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Chapter 3 – What Is The Most Common Post Surgery Symptom? Hmm, Is It Constipation?

What Is The Most Common Post Surgery Symptom?

Hmm, Is It Constipation?

Hip Replacement Book

Hip Replacement Book

Hip Pointers – This chapter discusses the exciting world of constipation. You will have constipation after surgery due to all the various medications you receive. And that constipation, well, it can be quite overbearing. Also discussed is how to correctly use a raised toilet seat.

How Sophie’s Choice Can Prepare You For Your Constipation Issues – You will be faced with just two choices regarding your constipation… constipation or pain. Choose wisely. More on this in a moment.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts – Who knew that constipation would appear so early? My advice is don’t procrastinate in your understanding of constipation.

“Constipation and procrastination are similar.
In both conditions nothing happens.”
Unknown Author

This Too Will Pass – Constipation gets a chapter of its’ own? And it comes this early in the book? Yep, constipation is a hard topic and probably the most common, least discussed, post surgery ‘complication.’ I wanted to get the constipation issue out and in the open. And, once you ease through this chapter, the rest of the book will fall into place.

Your New Significant Other – Quite a few people think the post-surgery pain is your most significant hurdle after a hip replacement. There is surgical pain, but for many, constipation is where you really will want relief. Constipation comes from the anesthesia and pain medications you received during surgery plus the subsequent pain pills you take. All those medications lead to significant constipation. Yep… I can attest to the classification of ‘very significant.’

“First, How Is That Hip? Second, Got Gas?” A staff physician checked in with me at about 8 p.m. on the second day of my hospital stay. She asked about my hip pain then asked if I had a bowel movement yet, or at least passed gas. Hmm, interesting segue. It gives you an idea of how much an issue constipation can be when it is the second question asked after major surgery.

Truth Is Always Funny – I responded I had been unable to go to the bathroom, for one of the few times in my life, but that my wife was performing the ‘passing gas’ task, quite well I might add, for both of us (I had suggested to my wife not to order the vegetarian lentil soup). I told the doctor the last time a stranger asked about me passing gas was when I was with my wife and went something like this; “OhMiGawd! Are you OK? Was that you? What did you eat?” To which I always sheepishly, and simply, respond, “I’m sorry.” I explained to the attending physician that she may wonder why I never go into more detail with accuser, and that reason is because a good husband always protects his wife from some of her unintended emissions. The doctor laughed, but wife didn’t. I guess truth is always funny, for at least one of us.

To Boldly Go Where I Haven’t Gone Before (Impediments To A Successful Bowel Movement) – Now don’t tell anybody this, but, for me, a major difficulty with having a bowel movement in the hospital is that I hadn’t been in that bathroom before. The bathroom wasn’t set up like I like it. It isn’t as easy as Star Trek would have you believe. Plus, I had to get permission to get up and I had to be helped by a hospital staff member, so privacy was a major impediment.

Nobody Likes A Stoolie – Except This One – After helping me up, the staff member stands and waits outside the bathroom door, with better things to do, while I try and muster intestinal fortitude. Nobody likes having performance anxiety with that kind of attentive audience (Plus I was at an unfair advantage as I didn’t have the sports page to read).

Hip Tip – Use a Raised Toilet Seat. The features of a seat riser include:

Designed for individuals who have difficulty sitting down or getting up from the toilet (this means you after surgery)
Allows individual to use existing toilet seat and lid
Models accommodate standard and elongated toilets
Tool-free arms are 19.75″ apart and can be removed or added as needed
Heavy-duty molded plastic construction (Arm sleeves and receivers are made of metal)
No tools required for installation

Constipation FaceConstipation Face

Enema Is Not Your Frenema – If you haven’t produced a bowel movement after a few days, the enema becomes a viable option. I understand the efficacy and function of the enema, it is just when that is applied to me, it just doesn’t seem that friendly of a procedure. Due to your hip surgery and subsequent constraints, you won’t be able to contort your body in order to insert the enema device into yourself. You will require assistance. I could only imagine my wife with up-to-the-elbows rubber gloves, nose plugs, safety goggles and a squinted face saying, “Maybe we should wait a few more days.”

Jammin’ – Bob Marley

Bob Marley Knows How You Will Feel For The First Few Days After Surgery – The last time I experienced something so jammed was after a few beers at an office party, with a cheap copier using two year old, humidified paper while trying to copy my… well, that is another story. And now here I was, all jammed and unable to author a simple bowel movement and not a single copy repairman available to answer my request for a service call. But there are solutions…

Hip Tip – Eat Your Fruits And Vegetables: You can minimize constipation by eating mostly fruits and vegetables, as well as other fiber based foods in the week leading up to your surgery.

Flush With Pride! – Well, I was going to buy a package of dried prunes, but I cheated and bought a half-gallon of prune juice. I did a quart on my first day home, then the rest the following day. Success presented itself, quite impressively I might add, later that second day.

“There will be a giant sucking sound going south.”
1992 Presidential Debates – Ross Perot

Great Sex Versus Great Bowel Movement – Based upon, thank gawd, that day of relief, I concluded Ross Perot was ultimately right… there was, finally, a giant sucking sound. I guess the people who say, “A great bowel movement is better than great sex,” must have had hip replacement surgery as well.

Hip Tip – Don’t Drop Your Pants: I know, I know, it sounds like the parental advice I gave to my daughter. Note that when you are sitting on the toilet, it is a long way to bend down and pull your pants up. That bending places a risk on your surgically repaired hip. Keep your pants around your knees. A video on using a raised toilet seat is included.

Hip Tip – How Watching Sophie’s Choice Can Prepare You For Your Constipation Issues (Choose Wisely): Everybody has different pain thresholds and areas of discomfort. I rationalized that either I would take pain pills and have painful constipation, or that I would go without pain pills and have a painful hip. At least I got to choose which one I wanted to keep, constipation or pain. I elected to go without pain pills. I had two pills in the hospital, but once I got home I quit taking the pain meds. Regardless, there was still enough surgical and post-surgical pain killers in me that it took all those days for the matter of mind to overcome the matter in my intestines.

“Reality is just a crutch for people
who can’t handle drugs.”
Robin Williams

Hooked On Poop? I took a couple of the prescribed stool softener meds. My pharmacist warned me not to overuse the softener pills as it is possible to become stool softener dependent. It one thing to be “Hooked on Phonics,” it is another to be hooked on softeners.

Full Of It – In retrospect, when my mother-in-law said I was, “Full of it,” she absolutely had no idea of how much extra capacity I actually had. It was on the few times when she was actually right.

Alrighty… that concludes Chapter 3.