So… 48 hours after surgery, we were headed home. I think I spent about that much time
in the hospital after each of my children were delivered… and those were all
easy deliveries. Seems like hip replacement is a more complicated procedure.
But getting home was a huge goal of Caitlin’s, and she worked hard to make it
happen. We beat our last surgery stay by a full day!
We had a pretty decent night the first evening post-op. The nurses were great
about not waking her up for vitals, and entering the room quietly. She had a
solid stretch of shut-eye from 10pm to 4am, broken only by the whine and hum
rhythm of the pressure cuffs expanding on her leg (to keep circulation good and
prevent blood clots). But at 6am, the circus began! Vitals, then a blood draw.
Pain medication administration, which means beeping alarms when the drug push
is complete through the IV. The surgeon visited and asked her “Are you
ready to go home today?” HUH?!!!! Her eyes lit up… “Today? I can go
home today?” “Yes, but you have to get up?” She bought it and
was already imagining being home…. but then he touched her leg. He pulled it
and rotated it and lifted it… and she screamed, tears rolling freely. “I
can’t send you home if you’re going to be screaming”, he said. “You
don’t spend much time with 12 year old girls, do you?” I responded. I love
him…. but he is not used to dealing with kids. One of the downfalls of being
one of the only twelve year olds to have had two replacements. “If you can
get moving, you can get out of here…”. Hope lingered, but I cautioned
her not to push it. Seriously, two days is not that long to be in the hospital
after that surgery, I said.
The surgeon episode was followed by some lovely people from child life, who
woke her up to see if she would like somebody to come in and play guitar? No
thanks, just trying to rest, she said. “A lullaby?” they offered. No
thanks…. sigh…. turn over and close eyes. It was just like that… crazy
busy. Nurse shift change. New clinical on the floor to take vitals. Nutrition
visiting and asking us to fill out menu choices. Doctors on rotation.
Pediatrician visit. More labs to follow up on a low hematocrit. And finally, a
visit from PT. That’s when things really got good….
Twenty-six hours after surgery, Caitlin inched to the side of the bed, helped
her legs over and stood up. With the aid of the PT, and a front wheel walker,
she made it to the door of the room and back. After a nap to recover, she did
it again and made it all the way into the hallway. This success meant that she
no longer had to wear the pressure cuffs. Her continued drinking and eating
(though mostly jello and fruit) won her the removal of IV fluids. Consequently,
she was free of the IV pole 🙂 It was a determined and systematic attack, and
she emerged victorious. Just as we settled down for the evening, the floor doc
came with the news that we would be leaving on Thursday.
It’s never easy getting out of the hospital. So many orders to be written,
prescriptions to be filled, instructions to be given. But by 1pm, we were
loaded into the truck, surrounded by flowers and balloons and gifts, fighting
our way through traffic to get home. She is very relieved… and so am I. It’s
amazing how it feels like were gone forever, and it was only two days! She has
mostly rested since we made it home, but managed to come to the dinner table
tonight. And managed to take some phone calls, see some visitors and get some
gentle hugs from her younger brothers who missed her VERY much. Tomorrow, we
will tackle a shower and hopefully see her put more weight down on that right
leg. We pray that she will be as resilient as last time…. She only used the
walker for four days.
I have some secret concerns about the results of all this… and I’m too afraid
to give voice to them. Hopefully, it is just paranoia and normal fear – bred in
exhaustion and emotion. By the light of the morning tomorrow, things will
hopefully look clear. For now, she is doing remarkably well and we are very
grateful. I’m especially grateful for all the support from our Arthritis
Family. Thank you for all the wishes, comments, prayers and support!!!! It has
been a great comfort….