Saturday, December 22. 2007 I’m 52 yr old male New Zealander around 90kg and 178 cm tall who has kept active and in relatively good shape.
For me the first indication of hip issues was the severe pain I felt after completing a half marathon run. From that point on I suffered a “catching” sensation which when it occurred, crippled me, albeit temporarily. Sometimes when going to stand from a sitting position I would literally lock up and not be able to move. Throughout this time I also suffered from a lot of lower back pain which I blamed on many years of playing squash (racquetball), I had been playing throughout my late 30’s and most of my 40’s. Eventually after lots of visits to my GP with the usual prescriptions for voltarin (diclofinac) I asked for X-rays. What a revelation these were, showing that my back was in not a bad condition at all however contrastingly both hips were in a very sad state with little or no cartilage left between the joints. Being told I needed bilateral THR came as a mighty shock and being completely honest, had no appeal at all!! Thanks to a lot of research on my various options I kept getting drawn to hip resurfacing. Quite frankly the decision was very simple – resurfacing! Pat Walter and her Surface Hippy website generated for me so much positive information.
After being advised by a number of medical people including an orthopedic specialist that THR’s were the only option I found Mr Hugh Blackley one of the few resurfacing specialists in New Zealand. Hugh Blackley’s attitude was very positive from the outset, he answered all my many questions and demonstrated a level of experience I was very comfortable with,at the time he had performed something like 150 BHR procedures. Coincidently I also was put in contact with a person who had in fact had a recent BHR with Hugh and couldn’t have been more happy with the outcome.
December 2 found me checking into North Harbour Southern Cross hospital with the procedure scheduled for first thing on Dec 3. After a fitful sleep (no doubt nervous anticipation) I found myself prepped and being wheeled into the operating theater.
Around midday I became aware of my surroundings as I was wheeled back to my room from the recovery room. My anesthetic regime had been Epidural and I couldn’t have been more pleased with it. Apart from being numb and with my legs feeling like a couple of logs there was no pain, in fact from that point on I have not had any pain, maybe a little bit of discomfort but certainly nothing like the pre-op pain I had learned to live with.
Something that sticks in my mind was being so incredibly hungry in the time after the op and being so lucid. Of course I had a catheter in place and found it not an issue at all, in fact it was quite a good feeling not having to worry about going to the toilet.
My first night post op was very long, no pain just a feeling of being uncomfortable, it seemed to take forever for daylight to arrive. At one stage during the night as sensation came back into my legs I found myself with each leg sliding over each side of the bed, not a great feeling, so called a duty nurse to get me back into a normal position.
Day 1 post op I was assisted by PT Debbie to stand up and was able to walk on elbow crutches around the bed. Again no real pain and feeling mightily pleased with myself! Later in the afternoon I managed around 75 m walking on the crutches in the corridor. During that day I began oral pain relief, tramadol and panadol in preparation for the removal of the epidural the following day.
Day 2 first thing saw the removal of the catheter and then the epidural was taken out later in the morning. What a great feeling not to be tethered to something!
Lots of bed exercises, glut squeezes, leg flexing and then another long walk in the corridor 120 m as well as learning to negotiate stairs. I notice that my left leg appears to be a little behind in the healing process when compared to the right. With my right I can just about be fully weight bearing whereas the left its probably about 50%.Going up stairs the right is just so easy but to lift the left I have to make a conscious effort. I spent the afternoon of day 2 ambling the hospital corridors, maybe 300 m. Speaking with Hugh Blackley and he said not to worry about the 90 degree rule, it just doesn’t apply! In fact he encouraged me to try and stretch my knees towards my chest!!
Day 3 checked out of hospital and began the 4 hour drive home in two stages, just to allow time for stretching and exercise. Our vehicle a Toyota Prado is very high off the ground, however by backing up to the passenger seat and using the handles above the door and on the front pillar it was a relatively easy process to get in.
What a great feeling to be home, though I didn’t notice any pain Hugh Blackley advised continuing an oral regime of Panadol 4hourly and Tramadol 12 hourly. Interestingly he doesn’t use TED’s at all but does prescribe aspirin daily for the month post op.
Once at home I found my favorite piece of equipment to be my Lazy Boy recliner chair, in fact I sleep in it as it gives so much support without putting pressure on both my incisions.
One of the things that I found hard to come to terms with was feeling so good and trying too hard and overdoing things. From Day 4 through to Day 11, I suffered quite severe ankle swelling. I found the best thing was to slow down and spend a lot of time with my feet elevated (using the recliner). By Day 18 the swelling had disappeared and I was down to just one elbow crutch. Each day just seems to be getting better and better. Overall it has been a wonderful trouble free liberating experience and one I’d not have the slightest hesitation in repeating. Now there is the gradual strengthening, rehabilitation and getting back to normal everyday life. I just can’t wait to get back to the mountain biking, hiking, hunting and fishing pain free and unrestricted.