Blood Transfusions & Titanium Confusions


I survived my 4th surgery since February. It's been a long 4 months.

Now that it's over and my "game face" has worn off, I have to admit, I was so scared.

On Thursday, May 24, I reported to the hospital at 5 a.m. My past surgeries have all been later in the afternoon, leaving me to recover well through the early evening. But with this surgery, I was rolled out of the recovery unit and into my hospital room by noon.

I knew the hospital routine, from arrival to recovery, all too well. I was prepped for surgery and reunited with the most wonderful heated gown, which inflates with hot air from a tube on the wall. Man, I really love that gown. It's the only thing I loved about being at the hospital for surgery. And prep time is also time that I get to spend with my husband. We joke around and say lovey dovey things to each other. The nurses in prep are great. Most recognized me, which was sad and fun at the same time. Most of them shouted "What are you doing here again?" and I did my best to follow up with a new, comical response each time.

After about 2 hours, I was sent to the anesthesiology room and had to part ways with my husband and mom (but not my warm, inflatable gown). The anesthesiologist started to talk to me and asked me why this all happened to me. I told him that I didn't have any direct answers from any doctors and I shared my theory about my birth control. He looked down at me and patted me on the shoulder and said, "I think you are right. Keep with it." I smiled and got a little teary-eyed. The surgeon came in to go over things and I started to feel a bit "loopy."

They rolled me into the surgical room. I laid there on the surgical table and stared up at the large lights, which glowed in purple and blue tints. I remember thinking that they resembled jellyfish.

The nurse leaned over and told me she was going to put me to rest. I immediately started to cry. She asked me if I was OK and I nodded yes and wiped my tears away. I had so many things going through my mind. What if something goes wrong? What if this surgery isn't successful? With this surgery, there was even some anger involved. Why me? Why again?

But as usual, without remembering a thing, I woke up in the recovery unit and was offered something to drink and something for the pain. I asked for some chapstick as I usually do. I also asked when I would get to see my family. It couldn't have been more than 30 minutes later when I went upstairs to my room and was reunited with my husband, my mom, my in-laws and my stuffed surgery buddy, Scottie.

If you didn't read my post from my first surgery, Scottie was purchased in Scotland and brought back to me by my dad. When I was young, I had a cyst removed and took Scottie along for surgery. He had a hole in his head where the stuffing was coming out and they stitched him up, too. We had our first surgery together and he's been there with me for every surgery since. (though they won't let me take him in the operating room anymore).

I tried eating french fries almost right away, but I couldn't swallow because of the breathing tube that was down my throat during the 3-hour surgery.

After core decompression surgery didn't work on my left hip, I decided to try a full anterior hip replacement made of a titanium "hip" and a ceramic "head." In this photo, you can see that the head of my hip before the replacement surgery was deteriorating and a large chunk of bone was missing from the bottom, left corner of the head. The white line on the left x-ray is an excess bone formation or hip impingement, which causes loss of motion and pain. A protective cartilage layer covering the hip joint had worn away and small changes began to occur within the hip joint capsule and in the surrounding soft tissues.

When my surgeon came in to talk to me at the hospital, he explained that he tried using a size 3 piece of titanium, but when he did, my legs were still uneven. Then, he switched to a size 4, but when it was put in, it was too large for my bone and it created a small crack. He placed a stainless steel wire around the crack, which will take about 6 weeks to heal. That means I'll have restricted motion for another 6 weeks. I'll either be using a walker, cane or wheelchair for yet another 6 weeks. I really hadn't expected that.

But on the other hand, I was beyond grateful that he chose the size 4 in order to make my legs even. There was nothing I wanted more out of this surgery than to be even again. I wanted so badly for a nurse or doctor to come into the room and to tell me that I could stand or try walking. Later that night, a nurse finally told me that I could stand.

This was it. It was my moment of truth. I stood up and placed both heels firmly onto the ground. I looked down and neither knee was bent.

I sat back down on the bed and cried into my hands. It was the happiest cry that I've experienced with exception of the births of my three children. I might have a longer recovery than most who receive an anterior hip replacement, but at least I know I have a chance at "normal" again.

My 2nd and 3rd days in the hospital were rough. My hemoglobin and blood pressure levels dropped pretty low. I had to have 2 units of blood given to me. My doctor warned me of a blood transfusion, but I really didn't want one. Only 15% of the world has my blood type and if it mixes with any other blood type, I'll pretty much die. I was worried that I would get the wrong type of blood or that they wouldn't have it in supply. Every time I saw a nurse (I LOVED the nurses!!), I asked, "That's Rh-negative, right?" They assured me that it was, but I still worried. But 2 units later, I was actually feeling better.

I not only survived another surgery, but I had survived my first (and hopefully last) blood transfusion. I ended up staying an extra night in the hospital to be sure I didn't "crash" again. I was so upset when they told me I had to stay an extra night. I wanted to come home and shower and sit on my couch or recliner and have access to my own food, toiletries and television stations. I was so ready to bust out of that joint after seeing everyone post photos about their fun memorial day weekend adventures online. I couldn't wait to feel the outdoors again ... even if it did just involve sitting on our patio.

The following afternoon, 4 days after I had checked into the prep room at 5 a.m., I was finally heading home sweet home. There are still moments when I worry about blood clotting, infection or low blood levels. I don't feel totally in the clear yet.

Yesterday was Memorial Day and I was determined to spend some time with my husband since he had off work and our children were with his parents. We managed to visit the fabric store, Target and the furniture store. I had to be pushed around in my wheelchair, but it was still so nice to be out and about. At home, I use my walker. I've been doing a lot of sewing in the last week to keep my mind off of things and I plan to do a lot more since I have the rest of this week off from work.

I promise, one of these days/weeks I am going to actually use my vacation time for something other than surgery or childbirth ... you know, an actual vacation! I'm taking my husband to Atlantis in the Bahamas to swim with the dolphins as soon as the opportunity arises. We desperately need a real vacation together.

But for now, I'll focus on getting better.

I thank God for getting me through this. No doubt, he's been right there by my side since this all began. My strength comes from Him. I don't deserve any praise. He does.

"Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always."
-- 1 Chronicles 16:11

P.S. Happy birthday shot-out to my bestie, Felicia! I miss her lots (she lives in FL, which seems really far away at this point in my life).


  1. I'm so glad to hear surgery went're already on the road to recovery!! :)

    1. hanks, Danielle! Yes I am! And you are almost at the end of the school year and get to spend all summer with your sweet Ayden! Looks like we both have plenty to celebrate! :)

    2. Oops ... Thanks, not "hanks" :)



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