I’m not really much of an athlete now but my need for hip
resurfacing stems from being a gymnast and dancer 25 years (and 25 pounds) ago!
I am 46 and enjoy bowling and golf. I did not golf at all this year due to hip
Today marks 2 weeks since my Birmingham Hip Resurfacing on my left hip. The
surgery was performed by Dr. Philip Schmitt in Commerce Township, Michigan. I
was originally scheduled for a THR with another surgeon back in August but
canceled after investigating the BHR technique (among other reasons…see
I am still experiencing some “healing” pain which is tolerable compared to my
original “hip” pain. I know this pain will eventually go away! I am walking with
a cane but occasionally forget where I left it and walk unassisted. I’m amazed
at the progress I achieve day by day. I entered the hospital at 7 am on Monday,
October 22, 2007 and returned home Wednesday, October 24 in the afternoon. My
stay at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital in Commerce Township, Michigan was pleasant
and I was well cared for.
I visit Dr. Schmitt Wednesday, November 7th to have my staples removed. My scar
is 7″ long with 20 staples. It looks like I will have minimal scarring. I’m very
pleased with the results, which is good because I also need the right hip
serviced! If possible I’d like to have it done in mid-December since all my
insurance deductibles are met for the year and I start from scratch again come
January, but I don’t want to rush into it until my left side is completely
The first two days at home were especially difficult because you mainly use your
upper body to pull yourself up. Knowing what I know now, I should have been
pumping iron at the gym to strengthen my upper body prior to the surgery.
Something I’m keeping in mind for the next surgery.
I suffered the worst pain a week after I was home (Wednesday). My whole left leg
was “ancy”. It only felt good if I was moving it (tapping my foot) or standing
on it. I now know that was due to the nerve endings healing along with all the
internal healing. Pain killers did nothing except make me tired. I finally
contacted Dr. Schmitt on Friday (who responded personally and promptly) who told
me I could start taking ibuprofen since I only had one more blood thinner shot
to take (Arixtra). I had previously been told by the home care nurse who visited
that while on blood thinners you cannot take anti-inflammatory meds. This is a
point that needs further investigation because 20 minutes after taking 800 mg of
ibuprofen, the pain subsided. If I could have taken that a few days before it
would have been very helpful. Sleeping was next to impossible since the leg had
to be moving to feel better. After taking the ibuprofen I slept for 6 hours
straight…the most since before the surgery!
I know I’m still in the early stages of recovery but I couldn’t be happier. I’m
actually going to go to work today for a few hours. I can drive now since it was
my left leg that was operated on and I drive an automatic. Even if it was my
right leg I would be able to drive because I have enough control already. I can
already lift the leg in a “marching” position easily.
A little background on how I reached this point. I’ll make it brief (kind of)!
When I was pregnant with my son 21 years ago, I experienced bad sciatica in my
left leg which went away after delivery. Fast forward two years later, pregnant
with my daughter…same pain, DID NOT go away after delivery. Bummer. Cortisone
shots, massive anti-inflammatory drugs, no relief. Finally visited a
chiropractor which helped. Although my insurance didn’t cover the visits, I paid
out a couple of thousand to seek relief. Understanding now that is was purely a
“mechanical” problem, nerve squeezed in a joint, I had temporary relief after a
visit…nothing long term.
Fast forward 8 years later. Ortho doctor says I have arthritis in my lower back,
prescribes Celebrex (stopped taking due to side effects) and Tylenol 3. I saw
him a couple of times because pain was getting worse, same results. Three years
later, call same doctor but he doesn’t see “non-surgical” patients anymore. I
hate shopping for doctors; I tend to find one and stick with them so they
actually know who you are. Continue suffering while things tend to start getting
Late 2005, finally see another ortho doctor upon recommendation from a friend.
Immediately tells me my left hip is gone. I finally went because I had total
“impingement”. I couldn’t move my left leg sideways, forward, backward, etc. He
administered 3 shots in the hip (now that was painful) which lasted about 6
weeks. Next visit he used a new drug in the joint that was actually for the
knee. This worked great for about 6 months…much better than the last one. Next
visit he had me visit with the surgeon who wanted to basically dislocate the
hip, clean out all the torn cartilage and arthritis, and put it all back
together. I passed. It didn’t sound like a viable solution to the problem. Next
visit, 6 months later, referred to another surgeon who determined a THR was the
only solution. Totally floored me since I was only 45 and never dreamed I needed
something like that! I scheduled the surgery for Aug. 7, 2007.
Since obtaining cardiac clearance is standard in most cases, I visited a
cardiologist in July who performed a “pharmacuetical stress test” since I
couldn’t really jog on the treadmill. Everything looked fine but he was
concerned about a small area that most likely was due to a shadow from my breast
(thanks for the non-perky comment) but he decided I needed a catheterization to
completely clear me for surgery. This went without a hitch on the 26th. One week
later I was having extreme pain in the right thigh and noticed a little bump
filled with blood near the incision. It started bleeding a little bit so my
husband called the ER surgeon on duty. He said to apply a compress for 10
minutes and then an ice pack. This seemed to work and I dozed off on the couch
with the ice pack. An hour later I awoke and felt “warm”…not a good feeling
when you have an ice pack! I stood up and blood was everywhere (my new couch!) I
yelled for my husband who preceded to pick me up and put me in the vehicle. My
daughter and her boyfriend drove while my husband kept a compress on the site.
Luckily we’re only 2 minutes from the hospital. Once in ER they were trying to
determine if the blood was “flowing” or “spurting”. My husband explained that he
didn’t take time to analyze the blood spray pattern. It turns out that I had an
“angio-seal” installed after the catheterization (unknown to me) and a hematoma
had formed and burst. Not life threatening but very scary (as I had to explain
to the insurance company who immediately rejected the ER claim). This happened 2
days before the scheduled THR…I canceled. Three days later I couldn’t walk.
The back of my right calf hurt so bad. I couldn’t put the leg down below “couch”
level and certainly couldn’t walk. I called the cardiologist who saw me
immediately…they thought it was a blood clot. Turns out it was a pinched
nerve. The “angio-seal” had inadvertently pinched a nerve in the groin area
where the nerves for the entire leg bundle together. This happened 2 days before
re-scheduled THR. I canceled.
Now recuperating from a simple procedure gone bad, I start surfing the web about
something I remember seeing something about the previous year but didn’t pay
attention to…hip resurfacing. I watch a video from DMC (Detroit Medical
Centers) about a woman my age who had a BHR. I could have been me talking! I
immediately schedule an appointment with Dr. Schmitt, apparently one of only 2
doctors that currently perform a BHR in Michigan. The visit went great…even
after hearing that my right hip is actually worse than the left! He said if he
hadn’t seen my chart beforehand and had just looked at the x-ray he would have
thought I was there for the right side. That will be next, I don’t know how
soon, because I’m still experiencing the lower back and tailbone pain I had
Thanks for letting me tell my story…I hope it helps others who are considering
a BHR. I have a dear friend who had a THR over 6 months ago and had a horrible
experience. Unfortunately he developed a staph infection and had to spend two
months in a nursing facility with no hip, just a spacer filled with antibiotics.
When he visits, I feel kind of guilty because I’m recovering so fast. I know the
possibility of infection is present with any surgery but I feel that the BHR
sports less of a chance because the bone is not being removed.
Good luck to all future BHR patients!