In July of 2006, a month before my wedding and in the first year of my thirties, I thought I pulled a muscle in my thigh. I let it drag on for about six months, continuing my usual recreational activities of golf, softball, and ice hockey. Finally in January of 2007 my wife forced me to see a doctor as my pain had progressed to significant locking in my hip, shooting pain down my leg and an all encompassing discomfort with all activities and sleep.
This is when I learned, at age 31, I had no cartilage in my right hip and was down to bone on bone. It was a shocking finding to me and my doctor. I had no prior history of hip problems and had been physically active my whole life. I played competitive ice hockey through college and continued to play on men’s league teams thereafter. In fact, I skated at least twice a week in the decade since graduation. On top of that lacrosse in college, and in the summers after graduation strolled the outfield of three different Bar league teams.
My journey into hip resurfacing began then and I tackled the subject like I was cramming for a big exam. After evaluations with Dr Edwin Su and Dr Peter Brooks I decided that the Birmingham Hip was my only option. On February 19, 2007 I underwent surgery with Dr Brooks at the Cleveland Clinic for a right BHR.
Wow did that hurt. The surgery took three hours – and I recently learned it took three of them to dislocate my hip. I am 6ft and weighted about 235 lbs at the time. Solid is a fair description. My left leg, non-operative, was more swollen then the right. I could barely move and the pain was terrible. Surgery was on a Monday afternoon and my first attempt out of bed was not until Tuesday in the late afternoon. I remained in the hospital through Friday night. Much of the stay was a blur, save for the tapping of the morphine drip to hole the pain would subside.
On the 7th day post surgery I finally started to feel better and was moving around with a walker. I needed help with everything and the pain meds had me groggy and out of it. Unfortunately I suffered an infection on the 10th post-op day and spent a week in the hospital again. No one could figure out what it was, but after many anti-biotics and blood transfusion I was sent home feeling new.
Then the real path to recovery started. The first month went slow and when I saw Dr Brooks at the 6 week mark I was discouraged to still need crutches. But I began pool PT and within a few weeks started to get back to normal life. My recovery in the first three months was slow. I eventually progressed to a cane and then full walking without problems.
I remained diligent on a low impact therapy schedule involving biking, swimming, walking and the battery of exercises you will come to love and hate.
Despite the rough start I recommended this surgery to anyone who told me they had hip pain. After a year I was back to being me again. Full athletic activities, walking pain free, and a normal life.
About seven years later it all started to happen again. This time though it was my left hip. I ignored it. I pretended it didn’t bother me. But my life was a lot different at this point. Now I was the father of three young boys. My activities with them slowly started to drop off. I could no longer coach baseball, ice skate, or just roll around and wrestle on the floor.
So after three years of pain, and a decade after the first one, I went back to Dr. Brooks.
On September 13, 2017 I had a left BHR performed by Dr Brooks at the Cleveland Clinic. I am now 42 and I still weigh 235 but it sure is a lot softer than my former self. This surgery scared me because of the pain and trials I had gone through. But holy smokes how things have changed. It is incredible what a decade and a few thousand surgeries under your belt will do for a procedure.
I had surgery Wednesday afternoon and went home Saturday morning. I was up an walking in the hallway on Thursday morning and a double PT session on Friday. I left on crutches instead of a walker and felt great. I remember every aspect of my Hospital stay, and other than the first night, the pain was tolerable. Gone is the morphine drip- and now oral narcotics made it bearable.
First week home was terrific. Friends and family can’t believe how well I am moving around and how I am doing. Within three days of being home I stopped taking Percocet and dropped to Norco. Within a few days of Norco I almost cut my daily dose in half. The incision is significantly longer this time – by about 2 to 4 inches. Leg movement from day one had been good. It took a week to get strength to do abduction/adduction lying down without assistance. Now I can get in and out of bed and chairs without assistance.
Best thing that had been added is a leg lifter. It allows you to control loving your leg to get up and down without assistance. It makes you independent instead of waiting for someone to hold your leg for you. I haven’t had to use it since day 12 because my leg is throng enough to control the movement.
This experience has been incredible and I am shocked at how good it feels. I am just over two weeks post surgery and I feel like I did after two months from the first one.
My kids are under the age of 9 and we prepared them for a pretty somber experience with me. Even they are shocked and keep asking why I can do so many things.
Rest and patience are my mantra. I have stayed diligent to my at home therapy and look forward to the 6 week evaluation.
The Birmingham Hip Resurfacing has given me my life back twice. You don’t really know what you have lost until you get it back. The day to day life of living with a hip disability impacts you and everyone around you. Sometimes stopping and realizing all of the things you don’t do, or are limited in doing, really changes your perspective. Dr Brooks and his team are the cream of the crop. They have put this ‘Tin Man’ back together twice now and I would highly recommend you meet with them to see how you can get your life back.
I look forward to continuing on a positive path of rehab, and as someone that has had it smooth and rough, don’t fear it. The outcome is worth the journey.