Today I celebrate the fact that I had major surgery 11 years ago today and gained a shiny new all-metal hip and the ability to walk again. The story with my ortho is one of my favorite stories to tell…
This is my left hip one month before surgery. I had basically no hip socket and what we didn’t know then was that my soft tissue had been holding my femur in place….mostly. So when I tore the cartilage in my left hip in August of 2007, I ran out of time.
The beginning of my hip dysplasia actually doesn’t begin until I was almost 19 and just had my first child. I went to my doctor complaining that my hip hurt all the time and American Army medicine and the early 90’s meant that the geniuses in charge of my care did a “scanogram” (swear to God that’s what they told me) and determined that my left leg was 1 1\2 cm shorter than my right leg. Or my left knee was 1 1/2 cm higher than my right knee? They actually told me my left femur was shorter. Ya follow me? Yeah…anyway….
Skip to 2003 and I was still dealing with hip pain and now some spine issues and got a thorough check up after I had my youngest child. This time it was a Navy doctor in Florida that did an x-ray and then an MRI on my hip and told me I have hip dysplasia. Eventually I would need a total hip replacement and there wasn’t really much else they could do. At that point in my life (with a 6 month old baby, breast feeding, and at my heaviest weight), I got told to “lose as much weight as you can” by an incredibly competent and compassionate ortho doc. (sarcasm? you bet. I cried all the way home.)
I lost 50 pounds over the next 15 months and have pretty much kept most of it off since 2004. I gain 10 pounds here or lose it there and I am currently just 8 pounds heavier than my thinnest weight in 2007. I went through physical therapy twice and when I tore the cartilage in my hip I ran out of time. My doctors wanted to get me to 40 (never happened. I’m not letting go of my 30s without kicking and screaming, but that’s another blog). I made it to my 34th birthday. I also managed to wait long enough to have a new all metal hip resurfacing instead of the traditional hip replacements that up to that point lasted 10-15 years. The Birmingham Hip was FDA approved in August 2006, my surgery was in November 2007. I got incredibly lucky and happened to live in Michigan at the time where the #2 hip replacement specialist is.
My doctor had trained in Birmingham England where the surgery and hardware was created. I had seen 3 different ortho docs that year and was referred to my surgeon because I was a good candidate for the Birmingham and considered too young for a traditional hip replacement.
Just before my surgery.
My surgery went well and other than needing 2 blood transfusions I recovered well and spent the winter of 2007/2008 learning how to walk again. I only spent one week needing a walker. I was determined to not need a frickin walker so 7 days post-op I was able to walk with a cane. I mean, if you took my cane away from me I couldn’t go anywhere, but I walked with a cane just a week after surgery.
Fun fact: if you look closely, you can see the 22 staples I had.
My ortho surgeon made a point to come to the hospital the day after my surgery (this is why this is a good story) to tell me that he had done about 300 of these surgeries so far and my surgery was the only time he opened up my capsule surrounding my hip joint and my hip dislocated by itself! The soft tissue was literally the only thing keeping my hip in place up to that point. I should make a note that I actually walked into the OR that day.
By the end of February 2008 I could walk again without my cane and because I had such a kick ass physical therapist (pt nazi) I was in the best shape of my life.
11 years later I am still able to walk. The rule is, however, that you can get far or you can get fast. Either I can walk further or I can get somewhere quickly. You don’t get both. I have a cyst on my hip joint but it hasn’t progressed to me needing another surgery. And even though I tend to fall down the stairs like it’s my job, I haven’t managed to damage my new hip (knock on wood!).
So, here’s a martini today to kick ass technology!!