This is my
journal about my hip resurfacing decision, surgery &
recovery. I hope it will be useful to other people making
decisions about surgery for their hips.
Top Things Needed When Home
10. The grabber tool thingy
9. Lots of wash cloths
6. Microwave food
5. Goldfish crackers and M&Ms
4. Pain pills
3. Cell Phone
2. Underwear 2x too big
1.A. Someone to look out for you.
December 31, 2005
It's the last day of December, and I'm finalizing those
final details for surgery. Last night I picked up a couple
of those essentials I never thought I'd get, even at 80.
Yep, a walker and a cane. At 36. I ran six half marathons
this year and took part in two triathlons. Now a walker?
I can't help but feeling blessed with my circumstances as my
surgery comes up in a little more than a week. Many people
travel internationally. Others wait a year or longer to find
the right doctor. Mine fell right into my hands two miles
away from my home. And the fact that he has time to get it
done in early January? Unbelievable.
Am I scared? A little. Hip surgery is a lot more complex
than a little cleanup of my knee. Four days in the hospital
seems a little daunting too. But it's definitely going to be
January 7, 2006 10:30 pm
I received an email today from a man who's really inspired
me to do this. His name is Jack. Why's he such an
inspiration? He's run 7 marathons since he's received double
hip replacement. So, how did I learn about Jack? Through Bob
Dolphin. Bob, you see, has run over 350 marathons and
manages the Yakima marathon in the spring. When I think
about what they've gone through, my goals and desires pale
January 7, 2006 6:00 am
Two days beforehand, and I'm now a little nervous. I've been
through 4 knee surgeries and the last one didn't even blink
at going under. This one's a little different. Maybe it's
the recognition that if I have to take three weeks off of
work afterward; this has to be a big deal. Maybe it's the
fact that I've now given two pints of blood, have had other
blood samples, and a two hour orientation to the hospital.
I keep asking others "how bad can this be?" and keep getting
the same answer: "It depends." If others in their 60s and
70s get this done and think it's the best thing ever, then
it has to be. I've also been told that I immediately may
notice the pain of my hip disappears. Jeez, I hope so. Don't
know if it's psychosomatic, but boy am I sore right now.
Final note: a friend of mine asked if he saw me running on
one last run before going under the knife. That's been the
furthest from my thoughts since October. And then I turned
around and told him to get ready, because my comeback is
about to begin.
I'm having hip replacement surgery, and I fully expect to be
out there again -- better than ever.
January 8, 2006
Jeez my hip hurts... a whole lot. I can't wait to get this
done. When my pain started two years ago, it would be a
slight nagging in my back that would go away as I moved
around. Then I ran the Olympia marathon. Even though I
trained better than ever, I struggled the last several
weeks, and blew up at mile 20. I still remember sitting at
my desk doubling over in pain two days later.
Now, the pain is really higher than anything I can begin to
relate to. The only way I can describe it is to suggest
stabbing a screwdriver into your hip and then start scraping
against the bone. Each step I take fires pain both through
the front of my quad and out through the back. I can't even
think when it happens.
Sure, I can gut it through a hike during the day, but at
night I can't sit on a couch comfortably or fall asleep
without it being the only thing I can think about. I can't
wait to get this done.
If you ever wonder why I'm going in tomorrow for surgery,
let me just share a few pictures of what I did today. It's
really apparent that my hip has gotten bad enough that I
can't get out and enjoy things the way I used to. I just
consider myself lucky enough to be able to go out and enjoy
one last hike without the rain! There's no way I can give
this up. I can't wait to be out here again soon.
Weigel's comeback tour has now begun
It was kind of ironic; we were told that we needed to be at
the hospital a little bit after 8:15, which made this almost
just like a work day for me. I got up, took a shower and
even shaved, just like normal. The only difference was
instead of soap, I used some type anti-bacterial stuff they
gave me in prep for surgery. But the cats somehow knew in my
change in behavior and wouldn’t stop darting underneath my
feet. Yep, I was going in for surgery and at this point
there was nothing that could be done about it.
So there we were, at 7:45, grabbing our final belongings as
we took off to Swedish hospital. I jumped in to my most
comfortable pair of shorts and Vancouver marathon shirt.
Best to let everyone know who they were dealing with.
Kristin was kind enough to let me drive. The ride was short
– maybe 4 miles at the most – but with the gloomy weather
and the traffic, it felt much longer. In spite of it all, we
got to the front door just in time. Just in time to wait!
You see, Swedish hospital has a solid plan for the different
steps you need to go through to be ready for surgery. The
process is supposed to be something like this: first, you
are taken to an admitting room were your blood pressure and
heart rate are taken while you confirm the type of surgery
you’re having. At the same time, you get out of the comfy
clothes you brought with you, and transform into a green
creature – one layer with the gap in the back, the other
layer with the gap in the front. Special socks are added
too, for effect. Then you walk to the surgery prep area, get
onto a bed, (to look up and see a tree leaf), get your IV,
finally see your doctor one last time, and then go into
In reality, each step should take about 15 minutes. They
prolong each step to be an hour so there’s flexibility in
the schedule. If things move quickly, you get surgery
earlier. If things are going more slowly, well, they know
where you are. My surgery was delayed almost immediately,
but no one told us.
