April 29, 2017

I have had a bad left hip for almost four years now. I went in for knee pain, and low and behold, I was told it was my hip causing the knee pain. I used to play lacrosse and basketball and run. That all ended about 4 years ago. I was still able to do the treadmill till my right hip started to go as well.

Here is the short version. I almost had a full hip replacement put in January of this year, but 4 days prior to them cutting me, a second meeting with my surgeon revealed that he too thought I should get my hip resurfaced. He did not do such a procedure, but encouraged me to investigate it. But the soft sell was still on to get the full hip procedure done.  I ended up cancelling the full hip procedure.

I found that most hip surgeons in Northern California do not do hip resurfacing even if they advertise it on their website. Each phone call I made to a doctor who had "hip resurfacing" on his website resulted in a response similar to "I'm sorry, Dr. Suchandsuch trained in resurfacing back in (insert date) but he does not perform the procedure."   Wonderful.

One guy I interviewed in San Francisco had done 300 procedures. Yet, he told me that I might wake up with a full hip replacement due to the size of my hip socket (words to that effect). I know now my Birmingham device implanted four weeks ago is 49mm. I do not know why this would cause a speed bump. Needless to say, I had to look at surgeons out of state. I am sure there is someone in Northern California with a load of hip resurfacings under their belt. I just did not find that doctor.

So, I see Dr. Pritchett's ad on this site. A LOT of resurfacing procedures. He is now above 5,000 I believe. I tell my wife I am going out of town to do this procedure. Out of state. Seattle WA to be exact. She thought I was nuts.  Long story short, we fly to Seattle to interview Pritchett. I liked him right off the bat. His assistant Susan is good people as well.  Pritchett tells me there is no chance I will have a full hip replacement when I wake up.  I book a surgery date the day after I fly home.

As it turned out, my wife could not make it for the surgery. That was OK. My surgery was outpatient. No overnight in the hospital. But I had to remain in Seattle for three nights in case of complications, so I needed to hire someone to take me from the hospital to the hotel. And I needed someone on call or who could visit for a few hours each day to check in on me. And also, that person had to take me to the airport when I went home. I would not recommend Uber for that drive back to the airport if you decide to go out of state. It takes a long time to get in and out of a car when you are fresh out of surgery in week 1. I found my helper through Craigslist, believe it or not. A home caregiver who had a break in her schedule. If you want to have a resurfacing done by a doc who is out of town, and you are alone, it can be done. You just have to be creative.

If you fly Southwest, pick another carrier if you are tall for the flight home after surgery. The 90 degree restriction is almost impossible to adhere to if you are 6'3".  If and when I get my right hip done, I will have to find a carrier that offers additional leg room in business or first class. The bulkhead seats in a carrier like SW are worse than the isle seats. You cannot stretch any further with a bulkhead in front of you.  At least in the row seats you can put your leg under the seat in front of you. And the emergency exit row seats, while ideal, are not available to someone on crutches who can barely hobble around.

I am now almost 4 weeks out. My recovery went as follows: 12 days crutches, straight to cane day 13, then you realize you can walk around without a cane. I went to my 2 week checkup without the cane. Mistake. Bit off more than I can chew. At the end of the day, I would have begged someone to give me a piggyback ride to my car in the Oakland airport...I flew up in the a.m., flew back in the p.m., and it was just too much without the cane. No more pain pills during the day after some time in week 3. Only at night. Two days short of a full 4 weeks, no pain pills anymore even at night.

For some reason, my calf on my left leg is still sore to the touch. Not sure why that is. But my limp has gone from a 10 to a 2 in the last few days.  No more pain really, just a tightness in my hip..and the pain in my calf. My right hip is starting to go as well, but I am debating...will likely wait, as the right leg will make getting back to driving that much longer. I am guessing no driving would be possible until the end of week 3, and more than likely the end of week 4 based upon how the left hip has recovered. But then, you are looking at a new set of the recovery clock if you have the second hip done. I see all the doctor recommendations for restrictions, and from my perspective, you need a full year before you start trying to do 400 meter sprints or play full court basketball. So, no matter when you get hip #1 done, you need to consider that year again after you decide on hip #2.  I am in a quandary. My right hip is maybe 1/3 as bad as my left hip was. It is a big step.

Thank you to all who have written in to post their stories. I used them all to make my decision to get my hip resurfaced. I appreciate it very much.

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