Tuesday, 14 December 2010

NHS Hip Replacement. Getting Discharged.

It's Wednesday. About forty eight hours ago I was on the operating table but now I am walking back to the ward from the bathroom having washed and shaved myself. I say walking but it is really a case of dragging myself along on crutches. As I enter the main ward I meet my fellow patients properly for the first time. Graham who has worked outdoors all his life looks slim, tanned and healthy, Bob less so. The three of us look like triplets with our one elephantine and one normal leg. Bob and Graham have had knees done. We congratulate each other on our fine progress to date and I return to my single room. It's been pleasant having company for a few minutes but I want to recuperate in silence - and then there's the problem.

I haven't mentioned "the problem" on previous blogs as it's a little delicate and not something one normally shouts to the world. But the aim of this record is to give those who are going to have a hip replacement on the NHS an idea of what to expect and so I better give you the full story. Since I arrived back from theatre on Monday I have been creating enough gas to fire a small condensing boiler. Totally uncontrollable, the gas surfaces regularly throughout the day and forty eight hours on there's no sign of it blowing over. I believe that it's the result of painkillers causing constipation and constipation causing flatulence and I'm on some sort of windy merry go round until either the painkillers or the constipation die down.

Charlie the physio has given me some exercises to do in bed to speed recovery. One of these, the buttock clench, leaves me giving involuntary renditions of Colonel Bogey - and I'm supposed to repeat this hourly. I knew that private room would have its benefits and this is certainly one of them.

I fill in my time by starting to read nother novel. Like Bees To Honey by Caroline Smailes hails from the same The Friday Project stable as the excellent Confessions of a GP that I flew through yesterday. This is a wonderful and extremely original book. The author uses an interesting repetitive writing style combined with some highly innovative type setting to produce a unique reading experience. The book's theme is coming to terms with loss but this is done in such a different way to other rites of passage novels and when I tell you that it involves a beer swilling Jesus with scarlet toenails residing in Malta and competing for popularity with John Lennon you will appreciate that it is no everyday book. I can't put it down. I love it.

I don't flake out after Marion's visit this time and watch Arsenal play their Champions League match whilst reading The Guardian at the same time as the match is pretty dull. The nurses hint that I am making good enough progress to be sent home tomorrow. My spirits lift.

It's Thursday and potentially discharge day. I follow all of yesterday's lessons exactly and have myself washed and shaved in no time. I'm quite chuffed with my progress but Mr Ali arrives in the room and tells me that my walking is rubbish and I should be bending my leg more. It's not that easy after eighteen months of stiff legged limping, even more so with a leg that's ballooned to double its normal size. Anyway, he's happy with his handiwork. He tells me that my hip was a mess and he has cut off several chunks of arthritic growths of bone known as ossification (I think). He gives me a copy of my x ray as a souvenir and tells me that once I have walked up some stairs I am free to go.

Charlie wheels me to the hospital stairwell, It's freezing after the warmth of the ward and my teeth are chattering. But I want to master this and secure my release. He gives me a simple mnemonic "The Good The Bad And The Ugly" great for a film buff like me. I make a comment about Sergio Leone but it misses its target. I'm up the steps and down again in ten minutes. I feel like waving my crutches in the air in celebration. It's painful but it has  allowed me the chance to return home and at around 3pm, just over three days since admission Marion will be able to drive me back to Southport.