Jeanie’s Hip Resurfacing with Dr. Gross 2008
I’m 41 and had my left hip resurfaced in August. I had degenerative joint disease which was secondary to dysplasia. Apparently, my hip was dislocated at birth and no one noticed for 11 months! When my parents finally brought me to a specialist, I was put in a series of casts and braces for the next year of so. My parents told me the specialist said then that my hip would probably last until I was in my early forties. He was right! The hip formed with a very shallow socket and the head of my femur was flat on one side – not a very congruent combination, resulting in a lot of friction and therefore wear and tear over the years. I started having pain when I was 28. Amazingly, I’ve been an athletic and active person my whole life and played hockey for 7 years in my twenties until my hip started to hurt.
My surgeon told me that hip dysplasia is the most common condition in his resurfacing patients. Since I had a such a shallow socket, he had to dig out a socket for me in which he could place the acetabular component. Apparently, dysplasics often have poorly shaped sockets and some companies even make special acetabular components for dysplasic sockets. So, don’t worry too much about the dysplasia. It’s amazing what they can do!
September 1, 2008
I had my left hip re-surfaced by Dr. Gross last Wednesday and I’m happy to report that I’m feeling pretty great! So far, my recovery has been much better than I ever imagined. I was released from the hospital on Friday and we drove three hours to my sister’s house in North Carolina. I’ll continue to recover here all week before flying home to Utah on Saturday. Amazingly, I’ve had really no pain at all. I’ve taken nothing stronger than Tylenol so far. I truly can’t believe it. But, I’m grateful for it. Today, I’ve started to use just one crutch to walk. I didn’t intend to move to one crutch this soon. It just happened because I began to realize that the second crutch was really just in the way at this point.
Last week in the hospital, I was feeling pretty crummy. So, I’m really surprised that I’ve rebounded so quickly. My blood pressure and heart rate were really, really low and I think that was causing me to be very weak and nauseous all the time. Since leaving the hospital, my blood pressure has returned to normal, my appetite has returned and I’ve been feeling better every day. I had a hard time sleeping at first. But, each night gets better. Last night, I got a really good night’s sleep. I’ve also been napping a lot throughout the day.
I’m not sure why my recovery has been so good and so free of pain so far. But, I think it might be because I went into the surgery in really good physical condition. After giving up so many sports over the last 12 years of pain, road cycling was the one sport that I could still do pretty well. In the months before my surgery, I rode many miles and regularly climbed my bike up all of our long and steep canyon roads. I think all that climbing really paid off. So, my advice is to try to go into the surgery in the best physical shape possible. I found cycling to be a great way to achieve that because it’s not weight bearing and it happened to be the one motion that I could still do with my hip. It was bizarre. I could easily ride a century on my bike and climb several thousand feet in a ride. Yet off the bike, I could barely manage to walk around the grocery store.
The second piece of advice that I have is to ice your hip a lot. Dr. Gross sends his patients home with a really great ice machine thing. It’s wonderful. I think icing my hip regularly since surgery has helped to eliminate pain and reduce the swelling. At the very least, it just feels great!
Dr. Gross is very conservative and I intend to follow all of his rules and be super conservative during my recovery even if I continue to feel this good. I’m very nervous about getting beyond the 6 month point without a fracture. So, I intend to be very conservative. If all goes well, I should be cleared to snowboard by March, but I might wait until next year to snowboard. I don’t want to screw this up by doing something stupid too soon!
I was very nervous about doing this surgery and I did 6 months of research before choosing Dr. Gross and scheduling the surgery. By the way, I went with the uncemented Biomet device. The reasons that Dr. Gross and Biomet have pursued the development of an uncemented device make a lot of sense to me. My hunch is that they’re onto something. I’m only 41 and I need a long term solution. Eliminating the long term weak link in the system makes sense to me. However, it is a risk. Everyone needs to make their own decision about this. It felt like the right decision for me. So far, Dr. Gross has put in about 300 uncemented devices.
