Next month I will hit my 10 year anniversary on my left hip resurfacing with Dr Gross which is doing fine. Last week I saw Dr Gross again to have my right hip resurfaced. I thought that it might be interesting to compare these two adventures as the second one evolves. Below are a few key notes from the two different recoveries as of 9 days out. We often hear on this site about how everyone’s recovery is different, and my story so far shows how different the recovery process can be for the same person on two different hips.
Pre-op: Really no changes here. Dr Gross, Lee Webb, and Nancy are all great, and the whole process runs like a well oiled machine.
Waking up after surgery: One very big difference here from 10 years ago. Dr Gross has added another long acting pain killer into the operation area, with an interesting side affect. Last time I laid awake the night after surgery and did numerous sets of leg lifts. I did not find out until the next day from the PTs that this was a big no-no, but it was easy and relatively pain free. This time it was not an option; the hip flexors and quad were totally asleep for about 24 hours after surgery, and refused to answer any intention to move or even contract. Much of my leg was numb and tingly, though the quad was, and is, more sore than I remember from last time.
Getting up: Just like last time, the first couple of times out of bed involved some dizziness and a big drop in blood pressure; at one point down to 85 over 48. I did not pass out completely either time, but pretty close both times.
Swelling; Another big difference this time is in the amount of swelling. Last time my leg was huge and discolored, with major swelling running from my upper leg eventually down to my foot and ankle with lots of ugly colors. Still lots of upper leg swelling this time, but no discoloration. It moved down into my lower leg and foot at about one week, but that quickly resolved in a day or so, unlike last time which lasted quite a few days. So far I would say that the swelling part of the adventure has greatly improved.
Pain: I am amazed by those people who are able to get through this with very little pain. Not the case for me either time. For me, both hips have been about the same so far. Right from the start, I am able to lay still or sit in a recliner with little to no pain, but any attempts to sit upright or move can result in discomfort ranging from a dull ache to very sharp pains. I cannot remember the details from last time, but I do remember asking for a Tramadol prescription after about a week when I wanted to get off the hard narcotics, but Tylenol was not cutting it. This time I asked for the Tramadol prescription right up front, and it worked out pretty well. I was on the heavy narcotics for about 4 days, then I went to Tramadol for two days, and after one week I am trying to stick to just Tylenol and Celebrex. I did have to take one more Tramadol after our 11 hour travel day to get from South Caroline to Idaho on day eight. At nine days, using 3000 mg of Tylenol per day, I am pain free laying down, uncomfortable sitting, and still some definite pain when trying to move the leg around at all.
Flomax: One of the changes this time is that Dr Gross is prescribing Flomax for men over 65. It seems like this may have made two big differences. Last time it was a real struggle to pass the test of being able to urinate before they would let you leave the hospital; this was a lot easier which was a pretty big deal for me. Also, though I am not sure if it is related, at the one week mark when the swelling was getting to be the most, I started peeing like crazy and the swelling went away in just a couple of days as the fluid passed out of the body.
Clunking: Last time I had lots of clunking for the first couple of weeks, and it continued off and on for a few months. This time I have not yet had a single clunk; what a difference, so far.
Leg length: With the first hip, Dr Gross said that I had an overly deep hip socket, and that we wanted to correct that with cup placement. When this was done, it lengthened my leg by 4mm according to the operative report. After the surgery, Dr Gross said not to worry, because he would even me out when he did the second hip, which he expected would be in a year or two. Fast forward 10 years to my pre-op appointment this time when I brought this up. He said that 4mm is within a normally acceptable amount of change after surgery, and it would be tough to try to get the other leg to exactly match. I said that it had been affecting my back over the years, and that I wore lifts in my shoes, so it would be great if we could get it closer. At first he said that my feelings of leg length difference might just be due to a twisted pelvis (very possible). To his credit, he measured my legs on the table and agreed to the difference, at which point he pulled up the x-rays we had just taken and measured the tilt in my pelvis due to leg length difference which showed about 1cm difference. Convinced that it was an issue worth trying to solve, he said that it would be challenging but he would do his best. True to his word, he lengthened this second leg by 6mm, and now it looks and feels like a perfect match; great job.
Walking: Last time my biggest pain in walking was over the greater trochanter, which was an issue that continued off and on for 12 to 18 months. This time I have more pain in the front around the hip flexors, but too early to really tell much. Pain in the rear incision area is about the same. Based on last time, and where I am at now, I expect to be on crutches for a total of three to four weeks before progressing to a cane for a week.
Stomach and bowels: Dr Gross has added a prescription for stomach acid and discomfort from all the drugs, and it worked great. Last time acid stomach was a big part of my discomfort for the first week, and this time it was a non issue. This time I was more proactive about using laxatives to get the system working again after all the narcotics shuts it down, and things went much easier after a few days.
Overall, I would say the experience is pretty similar, with some mostly positive changes over the past 10 years. It is still major surgery, which for most of us means lots of challenges and some pain and discomfort, but if this hip works out as well as the first one, it is well worth it.