Dec. 23, 2008
On October 7, 2008 I had a LBHR by Dr. Joshua Hickman at LDS Hospital in Salt
Lake City, Utah. I researched doctors in my area and visited a few before
choosing Dr. Hickman. Not only had he had performed the most hip resurfacings in
my region, but when I met with him, I knew he was the right doctor. He is a
doctor that takes time to discuss concerns, truly cares and is an athlete (so I
knew he would understand my concern about returning to mountain sports not just
getting thru life without pain and a limp).
I was very active until the day before my surgery (rock climbed, hiked and
cycled) and although I had experienced other health problems (irregular
heartbeat, smashed my hand, foot fracture, kidney malfunction), I was totally
unprepared for the extent of the pain and disability when the spinal block wore
off! I was crushed because I realized I wouldn’t be returning to my very active
life any time soon! Poor Dr. Hickman, my surgery actually went extremely well
but I lacked the enthusiasm he felt. I had a low BMI so my incision was only 6”,
I had very little bleeding, there was no fracturing when they dislocated my hip,
etc. I had worn into my pelvis so he had to do a bone graft before placing the
implant in my pelvis. The xrays showed the placement in my femoral head was
perfect. So why was I devastated?
I had the surgery on Tuesday and left the hospital on Friday. I walked as much
as possible in the hospital and around my home for the first week. On day 8 I
started an outside walking program (20 minutes and three flights of stairs). By
the third week I was walking one hour and doing stairs several times a day. I
started on the elliptical after three weeks and loved physical therapy. The
Orthopedic Specialty Hospital has excellent therapists. They mostly focused on
I was amazed at the amount of weight I lost (mostly muscle ) so strengthening
was very important. I had a lot of pain when I went to one crutch and my limp
was pronounced. Actually my left leg is a little longer due to the pelvis bone
graft and the fact that my right hip is already moving into my pelvis. The
difference is very minimal. I had major left knee pain when I went completely
off crutches but focusing on building my hamstrings and quads really helped as
well as walking back and forth in front of a mirror to correct my limp. Dr.
Hickman was worried I had developed a stress fracture (which freaked me out!
Finally almost 11 weeks after my surgery (December 18 – 21), I felt I was going
to be fine, better actually! I had an entire weekend without pain even though I
spent hours on the elliptical, weight training, core strength exercises, and
TOPROPE CLIMBED twice in three days! Yes, I was back! My climbing level was
beginner, of course, but I was able to rotate into the wall, step high, and put
weight on my left leg. Trying to do all three in one move, however, hasn’t
worked YET. I’m adding snow sports this weekend (December 26th). Yes the surgery
was definitely worth it!
I probably could have jumped back into sports earlier but I tried to earn my
return by listening to my body and using pain as a guide (as opposed to working
thru the pain). I’m going to wait a year or so before my next hip resurfacing
and will definitely be returning to Dr. Hickman! If he doesn’t burn out!
Everyone I talk to has had their hip or knee replaced by him recently.
Dec. 23, 2008
I was truly wondering what I’d done to myself at two weeks. At three weeks I
started to think I may make it if I could only ditch the weird limp.
The elliptical really helped because it forced me to put weight on my left leg
I was disappointed how long it took me to get back on a spin cycle. Every time I
tried I had pain in my pelvis. My theory (didn’t ask the doctor) is that the
bone graft was sensitive. A regular stationary bike didn’t bother me but it’s
taken a few weeks to work up to 30 minutes on a spin cycle.
I’ve done both mountain and road biking but am not an avid cyclist. Probably
would be if climbing, hiking and employment didn’t interfere. It’s hard to do
Dec. 30, 2008
I’m ecstatic now that I’ve turned the corner. I snowshoed on Saturday and the
only challenge was reaching all the straps on my snowshoe! I did have a
hilarious moment when there was a loud squeaking noise coming from my body and
my companions thought it was my hip! I guess I’m not 100% sure it wasn’t, but
believe it was my snowshoe. It was about 10 degrees before calculating the wind
chill so they thought the cold weather was locking my hip.
I probably seem too fitness obsessed but after growing up with parents suffering
from heart disease and cancer and leaving this world too young, I’ve always been
terrified of losing my health. I no longer think my hips will hold me back!
Jan. 2, 2008
I just left PT with a big feeling of accomplishment (had a LBHR on October 7,
2008). I’ve had 10 sessions and they are now giving me exercises some of the
trainers can’t do! I, too, met the basic requirements assigned by Dr. Hickman
very quickly. By the third session we started focusing on CORE exercises and
re-building the muscle I lost. I wanted to return to rock climbing and was told
that when they shave the top of the femoral head, balance sensors are lost so
the balance now must come from the surrounding (core) muscles. I feel at 48
years old, I will have abs of steel for the first time! A lot of the training is
done with a bosu ball or balancing on one leg performing weights. I can’t
believe the progress and when I did return to indoor climbing, it was amazing. I
actually think I’ll be a better climber than I was prior to surgery. I also do a
lot of weight training to rebuild the muscle. I feel, in my case, PT was
extremely important to my recovery. My therapist was Caime Hodlmair at The
Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Murray, Utah. When I have my right hip done,
I’ll return to Caime as we’ve learned together what a hip surfacing patient
Jan. 3, 2009
I’ve had a good week — two climbing sessions and two snowshoes. Just got back
from Scott’s Pass and the snow was great! Watched ski patrol throw a few hand
charges at the pass which resulted in a little avalanche nothing too scary. It’s
been hard to get used to really cold weather — our therm. read 0 degrees in the
trees just below the pass. Yikes. My hip seems to be doing well, but sometimes I
wonder if the cold metal makes the muscles around my hip spasm a little (or
maybe I still walk funny at times).
Jan. 7, 2009
I’m celebrating my three month anniversary today!
15 week update
and those wonderful assistance tools . . .
– Anyone end up with dry crackly heels and no way to reach them? I’m surprised
I didn’t invent a pressure relief tool (I tried). Ended up taping a foot file
to a long handled shower brush and applied lotion with my grabber and a paper
Most used tool. However, it constantly reminded me I couldn’t just bend over
and pick something up. Dropping a Wheat Thin on a tile floor was still a
grabber challenge. Don’t get me started on that great magnet on the end.
pillows, pillows – I bought an assortment of expensive foam body positioning
pillows (returned them), triangular pillows (also returned), and ended up with a
ton of regular pillows positioned based on the current owie.
socks – Hated ‘em. Loved the day I took them off permanently!
– One of my favorites. Great conversation starter at the gym.
other leg hair removal lotions) – What a waste! Good thing I had to keep the
compression stockings on for three weeks!
– Suffice it to say when all the drugs failed to work, the nurse gave me warm
prune juice . . . (Red faced embarrassment at the results).
leash – Never was very good at lassoing my ankle.
– Felt like a graduating toddler when I put it away!
– A keeper . . . now I just like sitting in a hot shower (especially after a
snow day). I shudder at all the years I settled for standing!
– I have some sort of weird attachment to my crutches. They represent the
toughest days (e.g. when I realized my limited mobility) and freedom (gave me
the confidence to face big crowds of people). I don’t use them; just keep them
around to remember how far I’ve come.