10 Year Update January 2018
I recently realized that my 10 year anniversary of my hip resurfacing is here! I had my left hip resurfaced by Dr. De Smet in late 2007. About five years ago, I had my metals level checked and sent the results to Dr. De Smet…his reply was that it looked like my hip would be fine for at least 100 more years (metals levels were fine). Since then, I’ve done exactly the same thing with my hip every day: ignore it. My hip feels like it’s always felt since my surgical incision healed, which is that it is an integral and natural part of my body. I am grateful to Dr. DeSmet for giving me my life back. I surf, windsurf, ski, bike ride and basically do whatever I want. I have zero physical restrictions, except of course that my entire body is 10 years older and a bit slower (I’m now 68).
I know I’m only one case, but I hope my success will be a good data point for those considering this path. There is no doubt that the Birmingham system is a well-engineered product. Match that product with an expert surgeon, and there is a high likelihood of success. I was turned down by the doctors at Stanford as a candidate for hip resurfacing, but accepted by Dr. DeSmet, who knew far better than Stanford what could work with my body. I would encourage candidates for this surgery to choose their surgeon carefully, and not to let cost or distance be a factor. I would also suggest that people look at the whole ‘package’ that is offered, including the rehab protocols. As far as I’m concerned, getting in a warm pool the day after surgery and using zero gravity to assist with ROM and overall recovery was a brilliant strategy (I’m assuming De Smet is still using it). As soon as I got back from Belgium, I kept up the water routine I learned in Ghent in my local pool using a wetsuit to keep warm. I’m convinced that using the pool regularly was important in my rapid recovery.
Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Best of luck to everyone. If I remember, I’ll send another update in 2027.
Rod Windle, Ph.D.
Rod’s Original Hip Resurfacing Story 2007
I thought I would post an update from Ghent from one who is now officially “on the other side”.
I’m here at the Villa. It’s Saturday and my surgery was on Tuesday. Sumati is here as well and will be sending you her own post so you can compare what we have to say!
This has just been an incredible experience so far. I woke up early the morning of surgery with no apprehension at all. I had prepared my mind as best I could alternating self- hypnosis and meditation but I wasn’t expecting to feel so serene and peaceful. I’ve never had surgery before. Many friends had said they would send love, light or prayers according to their beliefs. Giving energy works, no matter what the skeptics say. I’ve just never had such indisputable evidence of it before. It was like I couldn’t be anxious no matter how hard I tried. I was just feeling surrounded and protected by love and positive energy.
The surgery is, so far, a complete success. Dr. De Smet had to do some bone grafting before he could install the implant because I had trashed the top of my femur so completely trying to walk and play bone-against-bone for such a long time. When I met with him personally for the first time he said “I prefer to see people at an earlier stage than you. But never mind. I have completed many cases like yours before. It will get done.”
And get done it has. Now, four days post-surgery, I am getting better every day and my progress is (to me) astoundingly fast. I walk easily with the elbow crutches (including alternating stair-climbing) without pain as long as I don’t stress into certain positions which are to be avoided anyway. Today I walked around town for about 1 km or so…no problems at all. The previous knife-pain in my left hip, which has plagued me for years, is completely gone. I’m not taking any meds for post-surgery pain at all..don’t need them. I don’t quite get how this is possible, but that is what is happening. I credit my total absence of pain and easy recovery so far to the healing energy sent by those who care about me, and particularly to the skill of Dr. de Smet.
My post-op care has been excellent…they cover the wound with this stretchy saran wrap- like stuff that sticks to the skin and is totally waterproof. You can go in the shower, the pool, no problems. The daily schedule until I leave is: dry-land Physical Therapy, massage, hydrotherapy in the pool. Every day for about 2 or 2.5 hours.
The rehab center “The Villa” is really more like a european spa. In fact, there is a full ‘spa’ menu (facials etc.) that they have just started, even though this whole place has been set up first and foremost for Dr. De Smet’s patients. This is a new addition in the way De Smet does things. Previously guests stayed at the Holiday Inn but De Smet is in such demand now they have created their own rehab place. The food is outstanding and served with love, care and highest quality table settings. A typical lunch would be smoked trout on belgian toast for appetizer, followed by steak w/ bernaise sauce and belgian style french fries with homemade sauce, fruit with whipped cream for dessert. There is always fresh- squeezed OJ available….Oh, and good French and German wine of course, or Belgian beer if you prefer. If you don’t care for what they are serving that day chef Peter will make you a huge salad with all the ingredients you specify.
Our room is excellent as well. Fridge with minibar, huge flatscreen TV on the wall, wireless internet, and a very clever expresso maker that uses tiny packets of expresso and then ‘throws’ them into a small trash container after use so you don’t even have to touch them, and the machine is ready for the next round. there are the highest quality european fittings in the bathroom and the bed is fantastic…king sized but made up of two single mattresses that independently go up and down hospital style. A plush down comforter competes the ensemble. The whole room reminds me of a display at IKEA but upgaded about three levels. One small caveat…all the items in the minibar in your room cost Euros and they are not priced cheaply!
The staff here is uniformly high quality. There are several instances where multiple family members work here. Hugo Contino is the Villa manager. His sister, Gaitana, is married to Koen and she also works here as a nurse. Peter the chef’s daughter works the office and answers phones here as well. Many of the PTs were personally recruited (stolen from other positions) by Koen, as is his operating room nurse Bart who also runs the x-ray and pokes you in the stomach with your daily Herparin shot until you learn to do it yourself (I learned today!). The restaurant staff were recruited by Hugo who stole them away from long-standing other jobs (one 30 years in length!)
I can’t say enough about Dr. De Smet (or Koen, as we call him). Koen is pronounced Kun. The man is on some kind of mission. Koen does 18-24 hip surgeries per WEEK. The day of my surgery he did four, the next day six. People have come from around the world…there is a big world map in the 2nd floor ward that is kind of ‘his’ at the hospital. Dots from just about every country. Dr. de Smet’s wife told me today they talk regularly about how he needs to slow down but she says, “we can’t let the patients down who want to see him; we can’t say yes to some and no to others”. But Koen will not be able to keep up this pace forever….
My roommate in the hospital (Vlad) is a Russian from Moscow. He is really a trip and has told us many stories about he life of the decadent super-rich in Russia. Vlad was next after me for surgery on Tuesday so we are monitoring each others’ recovery. He’s 38.
I am SO GLAD I made the decision to come here. I count my blessings to be able to have the financial resources to make this trip and I remain aware of those who need this kind of help and cannot receive it. The total cost of my surgery, including the plane flight, the Villa and all the rehab, is less that 1/2 of the cost of the surgery alone in the USA. (I’m still dealing with insurance issues). With all due respect to all the great doctors and HR surgeons back home, our health care system is badly broken compared to the system here.
Will send more later.
Best Regards to all
Rod Windle, Ph.D. LBHR De Smet 12/18/07