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Depression/post-op blues - open for all

Discussion in 'Hip Replacement Recovery Area' started by Josephine, Jan 17, 2016.

  1. Josephine

    Josephine NURSE DIRECTOR, BONESMART Administrator

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    It's a known fact that even people with no previous history of depression can succumb to depression - often also called Post op blues. It's nasty when it hits but happily, for most it is only short lived.

    There are several reasons for it
    1. just the emotional, physical and psychological impact of having major surgery followed by a testing recovery
    2. feeling isolated and alone which is often enhanced by having 'cabin fever' because of activity restrictions
    3. a previous history of depression or low mood

    The best therapy of all is talking and sharing and knowing you are not alone in this.
    You're not abnormal, it's a perfectly normal thing to suffer from

    With it also often comes anxiety issues

    Perhaps you'd like to get chatting and see how many other people are experiencing the same thing.
     
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    • shiv01

      shiv01 Junior Member

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      Nobody must be depressed, @Josephine. Or have noticed this thread yet!

      I think I was lucky with my post-op experience so far at least. I was not at home but I was in a town where I have lots of friends so I spent the time being quite active catching up with them. Also, my father came for a week and kept me company, carried things & held the crutches when I was shopping :)

      By the time I got back to my own home it was a relief to be back and to have some peace and quiet.

      Maybe this is just delaying things and I will burst into tears on day 1 back at work (Monday 25th, when my period is also due!) but generally I feel very positive at this stage.




      Siobhan
      RTHR 25 November 2015
      Sent from my iPhone using BoneSmart Forum
       
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      • Josephine

        Josephine NURSE DIRECTOR, BONESMART Administrator

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        Perhaps they just haven't noticed it yet!

        I do find that depression is often a difficult thing to talk about. People often feel like they've failed or been weak in some way and it's simply not true.
         
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        • luvinlex

          luvinlex Junior Member

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          I suffered horrible anxiety followed by a very severe depression. This was after the first 6 weeks ( I'm at 8 weeks post op now from L THP ) I couldn't leave the house, kept putting off PT, in general, afraid I'd fall. I kept all the blinds closed. I did good with home health and was walking without assistance after 3 weeks. The depression was a combination of things, but, did it slam me down. I didn't want to bathe, brush my teeth, couldn't ear, couldn't sleep and my hair began to fall out in large clumps. After 6 weeks or so, your friends are getting pretty sick of picking up your groceries and doing your laundry. It took a trip to a psychiatrist, told me this was not abnormal, and try to start my home PT instructions then go in for outpatient PT. I drove my car for the first time to day, and man, did it feel good. I think the lack of PT and making myself homebound, has undone my initial PT and the muscle in the thigh has loss strength. Feels like mush and no muscle. I wondered, did anyone else suffer depression, hair loss, or any emotional issues post op?
          (L) THR Nov.23,2015
           
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          • Korky51

            Korky51 Junior Member

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            Hi. Absolutely! I have had many surgeries over the years and am currently a week post op following a revision LTHR. One of the reasons I wanted to join Bone Smart is to offer support to others. There is a lot of information about the physical effects of surgery but not the emotional and psychological effects. After having an 'emotional meltdown' in hospital some time ago following surgery, a very kind and astute nurse explained that post op depression is very real and validated my feelings. As adults we are almost expected to 'deal' with these major surgeries in a very grown up, matter of fact way - "I can cope, I am strong" etc etc. If you then hit the wall and start crying, miserable , can't see the point of anything, it can come as a big shock and without acknowledgement sets you back. I have learned the hard way over the years but my best advice is to allow yourself to feel whatever feelings you have in that moment. In the long run, it is better than pretending they're not there. Others who have not been through it are well-meaning but really don't understand how major surgery impacts on your whole being. Talking about it, acknowledging your 'real' emotions is therapeutic and a good cry is great for relieving the stress. Sharing your thoughts with others who have been through it can really help.
             
