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 core strength.
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 and push.
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 everything.
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 requires!
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
Fading memories and those wonderful assistance tools . . .
Sore heels – 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 towel!
Grabber – 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, 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.
Compression socks – Hated ‘em. Loved the day I took them off permanently!
Sock tool – One of my favorites. Great conversation starter at the gym.
Nair (or other leg hair removal lotions) – What a waste! Good thing I had to keep the compression stockings on for three weeks!
Prune juice – Suffice it to say when all the drugs failed to work, the nurse gave me warm prune juice . . . (Red faced embarrassment at the results).
Invisible dog leash – Never was very good at lassoing my ankle.
Toilet riser – Felt like a graduating toddler when I put it away!
Shower chair – 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!
Crutches – 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.