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!!
I realize my last post (definitely a minute ago) was pretty dark and unhappy, but indulge me for a minute? It’s been a week. I just need to vent.
I got voluntold I needed to schedule an appointment with my PCM at the beginning of the month because the doc I have been seeing for the last few years is rotating out and to save me the frustration of waiting for the new doc to check in and get up to speed and then catching her/him up on my particular case, it’d be easier just to get my yearly check out of the way.
So I got my labs and got the check up done. Labs were good, but doc was covering bases and wanted to make sure my brain tumor wasn’t getting any ideas about sending friends and relatives into any other body parts, so she gave me an order for a mammogram. I got that scheduled and it was done yesterday. (in other grumblings, I’m pretty sure she should have been kinder or bought me a drink….but anyway.)
In the midst of directing traffic, my pain specialists needed to reschedule my every-8-weeks check to be compliant. Okie-dokie. Reschedule me. Ain’t no thing. No, I don’t want to see the other PA, I’ll wait for the one I usually see. Yes, I know that’s an extra week. I’m used to you sending my scripts between appointments. Same doc, same pharmacy, yes I know the fluffing rules.
Scripts were due today. They called me yesterday to let me know they sent my scripts in, pick them up today. (yes. A lot of rules. I follow them. I’m over it but I still do it.)
Yes, my scripts were sent in, but they neglected to let me know they were only sending enough meds to line up with my appointment on the 27th instead of just filling the usual fluffing scripts and seeing me in 10 days.
Yes, my scripts were sent. Yes I’m happy they’re not making me wait and I’m not without pain meds. But I feel like I’m being punished for being sick.
The American approach to chronic illness/chronic pain is growing more and more frustrating. I jump through a lot of hoops and follow a lot of rules because I haven’t felt like I have a lot of options. I have an artificial hip from hip replacement surgery at 34 because I have Congenital Hip Dysplasia that was missed until well into my late 20’s. As a result, my spine is seriously pissed off most of the time. Then, four years ago, I was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Related? Possibly, but it doesn’t really matter now. I just treat and survive the symptoms.
I didn’t ask to be sick. I’m stable but it has taken years of going through a lot of trials and failing SSRIs, nerve pain meds, OTCs, and a bunch of other difficult options. I’ve been through anestesia 13 times in one year and I’ve lost count of how many needles they have stuck in my spine. It’s been fun.
So….hopefully understandably I am especially frustrated today. I feel like I’m being punished every time my doctors put up another roadblock or hurdle to jump through. I’m trying, and until more recently I haven’t had a lot of options in my state. Suffer or dance, monkey.
I actually now have another option, but I have to talk to my pain specialists and get them on board or I end up failing tests they require. Here’s hoping.
*sigh* I’m off to eat ice cream and watch something that hopefully will replace frustration and hostility with just a hair more patience.
I’ve had a shit day. I realized I have been pretty quiet as far as blogging goes lately and that pretty much because I am stable, and other than the normal day to day, there’s not very much in my life that’s worth writing down and sharing.
I mean, because Wendy ( Picnic With Ants) shared some of her story about the pain in her wrist and thumb I was able to do some reading and figure out my symptoms matched hers, but not necessarily the intensity so I have been waiting to see if it resolves on it’s own. I have an appointment with PCM DR Traffic-Director tomorrow and it’s still there just enough to be a bother, so I think I will bring it up with her tomorrow.
I also checked my labs so I knew what was going on before I see her, and found that my numbers are actually pretty good! The only discrepancy I see might mean my synthroid dose just get bumped up a tiny bit, but that doesn’t actually surprise me since my thyroid disorder is autoimmune.
But none of that is related to my shit day…well, mostly. Appointment with Dr Traffic-Director was scheduled for tomorrow because 1) It’s time for my yearly physical 2) the doctor I have been seeing is active duty and getting orders to rotate out next month (if you’ve ever been in the military clinic setting for your primary care, you’ll get that) and (3) because I have been informed that the clinic is instituting a new “program” for chronic pain patients.
As part of their new Pain Process Protocol Program (seriously how many fucking hours did you schmucks spend around a table in a boardroom to come up with that one?!?!) I have been “issued” a prescription for Narcan, I get a new case worker (oh goody.), and I have to check in with my primary care doc every 90 days.
1. Yeah….that prescription ain’t gonna be picked up.
2.My “primary care” is a joke, they rotate out every 3 years. We retired here. I’ve been with my same pain specialist for over 6 years and I already follow all their rules and jump through their hoops (new contract at the beginning of the year, random urine screenings, seeing them every 8 weeks, fill all my scripts at the same pharmacy, I am only given 30 days of meds at a time, so my meds have to be refilled every 29 days….
I am stable, compliant, and my doses haven’t been changed in several years.
So fuck you guys and your Narcan, and your 90 days, and your case worker.
You’re about 6 years too late. I have been with the same pain specialists for over SIX years. And allll those things we get told to do before or instead of pain meds; I DID THEM.
Every formula of the SSRIs, SSNRIs, and SNRIs out there; acupressure, acupuncture; Reiki, Biofeedback, physical therapy, “gentle exercise”, occupational therapy, yoga, talking to at least 2 shrinks, trigger point injections; massage therapy; Lyrica, Neurontin, ….you name it, I tried it. I had to trial and fail every other option before I got any narcotic pain meds. It was not easy. It was probably a 5 year process. I also even underwent light anesthesia (propofol) 13 times in one year for spinal injections and a rhizotomy.
NOW, six years later, when I am stable and compliant, and my only “risk factor” is that I take narcotic pain meds; you fools want to stick your nose in. My primary care is just a traffic director….issuing referrals. My case is difficult and complex, and the people that I see the most (pain doc & neurologist) KNOW me. They know me and my case.
