Hip replacement update #1 – Pre-surgery through hospital departure

I had hip replacement on Thursday, June 16. I’m hoping my series of posts might be helpful to others going through similar experiences. I’m a 51 yo, competitive triathlete and cyclist. I was training for an Iron Man when I learned a THR would likely be needed.

How I got here: No, running did not wear my hip out! I’ve only been running for a little over 10 years.

I was born with (undiagnosed) hip dysplasia. As I understand it, this means my hip biomechanics have never been great. That led to osteoarthritis and bone spurs which then wore down the cartilage in my hip which left my hip joint bone on bone and contributed to the stress fracture many of you know about. What’s truly remarkable was how well I was running up until September of 2021. At the Santa Barbara Triathlon in August, I ran 10 miles at a 7:31 pace which was a huge personal best for me.🏆🥇

Lead up to surgery: I went through all of the stages of grief, then bounced back and forth between them. I’m only 51, was as strong and fit as I’ve ever been, and I was convinced I was about to have my best Iron Man race ever. How could I possibly need hip replacement? I interviewed four surgeons and chose Robert Gorab in Irvine. My decision was based on reputation, how he and his staff interacted with me, the prosthesis used, and his preference for an anterior approach.

The month leading up to the surgery was distracting, I was anxious – this was my first major surgery and first major injury. I wasn’t nervous about the procedure itself – even though it is pretty brutal. I was (am) worried about the recovery process – how long it will take and the extent to which I’ll return to full, competitive function.

Day of surgery: I was first-up because I was going home later in the day. Surgery was performed at Hoag Orthopedic in Irvine. The staff were lovely, everything was very efficient, and I was calmer than I expected. I was rolled into the operating room right around 7:30 am. I was surprised by how big the room was – it reminded me of a commercial kitchen. Anesthesia was a nerve block and propofol. The nerve block was administered on the gurney and then I was moved (and strapped into) the specialized table used to perform anterior hip replacements. I remember commenting on how quickly the nerve block took effect, then it was lights out.

Recovery room: I think I was in recovery around 9 am. I started to wake up just before 10 am. I was groggy and slurring words, but the effects wore off very quickly – in minutes. I was texting folks around 10 am letting them know I was awake and wiggling my toes! Yes, the first thing the nurse in recovery did was hand me my phone. The only notable pain I felt upon waking was a burning sensation associated with the incision, but it faded very quickly and never returned.

No major surprises in recovery. They monitor you, you meet with PT to ensure you’re prepared to go home, and they administer a final dose of antibiotics by IV. They do move you from the gurney to a recliner almost immediately. We arrived at the hospital around 5:30 am and I was home by 2:30 pm. I was very perky, very alert, and able to zoom around on my walker very easily. Turns out, that even though my legs were working well, the nerve block hadn’t completely worn off yet. The next morning was, well, a wake-up call. 😣

Parting instructions from my surgeon, “don’t overdo it and EAT.”


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