So, that’s my scoop! Another happy surface hippy . . . at least so far!
Thanks so much to Pat and all of the folks that have shared so much of their personal experience and thoughts on this forum! In the coming months, I’ll try to do the same for others behind me in this journey!
September 14, 2008
I’m doing great. My recovery has been much better than I ever imagined. I’m so grateful for that. Today, I walked a hilly 2.5 miles with the cane. So far, the hip seems good! Amazingly, I’ve had no pain during my recovery. But, I do get tired and I sleep a lot!
My operated leg is still about 1/2 inch longer than it should be. I’m not too concerned about that right now because I’ve read plenty of posts that have said the discrepancy will disappear over time as interior inflammation subsides and tissues compress. Was your operated leg longer after surgery?
September 17, 2008
I’m 3 weeks out from surgery with Dr. Gross. Here are my tips for you:
During your pre-op appt. with Dr. Gross the day before your surgery, the tech will come in and fit you for crutches. So, you don’t have to worry about getting crutches ahead of time. You will want to get a cane to start using at some point during your recovery. I used two crutches for the first several days, then I went to one crutch on post-op day 5 and started using the cane on post-op day 7-8-ish. On post-op day 5, I was somewhat surprised to find it actually much easier to manage with one crutch, rather than two. Then, it was good to have the cane sitting there so that I could start to experiment with what the cane would feel like. I found it a much bigger deal to go from one crutch to a cane and for several days I used both as I gradually weaned myself from crutch to cane. I bought a cane at Walgreens. They had a good selection. I recommend getting one with a nice comfy foam grip handle. You’ll appreciate the cushioned grip on longer walks.
Also during your pre-op appt. with Dr. Gross, Nancy Smith will provide you with a number to call to order a hip kit that they’ll deliver to you in the hospital. I ordered the kit in the hospital because I was going to stay at my sister’s house in NC for a week before flying home to Utah the following week. If you’ll be flying out the day after your released from the hospital then perhaps you’ll want to get one ahead of time at home and save the trouble of packing it up and checking it with your luggage. For me the most important items in the hip kit have been The Grabber, sponge on a stick and chair thing that fits over the toilet. I have found all of these things very useful. I used the leg lifter for only the first few days to lift my leg in and out of bed.
When you wake up in recovery you’ll find that your hip is wrapped up in a nice cool Polarcare 300. You get to take this home with you as a parting gift! The Polarcare was my best friend during the first week of my recovery. I went through about a bag of ice a day. Each day when my brother-in-law came home from work carrying a bag of ice I would scream out ‘The Iceman Cometh!’. You’ll need a lot of ice! The Polarcare is a little square cooler that you fill with ice water that has a hose connected to a neoprene wrap with little plastic cells on one side that the ice water circulates through. The neoprene wrap is designed to fit your hip and it attaches around your hips and upper thigh with velcro. Usually you plug it in and the pump that continually circulates the cold water from the cooler through the wrap runs on electricity. However, it also has a hand pump that you can use to re-circulate the ice water. I’m telling you all this because you’ll want to bring the polarcare home with you. They’ll give it to you in a box that you can easily pack it back into and check at the airport. So, you may want to bring a marker and packing tape to seal the box and write your contact information on the box before checking it. Or, if you have someone traveling with you who’s willing to carry the Polarcare on the plane, then I think it would be great to have the Polarcare with you on the plane and use the hand pump to circulate the water. It should easily fit into the overhead bin during takeoff and landing. My boyfriend stayed home to care for our dogs while I travelled east for the surgery and my entire family lives on the east coast. So, I flew alone and I checked my Polarcare and I was wishing that I had it during the flight.
I arranged for a wheelchair ahead of time for getting through the airport. Again, if i wasn’t traveling alone, I certainly could have managed it without it. But, it’s a service that’s provided and it worked out well for me especially since I flew on the day tropical storm Hannah was hitting the east coast and the airports where jammed with people. The last thing you want is some nitwit who’s rushing and not paying attention to knock you off your feet.