We waited to even go into the admitting room for about 30
minutes as an admitting nurse yelled out “Mr. Weeeeeeeeee
Gel?!” After getting to the room, confirming my details and
cross checking all of my information, changed my clothes
quickly trying to make up for lost time. But it didn’t
matter. Any efforts on our part went unnoticed.
A full fifteen minutes after my surgery was scheduled to
start someone walked in to say “we’re running behind”. It
looked like things may have started a bit late on the first
one, so we might have to wait for a while. If we had books
or reading material, now was a goodtime to hunker down. In
fact, I almost took a nap. We were finally called to move up
to the transition room at 10:45. Yep, 2 hours and 45 minutes
after walking into the hospital, and 30 minutes after we
were supposed to start surgery.
The transition room: let the waiting continue. In this large
room of 8 beds of so, you almost get the feeling like you’re
part of a religious awakening. Each patient shows up in
strange garb with weird socks. They’re then placed on a
stretcher and then taken away to a strange place. Bonnie
with host nurse, was nice. She told me we’d be on our way
quickly so we shouldn’t get too comfortable. We’d meet the
anesthesiologist, my nurse, and then my physician. Then,
boom! I’d be off for the hip procedure.
Well, first I met another nurse who decided to put in my IV,
and then we met three other nurses who couldn’t believe we
had waited for so long. At 12:00, it was like rush hour –
different doctors and patients finally meeting, running off
to surgery – and there we were, still waiting.
And then 15 minutes later Dr. Pritchett walked across the
room, grabbing his surgical cap and wadding it in his hand.
When you look at him he doesn’t demonstrate this huge aura
of power. He’s a smaller man who appears to be incredibly
shy. As he walked over, I’d swear he looked down while being
introduced to Kristin. This is the man who’s going to change
my life and he’s timid?! His final check of the leg was
rather curs Tory – it was still there. – so we might as well
cut on it. He slapped my hip like one would slap a side of
Five minutes later we had an anesthesiologist – we agreed on
the spinal tap epidural along with the general anesthesia.
Theory being with the epidural, you will have less pain and
less general anesthesia to recover from. Easy decision.
Finally, we met our surgical nurse. She told us I’d be taken
off for surgery and would be available for viewing in about
4 hours. Kristin was told she could leave, and I was taken
off to surgery.
Maybe it was the drugs starting to kick in, but I’d swear we
followed a maze to get to the surgery room. We followed down
one long hallway, through a closed door, down another
hallway with great windows and views, and then into the back
hallway of what I’d swear is behind the scenes for several
Broadway plays. I could imagine little shows in each room.
Mine even had a cast of characters waiting to come onto
My stage was brightly lit with different appliances and
props to be used during the play. I even could see the boxes
labeled “Wright C+ resurfacing device.” Whew. I was getting
the right thing.
Then we moved quickly. I received my epidural – really what
may have been the most pleasant shot I’ve ever received. And
then out of fear it happened – I told my anesthesia joke.
“Did you know that morphine used to be called phine?” “Turns
out every wanted (here it comes) MORE PHENE!!!”
Two seconds later I received the drugs that put me out for
the surgery. As for the next two hours of surgery? They’re
pretty much a blur for me.
The post surgery notes will take longer to put together –
they’re much more a mish-mash of different memories of
different people and different situations. I’m not exactly
sure how they work together, but with time it will all come
I don’t remember the recovery room. I don’t remember much of
the first night. From what I’ve been told, I got out of
surgery around 3:00, and was in recovery for a couple more
hours before going off to my room. The only thing I do
remember was the damn oxygen tube in my nose. It itched. It
scraped. It hurt. My hip didn’t bother me and neither did my
knee – but the oxygen tube certainly did. Regardless of how
many times I took it off, some large hand came from nowhere
to put it back.
How did I get here? I don’t know. How did I know it was the
right place? Dad’s turtle cookies were there. Hooray Dad!
Kristin came in a few minutes later, Vincent the nurse came
to introduce himself and the world seemed overall pretty
easy. He told me that it would take a while for the drugs to
get out of my system. But I was fine almost immediately.
Kristin and I were even eating smuggled goldfish crackers.
Vincent made me order chicken broth soup ~YUCK~.
I didn’t hurt. At all. They kept asking on a scale of 1-10
what my pain was like --- my answer was almost always 0.
Even the pain I had in my hip beforehand – gone. GONE!
At about 9:30, Edna the nurse came by. She wasn’t even our
nurse, but she made a point to take special care of us. We
needed to order a peach fruit smoothie. Yuuuuum!
