformed.
The NHS website, for example, devotes about 1200 words to ‘Hip Replacement, Recovery’.
Six paragraphs in, it states that ‘Initially, you’ll feel discomfort while walking and exercising’, then 13 paragraphs down there is a section:
‘How soon will the pain go away?’
‘The pain you may have experienced before the operation should go immediately. You can expect to feel some pain as a result of the operation itself, but this won’t last for long.’
That’s it. That’s all the discussion of pain.
So there’s part of my brain feeling full blown anxiety that it’s all gone horribly wrong and I shouldn’t have had the operation in the first place, but put up with my wonky existence wobbling around on a crumbled hip joint, oh my goodness this is a nightmare.
Then there’s the logical bit going, hang on a minute…
I was sent home from hospital on Saturday with a standard carrier bag full of stuff from the pharmacy, a good proportion of which is to do with analgesia.
If I am only to expect ‘discomfort’ why pack me up with full-on slow release morphine, along with large boxes of ibuprofen and paracetomol, with instructions on taking the whole shebang for four to six days, with a reduction down to just paracetomol over the following days? And, they popped into the bag a box of back-up quick-release morphine for when I need it.
There is a mismatch between the publicity and what actually happens. Published stuff implies no pain; actions imply pain.
On the brief bedside visit the day after the op by the person who did the rummaging in my leg, they asked me about pain and I said I was sure I had been set upon by bovver boot-wearing football hooligans; they replied the metaphor they usually used was it felt like being kicked by a donkey. Surely that implies more than ‘discomfort’?
I’m the three days I was in hospital, I felt I had staff approach me continually holding tiny paper tubs of tablets that they checked I swallowed.
I don’t think I’m a wimp, but the pain I have been feeling since the operation four days ago, surely deserves a better description than ‘discomfort’?
In all the bewilderment of the whole process, perhaps I would have been braver if the literature had said ‘prepare yourself for a battering’?
Photo taken from the useful website https://www.accessable.co.uk/sites/guys-hospital