Sixty Something: My hip replacement 125



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Hello sixty something readers! It’s been a while. So much has happened this month and it has not all been good, but it goes to show that things don’t always run smoothly for people with shall we say, a little age on them. I want to tell you about my experience of having a hip replacement through the public hospital system. Before I start and you start to pull me to pieces for whinging, I want to say I am not looking for sympathy, just want you to know that it is not always smooth sailing as some would lead you to believe.

I had been waiting nearly three years for my hip replacement so when it was finally here I was over the moon. Hopefully I would be able to stand tall and limp no more. The operation went well and the added bonus was that the leading orthopaedic surgeon had to step in as the local was ill. They say he is the best.

Now, I have very bad reactions to many drugs, painkillers as well as antibiotics. These are documented so you would think there would be no problems – not so! After the initial drug to get you through those first hours, I was given another strong painkiller. This was on top of the list of things I had reactions to so I have no idea why for four days they gave me this drug. It was like I was having an out of body experience and I was nauseous and light headed as well. I tried to tell them but they didn’t seem to listen. I was accused of not wanting to get out of bed to start my physio. The second day, along with a nurse, I was sat on the edge of the bed and coaxed to walk to a chair a few feet away. Despite telling them repeatedly that I felt very ill, they insisted. To cut a long a story short, I collapsed and apparently was systolic. Finally after many tests they realised the error of their ways. It took a lot of trial and error but eventually I had to settle for Panadol as the only painkiller I could tolerate.

As this had put me days behind in my rehabilitation, I was not the most popular patient. You see I realised very quickly that if you were the nurses idea of a model patient – getting out of bed on the first day, having no complications and moving quickly to get out of the hospital on the third day – you got the smiling helpful attention. If you were any bother at all, it was a different story. Don’t get me wrong, not all the nurses were like that and the doctors were wonderful. The young nurses were kind, helpful and caring. The older nurses on the other hand treated me like I had the plague. Hey, I hadn’t made the mistake and taken days to rectify it. It took a week to get all the drugs out of my system. If someone had thought that maybe I had known what I was talking about, it would have been fixed sooner, or someone had done their job in the first place, it wouldn’t have happened. I was truly very ill from these drugs and this caused me to get other problems I won’t go into. 

I watched nurses chatting in the corridor and ignoring buzzers till the poor elderly lady had wet the bed. I listened while nurses talked to an elderly patient about rehab as though she was a stupid child and had this frail old lady in tears. Believe me, she was just frail and a little scared. I was so glad her son came in and “sorted those nurses out”. I heard nurses discussing patients in the corridor, and it was not about their condition, but rather about the ones they liked or ignored. One nurse in particular, when I was being assisted by another, told her in a very loud voice that I was lazy and just didn’t want to get out of bed. I have Chronic Bronchitis, the longer in bed, the worse my breathing gets, so don’t dare accuse me of rubbish like this. I didn’t give me the wrong meds.

Finally, after eight days in what should have been a three day stay, I was home. I was exhausted, still weak from the wrong meds and very stressed. I then contracted Shingles and ended back at the emergency section of the hospital as it was in my eye and face. The doctors say I was so run down that I was bound to get something. I am still contagious and home with no one allowed near me for the next few days. I can put up with a lot (hey I am a woman), but this pain was unbearable.  Thankfully, my son insisted that in this day and age there had to be some sort of painkiller I could take. He and the doctor and nurse assigned to me worked hard on this and have now found a combination that has relieved my massive head and eye pain at least for nerve problems.

The purpose of this story is to let you know that for some, not everything runs smoothly. Not everyone is the same and not every person over 60 is a doddering old fool. We usually know our own bodies, we need to be listened to and no-one deserves to be talked down to. The hospital ran out of towels while I was there and while I am willing to concede this a government budget cut back fault, I, who am not a fan of this government at all, cannot blame them for anything else that happened while I was in hospital. There were two nurses to every six beds and while on surgery days they were busy, there was no excuse for them to treat patients the way they did. My grandmother always told me that the nursing profession was the greatest profession in the world. I know and also met some lovely nurses. I was so impressed with the young ones. If there are 20 nurses and you have two that are obnoxious, rude and uncaring, you have two too many.

