Hip Replacement-Git er done!
I thought about posting this for a long time. The intent is not to bring attention to me, but to help other fire fighters who may be in a similar situation. In April of 1978, I was involved in a motorcycle accident. I was 17 and was the passenger on a motorcycle that t-boned a car. The impact threw over the car and I landed on my feet resulting in a fracture/dislocation of my right hip. I spent 7 weeks in the hospital, 6 of them in traction.
Fast-forward 25 years. I have been on the FD full time since 1985 and volunteered for 3 years previous. I even volunteered on the ambulance running with the same crew that transported me a few years earlier. Several visits to orthopedic surgeons over the past few years confirmed that I have osteo-arthritis in my right hip. I went to a leading orthopedic surgeon in 2003 for an exam. He looked at the X-rays, asked a few questions and said, "Come back in three years".
Three years later, the pain is constant and unbearable. Advil, Tylenol, and Aleve do nothing. I cannot even ride my bike without pain. The pain is a sharp pain in my groin and right buttock, which radiates down to my ankle. I am limping and feel the instability in the joint. Mowing my front lawn (20' x 50') is next to impossible. Even walking to my car in the morning is painful. It is hard to describe the pain-it hurt all the time. Sitting anywhere was very uncomfortable, walking hurt, laying down did not bring relief. I would wake up several times a night due to the pain.
All the experts on arthritis say the same thing-exercise will extend help extend the time until surgery but will not cure the problem. Weight loss also helps in relieving pain. I ended up in a vicious cycle: it hurt to exercise so I cut back, gained some weight, which caused the pain to increase and made it harder to exercise. The arthritis never affected me in my duties as a fire fighter, but I often paid the price after my shift ended.
In the spring of 2006, I went back to the surgeon I saw in 2003 and he says its time for a replacement. Just for my own piece of mind, I seek a second opinion. This surgeon agrees it is time for a total hip replacement. I like this surgeons approach and attitude and schedule the surgery for October 2006.
In order to prep for the surgery, I attended the class the hospital sponsors. Being who I am, I also found some videos of the operation (thanks to Google) and watched them a few times. :eek:
The surgery went well. I opted for the spinal anesthesia instead of the general. The doctor told me the next day that my hip was in bad shape, X-rays do not show everything.
The first two weeks after the surgery were the toughest. I went in the hospital on Monday, transferred to a rehab center on Thursday and sent home on Sunday. The rehab center was interesting. It is in town and I have responded to many alarms and incidents there over the years. Several staff members asked if I had been there before and I would say yes and reminded them of past incidents. The rehab there was great, the food not so great.
I went back to work after 6 weeks (administrative duties only) and expect full release to work in a few more weeks. 90% of the recovery is in 6 weeks, the other 10% takes up to a year.
Looking back, I have no regrets on getting the replacement. My wife and family were great, giving me moral support and helping wherever possible. I know of other fire fighters who have hip replacements and are still on the job.
If you suffer from arthritis and need a hip replacement, do not put it off too long. Putting if off only make it worse. The techniques and materials have improved greatly over the past few years. This is not your grandfather’s hip replacement.
The damage from osteo-arthritis is gradual over many years. I did not realize how much it affected my life until I had it fixed. The parts that hurt are not there anymore. The only pain I have now is muscle pain and that will go away.
I apologize for the long post. Please feel free to contact me if you need a hip replacement and want to talk to someone who has been there, done that. It has given me my life back. I am walking up to 3 miles a day, something I could not do 4 months ago, and I plan on getting back on my bicycle this spring.