Five weeks ago today, I had a total hip replacement at the age of 46. One might think that I’m too young, but it’s true. I’ve been dealing with pain for the last 4-5 years, and daily excruciating pain this past 12 months to the point that I couldn’t do much with my children. I walked with a constant limp. I needed to take action.
My problem started when I was born – congenital hip dysplasia – which basically means my hip joint was dislocated or out of socket. As a young girl, my legs were uneven which meant I needed lifts in my shoes at first, but then on the outer sole of my shoes because the discrepancy was so great.
Remember as a young child buying your new sneakers at the store and wearing them immediately out the door? I couldn’t. My legs were uneven and therefore, the new sneakers which I was so excited to wear, were shipped out to get lifts glued to the soles. A young girl’s nightmare!!
Summer of my 11th birthday, right before my last growth spurt, the doctors knew at that time to go into my GOOD leg and remove my growth plate so that leg could STOP growing allowing the bad leg to catch up. I’m about 2’ shorter than my anatomy wanted. Problem solved — for the time being.
Moving ahead through my high school years, I was an active teen. I played tennis and swam for summer and winter teams, attempted field hockey (not very good), and overall enjoyed my youth. No pain to hold me back.
As I entered my college years, things began to change. My hip was beginning to deteriorate. Pain occurred only when it rained, and then as the days wore on, when it snowed too. My sorority sisters would use me as the weather gauge to see if it was going to be a great weekend to get outdoors or not.
Right before the Fall semester of my junior year (1990), my parents informed me that my hip was not strong enough to sustain my active lifestyle. It was time for a new one. However, I was a 20 year old excited for the next semester at school. I already registered for my classes and was busy planning my furnishings with my roommate for our new apartment. I didn’t want to give that up — yet.
My surgeon agreed to let me go to school on one condition — I use crutches for the semester. I couldn’t take any chances walking/running/actively living on my two legs without assistance. My hip could “self-destroy”, were his words. YIKES!!
That was probably the BEST advice a female college student could receive! A young 20 year old on crutches — hmmmm, sounds like a damsel in distress! Needless to say, I received a TON of attention from the boys. Lots of fun for me and my friends.
January 1991, I underwent a hip reconstruction called periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) in Boston MA. This was a long recovery — two weeks in the hospital and 4 months rehabilitating at home. I missed my friends at school. I was alone and bored.
For the next 20 years, I was able to get pregnant and carry three babies to term, which was something I wasn’t sure about given all the radiation from x-rays through all my youth years. I lost weight and unfortunately gained weight. I played tennis, rode bikes, exercised, ran around with my kids, even gave Crossfit a try for several months, until the pain was too much. Exercising is my passion so I refused to give this up.
The last 4 years have been the toughest. Aging doesn’t do well on a delicate hip joint and mine was no different than the next. I was seeing orthopaedists for regular injections, taking IB, icing and soaking in baths. However, I wasn’t ready to do anything about it.
Finally, in 2016, my hip said enough. I limped all throughout the year. Every time I tried to workout, inevitably the hip was sore the next day, causing more discomfort and stress. My mind knew what had to be done. It was time to explore a hip replacement.
I don’t recall ever thinking that it was going to happen as quickly as it did. One minute I was scheduling the surgery, and the next I was walking into the hospital with a bag in hand and my husband’s hand in the other. This was REALLY happening.
As the nurses prepped me for surgery, I kept thinking, “I should get out of here. I don’t really need this.” But I stayed, against all my fears and anxieties, I stayed.
Less than 2 hours later, I woke up in the recovery room, groggy from the anesthesia, asking the nurse when I was going INTO surgery. She laughed saying “it’s done, you have your new hip!”. I couldn’t comprehend it. The last thing I remember was getting ready to tell the nurses “I’m outta here!” What funky meds did they give me? Haha
Here i am, walking with a cane, with minimal pain. I am free to drive, which has been a release on life from the doctor. My journey continues. There is therapy to be completed and exercises too, but I am happy. I’m ready to begin 2017 with no pain.