I am a 43 year old active female and I consider myself very lucky to have had a BHR with Dr Jason Brockwell, in Hong Kong on February 14, 2014.
As some one who never really got injured, my last two years have been a challenge and coming to terms with the fact that I needed a hip replacement at the age of 42 was a very difficult thing for me. On the other side of the procedure, I feel my story may help others who find themselves in a similar situation.
On Christmas eve 2012 I began a run, and after a few steps, I felt an acute ‘crunch’ in the left hip region. I’m not sure if it was painful but it was certainly an intense and scary feeling, but it went away straight away, so I continued the run. I warmed up slowly and even though there was slight discomfort it was not too bad and probably not unlike other feelings of muscle soreness I had felt before. I would not consider myself an ‘athlete’ per se but I was of a fitness level that saw me complete an average of two half marathons per year for the last three years. Along with this, I had been an aerobics, spin and weights instructor. So overall I was considered a fit person and that was definitely an important part of my identity.
That evening in bed I experienced a dull continuous throb in my lower back, which kept me up. This pain stayed with me for a few days and I rested and tried to identify where the problem was in my body. I knew that it had originated from my hip, but I was starting to tell people that I had hurt my back.
As the back pain subsided, the hip never felt better again and I struggled to walk ever since that day. In the initial stages, my hip was ‘catching’ when I walked and I was continuously stopping to stretch it out. This coupled with a constant throb and a nasty pain running down the left leg, was with me constantly.
I started the process of fixing my injury and this consisted of visiting physios, talking to like minded people, and searching the internet. I did experience some relief at times but it was minimal and I was still struggling to walk and was definitely not able to do anything with impact, with out extreme pain. This was a challenge as I was teaching P.E at the time. Around March, I was lucky enough that some body told me about Sports Performance in Hong Kong and the positive experience they had had with a knee surgeon there. From that I took some time reading the information on their website, and it was there that I learned of the condition FAI and the symptoms were very similar to mine, I made an appointment to see Dr Bockwell soon after that.
The initial consultation and X-ray was shocking for me because never in a million years did I think I would be faced with the decision to have a hip replacement. This was due to the fact that the FAI had worn away around 25% of my cartilage on my lift hip. I’m not sure how much I took in at that time, but I do know I latched on to the mention of an arthroscopy possibly giving me some relief and buying me some time.
So, even though Dr Brockwell had spelled it out to me clearly that the arthroscopy was only going to help with the impingement and he had doubts it was going to really help me to regain my active lifestyle, I still opted for this and booked in for May 3, 2013. I was not mentally ready to face the replacement. Unfortunately, the arthroscopy, although it did stop the catching, after 6months, I was still struggling with limited range of movement and pain when I walked.
At 6months, I had an X-ray and I saw Dr Brockwell who basically explained to me that the lack of cartilage is the problem and the only way to fix it was to have it replaced. Tears followed. Dr Brockwell’s response to my grief was understanding and empathetic, but mostly, he was able to give me the care I needed at that time. This comprised of caring words and constructive information. He also swiftly contacted a past female patient, who sent me an encouraging email and offered herself as a resource. Regardless of this, I still resolved to hold off surgery as long as I could. I set about researching ways to manage my hip, to change my lifestyle and throw myself into ‘managing the pain.’ This lasted about a month before I saw that this hip of mine was impacting not only negatively on me but also on my family. It was time to ‘pull the pin’ and face the prospect of a hip replacement. I decided to make an appointment to have a cortisone shot to get me through Christmas and to make a tentative appointment for February. I was still secretly hoping that a miracle would occur with the cortisone and I would be cured! Of course that didn’t happen.
Apart from my husband, I didn’t tell any one about the surgery as I found it very hard to talk about and it was exhausting and traumatic to have to explain to people. My husband and I had a final consultation with Dr Brockwell where he explained things thoroughly and answered all of our questions. One of the main quandaries I found myself in was whether to have the BHR or the traditional, and even though I had done what I thought was a good amount of research, there were still some pretty scary stories about BHR, especially for women. Dr Brockwell’s final consultation was the clincher and he presented my husband and I with all the facts in an unbiased and realistic manner. He explained what the research showed about both BHR and THR and presented the fors and againsts for both. He went on to explain why he considered me a good candidate for the BHR and why he believed the common concerns about BHRs for small boned women did not apply because he was skilled in cup positioning. One way he ensures accurate cup position is through the use of Xray during the operation, and this he credits with the reason he is able to be confident of an excellent result. This really helped us to make our decision. I say us because I really felt I wanted my husband to be a part of the decision and know the risks etc. We both left the consultation knowing that the BHR was the one for me.
So, February 14 came and every thing went brilliantly. Dr Brockwell’s fabulous nurse Carmen makes sure that you are prepared with every thing you need before the op so that things are smooth. I was operated on at 11am and back on the ward around 3pm. Dr Brockwell’s anesthetist, Dr Mani was there to talk to me and said every thing had gone well, passed me a container of ‘foreign bodies’ (two little balls of cartilage that were just hanging about in there) and I was taken back to the ward. By 5pm the physio was with me and I was moving my leg and completing basic range of movement exercises. I still feeling groggy and it felt surreal but I do remember feeling amazed and excited at the range of movement I had on the out ward rotation. As other people have said, the relief is instant! There were challenges however, and trying a straight leg lift seemed near on impossible and I hated it but I persisted with it and it and it got easier and was definitely a help when it came to getting in and out of bed. Moving the leg was a shock but obviously something that is necessary to make sure that you get into a good habit. I can imagine it would be easy to get a bit ‘lazy’ – it is definitely not a natural instinct to move a leg that has just been operated on!
After a decent sleep, I was taken down to the Xray room. This was pretty awful because it required me moving on and off from the bed to the Xray table. However, I knew this was important for Dr Brockwell to see on the second day. After the Xray, I faced the physio again and this time I was up and walking with a frame. Unfortunately I was so dizzy that after a two meter walk, I almost fainted and had to be sat down. I got the sweats and the nausea was intense as well. This happened to me again on the second day. Apparently this is quite normal post anesthetic and I needed to make sure I sat up slowly and took my time before getting up, to avoid the feeling occurring. Because of the dizzy spells I stayed 3 nights in the hospital and I was glad I did do that as I felt much stronger on day 4 when I left. Apart from the nausea I felt really strong and I was so so happy with where I was at.
I am now 7 weeks post operation and I am feeling very strong. Dr Brockwell has been very attentive in the follow up appointments and has been thorough in reminding me of the importance of all aspects of the rehabilitation. I am still using two sticks when I am out and I am staying off my leg as much as I can. The truth certainly is that patience is your best friend, as the exercise options are very limited and the temptation to move more is great! I am seeing the physio once per week and am working on the basic exercises to strengthen the muscles around the hip. I am experiencing a bit of clunking at the moment but I am hoping that will pass as the muscles get stronger. Apart from that and general weakness I feel my rehab is going well. I have been very lucky to get a good amount of time off work and although I am now feeling ready to go back, teaching P.E is not really an option and I am glad to not be faced with the temptation of moving more than I should. I will return to work at 10 weeks and I will make sure I take it easy for two more weeks until the 12 week are done.
I look forward to getting back into an active lifestyle but the changes I will make are yet to be seen. I ran a lot and I loved it. As an ex aerobics instructor I spent a great deal of time at the gym and enjoyed all types of strengthening and cardio classes. I feel incredibly grateful and humbled by this whole experience and I will try really hard to find the right balance and be kind to my shiny new hip!