I’m becoming a bit of a regular poster on here. I’m hope it’s not too much spam for the experienced hipsters – I’m hoping it’s more helpful for young, new patients looking at this site. I’ve taken a lot of comfort from my previous interactions on here (linked in the comments below) so I really wanted to offer this update as support for others in a similar situation to me…
So 5 days ago I had a total hip replacement, aged 35. People ask (as did I!) – how come so young? Do you really need it? Is there an alternative? To be honest no one really knows what happened but by 30 somehow I managed to erode all the cartilage in my left hip leading to bone on bone arthritis. I’ve put it off as long as I felt I could/ felt it was worth delaying. Yes I did play a lot of football all throughout my youth (wouldn’t change that for the world) and enjoyed running but nothing extreme. Truth is there is probably a genetic predisposition (and hips are an inherent weak spot in human evolution as we gradually rose vertically from hunched Neanderthals – that’s why there are nearly 1.5m done globally every year.) The average Male age for hip replacements is 68 – this is probably the first thing in my life I have been early for!
Luckily for us “hipsters” it’s one of the most successful clinical interventions out there – I’m in total awe of how the surgeons churn out such an intricate, yet brutal job in just over an hour – often half a dozen of them a day.
This is a life changing experience for me so I thought I’d share my thoughts (I’m not the most concise so don’t expect many people to read it all but hopefully it’s of use or support to someone else out there going through a similar thing).
So I’m now at day 5 post surgery and to be honest I dramatically underestimated how traumatic it would be. It’s such a standardised op these days that some people can walk out of hospital the next day – others take a lot longer to recover. There’s a lot of variance of experience. As I went into the anaesthetic room Pre-op I broke down – something I hadn’t done before and was totally unexpected. I guess it all just hit me finally. I’ve had key hole surgeries on my hips before and found them relatively light work so perhaps I was a bit complacent. When I awoke 90 mins later I felt pretty good. The anaesthetic hadn’t made me feel as nauseous as the last op (I had a general and spinal anaesthetic so I didn’t have any feeling at all in my operated leg for a good 8 hours post op). Since then it’s been a cycle of hard core pain medication (4 times the strength of morphine!), nausea then pain on repeat – pretty much 24/7. Sometimes I find an angle to relive the pain like now and manage to put my mind on something else.
About the new hip – X-ray looks good, the Dr nailed the alignment perfectly, the hardware has fantastic stats – Smith and Nephew cementless stem with oxidium head into highly cross-linked polyethylene cup. Sexy stuff I know – but 7 years of data shows dramatic improvements in performance and wear and tear vs older hardware (and that older stuff is still going strong in many ppl 25yrs on). It’s that longevity which has given patients and drs the conviction to deal with this issue in younger patients with confidence that perhaps only one revision/ “tire change” (if any) will be required in a normal life time.
I’m planning to keep a bit of a log about the pain, experience and progress in case others out there want to compare notes. So here goes for day 5:
- initially I was terrified the operated leg felt longer. It’s actually spot on. The reason for the feeling is that muscle contractions tilt the pelvis forward drawing the leg lower. That will ease as the muscles relax and rehabilitate.
- Pain. This is way, way harder than I could have imagined. The pain is excruciating at times (despite the painkillers) and occasionally more manageable. I’m just hoping day by day that improves. Will keep you posted. A lot of it is muscular – apparently affecting younger male patients more – as they contort the leg and dislocate it during surgery the muscles throughout the leg take a beating. Thank god my wife is with me and has the patience to massage away the pain a few times a day which is a blissful mercy. God I love her so much!
- Clicking – immediately I feel when I’m up walking with crutches a clicky (not painful) sensation. I’ve read that’s normal and disappears with time.
- Psychology- this is the tough bit. So many unknowns- when will the pain subside? When will I be in the clear from initial failure / accident risk? When will I run again? Oh I will run again by the way – and play football, tennis – whatever I want (within reason!) for now I’m just taking it day by day and focussing my positive thoughts on all the things I have in life to be grateful for – a wonderful, loving wife – my true soulmate, 2 incredible, beautiful boys she has given me, a close family around us with friends all over the world, a successful career and a first premier league title for Liverpool in 30yrs (delays permitting 😐)
There are much worse things happening to people day in day out all over the place – this is trivial. But anyone who experiences it may want to compare notes and share ideas on how to work through it. This isn’t a sob story but a log-book, most relevant for a select few young “hipsters” out there – a bit of cathartic/ indulgent outlet for me and anyway it’s gives me something to do whilst in convalescence!
Will update soon…