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            • luvinlex

              luvinlex Junior Member

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              Thank you for your kind response. I just had so many problems from Day 1 with this whole surgery. Home RN and PT cancelling and rescheduling. A horrible PA the Surgeon had that actually put his finger in my face and yelled at me, causing me to burst out in tears. It was all about my concern about pain pills and said I'd insulted him because they needed me to take this, and was I a doctor? What did I know? I had fallen off the raised toilet seat and have other concerns, and he listened and said "every one of these problems are caused by YOU". That started it off on a bad foot. The "joint" nurse called to check in and I told her about that and emailed her the details. I now only see the surgeon and never the PA. I'm prone to depression anyway, and felt like this was something I wanted to discuss with someone. The loss of hair. My isolation, loss of appetite, weight loss. There was nobody there, and I feel a social worker or someone trained in post op depression should be there to help. I can't possibly be the only one. Bills start pouring in, you feel like an animal in a cage, you lose nights of sleep, food is disgusting. I don't want to blame my current condition ( lack of muscle tone from avoiding PT ) on anyone else. This just hit me like ton of bricks and I felt I was losing my mind. No, I couldn't cry. I could bury my head in the pillows and pull the covers over my head. Thank goodness for my friends, one a professional social worker. She came and helped me make an agenda, organize all my paperwork and bills, did laundry, and it meant the world to me. Today, I'm feeling like a 75% instead of a 25% I was feeling just the other day. I was up and walking today with NO assistive device. It does indeed take a lot of mental strength as well as strength in my thigh. Thanks for letting me share my thought, nobody should have to suffer through this alone.
               
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              • Korky51

                Korky51 Junior Member

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                It sounds like you've had a particularly bad time. I remember being 'told off' some years ago for not being able to get on the bedpan in hospital and I fell to pieces. When you are in such a vulnerable state, everything is a big deal. All you want is kindness and understanding. I asked a nurse last week to hold my hand in the anaesthetic room and I've been having surgeries for 43 out of my 50 years. I know that feeling of just wanting to bury yourself under the covers and it is like a vicious circle that then affects your physical pain and motivation. Please be kind to yourself and know that if you need a listening ear, I am more than happy to help you id I can. Perhaps we can help each other. I agree nobody should suffer in silence and there is a distinct lack of emotional support in the UK too. Hopefully this forum is a start. Take care of yourself. Best wishes Amanda.
                 
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                • luvinlex

                  luvinlex Junior Member

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                  Thanks Amanda,
                  Funny thing is I worked in an O.R. for 11 years, and it was "ALL Business", get the person to sleep, get the job done, the room turned around, and get the next one in. It's not a place where they put your psychological needs high on their priority list and I think they should. The patient would have a better result, the staff would be happier when patients are happier, sadly, it's big business, and time is money. The nurses don't have time to coddle you they've got 5 other people ringing their buttons. Also, when I first got home, my friends were always coming over, bringing me milkshakes, and stocking my fridge. Doing errands, after a few weeks, they get sort of sick of your needs and stop calling because they're afraid you might ask them to do something for you. ( I exaggerate ) But, I'm also sensitive and pick up on vibes people give off. After all that attention, you feel a bit deflated and a sort of loneliness sinks in. Yup, pain, no motivation. I've just been taking one task at a time. Organize papers... ummm....there really isn't a lot to do. Netflix, I'm burning it up. I stayed with my face flat in the sofa cushions for at least a week. Didn't want to bathe. First time I took a bath, a ton of hair fell out, now I think, watch the rest of it fall out and I'll be bald. That was crazy. This was after one shampoo.

                  IMG_0922.JPG
                   
                • Josephine

                  Josephine NURSE DIRECTOR, BONESMART Administrator

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                  In my last (and final) job in the operating theatre, I was self-appointed official hand holder for patients. I also went down to the general theatre to help out once and they had this man in with a dissecting aortic aneurysm. For those who don't know, the aorta is the daddy artery in the abdomen that goes to the heart and when it gets a bulge that starts to leak, that's what it's called. Patients who have this are second away from instant death. So when we get such a patient on the table, it's all hands on deck to get IVs in, monitors on, surgeons scrubbed up and instruments prepared. Generally it's bedlam, organised chaos and in the centre is the patient, scared to death and feeling totally ignored. He's not, of course, but you can imagine he feels like that. So being just an observer, the only person in there without a dedicated job, I reached through the mass of bodies all doing important stuff and took hold of the patient's hand. He couldn't really see me but he grabbed my hand and hung on to it for all he was worth. He made it through the surgery and I believe had a good outcome but I often wonder if he ever wondered whose hand he was holding!
                   
