After hip surgery

I had my left hip replaced last Tuesday, November 30, and am happy to report that the surgery went amazingly well. I’m going to be using the word “amazing” a lot in this post…I mean, just think that my wound was closed with some sort of super glue. Glue! No stitches, not even one. Isn’t that…amazing? 🙂 Well, it’s amazing to me, anyway.

On Friday, that is, just three days after surgery, I came home…walking! Sure, I was walking with two crutches, but using them as you use walking sticks when you’re on a hike. Ama…zing!

Okay, it wasn’t all a picnic in the park. I mean, something had to go wrong, right? And so, in spite of being oh so incredibly cautious!, I came down with a cold about four days before surgery, and, as if that weren’t enough, I developed a mild but productive (yuck) cough over the weekend. Darn! How did that happen? Well, Stefano had come home from work one day, all stuffed up, but we thought it was his usual allergies acting up so we didn’t take the precaution of sleeping in separate bedrooms. Bad decision: I caught what he had, although his was a much milder case. Different immune systems, duh.

So there I was, the weekend before surgery!!!, with a blasted cough. I couldn’t believe it. Drat! On Monday morning, figuring that we might have to postpone surgery, noooooo!, I called the clinic and was told to  to show up early in order to be checked out by a doctor. Luckily, that went well: my lungs were clear. I did have to have another Covid swab, which turned out negative like the swab I’d had two days earlier.

Result: I was given the okay for surgery, yay!, and so, a few hours later, I checked into the clinic. The following morning, I was the first patient in the operating room. Excellent.

I was awake for the entire procedure. I could have chosen to be sedated, but I decided against that, in part because I was afraid of coughing during surgery…For the record: that didn’t happen.

Thanks to the epidural, I didn’t feel a thing from my waist down, but boy oh boy, nothing, not even the Playlist I’d carefully put together the previous week (which included some AC/DC, not just classical music), could shut out the noise. I heard it all, loud and clear…all the hammering… Whack whack whack thump thump thump! But my interest in what was going on kept me from getting anxious. As I mentioned, this was my first surgery ever, and I was curious about it all.

Funny thing:  before and after surgery, and actually for the first 48 hours more or less, all the doctors and nurses checking my vitals kept asking me the same questions : my name, surname, place of birth, birthdate…innocent little questions like that. It happened a lot, especially before and after surgery. I was a bit puzzled at first, since they clearly had all my personal data in front of them, but I soon figured out that they must be making sure that I hadn’t had a stroke or whatnot.

Speaking of which, I have an anecdote. After surgery, I was wheeled out of the operating room into a sort of recovery room where a nurse monitored me for quite some time, at least a half hour, perhaps longer, who knows?, I’d lost track of time by then. We had a very nice chat…once I’d told him my name and surname, birthplace and birth date, of course, hehe.

Well, it was in that room that I looked down and saw my operated leg for the first time since surgery. HOLY CATS! What the…???? For a nanosecond I almost had a “stroke”: my entire left leg (foot included) was bright red! And by bright, I mean BRIGHT! RED! I thought it was blood, and that was soooo freaky!, but then my brain told me that that made no sense…I asked the nurse what had happened down there, and he explained that it was just the color of the disinfectant they’d painted all over my leg in the operating room.

Disinfectant??? Gee wiz, you guys…why didn’t you let me know that I’d be coming out of surgery with a BRIGHT RED LEG??? Hellooooo??? What’s the bloody point of asking me my name and taking my vitals if you’re planning to give me a heart attack by painting my leg bright red and not telling me? (I’m joking, of course…hehe!!!). I was much relieved and even amused at myself, at my first reaction of semi-horror. Anyway, until I’m able to take a shower–about 10 days from now–my leg will continue to be reddish, although a couple of my nurses tried to wipe  off the color. Didn’t really work. My leg is all spotty red now. Lovely. Anyway, a funny-in-retrospect moment at the clinic…one I will never forget!

Just a few hours after surgery, in the early afternoon, a physiotherapist came to teach me how to get out of bed. I even went to the bathroom by myself, well, on crutches of course, under his supervision (in respect of my privacy, he shut the door once I was safely inside). I also took a few steps outside my hospital door. All that, just hours after having surgery. Amazing!!!

By the following afternoon I was instructed to put my full weight on my operated leg. Wow! I am still amazed…amazed amazed amazed. Sorry, I’m over-using that word…but for me the entire experience has been really…well, you know. 😉

At the clinic, I was taught lots of things–from how to walk up and down a flight of stairs to how to get dressed by myself (putting on socks still isn’t easy, I tell ya…)–which I’ll have to put into practice and be careful about for the next couple of months, albeit less and less, of course, as my leg gets stronger. Also, no bending over and picking up anything that falls on the floor (fortunately, I found a pick-up-stuff gadget…fantastic!), no crossing my legs…the list goes on.