The good things to come out of this is that I learned you can’t blame the government for your bad attitude at work. If you don’t like your job, don’t do it. I learned that the younger generation of nurses coming through have a loving caring attitude. This is something you can’t teach. My hip seems to be coming along nicely and that I am very grateful for. I have learned you need to speak up when something is not right. I have also learned that when it comes to the crunch, my son will will stand beside me. 

Was it all worth it? I think you should ask me that question in another few weeks. Have I lost my faith in the public hospital system? I can’t say definitely yes, but this experience certainly was the worst experience of my 62 years. It’s sometimes tough being 60 something, but I want you to know, we need to stand united and expect to be treated with respect and dignity.

Have you had a similar experience to Fran? Tell us below.


Originally published here

Fran Spears

Born in 1953. Came to Hobart from the north west coast of Tassie to be closer to my son as I have mild chronic bronchitis. Mild and chronic in same sentence – even that makes me laugh. Have just completed and passed my diploma in Public Relations. Love to write and have lead a reasonably interesting life. My motto: "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"

  1. Well i have just had a double knee replacement in the public system and honestly i couldn’t have faulted it . The love and care I was given whilst in hospital was absolutely wonderful and then over in the rehab it continued. Many thanks ST VINCENTS you were truly sensational?

    6 REPLY
    • I had a double knee replacement as well but in the private system ( Prince of Wales) and its was brilliant, wish I’d done it years ago. I find hip and knee replacement surgery talk is a bit like childbirth talk you only hear the bad stories. I encourage anyone who needs it don’t put it off, it will change your life ( for the better)

    • My cousin who just about lived in St Vincents due to him being born with lung problems & at 68 was getting worse he had nothing but praise for them & how wonderful the Nurses were ,he saw the drug addicts & young people who were drunk taking up the DRs time when they had sick people to attend to ,the Drs were abused by drug addicts ,he saw this regularly ,my cousin passed away not long ago .

    • Just a pity that a wonderful group of people can be brought down by a very small minority

    • I had a single knee replacement in August in the public system at Coffs Harbour Base and the nursing staff, catering staff, physios could not be faulted. My surgeon was without a doubt the BEST.

  2. I had a very similar experience with a knee replacement 18 months ago. I was given a morphine pump, even though it stated clearly in my notes that I react very badly to the stuff, was hallucinating, vomiting, dizzy and felt very, very ill. I was told that I was making more fuss than an 80 year old down the hallway and the pain couldn’t be that bad because of the morphine. Turns out that the surgeon had trapped a nerve somehow and I was in agony. It took lots of tests, a further operation and weeks of exercises to get anywhere back to normal. I’ve been discharged by the hospital so am having to pay privately to see a surgeon to try to sort out the awful crepitus that has now developed in the joint.

  3. My late Mum a knee and hip replacement. Knee all went smoothly apart from discovering she was allergic to Morphine once that it was stopped and she was given alternative pain relief all was well. Hip was never a complete success. Nothing is 100% Guaranteed where surgery is involved.

  4. Although my surgery wasn’t for a hip, I experienced the same bad treatment in a private hospital.I had bowel surgery my wound wasn’t checked for the 7 days I was in hospital and ended up with an abscess.

  5. Yes you think being a Nurse they would show more compassion and respect. Hear some bad experiences, with nurses. The one thing that gets up my nose is, not answering the buzzer. The Nurses are standing around talking. Seen so many people wet themselves, because of this. My brother has had a double hip operation, still recovering.The Nurses he said were great.

    1 REPLY
    • I’ve found the nurses in the Trauma Ward to be wonderful but am unable to say the same for a good number of nurses on the wards. Makes me roll my eyes sometimes when the media paints nurses as “angels” At the end of the day they are doing a job for which they get paid and a job they wanted to do when entering nursing.

