Lessons Learned From a New Hip

Closing in on two weeks since I had total hip replacement surgery – and before anyone asks doing really well.  There are some lessons learned from a new hip installed that are worth noting (if not sharing).

  1. “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”  This is what most people who I know who had the surgery said to me going into it.  And generally I agree – I can say there was one minor complication in the hospital, but I woke up in the recovery room and for the first time in two years, my hip wasn’t bothering me.  I think for me, the timing was right – but I can understand why people ask themselves why they didn’t do it sooner.
  2. It’s really major surgery:  My only frame of reference for surgery was my ACL surgery almost six years ago and the less invasive MCL surgery I had six months after that (opposite knee).  Don’t let anyone mislead you – hip replacement may happen a lot, but its major surgery.
  3. Not sure the pre-surgery prep was on point: The doctor and hospital did a great job explaining the procedure, the expected outcome and even the path to rehab.  What they glossed over though was the actual surgical site and the reality of where they cut (right into your glute muscle) and the impact of that.  The only pain I dealt with was from the surgical site.
  4. I finally understand the opioid crisis in this country: I try not to take meds as a rule.  And certainly won’t take any high-end pain killers unless absolutely needed.  They start pushing narcotic pain killers before surgery. I managed to get through the surgery and post-op care without taking any narcotic pain killers.  Not everyone can do that.  I used Tylenol and ice to deal with pain and discomfort.  There was one night in the hospital the nurse spent 20 minutes trying to talk me into taking morphine – because they were going to start physical therapy (PT) the next day.  My thought process was: I just had major surgery, there should be some discomfort.  How am I going to differentiate pain if I am muting it all?  It’s a problem.
  5. I have great kids and support:  It’s not easy for me to ask for or accept help.  I want to be responsible for my stuff.  There are people who really helped out and got me through those first 5 or 6 days and I am really happy about that – and that I was willing to take the help.

There are probably more lessons from the new hip – but if I can go through this experience and come away pain-free and learn something – I’m ahead of the game.

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Aging and Now This

arthritis hipAs if I didn’t have enough issues with April and just the realization I was getting older – along came a moment of “again, and now this” to deal with.  The this being arthritis.  And yeah, at 49 I am a little young for that.

So this story really probably started back in January or February (if not earlier) when my left hip started bothering me.  I am mostly aware of how my body feels during and after working out – and I knew that the discomfort was something more than just post workout strain.  But it wasn’t awful so I did some rest, some stretching and “worked through it.”

Some rest here, thinking about a running schedule (no more than every other day), lots of yoga and stretching and I’ll be OK.  Then came time for a 5K race and a week of business travel right before it.  In looking at my meeting schedule for the business trip and how it would lay out – a few days of running on the road, a short run in Vegas and I’d be lined up for the 5K.

So in Vegas the first day I could not get my hip loose enough to run.  Not a problem.  I’ll go a day off running and then do a long run the following day – the show I was at had a 4K associated so I signed up.  Downside for me is a business need arose, so I had to skip the 4K and just run on a hotel treadmill.  Although I was never comfortable, I got through three miles – enough to make me think a 5K 4 days later would be OK.  So over the next 4 days I focused on stretching, strengthening and building up endurance (lots of really boring elliptical time).

Home, and then the event.  It was a boardwalk and beach 5K.  Three quarters of a mile down the boardwalk.  Three quarters of a mile back up the beach and repeat.  After the first leg I felt like my leg was going to collapse from under me – that would not be good.  So I did something I haven’t done since I blew out my knee just about four years ago – I actually walked away.

I stopped my race knowing something was wrong.  I made an appointment with a highly recommended hip specialist and the verdict was arthritis in my hip.  No telling why it happened – I can guess a combination of catching for years, being over weight for years and just plain bad luck.  But I have to deal with it.

And in my case the inflammation now is pretty bad – but I got through a 5K survival race over the weekend with the girls (and placed 7th in my age class (out of 42 entries)).  But still I have to figure out how much I can push and when I have to take a break.  I really want to play in a hockey tournament over Memorial Day weekend, and I will do the Tough Mudder in July.  How much more I can do is an open question….

April is the month that keeps on giving.  Bad memories, aging and now this…

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