Mendy from Feeling Swell! recently asked me about my joint replacements. She had some really good questions and suggested I write an entire blog post about it. I loved the idea but as soon as I started writing, I realized that I just had too much to say about each joint. I decided to make this a little series and write about each joint individually (three posts instead of one huge hour-long read). So grab a snack and a beverage because this could still get a little long.
I get a surprising number of questions from friends, relatives and even strangers about how and why I had not one but five, yes FIVE, joints replaced. Believe it or not, I made the decision quite easily to have my first hip replacement in May 2008, starting my journey to becoming a robot.
In 2007, I was in college but home for the summer working at the local Dairy Queen (who else’s misses easy summer jobs?). During the last semester of college, I started to have some hip pain and walked with a severe limp on bad days but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. I also noticed that if I stood for too long, like a few hours of shopping or working, it would be incredibly painful to sit down. I’m talking crying because it hurt so badly.
During one of my DQ shifts, I fell off a stool but felt okay. No permanent damage done. Later that night, when I tried to get into my car, I was in tears because it hurt to sit. I made it home but after hobbling inside my parents house in tears, they decided I needed to go to the emergency room. After some x-rays, they scheduled me for an MRI for the next day and kept me overnight in the hospital. I was also given an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.
Luckily, nothing was fractured but the surgeon told me that I had been walking around with no cartridge in my hip for a while. Suddenly the pain in my hip that had been going on for a few months, resulting in a pretty amazing gansta lean walk made sense. But a hip replacement at 19 years old? Seriously?! In my immature mind, joint replacements were for “old people” not me!
But after talking with the surgeon and getting more information, my parents and I realized that it was the only option to make the pain go away. After all, arthritis can’t live in an artificial joint. BONUS! I was ready to schedule surgery until I asked my last question; how long does the procedure take? In my mind, this was a major surgery and would probably take a few hours. His response terrified me and I still remember it verbatim; “My fastest time is 45 minutes.”
What?! Fastest time!? Why in the world was he racing through a major surgery? I was completely freaked out by his response and decided there was no way this man was going to cut into me! Luckily, my parents agreed. They weren’t a big fan of him either.
I went back to college three states away and spent a good amount of time during my sophomore year researching doctors within driving distance. I found a new doctor in Nevada, Dr. Michael Crovetti, who had glowing reviews. My sister was attending school in Nevada so it was perfect! It was only a 3 hour drive from my university so I scheduled an appointment and sent my records. Little did I know I had scheduled an appointment with the innovator of a new hip resurfacing technique that not only was he using on patients but was teaching other surgeons about. I wasn’t a candidate for the new procedure but this doctor was amazing! Doctors, surgeons especially, are notoriously arrogant and have a terrible bedside manner but he really listened to my concerns and walked me through everything that would happen.
I scheduled surgery for the summer of 2008. I had decided to transfer universities because I had been attending a university that got a lot of snow and ice in the winter and in my head, ice and a brand new hip just didn’t seem like a good idea. Obviously, I was lucky that my sister was already attending university in that city so I was able to move in with her easily.
Saying I was nervous for the new life ahead of me was an understatement. I had never had any kind of surgery before (I’d never even broken a bone) and really didn’t know what to expect even though I had done tons of research. But, things went perfectly and I came through without issue. I was up and walking around the next day. That totally freaked me out! I had a new part of my leg and they wanted me to walk on it! Didn’t it need to settle or something?!
I stayed two nights in the hospital and since my mom came down to visit, I was discharged with Home Health including in home Physical Therapy and a nursing to check on my incision. I had about 18 staples in my knee and once they came out, I did about three months of out-patient physical therapy and I was better than new.
At the time, the hardest part of the hip replacement surgery was not breaking hip precautions. I wasn’t able to bend past 90 degrees, or cross my ankles to ensure the new hip didn’t become dislocated. Things have changed since then and most surgeons do the surgery differently so these aren’t even an issue. Due to balance issues, and being a fall risk, I walked with a walker and then a cane for about four to six weeks before I was steady enough on my feet to walk without assistance but even then I would get tired easily. I had my other hip done six months later by the same surgeon with the same amazing results.
Over the years, I’ve had no problems with my hips. When I moved from Nevada almost three years ago, I found a surgeon to touch base with just so I had a doctor close in case something came up. He did new x-rays and said everything looked great and if I was lucky I may never have to have them redone. Hip replacements can wear out and need revisions after about 15 years. My doctor told me I would know if/when I needed a revision because my hip would start to squeak! How awesome is that?!
Overall, I am extremely happy with my decision to have both of my hips replaced. I have no lasting pain and was able to retain quite a bit of motion which is great. It was definitely worth it because the pain is completely gone!
I love this cartoon! If you have any more question, please ask! Part two will be knee replacements. Watch for it later this week!