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Straight from the hip

Dotti's Hip Replacement Story

You Go Girl!

By Al Coon
July 13, 2011

Yesterday we went to the orthopedist. It was the first officially scheduled follow up appointment since the surgery; 4 weeks and one day had passed.

Dotti and Al Weight Loss Graph. It has been nearly universally good news since my last report on Dotti. Weight has been at the heart of the hip problems and Dotti has been focusing on removing that obstacle to her health aggressively, despite her inability to exercise up until now. At Weight Watchers on June 6, she had her last pre-surgery weigh-in and it was 227.6 pounds. That was 30 pounds less than her highest doctor's scale weight, and down 23.4 pounds from when we started on our "Joint Journey" back to goal. There were some bumps in the road, but Dotti had been doing very well once she set her mind to the task. With very little exercise from June 6 on, Dotti continued to do well and her Weight Watchers weigh-in on Monday July 11, she was down another 9.6 pounds (weight 218.0) from her before surgery weight! She is now in the “2-teens,” a place she has not been at in a long time. Her goal is to be in the 190's before her next surgery in September. I wouldn't bet against her! (Now I can breathe easier in my care giving role for Dotti’s recovery from surgery, I need to get on track with my own weight, so she doesn’t make me look too bad. )

Medications have been falling off as well. I had to give her anti-coagulant shots until June 22, and we were both happy when those were done. That same day we cut her morphine down from 2 pills to one. On June 28 was her last day for even one morphine pill. The anti-inflammatory Celecoxib ran through July 7 and then ibuprofen took over as required. There is only one pain med left that came from the surgery batch of prescriptions, (if you don't count the aspirin per day that is really for blood thinning, not pain), and she is still taking muscle relaxants each day. She is working her way back to pre-surgery medication levels all the way around.

Dotti had her last staple removed from her surgery wound on June 28 by a visiting nurse. The steri-strips worked their way off over the next few days and we felt that the wound was healed enough on July 3 to do a full shower. We have a safety bar that we mounted on the tub months ago, to help Dotti long before her surgery. I also mounted another safety bar in the bathroom for her as well as putting on a raised toilet seat. We were all set before she came home from the hospital. While the house is the same, Dotti is changing almost every day.

She could do without the wall safety bar today, but we have another surgery in September to start this all over again. So everything stays in place until she is well from her second surgery. And the mounted bar on the tub is still helpful.

Dotti-a big step. The shower went well, and Dotti was feeling like a million bucks afterwards.

Dotti at Cash & Carry. We had let some of our shopping lag over the past few weeks and so we stopped at a “Cash & Carry” store to pick up a few things. I pushed the cart and Dotti used her walker as we meandered through the store. This walker has hand brakes, a seat, a storage compartment under the seat, and even a cup holder! It is not as stable and sure as the one she uses at home but it is easier for longer walking excursions.

After shopping we made our way over to a birthday party for our niece Misty. Here is the birthday girl with Dotti: Dotti and Misty--birthday party.

Dotti and Misty 1982. As hard as it is to believe, Misty turned 30 this year! Here are the same two in another picture, taken in early 1982, in our living room in Spokane. Where do the years go? (By, they go by.)

Sunday, we went to Jim and Tammy’s house one more time for another birthday party for our grandson Parker’s first birthday. (It seems impossible that a whole year has gone by since he was born!)

Dotti has been going up and down the stairs very well. She uses a cane for stability and support for the left leg so far. She has been limping, mostly out of fear of damaging something in the left leg, since we had that scare on Father’s day. But that is about to change.

Dotti and Cone. In the morning on July 5, I asked Dotti if she thought she was up to going to Silverwood, a local Theme Park. Her eyes lit up, and soon we were in the car on our way. It is about an hour away from our house, and so when we got most of the way there, we decided to stop at McDonalds to use their restrooms, and to grab an ice cream cone. (It is funny that their cones are about the only thing we can eat there with low enough calories to not be a problem.) Dotti walked in using her cane, which she has been doing more and more of lately.

Once we got to the parking lot for Silverwood, I dropped Dotti off at the pedestrian exit which leads to the foot path across a road, and down through an underpass for the highway between the parking lot and the park. She sat on the seat of her walker (the same one you can see in the Cash & Carry photo above) and waited while I drove off and found a parking place. It was quite a ways away, but the walk did me good. I had my backpack with me, where I had a few things that we might need, and the heat was starting to rise a bit, so I was happy when I got back to where Dotti was.

Dotti and Silverwood surprise. We were acting on faith that Dotti would be able to handle walking over to the park and then still have the energy to walk around a bit. The first thing we did was to get our new season passes validated at the info booth. We next walked over to a coffee shop and sat down with some refreshments, allowing Dotti to get her energy back. In this picture you can see the Silverwood train in the background and the store fronts for some of the shops, and Dotti is sitting on her walker rather than one of the chairs. I was on the other side of a table with my coffee, and Dotti was letting off some of that exuberant energy she was feeling at finally getting out and trying to get back to normal after surgery. She may have been tired, but she was clearly happy to be there!

