The Before and After Effects of a Hip Operation:
For more than 2 years I suffered severe pain in my right hip, which arose from a common arthrosis. The pain was so intense that I had to completely forget about undertaking any form of sport, which in turn made me very depressed. I had been a passionate sports person, playing tennis all my life and occasionally other sports like squash, jogging and skiing. In the end walking a short distance was a struggle, even with the assistance of a cane purchased in the hope that it would help relieve some pain. That was the end of 2014 and despite constant pain I hesitated to have an operation. The concept of me as a mid-forty year old sports man, walking around with a total endoprosthesis and the possibility that my mobility would be limited was unfathomable. After reaching a point where the pain was physically unbearable and affected my sleeping pattern, I decided it was time to do some research.
On a daily basis I spent hours searching through the Internet and contacting various doctors and clinics. Whilst researching I became familiar with the resurfacing method from Derek McMinn, The Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR). I examined the architecture of this particular implant and discovered that it was indeed a neat solution to my problem. In particular I was excited by the fact that with this operation, it is advantageous to remove as little bone as possible. It also allows one to preserve the natural biomechanics of the joint. Despite being aware of the obvious advantages to this procedure, I also read some critical arguments against it, which left me remaining rather uncertain and sceptical. This uncertainty encouraged me to continue with more detailed research. I gained assistance from friends and family members who helped me find valid information regarding operation methods, clinics, materials and implant manufacturers etc. After two months of continued research, I was convinced in principle that the resurfacing method was right for me however I still needed to find a suitable person to perform the procedure. I began to look for surgeons who were familiar with and had extensive experience in performing operations using the BHR-Method. I read endless doctor reviews and again involved my family and friends by asking them about their experience with certain doctors. In the end I decided to limit my selection to a handful of doctors based in the USA, UK and Germany who had left me with a positive first impression. I attached copies of my X-rays in the emails I sent to all individual doctors and asked them to assess my case with reference to operation possibilities, availability, the rehabilitation process and costs involved. Within a short time I received many positive responses from the doctors I had contacted. It was the response from Dr. Völker that struck me the most. It came voluntarily and gave me a competent, compassionate impression.
Straight away I felt like my suffering was understood and taken seriously by a man who knew exactly what he was talking about. I was convinced of his abilities as a specialized hip surgeon who had gained a horizon of experience dealing with this particular joint. Furthermore his manner, his caring nature and person as a whole, provided me with a strong sense of security. This is something I had rarely experienced with doctors in the past. My positive impression from the emails we exchanged was confirmed when I met Dr. Völker personally at the Atos clinic in Munich in 2015. I was convinced of his expertise. He provided me with all the information I needed and patiently answered any questions I had. As a result of my intensive research and respect for this method (well not exactly respect, but fear, I was terrified about the operation), I had a long list of questions I needed answered. Whilst browsing through the Internet, I not only read the obvious, easy to find articles, but also detailed scientific reports that outlined the possible complications before and after the operation and indeed the Hip-prostheses-statistics from various countries around the world.
Subsequently, we made an appointment for me to be operated in mid-2015. From my time in the clinic, I can clearly remember how speedy the whole process was and the daily, motivational visits I received from Dr. Völker. After just one week I was released from hospital on crutches and with limited pain and began my 4 week rehabilitation in a renowned physiotherapy practice. At the practice I was cared for personally by the managing director and he assured me that in his 20 years of experience, he had never seen a hip to move so naturally and a patient to become fully mobile so quickly after such a procedure. He was also fascinated by the scar and how fast it healed. With some light massaging the post-surgery, hard and rough skin tissue around the scar, was soon soft and smooth to touch.
Dr. Völker also advised me to undertake various strengthening exercises at home. I diligently performed them to the best of my ability and within 8 weeks I was able to walk again without crutches and return to work. Nevertheless the 8 week recovery period was not easy. Getting used to moving with crutches was quite a challenge, especially when it came to climbing stairs. Initially everything was slow and even sleeping was difficult due to me having to avoid certain movements so as to not affect the wound. To make myself more comfortable I used an old pillow (one that my father ironically used after his hip operation) and placed it between my legs to protect the joint. It took some time however until I was able to adjust my way of sleeping. Hence my sleeping patterns were strongly affected in this first phase. Despite all these side effects, I was ecstatic about the daily improvements I noticed and was very pleased that I went through with the operation
It is bewildering that now (8 months after the operation) I feel very little, if any pain. During the recovery period the only pain I felt was when I accidently slept on my right side and subsequently touched off the slightly sensitive wound. I also tend to forget that I have an artificial joint as it feels and moves so naturally. It reassures me to know that anyone who sees me move would never imagine that I have an artificial hip. 3 months after the operation I began to exercise regularly using an exercise bicycle and introduced swimming and some light rowing into my rehabilitation process. It felt great to do sports again, but the most satisfaction was received from knowing I could now move at ease and without constant pain. I can now walk longer distances and have even managed to climb smaller mountains.
Dr. Völker informed me that I could in fact start jogging again, but I have made the decision to wait until I have lost a little more weight. That is my overall goal to protect my new implant and also insure that my other hip remains healthy for as long as possible. As soon as I can jog again, I will take my wife to the tennis court and teach her how to play. I look forward to that immensely. I was very motivated by a video I watched about the first BHR patient who was operated by Derek McMinn in England in 1997. The film depicts how the patient is able to move naturally and freely and how he learns to enjoy life again after the operation. It also shows an X-ray picture 17 years after the procedure, which looks like the operation just took place. This in turn reassures me that my implant will last for a long time and that I can live an active life, with a new sense of meaning that would have been unheard of had I decided against the operation. It is the start of a new stage in my life.
I thank Dr. Völker from the bottom of my heart, for this rediscovered passion for life and increased mobility. My attitude towards life has become so positive. For those who have never personally experienced such discomforts, it is impossible to imagine how much ones passion for life can be deteriorated. Even social events can be affected as one’s ability to take part in certain activities become impossible. And if one doesn’t always express the pain they are having (and let’s be honest, who wants to be spreading bad energy by complaining all the time), they are often misunderstood as a fully healthy person. This in turn leads to a lack of understanding from others, that you simply cannot do certain tasks anymore or at least not as fast and with as much desire as you once did. Dr. Völker is a very distinguished doctor, boasting superior expertise in his field of work combined with a compassionate and caring personality. I will not think twice about contacting him if any issues with my other hip are to arise in the future. I surely hope this will not be the case, however if it were to happen I now know after years of experience, that I will proceed with the operation much sooner and not wait until the pain becomes unbearable.