But, and this is a big BUT, the pain I had before surgery is gone. Sure, I had a bit of pain after the surgery, no point in denying that (pain for which I was given some lovely painkillers), but right now I have NO PAIN. What a wonderful change from my pre-operative state, when I was limping all over the place, grimacing with pain.

And now I’m now happily at home with Stefano (who took a week off from work to be with me) and the kitties…and lots of documentaries and TV series and movies to watch while I do my strengthening exercises. I’m doing very well. The physiotherapist who came to check on me yesterday was amazed at how well I’m walking. I will be using two crutches until my first checkup, week after next, after which I should be going down to one crutch for another 20 days. So by the middle of January I should be ready to fly on my own, which is good since the new kittens will be here, and I do not want to be on crutches with those two little fur balls running around the house! 🙂

Life is good. Take care, everyone!

The fun is over…

Sirmione, Lago di Garda

Stefano and I had a lovely relaxing holiday in August. The first leg of our trip consisted of three days in the medieval town of Sirmione on the shores of one of Italy’s largest and prettiest lakes, the Lago di Garda.

To be honest, though, I couldn’t wait to leave. It wasn’t the heat that got to me (after Florence, practically anything would have felt cool…), but rather the throngs of unmasked tourists surrounding us as we walked along the town’s narrow streets. I found that quite unsettling. True, you don’t have to wear a mask now when you’re out in the open, but those streets were too narrow to be defined as “open,” in my opinion. Stefano and I wore our masks, of course (in addition to being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and having our Green Passes).

We do plan to go back to the Lago di Garda someday, but never again in summer…too hot, too crowded…

Lago di Braies

By the third day of our holiday, we were more than ready for a change, namely for some cool air, which we  found at the Lago di Braies, known as the Jewel of the Dolomites. And a Jewel it really is! Lago di Braies is the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen in my life. Its colours, ever-changing, were absolutely glorious. We spent a week in the (only) hotel facing the lake. Our top floor room had a balcony with panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains (see above photo). Stunning. I would have been happy to have spent the entire week on that balcony, reading and enjoying the views.

But we didn’t, of course! We went on rather long and sometimes challenging walks. I admit that in the beginning I was a bit concerned about my hip…But I have to say that even though we walked between 5 and 7 kilometres every day, I didn’t have much pain, if any. Really weird. The lack of pain may not sound like much, but when I get to my medical stuff later on, you will realise that it really is (was) a big deal.

Check out the stairway (photo above, on the right) I climbed to get to the other side of the lake one morning. That whole path was up and down and up and down. Even regular hikers, in good shape, had to stop now and again to catch their breath…

But I’m so glad I did it: the views of the lakes and mountains were magnificent…

Tre Cime di Lavaredo

After a week at the Lake of Braies, we stayed a few nights at the nearby Lago di Misurina, another lake in the Dolomite range, mainly because of its strategical location near the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the three most famous peaks in the Dolomites, and to Monte Piana, a very interesting World War I open-air museum located on a plateau at more than 2,300 metres above sea level, with amazing 360° views of the surrounding mountains. You can still see the trenches where the Italian and Austro-Hungarian soldiers fought for two years…Unbelievable…Anyway, highly recommended, if you are in the area. Again, my hip and I did quite a bit of climbing and hiking there, too.

Mantova, Ducal Palace

On our way back to Florence, we stopped for three days in the city of Mantova (Mantua). I have nothing but high marks for Mantova. But, for reasons I cannot explain, it got harder and harder for me to walk for more than a few kilometres a day, if that…Odd!

Our holiday ended on August 28, when we finally got back to Florence and to our kitties who had been totally spoiled by our cat sitter. 🙂

In early September, I went through a battery of pre-surgery tests and met with various doctors.

My first meeting was with my orthopaedic surgeon and his assistant. When I told them about all the walking I’d done, especially around Lake Braies, they were visibly surprised. Speechless, in fact. It was there and then that I found out that my arthrosis is worse than I (we) had initially thought: I’m in stage 4 (the most advanced stage of arthrosis), not between stages 2 and 3, as it had seemed from my first X-ray. Yikes!

Looking back on our August holiday now, I have to admit that I feel a bit like Wonder Woman…hiking and walking for kilometres and kilometres with arthrosis in stage 4, I mean…Not bad, eh?

Getting back to my surgery story, I aced all the preliminary tests (electrocardiogram, etc.), but…yes, there is a but. My haematologist and I agreed that, before having this surgery, I should have some myeloma-related tests done, too. It makes sense.

My first test will be next week: my fourth BMB (bone marrow biopsy). Ouch! I am also going to have a PET scan and a CAT scan. In a nutshell, we want to make sure that I don’t have any bone lesions. If that is the case, no bone lesions, I mean, as I hope and imagine!, I will go ahead with the hip surgery as soon as possible.

If not…well, we’ll cross that bridge when (IF!) we come to it…

Let’s see, I guess that’s about it for now…

Take care, everyone! Ciao!!!