J: It’s all been happening.

It’s now just over 2 weeks since my hip operation. I feel progress is way too slow, but the medics all say “You are doing great!” so I have to take comfort from that.

I still have quite frequent discomfort in the hip which makes exercising and moving about more difficult but, with a combination of 2 zimmer frames, crutches and sticks, I get around the house quite happily on my own and have had the odd venture up and down the pavement. It’s good, in particular, to be using walking sticks now as I have to work harder on my balance with those. Today I have even managed a bit of ‘normal’ walking i.e. without any sticks or crutches.

Since my discharge there has been a positive flurry of activity. We have not been to the hospital once – everyone has been coming here. I believe this is because I am having CHC “Continuous Health Care”, so I am designated as an active patient who needs support at home. It is quite a contrast with my mother who on discharge from a near-fatal kidney condition in her eighties received very little support – but she was defined as convalescing.

We have had:

Dorothy House Nurse Lesley Holley visit. She is our main contact with Dorothy House and reviewed the drug regime and organised various other people to come. Dorothy House are very focused on ‘outreach’ and helping people at home which is perfect for us. They only have ten beds in their hospice but Lesley has over 20 patients she supports at home and she is very experienced. She used to be the head district nurse in our area  so we are lucky to have her as she certainly knows how to get things done with all the events below cascading within a week of her visit.

Medequip delivered a ‘hospital bed’. They put this in a spare bedroom. I thought I would not use it yet but I have taken rather a shine to the air mattress which is similar to the one I had in hospital. Because I can’t walk much my coccyx has been getting very sore with sitting a lot and lying in bed and the clever way in which this mattress gently inflates and deflates helps to move the pressure points around. Since you can adjust almost every angle of the mattress it helps me get it right to optimise my breathing too. As a result I have been sleeping and resting much better in it.

District Nurses have taken my bloods and changed the wound dressing for the hip replacement – which is looking great.

Dr. Robert Muir, my GP, paid a house call and went through all the drugs after discussion with Lesley Holley. I am on about ten different ones at the moment but others keep getting prescribed too from ‘legacy’ prescriptions so we need to clarify matters when we see Lesley next week. Dr. Muir also went through options for what kind of medical interventions I might want in the future and we confirmed that I don’t want any invasive procedures or aggressive treatments which just buy a little time. The blood results show that everything is looking quite good. My CPR count is still high at 60 (indicates fighting infection of some kind) but that is way below the 100+ it has been most of the year. It also helps explain why I feel more tired than I would expect.

Physiotherapy respiratory nurse Margaret, a specialist in breathing, came by and has shown me some simple techniques to help my breathing. I was finding that if I woke in the night and needed to get out of bed then I would get very out of breath. Now I know how to use some tricks to take it steady and control my breathing better so that I can just take my time. It’s amazing how some small things like this can make a big difference.

Physiotherapist Sam visited and gave me advice on mobility and some more exercises to do to help me get out and about. As ever it’s a case of “don’t do too much” but no one can tell you what too much or too little actually is! I am trying to do small amounts often to get the legs going and will build from there. I can put full weight on my right leg but not without pain so have to get the balance right. I have also bought a little mini exercise bike which I can pedal while sitting in a chair and that helps to get the muscles moving.

Lymphoedma nurses Katrina and Charlotte visited to look at my legs. Both are retaining a lot of water and are quite swollen particularly round the ankles with the right leg right up to the thigh. This is partly a result of hospitalisation but, as it is persistent, Katrina thinks my lymph nodes are not working well enough to pump the water around and get it out of my system. It’s a not uncommon issue for people like me. She has given me compression socks to wear in the daytime and after one day’s use the left ankle shows improvement so that is great. All the excess water has also made the legs feel very stiff, which in turn makes exercise difficult, but both are feeling a little looser now so that is another bonus. We talked about treating this with drugs but agreed that I have enough medication already and should see if we can keep it under control with the socks and exercise.

So, as you can see, we can hardly complain about being neglected. Quite the opposite and every visit has been useful. We’ll see some of these people again but the intensity should settle down now and I just need to keep working on the mobility.