I was fortunate to be able to retire in 2005 at
age 58, and the ensuing years had been wonderful. I have always been
very active, bicycling, kayaking, long distance motorcycling, dirt
bike riding, and hiking. Last year I rode my motorcycle from South
Carolina to Alaska – and back. I hiked the Zaleski Trail in South
Eastern Ohio, which is 27 miles of extreme elevation changes and
very strenuous. I don’t like running, but in every other way, I did
much more than most men my age.
My left hip had occasionally given me a "twinge", but nothing
affecting my mobility. It never concerned me, but about a year ago I
started sensing pain in my left hip when I walked any distance. We
live on a barrier island and the morning routine included taking the
golden retriever to the beach for a walk of 1-2 miles. I began
skipping the morning walks when the hip pain started to become more
frequent and more severe. This made both the dog and me unhappy.
Then, over the course of about three months the pain became
debilitating. The pain became so severe, I couldn’t walk more than a
few hundred feet. I knew something had to be done.
I got online (including surfacehippy) and started my research. The
Charleston SC newspaper – Post and Courier – carried an article
about a woman dancer who had a resurface done by Dr. Tom Gross in
Columbia SC. The woman praised Dr. Gross and described the results
of her surgery as life changing. I immediately scheduled an
appointment with Dr. Gross for mid-January 2010.
My initial examination and consultation with Dr. Gross was very
confidence inspiring. The x-rays determined that my femoral head was
deformed–probably since birth, and my left leg was a centimeter
shorter that the right ! I had just learned to compensate over the
years by tilting my pelvis, and never realized this was a problem.
Dr. Gross determined that even though I was now 62 years old, I was
a good candidate for a resurface procedure. I told them to schedule
me for the surgery, and found out the first available date was
April, 19–three months away.
I was so impressed with Dr Gross, I wanted him to do my operation,
but decided to check around to see if I could fine someone who could
do it sooner. We have ties to Ohio, and a friend who is an M.D. had
his hip done with good results by Dr. Peter Brooks at the Cleveland
Clinic. Dr. Michael Swank in Cincinnati was also recommended so I
scheduled appointments with both of then and we headed to Ohio.
Before going to Ohio I had a complete set of xrays done along with
an EKG, blood/urine work, a Dexa Bone Density Scan, and a pre-op
physical by a local internist. I FedEx’d these results to the Ohio
doctors so things would hopefully move along faster.
Upon arrival at Dr Swank’s office I was seen promptly, more xrays
were taken, and my wife and I met with the Dr. He was in his 40’s,
dressed in a business suit and friendly, but intense. We talked for
about 30 minutes and he answered all my concerns, and had a surgery
slot open on Febuary 23. My gut feeling was good, and I decided to
go with him. I was given several prescriptions to have filled and
told to take the Celebrex and Coumadin the day before the surgery.
The surgery was to be performed at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati and
after a visit there for pre-admission, we showed up on Feb 23 at
5:30am for my 7:30 surgery. I got into the gown, IV’s were inserted,
some sedatives given and I was rolled down the hall. I told the
nurse I wanted the ventilator tube removed before I woke up because
I had fears of a choking/gagging reaction. I spoke with Dr Swank for
approximately 30 seconds, and then all is blank.
I woke up with my wife next to me in post-op and felt pretty good,
which is a tribute to morphene and Oxycontin. I was actually
comfortable, happy and a little loopy. A friend called my wife’s
cell to check on me, and I talked with him for about 15 minutes (I
have NO recollection of the conversation).
I was ultimately moved to my room and drifted in and out of sleep
throughout the rest of the evening. The nurses came frequently
(every 45 min) and woke me to perform various tests, but I had no
problem going back to sleep. I was not in any serious discomfort
thanks to the drugs, and used ice packs on the incision. I was going
to get one of the devices that runs ice water through a sleeve
around the wound, but decided ice packs would do ok—they did.
During the night, I didn’t get out of bed, but urinated in a bottle.
Fortunately, I did not receive a catheter. The pain killers cause
severe constipation, so I recommend using a fiber supplement like
Metamucil before surgery to keep things moving.
The morning after my surgery the PT and OT ladies came and it was
time to get out of bed. In hind-sight I was still under the
influence of the pain medications and my judgment probably wasn’t
the best. I scooted around with the walker and took off up the hall
on crutches. Fortunately I didn’t do any damage, but I was not good
about following the cautions given to me by the therapists. I
decided I wanted to leave the hospital after only staying one night.
Another night would have been the right thing to do, but in my
medicated state, I was fairly insistent on leaving. If you have the
option, stay two nights. Post-Op, I had felt less pain than that
caused by simply walking before the surgery.
My wife loaded me, and all my new gear (walker, crutches, elevated
toilet seat) into the car and off we go.
Once home, I mostly slept and watched TV, the Vicodin and sleeping
pills keeping me lethargic. I would force my self to get up
regularly, and shuffle around the house with my walker, but with a
constant fear of a dislocation. I felt some pain when moving, but
nothing unmanageable. My left leg, from waist to foot was swollen
and severely bruised. My left side looked like I had been in a bad
car crash. The "minimally invasive" surgery gave me an eight inch
incision = my career as a Speedo model is over. My incision was not
stitched, but Super Glued, and occasionally had a burning sensation.
I was taking Vicodin, Celebrex, Coumadin, and Nurontin.
When awake, I would walk at least once an hour with the walker for
the first three days. I then transferred to crutches, and continued
to get up and walk at least once an hour. I was on the crutches for
two weeks after the surgery, then I transitioned to a cane. After
two weeks, I stopped taking the Vicodin because of the nasty
constipation and found my discomfort to be manageable. My two week,
post-op exam was uneventful and all was found to be well.
I am now four weeks from surgery. I am taking no prescription
medications. I walk without a cane, but with a slight limp. I am
drinking beer. I climb steps, foot-over foot. I drive my manual
transmission Cobra. I have an occasional, transient, spasm or
quivering in my leg when I walk after sitting on a hard surface, but
I get better every day.
When I looked at my body after the surgery it was clear that a
violent, brutal, procedure had been performed, but my main emotion
regarding the surgery is joy. Dr. Swank got the job done, and I am
better for it. The discomfort from the surgery is inconsequential
compared to the life of pain-free mobility it has given me. We are
blessed to live in a time when this life-changing procedure is
available, and competent surgeons are there to help us.
Jay Newberry, Isle of Palms SC