What was the most challenging part of your entire hip replacement experience?

For me, it was deciding when to have my surgery, what surgeon to choose and finally - researching all the implants and pros and cons.  So - basically all of it was challenging the first time around.  By the time I need the other hip replaced I was basically an expert on the process!

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The most challenging part of the hip replacement surgery for me was going to the hospital. Up until the time when I woke up after the surgery, I was still not sure it was my life and my body. I was in a semi-dream state in which I was still imagining that it all was a bit unreal. Although I was exhibiting my usual humorous personality, I sort of felt that there was a strong possibility that I would die during the operation and that I was experiencing my final hours before the end of my life. My wife was sitting next to me while I was being sedated, but I honestly felt that she might soon be a widow. I responded badly to the first round of quieting medication and indeed they did have to put me on other meds to get me breathing again. When I woke up after the op, my body felt so odd and I needed to check that my leg was still there. I was never in much pain, and refused all the pain killers I could. I wanted to regain my undruged state and so never took another pain-killer after I left the hospital the next day. I took no aspirin either. The pain was never unbearable but there was some. The main pain was psychological. I had to learn that I was not perfect in my ability to naturally heal and that I had needed modern science in order to continue a normal life. I felt that I had failed as a person in my inability to conquer any situation without the help of surgeons. During my recovery I did many things that I was warned not to do. I started stretching and exercising almost any hour that I was not sleeping. While I was watching a movie, I would be either massaging my leg, doing yoga or strengthening my muscles. Within a week, I was back doing extreme yoga but I would not recommend that to anyone. Because I really never used a crutch to help me walk, I didn't feel secure while walking, and avoided it for the first two weeks. After those two weeks, walking was still uncomfortable but I was then regularly going to the gym to build back strength. I discontinued all physical therapy after three weeks because they were moving too slowly for me but as much work as I was doing in my own, I had virtually no ability to raise my leg for those first weeks. I believed that the doctor had perhaps accidently cut one my my nerves. So fear was again a major issue in my recovery. After 3 weeks I started to be able to do leg raises again and I was pretty sure I was going to be able to make a fine recovery. In 4 weeks I was doing very well and my spirits were  high. In short, my biggest hurdle was my own psychological belief that I had made a mistake by agreeing to an operation. To this day, I still wonder if there were some way I could have healed without a synthetic device being implanted in my body. I still feel violated even though my ability to walk, work out and stretch are about as good as anyone I have heard of and a year and a half later, I work out religiously never missing a day where I do something strenuous. If you are like me you will need the support of friends and family to make it through recovery. This is a very serious and extreme operation and no one should take it lightly.

My most challenging point was knowing that the procedure would have to be done twice. Diagnosed with AVN in both hips, made me feel so worthless, pain had continued to get worst since 2007 and I finally was able to get insurance. The Dr. informed me of all the problems but there was no choice in the matter, had to be done. Aug. 17th I choose to have the right done first because it had been giving me the problems the longest, even though the left was more deformed. I woke up from recovery determined to not stay in the hospital for more than a couple days. Got up and walked the length of the hall way that was expected. To this day my inner thigh tendons are still super tight. Not sure, but my Dr. didn't send me to therapy. Ive done my rehab, off the internet and with support like this one you created.
Second surgery was scheduled and I had the same feelings as before, thinking since I knew what to expect things would go smoother. Not a chance, Nov. 22 and I'm doing much better but think if I had therapy I would be doing wonderful.

I am having my double done 3 days apart and then flying home a week later.  It is scary but this is the way it has to work for me.

Any advice?

I don't know. Flying is difficult regardless of whether you just have had two major surgeries or not. I'm coming back from Germany Dusseldorf to the States now as I am typing this. I just had to stand for about a three quarters of an hour while my baggage was checked, my passport, my tickets, my person, my carry-ons ... Flying is a hassle and then you have to sit in one position for however how many hours. I don't envy you but I might suggest that you tell everyone at the airport you can that you just had surgery. Try to illicit as much sympathy as possible to make things run smoother.


Fear...fear of the unknown.  After chasing a diagnosis for almost 15 years and hearing how I was too young for hip replacement...when the doctor finally said it's time I panicked!  My family doctor said, "You will need to find a surgeon..." Simple enough I thought I live by a large medical campus, but truth be told it's not that easy.  You may as well open a phone book, close your eyes and pick a name with your finger.  I asked everyone I met about orthopedic surgery, who did it, what did they do, how did you do...but it still wasn't enough for me.  Plus it seemed like NO ONE felt as anxious and scared about this surgery as I did!  Hello this is my body, these are my legs I want to be sure I am doing the right thing at the right time. 

Furthermore, you can't just "interview" doctors anymore...no you have to make an appointment and they treat you like a new patient each time...I am a new patient in at least a dozen orthopedic offices locally, I wouldn't go back to any of them.  Many treated me like a number or a case file.  bored with my question and concerns as if this were a routine procedure (to them maybe but not to me!).  Many told me I needed conservative treatment...HELLO! I've been conservatively managing this for 15 years and now I am using a walker....when does conservative become urgent?

