April 14, 2015
I think we all realize Medical Technology has come a long way over the years and decades. But until you really engage in it, you really do not understand how far it has come. Growing up in the ’50s and ’60s we were taught that you die when you contracted cancer. Now most cancers, if caught early enough, are curable and not fatal. We were taught that for most surgeries, not just major surgeries that you were hospitalized for days, possibly even weeks or months. Now for most surgeries you are in and out quickly. In fact, my most recent experience just blew me away—Total Hip Replacement and released to go home for home recovery in 28 hours!
When I was first told I was looking at a total hip replacement, I had visions of sitting at home for months during recovery, being minimally productive. I did have a choice, to go through life with pain, discomfort and not be able to maximize my life, or do something that would enable me to live my mantra of “Have A Blast, While You Last” —if I truly wish to do the top things on my bucket list, go to Hawaii, go to Europe, dance at my granddaughter’s wedding (she is only 3) that I needed to not just take care of my health, but upgrade it.
Two years ago, I had a pulled hip flexor, or so it was diagnosed by my primary care physician and we decided physical therapy was the answer—and it was. Within 1-2 months of physical therapy I was my old self. Several months ago, I had the same pain in the same area as I did two years ago and knew I needed to do something about it. Without any tests, my doctor asked me if I wanted to try physical therapy again. I agreed and began to get physical therapy around Thanksgiving.
After about a month, my physical therapist told me that we should be seeing more progress and that he thought the hip was the real problem and that I should go back to see the doctor. The doctor had left the practice since I saw her, so I saw another doctor. He at least agreed to do an x-ray. My limping was getting worse and the cold weather did not help. But I was still walking about a mile most days, and doing physical therapy twice a week. The x-ray showed that I had advanced osteo-arthritis. I had three options: continue therapy and supplement with massages and heat, injections and steroids, and surgery.
After another few weeks of PT, heat, massages, I was seeing no improvement and the argument could be made that I was truly going in the wrong direction. I insisted on being referred to an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon I met with was very kind and informative as to what I would be looking at and recommended replacement surgery because there really was no place to put an injection, since the arthritis had basically eaten up the hip and destroyed it. It was now bone against bone. Of course this conjured up all sorts of frightening thoughts.
I decided to do some research and get a second opinion. Talking to friends of friends and relatives of friends who had experienced hip replacement, I realized I would be confronted with 2-5 days in the hospital and varying degrees of pain, therapy, and recovery. I went to see another specialist and was extremely impressed with his credentials (hip fellowships to Yale and Harvard), his knowledge, and his approach to the surgery—explaining that there are three different approaches (back, side, front) and the method he preferred (front/anterior) and why. No one else went into such detail.
I realized I really liked two different doctors and decided I needed to do more research before making a final decision. The Internet and their websites really helped in this process. Technology strikes again. After doing my due diligence, it was clear that the second doctor I met with was the one for me—his straight forwardness, his method of conveying the information to me, his confidence in his process, the information contained on his website—it made the choice easy.
I scheduled a follow up meeting, had him explain the process again and set up a time for the surgery.
I was on the operating table at 7:30, out of surgery by 10, into my room by 1. I was walking down the hallway that afternoon. At 6 a.m. the next day, I met with the doctor and he said there was no reason to hold me in the hospital any longer. They had me climbing stairs and walking corridors immediately afterward, and I was on my way home by 11:30 a.m. —28 hours after surgery!
The last few days have included me being able to get up from a seated position easily and without pain for the first time in months. I have been walking with a walker around the house once an hour and continue to do some exercises they require. The only issues at this point are to continue to get the swelling down, heal the bruises from the surgery, and learn how to walk properly again. Friends and relatives that are seeing this transpire are amazed. I have an aunt that is a retired nurse and she told me that when she was working, that anyone going through what I just went through would be put in a convalescence home for 21 days after surgery. Here I am at home with my family, my toys, my environment, which includes views of the lake behind my house and the wonders of nature all around.
No golf for probably 90 days seems to be the most depressing element of getting to full recovery—but that is a very small price to pay for being able to really “Have A Blast, While I Last!”
Those of us baby boomers that have not truly embraced technology, need to do a reset. Technology can help us all live a more fulfilling life as we strive to “Have A Blast, While We Last!”