Sixty Something: The hip replacement and aftermath 269



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Hello Sixty Something readers. It’s been a while. I am betting I have missed much on SAS this past month. So much has happened though 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.

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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. Why does one persons bad experience spoil it for all the thousands who are grateful to be able to access this procedure…

    4 REPLY
    • I don’t believe Fran is making it bad for everyone else. This was HER experience and she stated that quite clearly. And there is good and bad experiences in all situations.

    • In a perfect world , we would all sail life without problems, but this is not a perfect world. Fran has been very very ill. And rather than make it bad for others, Fran goes out of her way to help others

    • I am another one that had a bad experience ,it has inpindge on my rehab and I expect there are many more like us

  2. Sue, I think you will find it won’t be just one persons experience. There have been many bad hospital experiences I have heard of and some much worse than this one.

    5 REPLY
    • I’ve heard of many many great outcomes and only one not so happy however their lifestyle and health maybe a factor ..

    • In the last 5 years I have had 2 different cancers and can honestly say our local hospital doctors and nurses and not forgetting the catering and cleaning staff all went above and beyond their duties. And when transferred to Brisbane the staff there were unbelievable. Yes our local hospital could use more staff but I did not have a bad experience at any stage. I am very greatfull for their support.

    • There are a lot of caring nurses out there and a lot that aren’t. Also there are good patients and bad ones .Good and bad in every job caring people and just plain morons!!

    • I don’t understand why a person would go into the nursing profession if they don’t care about peoples comfort and health.

  3. I’m very sympathetic Fran, and I do hope you feel completely well soon. I can understand your frustration at not being listened to, I’ve been rushed around in hospital and felt like I was a nuisance for trying to get their attention and also collapsed because nobody listened to what I was saying. It makes you feel very vulnerable, however the nurses where I went were lovely, but very overworked as some elderly patients were in the hospital because they had no where else to go.

  4. sue you maybe got good treatment as ex nurse I took my self out of hospital because young Doc treated me so bad was phoned by hospital for three days asking me to come back still suffer to this day of Infection that there is no cure for

  5. I wish you a speedy recovery Sue. What a dreadful time you’ve had. Yes its good for most, however a dear friend of mine lost the use of his legs after an epidural.

  6. I have had two hip replacements done.l had a similar experience when the second hip was done.l was made to feel l was unable to think or act for was only the one nurse who acted this way and she tried to involve others but it back fired as l stuck to my guns.

  7. I had a hip replacement 8 years ago in regional (public) hospital and couldn’t fault the surgeon nor the staff. However in the lead up to this procedure, the first surgeon I was referred to was a different story & I quickly asked for another referral. Worked out well.

  8. You have had a very hard time of it, myself and many many of your friends have been worried about you, your face was swollen too, there is nothing worse for any patient than misdiagnosis, it may not happen all the time but in this day and age it should not happen at all..I always enjoy your articles and I so happy that your son came around and realized what a great mum he has 🙂 Your right funding cuts to health have made it harder for us all

    2 REPLY
    • Thank you Libbi. I am well on the way to recovery now and have been asked for an account of what happened by the review liaison office.

      1 REPLY
      • It just takes one tiny mistake but that mistake could cost a life ! Make sure something is being done about it all.

  9. It’s not only in public hospitals . I reported an incredibly rude nurse in a private hospital ,wow what a storm that created ,management was soon with me and she apologised .i was surprised at myself , normally I’d just let things go and not make waves

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