Post-operative planning (or ‘Leaving it to the Unfeeling One’)

Why on earth would men want to get a body wax?  I forgot to mention that I had to have an ECG on Monday during the pre-assessment clinic, and the nurse shaved parts of my chest so those little sticky bits would actually adhere to me.  The growth on my chest is rather lush (I use the word in its original sense, ie ‘luxuriant growth’, not the meaning applied by modern ‘youff’ to anything that they regard as cool) and, in addition to razor rash (it was a dry shave), I am itching terribly as it starts to grow back.  My plan to walk around shirtless, to stop the stubble being plucked, was thwarted instantly by the Unfeeling One who reminded me, most cruelly, of my slightly excessive BMI and the fact that the neighbours, and she, might not appreciate the sight.  I noticed that the nurse didn’t feel the need to shave my legs and, instead, pressed the sticky pads on with a very firm pressure. I swear I saw the corners of her mouth curling up at the edges as she ripped away those sticky bits once the ECG was complete.

I left the hospital on Monday clutching a load of paperwork which, if I were to be totally honest, hasn’t been read in much detail. By me.  Not in any detail at all, truth be known.  I suspect that the pamphlet entitled ‘Knee Replacement, a complete guide to your operation and recovery’ is something I really should read but with only one week between pre-assessment and my op, there is only time for a quick scan.  It was suggested that I take it in with me so I’ll read it properly then.  Mind you, the quick scan I have had has uncovered some fairly useless advice.  An example.  ‘Try to maintain a healthy weight for your height. You can ask your General Practitioner or practice nurse for advice’. I am not sure how those of you kind enough to read this blog get on with your local surgery but, within one week, I have a more realistic chance of getting my BMI down to an acceptable level than I have of getting to see my GP or practice nurse. The maximum time between pre-assessment and op is normally 28 days.  If you are like me, but don’t have your own Unfeeling One, I would recommend trying to get more than a week between the two.

Whilst the pamphlet warns patients about the possible side-effects of a general anaesthetic, it doesn’t mention that some patients come round feeling extremely hungry and bad tempered.  After one op I had, I was thrown out of intensive care after an hour (instead of the 24 hours I was supposed to be there) for being a pain.  Should I warn them or will they put in measures to stop me wandering and looking for food and snarling at anyone who gets in my way?  Seriously, though, the advice I had from an (extremely eminent) surgeon not to work for at least 2 weeks is because of the effects of the anaesthetic, not the recovery from the surgery itself.  The older you are, the longer the effects take to wear off.  As you know, I am ‘quite young’ so it should go through my system reasonably quickly (I told them a month at work).

Having got bored with even a cursory skim of the documentation, I have decided that I really don’t need to read it all anyway.  With her in-built need to plan, organise, and manage, the Unfeeling One has read all the paperwork, including the pamphlet, several times and can now repeat great swathes of it verbatim.  As usual, I will be told exactly what to do and when to do it. Every planned activity will be put onto a checklist which, just as happens in up-market public conveniences, will require my initials and accompanying time stamp to prove that the required action has actually been completed.  It won’t be left within easy reach of the bed of sofa either.  I should point out that the necessity for a checklist is because she won’t actually be there to supervise:  she will have been at work and neglecting me (she glossed over the bit of the pamphlet that advises having someone with you at all times for a few days after your discharge).  I may even have to take up the offer from my very elderly and infirm mum to come and look after me (‘Flower Club comes first though, dear’).  I can, however, take it easy, safe in the knowledge that my post-operative recovery will go exactly as the pamphlet says it should because the Unfeeling One is in full control.

We also had a read of njrhippychick’s blog and her experience of pre-assessment, done in an NHS hospital, appears to have been very different.  The NHS appear to get lots of people in together and give out most of the post-operative information during pre-assessment, including advice from physiotherapists et al.  She was also part of a large group who could compare experiences and, as she puts it, ‘have a laugh’ whilst waiting for individual tests to be carried out.  Apart from the pre-assessment nurse, I didn’t get to speak to anyone (if you don’t count the lady in the corridor who I bumped into whilst carrying my over-filled specimen bottle back from the gents to the consulting room), and it was over and done with in slightly over an hour.  Although I had the opportunity to ask questions, it was clear that I was expected to read most of the documentation myself and get myself sorted.  How different that would have been had I been the average age for a knee replacement (69.95 years according to the NJR’s most recent annual report), I don’t know.  I will ask.  What was made clear to me was that I would see the physiotherapist after surgery and that they would give me all the advice and information that I needed before I was discharged.  A different approach and one dicated by resources and finance I suspect:  the NHS may not be resourced to follow up individual patients on the wards after surgery and it is easier to run clinics for groups of patients beforehand.  I will chat with hippychick after her operation and get back to you.

The Unfeeling One also noted that hippychick will have to spend at least 12 weeks sleeping on her back and that she cannot bathe or shower until the wound is completely healed. Having told the Unfeeling One that I did not need to sleep on my back and that, I too, would not be able to shower or bathe for a similar amount of time, she simply remarked that as I already slept on my back, all I was doing was adding unpleasant odours to my vibrant snoring.  I do not snore.  Pain deprives me of sleep, so I cannot snore.  I won’t even attempt to describe the look that I got in response to my suggestion that she might give me bed baths.  The pre-assessment nurse had already scotched that idea (you need to be up and about, not lying in bed) but the Unfeeling One didn’t know that. As there is no chance of her feeling any sympathy for making me roll over in the middle of the night, despite the post-operative pain in my knee, or helping with my daily ablutions, I suspect that the recently cleaned and aired spare room is beckoning.

Well, less than 72 hours to go now, but I will try and fit in another post before I go into hospital on Monday.  The Unfeeling One will not be coming to visit me (we are agreed that looking after Lyle, the dog, is more important at the moment), so please feel free to leave comments.  I won’t have too much else to do except to respond to them.  Kneedyman.

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3 thoughts on “Post-operative planning (or ‘Leaving it to the Unfeeling One’)

  1. Wouldn’t want to miss anything important.
    We’ll be praying for you, of course, but as all you have to do is lay there and say ‘ouch’ every now and again, we’ll be praying for the team that will be working on you.

  2. I am one without an Unfeeling One (he died not long after I had a bunion op… but that wasn’t the reason!) but I do have a very lovely dog and cat. I’ll be interested to see when you get the first post-op dog-walk in! My neighbour will do it while I’m in hospital, then my son is coming to stay for the required “few days” as you mention, plus somehow the Red Cross are roped in up here in Suffolk to help do your DVT stockings and even help with making/changing the bed etc. I know this as my best pal recently had a TKR up here, after a THR a year before. Hmmm… you still give me food for thought and pre-op questions 🙂 Thanks TT – I wonder how you are now? Does it feel like you’d never had it done, or what? Later updates would be good… but yes, I know, time-consuming if you are back to full-time work.

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