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                  • Shazzstars

                    Shazzstars Junior Member

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                    Its a funny thing when your in pain pre-op all you want to do is get the Hip done, all my friends and family said you wont look back it will be the best thing.. But you still are apprehensive lets face is it big. You know there is going to be pain and recovery and they are not going to be doing it, you are. No matter how upbeat and positive you are you have down days or mornings or afternoons.
                    I have not had more than 2 weeks off work at any time in the last 16yrs so to be home from work since 4th Dec 2015, to be just sitting around house bound is driving me around the twist. I have been watching heaps of Netflix to distract the mind and it helps, but there are days I have a few tears then give myself a pep talk and try to snap out of it..
                     
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                      Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
                    • Josephine

                      Josephine NURSE DIRECTOR, BONESMART Administrator

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                      But it's perfectly common for people to range between uncertainty and outright panic. This is a big deal and you will be handing yourself over into the care of total strangers that you will probably not even set eyes on and letting them do things you have no idea about and that is scary. Only crumb of comfort I can offer is that these strangers do this several times a day, every day of the week. Or to put it another way, for you this is a big, unknown and scary deal, for them it's just another day at the office. But you can trust them. I used to be one of those unseen and unknown people in the OR and I took care of every individual that came into my care just as much as if they had been my own mother or father. They will too because they are professionals and know their job. So the only thing you really have to fear is the unknown and that we can help you with. Read around here and be educated. It will help you greatly.
                       
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                      • luvinlex

                        luvinlex Junior Member

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                        First, let me thank ALL of you for being here. I never knew this was such an active community and the posts are not from 2011!!! I'm predisposed to depression and anxiety attacks anyway. I just didn't know how deep and dark the hole was going to be or really warned to possibly expect it. It's not something you want to post on Facebook. I was off my laptop from the 12th until the 19th and that's unheard of. That's when I started looking for support groups and so happy to know I'm not alone. I'm really interested in hearing more about "no exercising and yet got great outcomes!" This was my only overnight hospital stay. I've had bunionectomies on both feet. Then, a removal of bone spurs and arthritic tissue at the base of my big toe. Removal of Morton's Neuroma... but nothing like this. I do think the isolation is the worst part. I won't even go to "constipation"... Hugs to you all.
                         
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                        • Timetolive

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                          @luvinlex, your hair.....I looked at that and it made me pause. THAT is my hair! After all of the problems I have had, now my hair is falling out. Big time falling out. I am afraid to wash my hair now. Will all of this ever end? I asked my GP about it and she said it was from the surgery - not the FIVE weeks of diarrhea I have had from the diverticulitis attack I had a month after surgery. If you were over on the knee boards, you would know about the "Poop Fairy" and her reluctance to visit after surgery while we are on opiods. Trying to heal and everything else that happens just seems to take too much from you. I am so tired of it all. The problem? There is nothing to do but keep moving forward and hope for the best. You are in my prayers.

                          @Josephine, I did not know there were nurses assigned to be hand holders. When the doctor was doing my spinal, two very kind and caring nurses came in to hold my hands and stroke my arms. It was calming and reassuring to have someone there through the ordeal. I am sure the man with the dissecting aortic aneurysm thought you were an angel and was very thankful you were there. What a comfort you had to have been.
                           
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                          • luvinlex

                            luvinlex Junior Member

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                            "Knee boards""Poop Fairy"? heh heh.. That clump was after my second shampoo after surgery ( 8 weeks post op now ) and I just washed my hair again a little while ago, and yup, I got another big handful, but not as much as the first. What people have told me vs what I know. The girl that does my hair told me to not wash it as often. ( which makes no sense, just delays the inevitable ). My GP said it was from "Stress" and "Trauma". Another girl who had the hair loss like we do, said it was because with a major surgery, you're under anesthesia an extended amount of time and that is the cause of the hair loss. My personal experience is when my mother died. I took care of her at her house for quite a long time. Everyday was a nightmare, every night was a nightmare. I didn't sleep, didn't eat, lost weight and after she died, about 2 months later, my hair started to fall out just like it's doing now. So, I am going with the stress excuse. I hadn't been eating right, I'd lost some weight, not sleeping well. Seems like the same thing. It didn't all fall out, it didn't leave bald patches or anything, just got very stringy and thin. I plan on getting it cut just to my shoulder. Let it grow an inch, then cut an inch and do that until it grows back to it's regular thickness, IF that ever happens. The was it was explained to me ( also w the anesthesia ). Your body is undergoing some trauma or stressor, the hair goes into "sleep" mode. After the stress has passed, the hair wakes from sleep mode and is dead at the root. Here is a very good article from Living Strong that explains it. Be optimistic, it said it will grow back. Mine did. Good luck!!! I always make sure to dose myself up real, real good with Milk of Magnesia when on Opioids before I have a chance to get constipated. I've been through hell with that too.

