Every person that undergoes hip replacement surgery, I’m sure, has a different experience. However, below are the answers to the questions I get asked most about my experience. I hope they’re helpful to you.
How much pain was there? Amazingly very little pain. I had more pain in my hip before the surgery than I ever have as a result of the surgery. Part of this result was, obviously, good pain management, especially immediately after surgery, but overall, very little. What pain I’ve had has been more muscle soreness as I’ve overdone during recovery as well as some minor pain associated with the incision. I haven’t had any hip or groin pain at all. My doctor also cautioned me that I might have some thigh pain as my thigh adhered itself to the implant, but I haven’t had any of that.
What were the milestones?I was in the hospital Mon-Thurs (4 days) with surgery on Monday. By Saturday I was able to get in and out of bed and around on my walker without assistance. At two weeks after surgery, I was able to use my cane exclusively instead of my walker. At four weeks, I was walking around the house without any assistive devices. At the end of four weeks, I felt comfortable driving short distances. At five weeks, I started working part time at home and I plan to return to the office at six weeks.
What was the worst part? It’s hard to say. Nothing major. Like most things, it’s the small things in life that bug me the most. I hate feeling like an invalid and I think that all those things that contributed to that feeling combined to be the “worst” thing. I hated taking the blood-thinner shots and wearing the hose — not that either were uncomfortable, but they made me feel like an invalid. I hated not being able to do simple things like bend over or tie my own shoes.
Was it the right decision? Absolutely. I used to be in pain every day. I never got a good night’s sleep. Getting dressed in the morning was a major undertaking. I was missing work and not doing things like going to the grocery store because I couldn’t stand being on my feet. All that is gone. My life and outlook are 180 degrees away from where they were before surgery.
What did it cost? The hospital bill alone was close to $64K before all the insurance adjustments. Add to that the surgeon, anesthesiologist, pathologist, and physical therapist and it’s a substantial amount. At this writing, some of the insurance is still percolating through, but I expect my final out-of-pocket to be in the $5K range.
How big was the incision? My doctor did a traditional (vs. a minimally invasive) procedure. My incision is approximately 8″ long and required 23 staples to close it. It runs from the middle of my right hip to about 1/3 of the way down my thigh.
How much help did I need? For the first few days home from the hospital, I needed help with most things — like getting out of bed, getting dressed, etc. After that, I progressively NEEDED less help, but there were times I really appreciated someone bringing me something instead of having to get up and get it myself.
Resources to explore other aspects of hip surgery? The single website I’d recommend most is http://www.edheads.org/activities/hip/index.htm which lets you do a virtual hip replacement surgery and also has photographs from a real surgery. This gives you an up-close-and-personal look at what happens during the operation.
What if I have other questions? Submit a comment to this blog with your email and I’ll be happy to reply. Your comment won’t appear as I will delete it rather than approve it for publication. I will respect your privacy.