Wait...let’s go back to 1997, when I was 19. I had both my hips replaced because the cartilage in my hips had completely eroded due to years of arthritis. (Side note: all the cartilage is now gone from my knee joints, hence why they’re completely locked up & most from my shoulders, which my PT is helping me keep from locking up). They told me at the time that 15-20 years is good for a false hip joint to last before it needs replacing. But they expected that I would get 20-25, because I’m so tiny, young & not putting excess strain on the new joint by say, taking up karate.
So now 2018, I go to get clearance from my surgeon that the left joint is fine, it’s my tendon, I can get PT, I’m sure. Takes a month to get in, even after I called & was like, “Noooo, I need help now.” By the time I actually see the dr, I’m spending more & more time in bed. But anyways, no, Doc comes in & goes, “Well, good call coming to see me. That joint is wriggling loose.” Well shit. It’s been 21 years, so that’s something, I guess. Okay, let’s schedule surgery. I knew I’d need a replacement eventually, why not now?
There’s a problem though. The doc who did my initial surgery apparently packed that sucker in there with copious amounts of cement. Yes, cement. That’s how they did it back in the day. Of course, now the whole thing has changed. The joints they use now work more as a “pop & lock it” kind of thing, where once it’s locked in, they just use a smidge of cement to hold it in place. But there’s so much cement in and around the joint & bone now from the last surgery, the dr wasn’t sure they’d be able to get enough of the cement out to make room for the new joint with its updated mechanism. So what are my options?
1) They go in from the top, pull out the old joint, chisel enough cement away & get the new joint in.
2). They try 1, it doesn’t work, so they have to crack open my femur to have better access to chisel away the cement. They then put in the new joint & add a rod to help my femur heal. “How do you feel about breaking open the femur considering I’ve broken that bone before & needed weeks of rehab?” I asked. “Not good,” Doc answered. “Not good.”
3). They try 1 & 2 and neither work, they can’t get enough cement out to get the joint in at all. In which case, now they’ve taken my old joint out so what do they do? A flap. Basically they take a flap (my brain keeps picturing it as made from leather lol) and they more or less pin/screw it in to my pelvis on one end & my femur on the other, to hold my leg together & that’s it. Yes, I could walk like that but with no joint, every time I take a step, I would tilt to the side as the flap folds and when I take the weight off the leg, then the flap straightens out. Can you picture it?
The thing is we wouldn’t know, until they open me up & try, how it will go. Between my schedule, my dr’s schedule & my sister’s schedule, it is 2 months until we can do the surgery. In the meantime, I’m getting more & more laid up. Oddly, I stay pretty zen about it. I have to have the surgery, nothing I can do about it. I’ll know the outcome when I wake up in recovery. I’m more worried about the hospital denying me proper pain care afterwards, because of this so called opioid crisis. The nurse in the ‘education class’ I had to take pre-surgery kept saying how “less pain pills are better for us, addiction is terrible, there were 5 hip surgeries yesterday & all those people have gotten by just fine on extra strength Tylenol!” (Look, I’m not even gonna get into what a crock that class was for someone in my circumstances. It was made for 70yr olds having their first surgery, not me). I was worried they wouldn’t take my arthritis & fibro into account, that they’d use a one size fits all model for pain relief. My concern over this & my sister’s trauma with how my mother was treated (despite me going to a different better hospital for my surgery than Mom was at) every time she left Mom alone, were the main reasons Sis got a hotel across the street & stayed with me all day on surgery day & the day after. I also had concern about my liver levels spiking, as my liver meds delay healing & increase risk of infection, so I had to go off them for ten days around the surgery. This is a high risk.
Surgery day comes - day before Thanksgiving, which we chose on purpose, as Sis would have a long weekend & be able to care for me without having to take too much time off work. She took surgery day off & the following Monday and that was it, worked out well. I go in with a lot of anxiety about it all just because of my medical trauma. Reoccurring nightmares about surgery is a thing for me. I refuse the epidural because the last time they tried to give me one it was a trauma to experience of which I’ve never gotten over, we’ll just say that. In hindsight, I think I’ll let them try it again next time, even though it was near impossible to get in me, because damn, the pain after this surgery was awful. I remember being wheeled into the surgery room & the next thing I know Sis is calling my name. (For some reason waking up from anesthesia is extremely terrifying for me, idk). That’s when I started crying about how much it hurt. At some point they put me in a room & I woke up enough for Sis to tell me...
...it went Great! They did #1. In fact, as soon as they pulled me open, the old joint *fell* out of me, so good thing we didn’t wait on the surgery, lol. They got enough cement out no problem & I’m set on the left for another 20 years, we hope. Sometime in the next five years, I’ll have to do this again on the right, but that’s a worry for another day. I did pretty ok in the hospital, after two days, I could walk to the bathroom with my normal walker. The PT there is blown away by my core strength - people always are. I still couldn’t lift my leg more than an inch, if even, without support, but I get cleared to go home under Sis’ care.
Next time on Dodger’s Journal...Recovery!
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