On Surfacehippy, I kept reading about people raving about their recliner chairs during recovery. I didn’t have a recliner chair and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money to buy a recliner. My sister didn’t have a recliner at her house either and for the first week that I stayed there, I had a hard time finding any comfort while sitting. Most of the time I spent in bed with my legs on a pillow or on the sofa with my legs on an ottoman and a couple of pillows. I was always uncomfortably slouching because I was paranoid about breaking the 90 degree rule. I broke down and ordered a $230 zero-gravity recliner from relaxtheback.com. It’s called the La Fuma Microsuede Recliner and it’s absolute heaven on earth. It’s the only chair that I’ve been comfortable sitting in and I even find myself sleeping in it a lot. Whenever I come in from a longer walk, I usually pass out for an hour in my recliner. It’s sooooo comfortable. Plus, it’s portable. So, we move it around easily from the TV room, to the back patio and upstairs to the bedroom. So, if you already have a recliner then put it in the room that you’ll want to spend most of your time because you’ll be spending a lot of time in the recliner. If you don’t already have a recliner then I recommend spending the $230 for the La Fuma. It’s worth every penny for the comfort it provides.
When you’re in the hospital, the PT therapist will teach you how to do stairs. I found the uncarpeted, cement steps at the hospital to be terrifying the first time. But since then, I’ve found stairs to be very easy to manage. You’ll quickly get the hang of it. I wouldn’t worry too much about the stairs.
I don’t have kids, so I really can’t offer any advice on taking care of kids. I bet the older kids will be really helpful to have around as gophers and shoe-tyers. My biggest problem is that have to have my boyfriend put my sneakers on for me before he leaves for work each morning and I have to keep them on all day. Sometimes I’m still snoozing in bed when he’s putting my sneaks on for the day. I wish I had someone to tie my left sneaker during the day!
Since your username is Triathloner, you must be a cyclist. I’m a cyclist and it was the one thing that I could still do really well despite my hip. So, I did A LOT of it in the months prior to surgery. I was in very good shape going into the surgery and I think that has paid dividends during my recovery. So, my last piece of advice is to go into surgery in the best shape possible. I think it may help.
Lastly, I was terrified about the surgery. I was second-guessing it all throughout the week before. Luckily, when you get to the hospital everything happens very quickly and before you know it, it’s all behind you. The difficult thing for me right now is that I feel like it’s going to be long time before I really know if this was successful and that bothers me. Right now, it seems like everything is good and right on track. But, I won’t really feel good about calling this a success until I get to that 6 month mark. Boy, that’s a long time!
September 23, 2008
In response to the leg length difference . . . Yes! Tomorrow, I’ll be 4 weeks from surgery and my operated leg is still about 1/2 inch longer than my other leg. My legs were perfectly even to start with! I’ve read many posts on this site saying this is common and the discrepancy will resolve itself over time. As a matter of fact, Pat has a whole topic category devoted to this. (Sorry Pat, that we’ve somehow hijacked this topic and went here, but I couldn’t resist to reply!) Apparently, it may be due to some lingering inflammation and the tissues still needing to compress and get back to normal. However, it still drives me crazy. I’m so worried that it will be permanent. For now, I’ve put a lift in my sneaker so that it doesn’t interfere with my ability to practice a normal walk.
December 24, 2008
I’m a few days away from 4 months post-op and I feel fabulous!
February 6, 2009
I’ve been a daily reader of the postings on this website for almost a year. I consider this website to be absolutely priceless for its wealth of reliable information and the support found among the members of this community of people who share their thoughts, experiences and research with each other.
In discussions regarding recoveries, I’ve seen the same, consistent theme over the past year. ‘Everyone’s recovery is different.’ No one is ever promised a great recovery. One’s recovery is unpredictable. It’s an individual experience and it can be affected by many variables. I think it’s great that we can share our good experiences and bad experiences in a safe community of people who care. I’ve always heard Pat encourage people to share their experiences, both good and bad, with candor. She doesn’t advise people to ‘tone down’ or ‘overplay’ their experiences. So, why should she? Just tell it like it is. Good and bad.
