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 pain.
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 below).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 stable.
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 worse.
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 pre-surgery.
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!