  6. Wow. Please don’t lump all of us OLD nurses in the same basket. I am amongst many, many a caring OLD nurse who would run rings around a lot of younger nurses. Some of the younger ones have the same manners & attitudes as you stated the old nurses had.
    Maybe you should write to the hospital & tell them your observations. They might do something about their attitudes.

    3 REPLY
    • I don’t think she was lumping all older nurses in the same basket. She made a comment about the older nurses she had, had a bad experience with, she said how great the young ones were, and yes with all groups you get good and bad….what is the point telling them you have a reaction to one or another if they are not going to listen….my Mum and Dad have had very good, good and bad experience with hospitals over the years, mainly very good….if there is budget cuts, the hospitals should make sure that the important things are available and not leave them off then complain it is the governments fault. If you have a problem with your job either speak up or leave…do not take it out on your elderly patients that is so wrong….

    • I too am a retired RN. And have to agree to a certain degree. Basic nursing care went out the window many years ago. Uni trained nurses in a lot of cases do not end up with basic nursing skills. Will be shot down in flames by some who read this. Before retirement I worked in a nursing home. Elderly residents would be sent to hospital, and invariably came back to us with pressure sores. Pressure area care, which is very important to bed bound patients, clearly not attended to. My daughter was given endone after a thyroidectomy, after I explained I was allergic to Morphine as was my mother. I requested they didn’t give her any morphine type drugs, as post op thyroid was not a good time to find out she too had a reaction. Yep she had been ordered it and yes they gave it. She was ill and vomiting, requiring an injection. This was in a private hospital! Of course as Judith said, there are good and bad in all levels. There are some who should never be nurses. In the old system, training in hospitals, the ones not suited for the job were weaned off and left, as it should have been. With uni trained, not a lot of on the job training. They come away with knowledge, but not a lot of practicable experience! Sorry end of rant!

      1 REPLY
      • G

        Good nursing care and medical care is always a bonus. It really is not easy being a patient. Atrocious health care needs to be reported fairly and accurately. An email / letters sent to all these people , CEO, Nursing Director, The Health Minister, your local and commonwealth MP will certainly get your issues addressed.

    • Molly I agree with you about uni training as opposed to hospital based training. I trained many years ago as a radiographer when it was all hospital based so basic patient care was an important component of the training. I found when training uni based students that some who received high academic marks did not translate this to good practical work. Some seemed to be unable to relate to patients and some of these it seemed to me never would. I think clinical practice should be a much larger component of the course for any profession which involves caring for people.

  7. I am lucky: my two hospital experiences (one public and one private) were very positive. The nurses were lovely, compassionate people who did their very best to make my experience a good one. Thank you Princess Alexandra Hospital and Greenslopes Private Hospital in Brisbane!

  8. So Sorry to hear these sad stories. Afraid to tell you that I experienced the opposite when only in my late 50’s. Was in constant pain day & night with my hip & walked like a rolling ship. Saw lovely Surgeon (tried to walk normally to get out of surgery!) but he laughed & said he was giving me priority. Had op on NHS within 6 weeks & stayed in hospital 2 weeks-staff were wonderful (perhaps having gsh helped & always being grateful). I sent a ‘thank you’ card to Surgeon. Now, 18 years later, my hip is still brilliant with no problems.

  9. I had similar experience and left unable to walk distance and chronic pain. Treated like an idiot when I told them of multiple allergies and given medication that sent me away with fairies for days .my surgery was simple knee just to smooth up bumpy bits . o have PTSD from that horrible experience and now have a great Dr who knows I will probably die at home rather than go near a hospital ever again.

  10. l have had 2 total hip replacement and one Knee done at R.M.H. melb. 17 years ago now and have never looked back just awesome and the nurses were amazing it all depends on what surgeon you get there are good and not so good every where you go l guess l was one of the lucky one.s have no complaints

  11. My problem with this comment is; You seem to think that this happened because you were in a Public Hospital, not so, shit happens anywhere!!! I have a neighbour who will now only go to a public hospital because of bad experiences in a private one. She now calls St John of God Hospital, St John OH MY GOD. I do agree that medical staff very rarely take responsibility for their mistakes and any consequences are usually attributed to the patient.

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