Incidentally, I feel that I’ve had a great recovery. Believe it or not, I took nothing stronger than Tylenol for some minor muscular pain. I used two crutches for a couple of days, then one crutch for a few days, then was using a cane for several weeks. Weaning myself off the cane was hard for me. It took me awhile to realize that the only way off the cane was to get off the cane and work through the awkwardness. It worked itself out after about a week of some very awkward walking. My leg turned dramatically inward initially when I walked. This was very embarrassing to me. It has taken some time to rebuild strength in some very specific muscles again in order to correct the inward rotation. As far as I’m concerned, after 12 years of being in pain this has not been a big deal. Some people might have had a different perspective on this and may have considered this an unexpected complication or a significant setback. A lot dependds on perspective and expectations. I’m so happy that I no longer have to wake up every day wondering what my pain level is going to be and wondering how many painkillers I’m going to have to swallow in order to make it through the day.
My advice to everyone who is planning to have this surgery is to educate yourself as much as possible and make your own decision for what’s right for you based on everything you learn. Unfortunately, other factors weigh in as well, such as location, ability to travel, insurance or lack therof, etc.. These are just the realities of life that may limit our alternatives. I happen to be in the camp with the opinion that you should go with the most experienced surgeon you can. In my case, my surgeon choice was influenced by surgeon experience, location (my sister lives 3 hours away from my surgeon and I re-habbed at her house), insurance coverage (in-network provider) and that I felt like he was the right choice for me. But, that was my choice that was based on my own preferences and my unique circumstances.
In any case, own your own decision and it’s outcome. Release yourself from any pre-conceived expectations regarding your own recovery. Everyone is different. Instead, commit to being flexible and easy on yourself. Everyone recovers at a different rate. Give yourself permission to recover at the rate that your body chooses. After all, you really have no choice in the matter, so why beat yourself up over something you can’t control? Enjoy the time off that you’re going to give yourself. There were days during my recovery that I slept in my recliner chair during the better part of the day. I would NEVER do that normally. Honestly, I enjoyed the break that I gave myself. It was nice to nap whenever I felt like it and not feel guilty about it.
March 2, 2009
I finally hit 6 months post-op on Friday! Woohoo! Right after my surgery, I think I remember writing a post saying that I wouldn’t snowboard until next season. Well, that went out the window on Saturday. I rode a half day at Park City on easy blue groomers. No problem at all. My hip felt great! I was amazed at how responsive my hip was and there was absolutely not one twinge of pain. Afterward, I felt great! Prior to surgery, I could barely walk after snowboarding despite painkillers. Amazing!
The weekend before, I rode 32 miles on my road bike on Saturday (yes, I cheated by a week). That was probably a bit much for my first ride. But, my hip felt great cycling too! When I stood up on my pedals to sprint up a short climb, it felt smooth and strong. Last year, when I stood up on my pedals, my hip felt crumbly, weak and unstable.
I’m so grateful for this surgery!
May 14, 2009
I had surgery on August 27th last year. I’m about 8 1/2 post-op and I could not be more pleased with the results. I feel fantastic! I got some great snowboarding in during March and April and I can’t wait until next season! But, even more importantly, I can function like a normal person. I can wear high heels again. I can go grocery shopping without a plan for minimizing my walking. I can run up a flight in stairs. I can do anything. My hip feels rock solid. I have absolutely no pain. The only thing is that I still have some stiffness in my hip when I lunge on my operated side and fold down (like in yoga). But, I’m pretty sure that stiffness is the result of some remaining scar tissue that needs more time to build elasticity. I’m confident that it will resolve itself with more time. Since my surgery, I’ve found that each month brings further capability.