Dotti and Silverwood cart. We soon found that Dotti was not up to doing any walking around the park. I pulled her for a bit, as she sat in her walker, but that was going to be obviously unsatisfactory. We were even wondering about how we were going to get her back to the car for awhile. But we saw a sign that mentioned that wheelchairs could be rented at the same information center we had got our cards done at. Off we went and the $9 charge that we had seen on the sign became a $30 charge. I thought something was amiss, and I was wondering why a wheelchair needed a key, which the lady laid on the counter, that is until they brought out the “wheelchair.” It was perfect!

Instead of having a miserable hour or less, we spent over 4 hours at the park going around and seeing all the rides (although we didn’t do any riding on them) and enjoying the great weather. We both had our good cameras with us and got a lot of pictures of the birds, rollercoasters etc. By the time we were done I had gotten a lot of walking in and Dotti was fully rested up for the walk back to the parking lot. I left her in the same spot I had before, and I walked over to the car. It was easier for me this time because I could leave my backpack with Dotti (I hadn’t thought to do that the first time), and soon I was back to pick her up and get the walker and backpack back into the car. Soon we were on the road again, and smiling after a really fun outing.

I took the back way home, to get off the freeway a little earlier, and have a relaxing drive. As it turned out there was a Subway on that route and we decided to stop for a sandwich. Dotti got up with her cane and went in to get our order. She is eager to do all she can, and I am sure that is why she is progressing so quickly.

The sun was on the way down, and red light was tinting the scene, as Dotti posed for this picture. It is good to see her spirit so high! Dotti and Subway.

Another thing that jumped out at me, while looking at this photo, is the progress Dotti has made on her weight. Her pants are loose and soon she will have to move down to a smaller size. Also, when you compare this photo I took back in November of 2010 with how she looks today you can tell that she is 30 pounds lighter. She is doing awesome! Dotti and Dotti.

A note on this picture:

Dotti had asked me to create a motivational picture to help with building a positive attitude in her weight loss effort. I took the picture on the left in November 2010 and I put a picture I took of Dotti at the Portland Zoo in 2001 together with it. I placed this photo at the start of our joint weight loss journal.
Monday Dotti had a great weigh-in at Weight Watchers for the third week in a row. She is right on the beam for what she is eating and now she is gearing up for an increased exercise level which should make things even better.

Dotti is getting up and down the stairs incredibly well now and Tuesday morning she was downstairs changing the kitty litter and out in the garage getting light bulbs and other things while I was sound asleep still.

As I mentioned at the top, yesterday, July 12th, we went to the doctor and he was very, very pleased with her progress. He said there were no more limits on what she could do. She could walk with or without her walker or even her cane; she was cut free! He said if it didn’t hurt to do it, she could do what she likes! Dotti’s eyes lit up like someone had hit the high beams. Life suddenly had gotten much better. And then the best news of all for Dotti: no more anti-embolism socks! Oh my, how she hated wearing those things, and she was cut free from that drudgery. I don’t see how the visit could of gotten any better. The doctor said he didn’t need to see her again for 3 months, but then we objected to that. He was talking about the left hip, but there is the little matter of the right hip.

He asked if Dotti wanted to scheduled it right away. She said absolutely! So, he checked his schedule, and September 12th was open. He said it had to be at least 90 days after the last surgery. Counting out, we came up with 91 days! Perfect. She even could get into the first slot for the day, which is the only way to fly if you can get it. (Sort of like a window seat on the plane was for me when I flew a lot.) The advantages are that you are done early, and up and walking in the afternoon. It gets you along the track of recovery quicker.

We also scheduled a pre-op appointment. I asked if we had to attend another “mandatory pre-op class” and he chuckled and said, “No, you could teach it.” I think we have had the advanced course now. Needless to say, we were flying pretty high when we left the doctor’s office.

Dotti, Subway, without support. Once again we stopped at Subway for lunch and Dotti was showing off here, carrying the cane, but not using it at all as she also carried our drinks and sandwiches. She is on the way!

The doctor did schedule Dotti for outpatient physical therapy, and we were both happy to hear that. Dotti is going to be working up her exercise level to build her muscles, and get her walking gait back to normal. Also, a very important thing is the need to have her muscles in great shape before the next surgery. By having her weight down there is less to cut through, less strain on the new implant, and with her muscles in good shape everything will heal faster. Dotti's smile. Our goal is to make the second one go easier than this first one has, and for the first one Dotti has been a “poster child” on the way a hip replacement surgery should go.

Keep smiling Dotti, you are doing great!
Tomorrow, Tomorrow  /  The Knife  /   Homecoming  /   Setback  /   Back on Track  /   You Go Girl!

Part Two: The Next Step