So Kristin and I talked for a while. I’m sure I was groggy,
but overall felt pretty good. After going to sleep, Anh took
over as my nurse, and life was as good as I could know it,
especially since I just had major hip surgery.
Let me talk for a minute about what a catheter is and what
it does for you. One of the most important things you can do
to accelerate recovery is to take in lots of fluids. Well,
when you take in all of those fluids, you also have to let
them go. Given that I just had hip surgery, it’s not like I
can get up to go use the bathroom. That’s where the catheter
kicks in. They place a direct line from your bladder to a
bag through your urethra. Trust me, you do not want to have
a catheter placed while you are awake.
I was lucky. They put in mine after I was under. It was
refreshing. You lose the sense of needing to control
yourself. Maybe you feel as if you’re under control, but you
really aren’t. All you know is that you aren’t worried about
any leekage issues! And to be honest, you don’t even think
about the possibility of ever losing it. I had a wonderful
first night, no pain, a new hip, and I could pee freely!
1st day post-op. (All photos taken by Kristin)
The entire time I've been
getting healthy and dealing with all of this, Kristin has
been there. She's been one of the first people that I've
seen in the morning, and one of the last faces I've seen at
night. To be honest, she's been there so much that I've
taken her for granted. She's been the one person I could
count on through this entire experience, and has been my
rock when I've been overly grumpy. To be honest, she's put
up with a lot of things during my recovery, and I can tell
you, a grumpy Paul isn't one of the best things you want to
Case in point -- first morning I had been up for an hour
before she got there, and and during the first day, your
first hour feels like a week. Rather than saying "Hello,
Hunny, I'm glad you're here," I instead yelled out "where
have you been?!" Definitely not fair on my part.
Unfortunately I think that's been true too many times while
We got an opportunity to met with Dr. Pritchett and learn
more about how the surgery went. Apparently the whole
procedure went “perfect” and was “textbook”. He expected a
full recovery with no restrictions. That’s right. No
restrictions. After a few minutes he did admit that my hip
was much more out of round than he expected, and almost to
the point of being fused together. So, when I asked how I
was able to participate in my different runs and/or
triathlons? That will certainly be a puzzle for us all to
figure out. He certainly doesn’t know how I did it.
Let’s just say the rest of this day isn’t a part of the
highlight reel. Nurse Mary K came in with authority! You
knew immediately she was one not to be messed with. Lights
came on, curtains were opened, and any sense of customer
advocacy was lost.
Mary K was a treat. Not only did she say things that were
rather abrupt, she yelled out in complaint – you guys pee
too much !! – down the hallway. But my most favorite event
happened during my first rehab attempt. I had crossed maybe
10 feet of the room to get where I couldn’t do any more, and
then while falling back into bed it felt like she was
tearing my leg off. Even with me yelling, I didn’t get
sympathy. Boo to Mary K! I think based on my complaints, we
weren’t offered the opportunity to have Mary K look out for
me again. Yay for Swedish!
Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy
I got in two sessions of PT along with one of OT that first
day. As I mentioned, the first time with PT was Hell. We
went to the door with a walker. It was all I could handle. I
basically passed out afterward, especially with Mary K’s
special treatment, until it was time for another walk. This
time I really felt some magic and got about 100 feet. (Talk
about a dramatic improvement!) I also had my first OT
appointment which was pretty humbling. We worked on helping
me put on chothes. Toss the clothing down in front of you
and use the grabber tool to help you pull things up, then
pull things up on your good side. Easy as that. Socks
weren’t as easy, but that’s what the sock tool is for.
With all of this hard work behind me, Tuesday was the best
night in terms of visitors and food. Kristin brought in a
Ragin’ Cajun sammich from the Other Coast Café – a little
dangerous 1st day post surgery – but still very yummy. Then
we were lucky to have several visitors drop by: Janice and
Brad, Chris, Todd, and Tim. I think I pretty much passed out
on two of them before they left.
Tuesday night trauma. At about 4:30, Anh walked in and said
“We’re going to be taking out your Foley Catheter now.”
Excuse me?! You’re going to do what to where? When? I kind
of was starting to like this thing. We then spent a few
minutes discussing what to expect (the balloon is closed and
then the apparatus is removed via pulling), the pain (it’s
different for everyone, but it’s all right to cry if you
need to), and the duration (seconds).
After all of the discussion, it turns out the removal of the
catheter is more of a surprising feel than a painful one. It
stings and feels like a specific pulling from the inside of
your body, but just as the pain sensation starts, it’s over.
Thank goodness! The only physical reference I have is having
gauze removed from your nose. It’s uncomfortable and clumpy,
but before you know it, the whole procedure is done. No
tears on this boy’s part.
We kicked off Wednesday really well – dressed in a new
Superman shirt, I was ready to take on the world. The whole
day really was a blur. I was much more productive during PT.
Thanks to H for taking the photos and the video. Apparently
I really didn't look my best!