What Did We Do?

Dennis and Jenny Hacker's Year in Africa

The Bionic Jenny

February 8, 2018 | It was time for metal

Jenny’s been having trouble with her left hip since she developed a bleeding ulcer at Etosha. After that, she had to stop taking NSAID’s (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs)  and was in a lot of pain from her left hip. After a lot of physical therapy, the pain didn’t subside. An MRI was eventually done on the day I had my cardiac ablation surgery-October 4th. The findings were that she had severe degeneration to the hip and would need a hip replacement. With recommendations from our GP, Dr. Mike, we consulted with Dr. Jan Joubert who performed the anterior surgical approach. Due to everything that was going on, surgery couldn’t be scheduled until January 15th. Prior to that date, she had to have blood tests and get crutches. Although we were both anxious about the procedure, we found that Dr. Joubert had done about 2,000 hip replacements and Dr. Mike was going to assist. (Never find this in the States.) This relieved our fears.

We had to be at the hospital in Panorama at 7:00 AM for her 1:00 PM surgery. More blood tests and radiographs had to be performed prior to the surgery. After that, we waited. Finally, off to surgery. I could go to the pre-op staging area where Dr. Mike met us. He reassured us that everything would be fine and I had to leave as they wheeled Jen into surgery.

I went off for lunch and returned to her room. The surgery took about 45 minutes and at about 4 PM she was out of post-op and brought back to the room. No ICU or “High Care” for my girl. Natalie, our physical therapist, came about 6:00 for Jen’s first PT session. She was still numb from the spinal they’d given her so Natalie could only get her to stand and she hobbled about 12″. That was it. Natalie drove me home afterward so Jen could rest. A long 12 hour day, but the surgery was done successfully.


Pain management was the order of the day. I spent almost the whole day at the hospital supporting Jen. Dr. Joubert visited and was very pleased at Jen’s progress. Natalie came after-hours and Jenny walked about 20 meters with help. She felt victorious. Natalie drove me home and after 15 hours at the hospital, I was wasted. Just time for a quick bite to eat and off to sleep.

Day 3

Jenny was painful but looking much better when I arrived than she did the previous day. She was getting two pain medicines- one every 8 hours and one every 6 hours. This helped a lot. I spent the day with Jenny. Again Dr. Joubert came in to talk with Jen about her progress and checked her incision. Natalie came in later and had Jen walk about 40 meters in total. Jen felt victorious.

Jenny and Natalie did forty meters! Compression hose reduce the chance of blood clots. Of course Jenny has red crutches!

After the physical therapy session, Natalie again took me home. I told Jen that I wouldn’t be in early the next morning as I wanted to get some sleep. Another short evening and a couple martinis. I slept really well that night.

Final Hospital Day

I got to the hospital about 10:30. We had to await Dr. Joubert’s visit for him to sign Jenny out and give us the discharge instructions and prescriptions. He came about noon. Discharge was supposed to be no later than 12:30. It took quite a bit of time to get our stuff together. The “Sisters” (nurses) told us that as long as Dr. J signed the discharge instructions by 12:30, it didn’t really matter what time we left. Great! By the time we got Jenny dressed and packed, picked up medication and discharge instructions, we were out by about 2:00. An Uber ride home and with the driver’s help we got Jenny into the flat. The walk to the bed was almost all she could do.

I made dinner for us and and I put too much oil on the salad. Jenny is really the salad queen and I was disappointed in myself for not doing better. Otherwise, dinner was good. All she wanted was salmon, I guess for the protein. After eating, she was in bed and “on ice”.

The Routine

The first couple days were really hard. Jenny was in a lot of pain. Due to her previous stomach ulcer, she couldn’t take NSAID’s  like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. It took a couple days of her taking tylenol and tylenol with codeine to tell that wouldn’t cut it. Dr. Mike suggested and we decided to try a pain patch. I got one on one of my shopping trips. It took 24 hours for the drug to take effect. Once the pain was mitigated her overall mood improved greatly.

I fell into the routine of helping Jenny move between the bed and either the toilet or the dining table depending on her needs. After just a couple days, she could go to the loo by herself which meant I didn’t have to get out of bed every time she had to go. I was the cook, meal planner, and shopper. Jenny job consisted in getting P.T. and resting. I was trying to get rest as well.

After about a week, I began working out with Frank, my personal trainer. It felt good working out again. After the first week, Jen’s pain lessened and her mood improved. She had pain still, yet she could handle it. She wasn’t convinced that the surgery was an improvement.

As the time moves on, she continues to improve. Yesterday, just 3 weeks after surgery, she began using an exercise bicycle. Although for only 10 minutes, she said she enjoyed it. Now it’s just tincture of time until she’s more mobile. Actually, last night, after her physical therapy session, we went out for dinner. The first time in over 3 weeks. A big improvement. We are excited for the future. This morning, on one crutch, she walked all over the complex.

Time will help her to heal and we are very optimistic.




FILED IN: This and That

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