Luckily I was refereed to someone outside my state who approaches hips through "anterior" means - completely new concept around where I live - most doctors don't think it's effective enough to see the whole hip. I began researching in earnest.  Well the next 'doctor interview' went worse than the others because of course now I come with information and questions and all of a sudden the doctor starts talking about malpractice and how hip replacements sometimes get recalled, no surgery is 100% safe and effective.  Oh dear God! 

So the last few weeks I have been hiding under my covers in pain and mourning the loss of my life.  By profession I am a new graduate nurse, but the idea of a someone walking into my hospital room with the aid of a walker and introducing themselves to me as my nurse doesn't bode well with me, how can I ask that of my patients? 

This morning by shear luck I found this website, I am hoping it will be the community and the resource I need to make a plan and a decision that I can live with it, because right now, I know,  I can't live like this. 

Thank you Garth for talking about the emotional and psychological component. I am having my hip replaced in 2 1/2 wks and want to go in being at peace with my decision yet still struggle with the questions of "have I done enough?,is there something More I could try?, even though i know i have suffered enough. A few years back I was ok getting my rotator cuff repaired, but there is something about having something artificial that is really emotionally difficult for me to accept- glad to know I am not alone in trying to accept the fact that I cannot get through this without a major intervention.

The strange thing about wishing that we could get through life without interventions is that indeed we can. For years, athletic, other-wise healthy people limped along with damaged hip joints. Years ago we saw them hobbling along and thought that those people could never be us. Here we are wondering how invincible, immortal children like ourselves could possibly end up being hobbling adults. We feel a mistake has been made. We feel it's a dream we are bound to wake up from. However, using the methodolgy available to us we can recover and live better lives than the cripples of the past did. I wish I could meet with all of you and you could see me go through my full split routine, splitting my legs 180 degree to the side and full front and back. I wish you could see me doing my handstands, my arm balances, my extreme yoga routines, see me walk miles on end and gallop over walls. I want to be an inspiration to those of you that wonder if a full life is possible. Today I taught my 8 year old son how to do the Ripstick. I'm a hero to the local kids as I weave up and down the sidewalk on two wheels. We are capable of so much when we take advantage of all that we can imagine. Don't be afraid. Be brave. Be strong. Be invincible.


All along this process I have been saying to myself "this too shall pass" and "I will be on the other side of this" and your story is exactly what I needed to hear.  Again I thank you and know I am using you for inspiration. :)

And, know you are NOT alone in this!

For me it wasn't a choice, I have known since I was 17 that I would have to have this done at some point in my life but I was hoping to make it just a little longer.  I was born with hip dysplasia and it wasn't caught early on by my pediatrician.  So I had to have an osteotemy.  My original surgery was done at Children's Hospital in Boston by the Chief of Orthopedics where they created a hip socket and fit my femur into it.  There are things that I've never been able to do my whole life (like a split) but there are things like dancing and skating that I wouldn't have been able to do so I was very lucky.  I've lived a very normal life for a long time.

Inevitably as these things do the hip just wore out, I tore my labrum and was told by four different doctors that my only option was a total hip replacement.  Fortunately because of my history and interesting case I was able to see the best doctors and get the information I needed to make an informed decision but it took a full year.  I'm hoping now that I didn't do any major damage to the other hip during that time.  Even though I researched and reviewed every little detail, I was still pretty anxious about this surgery.  I didn't want to be in pain anymore but I also didn't want to be immobilized and frustrated either.  Even still I sucked up my fear and went ahead with it.

I had surgery on May 3rd this year and when I woke up in recovery I knew instantly that it was the right decision.  I had absolutely none of the pain I had prior to the surgery.  Of course there was surgical pain but the aching, burning and shooting pain was completely gone.

Two weeks in, I'm down to one crutch, walking a half mile at a whack, riding a recumbent bike, doing most of the required exercises easily.  While there are a few things I'm having trouble with, I do know that with time this too shall pass and that this is the best thing I could have done for myself at 40. 

I would say that the first week and a half, post surgery, were the hardest for me. Prior to the surgery I was totally unaware of what to expect so I wasn't feeling any anxiety. After surgery I went to a recovery room, walked around with the walker and was sent home, no problem. For the first four days I felt great, blasting through the prescribed exercises and walking around with the walker.
It wasn't until the fifth day that my legs swelled up from my waist to my feet. That's when I felt pain. Funny thing was the pain wasn't in the surgery site, it was in my leg muscles. Every muscle in my leg was hard from the swelling, and super sore. When the P/T nurse came to my house the following day she told me that the combination of residual anesthetic and the pain medication probably masked the pain during the previous days. Because of that I was probably overdoing the exercises (which I was) and I aggravated the traumatized muscles. Apparently, during the surgery our leg muscles take a big beating from twisting and bending and I didn't know that.
The swelling subsided after about three days and the pain was manageable within a week. Here's a big TIP: no matter how good you feel, follow the program that's laid out for you, the medical personnel know what you can and can't do.
From that point on, rehab and recovery has gone great. My injury was sustained about 36 years ago so I had some serious muscle atrophy, but I'm two months out and I am absolutely amazed at how great I feel. Back at work (light duty) and PAIN FREE!!! The Surgeon performed an absolute Miracle!!! I am so grateful.

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