The Day of Surgery

So the day of surgery has finally arrived. No matter how blasé you feel you are you will be feeling apprehensive so knowing what will happen and in what order will help prepare you for the events to come.

This is what happened to me. In all probability your experience will be pretty well the same but don't be alarmed if something different happens. Surgeons are all individuals and have their own ways of doing things


If the surgeon has agreed that you can continue to take any of your regular medicines you will be allowed to do so but with only a sip of water.

For me the day began the night before as I was "nil by mouth" from midnight. If you are having surgery in the morning you will be the same - if in the afternoon you may be allowed an early morning drink.


I was instructed to arrive at the hospital at 7 a.m. as at everyone else on the morning list. There was a long queue waiting outside a pair of double doors which opened promptly at 7 a.m.

Despite the length of the queue we were all seen to promptly. I gave my name and was escored to a side room where I sat down to wait.

About 30 minutes later someone came in and asked me about the National Joint Registry. The Reigstry lists every joint replacement operation carried out in the country, along with the surgeon's name, the hospital, the type of prosthesis used and other information. This register can be used to identify any patterns of failure and so I strongly recommend that you sign up.

After that I found a magazine and sat down to read. It was hard to focus on anything as I had no idea if my next wait would be 1 minute or 1 hour. It turned out to be another 30 minutes and my next visitor was my consultant.

Consultations on The Day

My surgeon talked me through all the possible complications and asked me to sign the consent form which stated that I understood what could go wrong and that I agreed to the operation.

After that he took out a big, fat indelible marker pen and drew on my hip - ensuring there was no possible confusion about which hip was to be done.

Once I was marked up and consented we discussed anesthetics. Prior to the day I had been given a lot of information about different types of anaesthesia and (despite feeling spaced out on pain meds) had pretty well managed to make sense of it all. The pamphlets implied I had to make a choice. As I definitely didn't want a general the choice was between a spinal or an epidural. I liked the sound of the latter though there wasn't much to chose between them. So I was abit surprised when my consultant suggested I went for the spinal which is the one that he and his anaesthetist usually worked with.

After a moment's thought I readily agreed. If that's what they preferred it was fine with me - I just wondered why the literature implied I had to make a choice myself.

Next came the anaesthestist who confirmed that I'd be having a spinal and discussed my history of anaesthesia.

Waiting for Theatre

After he left I was moved to a general waiting area. There was a definite tension about here but people were keeping themselves busy with books, puzzles, music and knitting. The periods of waiting do make the day feel long and it would help if staff could give an idea of how long it would be before the next event.

My name was called and I was ushered into a small room where I was labelled and given a gown and compression stockings. I was then told to return to the waiting area where I would be called for surgery.

I was feeling both apprehensive and very thristy.

It wasn't long till I was called. We walked to the pre-op rooms. The hospital had done it's best to make this a tranquil place, a darkened room with candles burning. Sadly the relaxing effect was spoiled by a huge TV and a man who seemed very angry about something I couldn't quite grasp.

I was told to go into a cubicle and put the stocking onto my good leg and change into the gown. My clothes went into a bag to be sent to my hospital ward.

From there I walked to the theatre itself - gulp!

Surgery and Recovery

I laid down on the trolly and the anaesthesist explained what he was going to do. I do remember him numbing my back and starting to give the anaestheric but that's it.....

...until I was being pushed into recovery room - with nurse repeating that I'd just had an operation. I couldn't work out why she keep repeating "It's alright you've just had surgery" but apperently I came out of the anaesthetic fighting - something I have no memory of at all.

I stayed in the recovery room for a while - drifting in and out of sleep and was then pushed up to the ward where my clothes were waiting for me.

I remember being glad I didn't have a catheter before I fell asleep again.

When I woke up I felt good - a little pain but not much there was a pillow between my legs to stop them crossing over (the first of the hip precautions) and I had compression stockings on both legs to prevent a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis). There was also a line going in for pain meds and an oxygen mask. and that there were some tubes - for pain relief and a mask for oxygen I guess oh and a pillow between my legs to stop them crossing over and that's it

And as far as I was concerned that was it for the day - I fell asleep and had only a vague awareness of nurses coming to take vitals throughout the night.

blood pressure

Related Links: 

Preparing for Surgery 
Hip Replacement Complications
DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)

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