I’m finally getting hip…..it just takes me longer than most people.

Something I’ve fortunately avoided for my entire adult life is about to occur. I am going to have major surgery. I haven’t been in this position since my childhood appendectomy at age ten. But I don’t count that because I had no idea what was going on and besides, I was bribed with having all the ice cream I could eat afterward. What ten-year old wouldn’t say yes to that?

No, this one is an all out, no doubt, gonna hurt some procedure, and all the ice cream in the world ain’t gonna change that. Well, not the actual surgery, but the recovery and rehab. In mid-July I will be having my left hip removed and replaced with a store-bought version. Yes, the old ball and socket that got me though all those youth sports, 25 years of daily jogging and then another twenty years of daily power walking has reared its ugly head and said “no mas.” I mean, I only put a few thousand extra miles on it, go figure?

Just a couple of short months after having my lower back ablation, which has worked wonders by the way, my flavor-of-the-month arthritis let me know the hip was next in line for an exorcism. My family doctor sent me off  to an orthopedic doctor who after one look at the x-ray declared my hip a no fly walk zone.

Next on the agenda was attending “Joint Class” at the hospital.  It’s not the kind where you learn how to roll ’em and smoke ’em, this is to find how to cope with a large hinge-like metal object where bones used to be. It’s kind of like adopting a child. First, through myriad pre-op medical tests, you have to prove you are worthy of such a procedure. Secondly, you have to learn how to take care of your “new baby.” Spouses and/or partners are encouraged to attend and become your “coach.” Think of it as Lamaze for hips, except there’s nothing whatsoever natural about any of this. Basically, you are dependent on your coach for your very existence during rehab. He/she is also granted authority to hound and vex you if you should happen to try to skip your medications or required exercises. Patty couldn’t hide her big smile when she heard this.

The presenter at this class was great. In a two and one-half hour lecture, she made sure we understood two things if nothing else. One, get all the sleep you can before the surgery because you will get absolutely none while in the hospital. Then she asked us if there was any part of the word “none” which any of us didn’t understand. Having cleared that up, she then let us know in no uncertain terms there would be pain involved. As she put it, the pain we have now is forever, the pain they will inflict upon us is temporary, but the forever pain will be gone. Not a bad trade-off. However, she was then very reassuring that pain control was a top priority with them and they wouldn’t let us suffer too much. It was at that point I stopped sobbing out loud. Embarrassing!

The most perplexing part of this for me is deciding what method of anesthesia is best. Due to a fairly unusual heart condition, my risks during general anesthesia are increased. As an alternative, I can opt for an epidural block, plus sedation. Makes sense, since if I’m going to have a new “baby” I might as well do it like a maternity delivery. Basically it means no feeling below the waist, ergo, no pain. In addition, a sedative to introduce me to sweet Morpheus. I’ve already started sending gifts to the anesthesiologist with the note that there’s more where that comes from after successful recovery from surgery.

I’ve also been impelled to hire a personal trainer at the local recreation center. I’ve maintained a healthy weight most of my life, but only through ball sports and jogging/walking. I’ve never been a weight room type of guy. That’s changing. I need to build up the hip muscles (and several others) before the surgery to make the post op rehab go more smoothly. It’s quite a sight indeed. Some of you may remember the “ninety pound weakling” advertisement from several years ago. That pretty much describes me walking around the weight room. I expected to be dwarfed by the guys, but I’ve yet to see a woman in there that doesn’t have bulkier more well-toned muscles than me. It may be my imagination or my inferiority complex, but I could swear I overheard one of the ladies saying to one of her friends  “here comes bird legs.” Life is so unfair!

The good news is, this is “elective” surgery. You know, the kind of surgery I could wimp out of at any time. And don’t think for a moment that hasn’t already swirled around in my mind. But that would mean a life of limping, then a cane, then a walker, then a wheelchair. So there you have the choice: 1. A relatively short (couple hours) surgery, a few weeks of rehab and pain killers and then slowly back to my normal activities or, 2. Become an invalid. That special parking spot is awfully tempting, but I guess I’m leaning with the one that makes me my “old self” again.

On the left; “old Al” with no cartilage remaining. On the right; proposed “new Al” with the latest in hardware.