I did not accept the “script” for Narcan, I didn’t answer my phone when my “case Manager” called. Go away. And take you stupid PPP Program with you.
April was nuts. I’m still trying to remember all the things and the stuff and the sharing…
Rehearsals, a concert, prom, tech week….
P!nk was amay.ZING!! And worth every penny for the not-exactly inexpensive tickets! Seeing her was bucket list stuff!
Four weeks of rehearsals for the kid because her school was (is …we have 2 more shows this weekend, and I’m finishing the editing of this post on Saturday afternoon) performing Anything Goes.
Rehearsals were 4-5 days a week, weekends were set builds, and one weekend was a dance intensive workshop to work on choreography. The kids have worked their butts off and it shows! They have put together an incredible show!
We got through the ….um, “stupid” business trip and my husband got back on April 4th. We jumped right into April insanity; meaning 5-6 days a week of rehearsals, me interrupting rehearsals on April 17th to drive up to DC to see my favorite show EVAR, prom on April 21, and then right into tech week. “Tech week” means full dress rehearsals and long days the last week of April. I volunteered food and serving the cast and crew, the band, the faculty, and the parents and volunteers two out of the three days.
Watching how many parents and teachers step up and volunteer to support the show is inspiring. They’re working HARD.
In the middle of tech week, we HAD to get tickets to squeeze in seeing Infinity War because we’re a household of hopeless geeks and I flat out told my kid I have to see it or stay off the internet until we do! Fortunately, we we able to find tickets for an 8 pm showing on Thursday night. (& we squeezed in a matinee on Saturday)
No spoilers. Don’t @ me. I’ve seen it twice so far. I won’t ruin anything for anyone else. 😉
But we will be seeing it again. Apparently we’re masochists.
Finally Friday, April 27 was opening night!
I am so proud of these kids. And I can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am for the teachers, staff, directors, and parent volunteers giving up all the time and work for this production. The kids have worked so hard and *my* kid is ecstatic about the chance to perform and all the support. This is me gushing because this is a new chapter for my youngest and it’s awesome to see her doing the next thing and loving the experience and support she gets.
We’re closing out a long and busy couple of months. One three-week-long business trip, one snowstorm, 4+ weeks of rehearsals, three gun incidences in our schools, one trip to New York, one P!nk concert, six high school musical performances, and one blood draw (yesterday) for new Cobalt and Chromium levels for my ortho surgeon when I see him again in just over 2 weeks.
Gentle hugs, a couple of deep breaths, and and 2000 words later it’s time to move forward. May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month! #gogreyinmay
❤ ~ Xun
So…..um, hi. It’s been a minute. I can honestly say I have been meaning to sit down and write out an update since my last post was…..um, a minute ago. But I plead that we have had 3 birthdays, 2 holidays, 1 school play, 2 auditions (the kid), 1 school break, 2 doctors appointments, 3 scans….and a partridge inna pear treeeeeeeee!
Overwhelmed by holidays and birthdays and general end-of-the-year insanity, I kept meaning to send out an update, but when I had time, I didn’t have motivation. And vice-versa. I kind of managed to get through holiday insanity this year, but I’m not really sure how because it felt like I didn’t have enough time or my act together. But….we made it.
So. Updates. I actually have something.
My yearly check-in with Dr. PCM-Traffic-Director last summer lead to follow up labs 3 months later in November, and surprisingly Doc added Cobalt and Chromium checks to my labs. B12, Iron panel, TSH, T4, CBC were all pretty good. Most of my levels have stabilized since the MRSA mess of 2016, and thyroid levels meant no change in my Synthroid dose. But my Chromium and ….well, mostly my Cobalt levels sent doc to an ortho surgeon referral.
I have a giant hunk of metal for a left hip. I’ve covered that pretty extensively in the past…
…and November 19th was the 10th anniversary of my hip surgery. Diagnosed in my 20’s, snarled at and told to lose “as much weight as I can”, and several ortho docs attempting to get me close to my 40th birthday (I had the surgery the day before my 34th birthday) later, I got a shiny new hip.
My docs have just started watching my cobalt and chromium levels in the last 4?ish years and I have learned that there’s:
- normal cobalt and chromium levels
- high cobalt and chromium levels
- implant level cobalt and chromium levels
- high implant cobalt and chromium levels
and unfortunately us implant patients pretty much all eventually end up climbing the ladder.
Right now my Chromium levels are acceptable (2.0: 0.1-2.1 mcg/L serum), but my Cobalt levels are creeping up (2.3: 0.0-0.9 mcg/L serum), so off I went to a new ortho surgeon.
Ortho docs like my case. They get to learn from me and I’m a pretty unusual case. At this point it’s labs and x-rays, basically yearly. I have a whole file I keep with my op report, yearly scans, etc. Ortho doc went over my case, read my file, checked my labs, examined me, and sent me down for this year’s scans.
Two things popped up this year.
One: it seems pseudotumors can pop up around the implant area, and my cobalt levels indicate that may be the case with me. He found one spot in particular to watch, but conceded it could reabsorb on its’ own, or it could just be bowel gas. Options for further studies include a higher level MRI to account for the affect from the metal or an in-office procedure to get a sample from my hip to test cobalt levels. I told him “That does NOT sound like fun.” He just looked at me.
Two: I have Myositis ossificans (calcified muscle tissue). Huh. I didn’t know that could happen.
So, after I told him shoving a giant needle into my hip joint wasn’t my best idea for fun, he conceded that he could check my levels again in 6 months and we can go from there. He seems pretty good, and I like him. I think the only argument we may have is if he decides I need a revision. I’m not really open to hip replacement revision surgery. That’s why I had the surgery I did 10 years ago. But it’s really interesting that most people just assume I would have the surgery.
I guess we’ll see…the story continues in June….