June 12, 2009
I’m at 9 months post-op and mountain bike all the time. As a matter of fact, I’m heading out on Tuesday for a week of mountain biking and camping Tour de Utah. I live in Salt Lake City. Anyway, I’ve had no problem mountain biking since surgery. Last year, I rode right up to surgery. But, not without pain killers and it was difficult getting on and off the bike and clipping out on my left side. This year, I can actually throw my leg over the bike and I no longer have to brace myself for a shot of pain when I clip out. Life is good!
September 21, 2009
I’m at 13 months post-op. At various times during the recovery process, I did feel clunking. I noticed that the clunking seemed to occur each time I found a new range of motion. But, the clunking was temporary. Otherwise, no, you can’t feel your metal hip at all. For me, this surgery has been a huge success. Yesterday, I went on a long mountain bike ride with technical downhill sections. On Saturday, I played 18 holes of golf. At 7 months post-op, I snowboarded in 3 feet of fresh powder. I recently bought a new car with a manual transmission because I can once again drive one. These are all things that I either had to give up at some point over the last 12 years, or continued to do, but with reduced performance and lots of painkillers.
Right now, my resurfaced hip feels and performs better than my natural left hip did since my early twenties.
In comparison to my good hip, my operated side does feel weaker. That weakness began long before surgery due to my limited range of motion and many compromises for my hip. Now that I’m past one year, I’m really focusing on working it harder to build more strength and agility in the hip, especially in preparation for snowboarding season. It’s been a slow process. But, I’m confident that at some point, I’m thinking 18 months to 2 years, it really will be equally as strong and as flexible as my right hip.
November 9, 2009
I’m 14 month post-op and although I consider my hip resurfacing to be wildly successful in many ways (like I can actually walk, for instance!), But, I’m an over-achiever and so I’m still looking for a bit more progress in terms of strength and flexibility. Lately, I’ve been exploring what might be holding me back from achieving strength and flexibility on par with my unoperated side. My current theory is that maybe it’s because I haven’t worked very hard to break up all that scar tissue in there and perhaps that’s prohibiting the development of new muscle in specific areas and of course that inelastic scar tissue would limit my flexibility. This is a step that I think I missed during the recovery process. I wish that I recognized earlier how important it would be to work with a really good massage therapist to break up the scar tissue. I still have a clump of hard tissue under and around my scar.
Anyway, I just wanted to share this current theory of mine. I’ve started to work with a massage therapist who specializes in this sort of thing and I’m coupling that with my yoga practice to explore the new possibilities in the hip as the massage therapist performs his magic. I’ll let you all know if this theory pans out at all with actual results.
I truly do believe that having the surgery is really only a portion of the complete solution. Once the mechanical problem is fixed, it can be a challenge to convince all the soft tissue surrounding the joint that everything really is okay now, especially if patterns to compensate for the bad joint have set in over a long period of time.
February 10, 2010
I had my left hip resurfaced by Dr. Gross almost a year and half ago. I had a really great experience and would highly recommend Dr. Gross. One of the reasons I chose Dr. Gross was because I felt that the argument for cementless was compelling. Don does a good job of summarizing it in his previous post.
I traveled from Salt Lake City, Utah for my surgery with Dr. Gross. For me, it was perhaps a little easier than some because my sister lives in North Carolina. So, we drove the 3 hours back to her house when I was released from the hospital and I was able to hang at her house until flying home a week later. However, when I did fly home, I traveled alone and it was fine.
Dr. Gross, his staff, the hospital, the hotel, the pharmacy, etc.. are all accustomed to having many patients travel far for surgery with him and they have it down to a science. The hotel is conveniently right across the parking lot from the hospital. Don’t worry about the travel.
I’m very happy with the results of my resurfacing. I snowboard, mountain bike, road cycle, play golf, do yoga and have started to do some running. My resurfaced hip is much better than my old hip has been in over 12 years. To answer your questions about concerns of dislocation, etc… Like most informed patients, I was cautious for the first 6 months and especially for the first 6 weeks or so. I worried anytime I tripped, or overdid it, or there was some new feeling or something. After 6 months, I felt like I was safe and all is good. Now, I really don’t have any concerns at all. My hip really feels solid!