I only alert my readers to this for one reason….henceforth, be sure you don’t get behind me in the TSA security check line at the airport, unless you like to hearing loud alarms going off.

26 thoughts on “I’m finally getting hip…..it just takes me longer than most people.

  1. Quite a few of my family, including my late great mother, have had hip-replacement surgery. So many, in fact that I’m a bit surprised there are any left. Very glad to hear you got to snap up one of the last ones going and I know in Patty you will have one of the best carers known to sentient man. My thoughts are with you and I hope you have a simple successful surgery and are granted many more years in which to show off your dazzling new mobility 🙂

    • Thanks, Peter. Luckily for me. The 2018 models just came out on the market. My will include GPS and Bluetooth. I will be hard to guard after this.

  2. My husband has had both of his hips replaced a year ago. They did them 6 months apart. The first one he had done with the incision on the side and had to go through physical therapy afterward and had restrictions. The second one he had done the “anterior” way (through the front) no restrictions. If he had to do it again he would do both the anterior way as his recovery time was so much less.
    That being said he would definitely have them both done again. He cannot believe how much he can do…like getting up and down from his tractors, scrambling up a riverbank etc. and all without pain! He also took a long time to decide he needed to get them fixed….I think that just might be a guy thing….but I am not sure…..(well….I am kind of sure)
    Praying surgery goes well and that you heal quickly Al!

    • Thank you for the prayers and encouragement, Faye. Your husband is a warrior to get them both done back to back. And yes, the procrastination is a guy thing (but then you knew that.) I’ll be having the anterior approach so that’s good.

  3. Aww, I’m sorry you have tp have the surgery Al. Your sense of humor seems in place though, which always helps. That and bribing the anesthesiologist of course.

    I’ve known quite a few people who have had hip replacements and all of have gone swimmingly. Or maybe they went swimming as part of their rehab, I can’t remember, but they are all walking quite well!

    • Thanks, Tricia, the humor is my crutch, no doubt about that. At least until the real crutches show up! Actually, looking forward to walking normally again soon.

      • Yeah I bet it will be a big relief once the hard part is over with. Hopefully you will continue to blog throughout the process and keep us informed. 😀

  4. Hello, my lovely Bro. I am so glad to hear that your back surgery was successful and know that you will feel so much better when you have recovered from this round of surgery. When is it happening? Wrapping you in healing love and sending much love for you and Patty. xXx <3.

    • Thank you Undine and thanks for commenting. I visited your blog and you have given me great confidence. You certainly have kept positive during your hip recovery and you will be my benchmark for rehab. Way to go!

      • Thank you for your kind words. This is actually my third hip surgery recovery already and by far the toughest.

        I think you will do well. Listen to your body, follow instructions of your doctor and physical therapist and be patient with yourself.
        The beginning is tough but with each day it gets better and better. Never loose sight of the big picture.

  5. Hi, Al – when exactly is this happening? A friend of mine had a hip replacement – a gal friend. She was kind of a jock as well. I guess my easy living may be paying off. I walk/hike, go to the gym, swim … all joint friendly sports. I was thinking about taking up tennis again; however, after reading your blog, maybe pickle ball is a better way to go. I wish you and Patty well. Wish we were closer so we could help you recover. I will keep you in our prayers. Take care, my dear friend, Karen

    • Thanks, Karen. I guarantee you if you take up pickleball you will get hooked!
      We will get together again as soon as I can walk a decent distance. Right now, around the block is challenging or if we take the dogs to the beach I sit and let Patty do the walking part. But they are also pretty content to just stay with us in one spot and go crabbing as you well remember!

  6. Good luck Al, I’m sure you’ll soar right thru surgery and recovery. A friend in Florida had a hip replacement this winter, went into the hospital at 7 am and was discharged that afternoon! Jack had his replaced 10 years ago. Going thru the metal detector when entering the Masters Tournament a few years ago, the alarm went off. Jack was not carrying the card that declares he has had a joint replacement. After emptying his pockets and telling the woman monitoring the detector he had a hip replacement she wasn’t satisfied…I then suggested that he drop his pants and show her his incision. She declined that view and passed him thru. So, remember to carry your “I Have A Hip Replacement” card! Good luck my friend.

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