Physical therapy after surgery comes in 2 parts. In-home physical therapy for about 2 weeks and outpatient physical therapy for a lot longer. Someone from the in-home company will briefly visit the home before surgery and in my case check for trip hazards, stair difficulty and just general mobility safety issues. Then the physical therapist called the day I got home from surgery to set an appointment for the next day. The next day! My expectation of physical therapy recalled memories of Drill Sergeant Humphries from US Army basic training at Fort Dix New Jersey. (I still find it amazing that I can recall his name so many years later.) Someone tasked with getting me to do stuff that drastically increased pain and yelled at me throughout the appointment. My therapist arrived the next day and asked how I was feeling, took my vitals, asked how the pain was (very little, still, thanks to the anesthesia and oxycodone). She explained what we were going to do today and then had me stay in my recliner while I moved my legs at her direction. Then she had me get up and walk down the hall using the walker. Of course I was doing it all wrong, but her corrections were kind and considerate. And after following her directions walking really was much easier. I guess these PT folks do know what they are talking about. After that she had me go into the kitchen so she could demonstrate some simple exercises using the kitchen counter or the lip of the sink for stability. But first she needed to check my incision. My face must have shown her a bit of uncertainty/surprise/reluctance. After all, if she was a nurse that might be expected. But I didn’t consider a physical therapist would be checking incisions. In my underwear. I asked where she wanted to do that and she smiled, said she’s seen it all before and right here will be fine, so “drop ‘em”. Yep, I knew the drill sergeant character would emerge. So I lowered the athletic shorts I was wearing, she inspected the 9” incision on the outside of my hip and in 10 seconds we were done. She was quick and professional and I realized that this could not possibly be the high point of her day either. She proceeded to teach me several exercises to do using the sink or counter for support, left a list of homework exercises, made an appointment for the next day and she was off to see her next patient. All in all, it was a very pleasant experience. The next day a different therapist stopped by. She was kind, caring, compassionate and yes, kinda cute. Her professionalism shone through and she had a whole new set of exercises for me and a bunch more for homework to do on my own.
On the third day after surgery I realized I was not voiding my bladder very well. My nurse practitioner from the surgeons office had called a couple of times to check on me. When I mentioned the difficulty peeing he told me to go to the emergency room of our local hospital. Apparently since they could not use a nerve block and instead used a general anesthetic, they catheterized me for the operation and then removed the catheter in the OR. Catheterizing me really annoyed an already enlarged and unhappy prostate that my urologist and I have been monitoring for 5 or 6 years.
I went to the ER and during a three hour ordeal and some tests, they agreed that yes, I really couldn’t pee. I didn’t realize I needed a second opinion… So they catheterized me again to relieve the pressure, referred me to my urologist and sent me home. While catheterized I had to wait about two weeks for an appointment with my urologist. More on that in a later post.
My cute physical therapist came in for my next therapy appointment and she continued to cover the appointments for the balance of the 2 weeks or so. Each day she added more exercises as homework and about on day 5 she had me go outside to walk about 50 yards and back on the street in our quiet, flat neighborhood. That was both frightening and rewarding at the same time. Was my hip going to come apart? Was I going to just topple over and not be able to get back up? But I was walking! Outside! In the fresh air! I was very happy with the care I received from the in-home therapists.
Graduation day arrived. Yep, that’s what they called it. We went over all the exercises I was supposed to be doing, left me with written instructions, and she actually gave me a graduation certificate. I realized she had become the only outside person I had seen in 2 weeks because of the Covid-19 lock down and I was going to miss her.
Outside physical therapy in the next post.