Lessons Learned Following MAKOPlasty

It’s been two weeks since I underwent a total hip arthroplasty…MAKOPlasty for the second time in my life (knee 2013 was the first).  During this time period I have learned many things.  Some lessons were more difficult than others; some lessons were enlightening; some lessons were downright hysterical. Regardless of each challenge I believe I’ve learned more than I expected–about myself and about others.


  • Attitude is everything–period.

I’ve always known this but it was never made more clear to me than while at the hospital.  While in recovery I immediately started to work on basic rehab exercises.  Thank you Mr. Chesnut for your resolve, one that resonated in my mind from the moment I woke up: “Ok, what do I need to do to get better?”

  • When people want to help you, LET THEM!

Letting people help me does not come naturally. While this trait is viewed as stubbornness it is born out of being the rock in everyone else’s life. I am the one who takes care of people. I am the one who does for others. I am the one who solves all the problems. For me to allow another person to help me get into bed, help me get dressed, do the chores around the house, cook for me, do my laundry, shop for me, etc., is unheard of! Yet I allowed (and continue to allow) some very dear friends to do what tasks are still a bit beyond my ability (driving and shopping at this point–I’ve got the rest of it under control now). 

This was by far the hardest lesson for me to 1) learn, 2) accept and 3) embrace. Yes there were moments for all my caregivers when I flipped. But my anger was NEVER because of them and what they were doing. It was ALWAYS born out of frustration at myself! Doctors make the worst patients, followed by nurses, followed by me.  That much is clear.  I can never repay those who cared for me me (and continue to care for me)…and herein lies a secondary lesson:

They don’t WANT to be repaid! They did this out of selflessness. They did all this because they care. They did all this because they WANTED TO! To let others do things for you and to simply be grateful is what it is all about.

There are FOUR stages in life:

1) You believe in Santa.
2) You don’t believe in Santa.
3) You become Santa.
4) You let others be Santa for YOU!

  • Only YOU know your body and what it can or cannot do.

No matter WHAT a therapist wants you to do or thinks you should be able to do, if you know you cannot do it DON’T DO IT! Not all therapists are made equal. Home health care is NOT the same as working with the physical therapist who has been with you on this journey for 5 years!  As a patient you must open your mouth and say “No, I cannot do that and I will not try.” Bad things can and will happen if you do not do this.  If said therapist thinks you’re not trying…get yourself a new therapist! (With that said, I cannot wait to get beaten to a pulp by UDPT tomorrow!)

  • Narcotics are NOT my friends.  WARNING: TMI!!!!!!

From a Dilaudid drip to Oxycodone…ladies and gentlemen it takes a very long time to get this crap out of your system! The jury is still out on which side effects are the worst: from Dilaudid (hello catheter) to narcotic migraine to narcotic “system backup” (hello prune juice) to withdrawal symptoms (restless leg syndrome, chronic tension headache, mood swings, the list goes on) my body is just starting to get back to normal. 

…when asked to “pick your poison” I think I’ll stick with a craft beer, glass of red wine, or a nice single malt. 

  • Pets KNOW and MUST participate in your healing…accept it.

The more you push the cat OFF your lap the more determined said cat becomes.  Your pets KNOW you’re hurt and all they want to do is nurse you back to health. Della does not leave my side. Shalli MUST sleep draped across my lap with one paw against my incision and her face shoved against it as well. Guinness watches ever so intently from the next closest perch. And Oscar? …ok, not ALL pets are nurturing. Mr. Chubby-Wubby just wants to eat.

  • One can master the grabber/reacher tool.

From dressing to pulling the tongue up on your sneaker to taking laundry out of the washer and dryer to picking up a single dropped aspirin–I GOT MAD SKILLZ!

  • Sleeping only on your back sucks.

Can’t lie on surgical side–incision hurts. Can’t lie on non-surgical side–operated leg will cross the median line of your body and you risk dislocation not to mention the most intense pain you’ve ever felt. (Even a pillow between my legs to keep the operated leg in line is still a bit too challenging…and gravity seems to always want to win.)

  • Eating healthy, sensible meals 3 times each day, with a couple of healthy snacks between really does equal weight loss.

Nothing like losing 6 lbs since surgery. Add in the benefit of also feeling better because of healthy eating and well…duh!

  • When not only one but two surgeons tell you recovery will be rapid–believe them!

Ok, ok….are the “two boys” EVER wrong?!  GEEZ!

I could continue this list but I think everyone gets the idea. Every day I make incredible strides toward full recovery. I know the hard work is still ahead of me–both calves and thighs have atrophied frighteningly fast. I welcome the rehab work because I know better days are coming. And let’s face it, this isn’t my first time to this sort of rodeo so I can already envision being back out on the road with butt in a saddle and feet locked on pedals and I.CAN’T.WAIT!


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