                            http://www.livestrong.com/article/305154-is-hair-thinning-from-stress-permanent/
                             
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                            • Sleeplessinseattle

                              Sleeplessinseattle New Member

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                              I just wanted to thank you folks for sharing your thoughts and experience. I'm two weeks into recovery from my anterior LTHR and struggling a bit emotionally, reading your stories and knowing i'm not alone in this journey has helped a bit.
                               
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                              • luvinlex

                                luvinlex Junior Member

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                                I too am glad I found this forum and know I'm not alone. I may suggest to the "Joint Nurse Coordinator" that they add counseling to their post op therapy. Only if they see signs, and my signs should have set off bells and red lights. I had an especially hard time, and people handle depression so differently. That should be on their checklist for each visit, and upon discharge in case they feel you need follow up counseling. Mental health problems are so often ignored.
                                 
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                                • luvinlex

                                  luvinlex Junior Member

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                                • ddj

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                                  At nearly six weeks out and experiencing less pain, I think the emotional part of this experience was totally unexpected. None of my pre or post information even mentioned it. Mostly in life I have been the anchor for my family (hubby has had a long standing diagnosis of being bi-polar). I thought my friends from work would come and visit or call. Many of us have worked together for 20+ years.... Instead the few emails I got mostly said rest...take it easy...don't think about work... Of my church friends only one has actually come over. I appreciate her more than ever. She actually was willing to just sit and talk. She still tears up when talking about her hysterectomy, which was almost eight years ago!
                                  The clinical side of my mind acknowledges the depression and anxiety. Self talk varies from "just suck it up and deal with it". (The pain or emotions) to "somebody help me"! I am seeing each day the pain getting a little better ( except for this weekend's detour into kidney stone land). From what I read here emotional stability will return.
                                  Having this site available is helping me get through. When I get back to work I plan to give the "joint replacement" education person some advice from the patient side of the experience.


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                                  • luvinlex

                                    luvinlex Junior Member

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                                    ddj, we are close as I'm just finishing my 7th week... Yes, the emotional part took me completely by surprise. I even called the "joint" nurse and emailed her some articles stressing how they should have someone that like Home Health, can stop by to see how you are, not just what your blood pressure it. I had friends all gather round the first week and loved it. Lots of laughs, I was taking morphine and feeling no pain. Then, slowly, people stopped calling and stopping by. I think it's because I might ask them to do something for me. Like run an errand or go by the store. You know how you have that sixth sense? I just appreciate someone that wants to watch a Netflix movie and eat popcorn. But, I'm not married and have no children, so I'm on my own. My best friend who helped the most had been a social worker for 30 years, and pretty much knew what to do to get my butt off the sofa. She started with small chores. Then, the next day she'll come back to see it I accomplished them, and I did! I hear you when you "want someone to help you", I miss my mother who died 3 years ago, and she was always there to codel and take care of me when I felt bad. My thoughts turned to dead people, family members I'd lost, and my childhood. I just talked to my joint girl today... and we are trying to find financial assistance for my PT, although now I'm walking with no assistive device, I keep a cane handy. Oh, I sent the joint nurse all sorts of articles about depression after surgery, on why hair falls out, I'm certain she's sick of me, but she's really sweet and patient.
                                    Hang in there, think of the hip pain being gone, being able to sleep at night without pain.
                                    I guess I'll start PT next week, I just started driving a car. Keep in touch and write whenever you want.
                                    linda
                                     
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                                    • Korky51

                                      Korky51 Junior Member

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                                      God bless hand holders! That is one of the most important jobs. I agree that there should be more information and discussion about mental health. I work in adolescent mental health and I see on a daily basis how important emotional support is.
                                      If you have cancer in the UK there are a lot of support networks and it is seen as a recognised condition that really benefits from an holistic approach. I think there is a distinct 'gap in the market' in orthopaedics. Considering that major surgery has no short cuts and it is an emotional, painful roller coaster that can leave you feeling very isolated, it is so good that a forum such as this exists. Knowing you're not alone is empowering in itself.
                                       
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