Hip Replacement: I Salute My Surgeon

I had been suffering from joint pains at the hip for a long time to the extent that I needed a cane to walk for some 18 months recently. The X-ray showed that the cartilage at both hip joints had almost disappeared resulting in pain due to friction between the bones. My doctor recommended surgery, which I viewed with apprehension, but decided to do it on the right side anyway. The surgery took place in late June of 2011.

Hip replacement has produced better results than others such as knee or shoulder surgery due to more experience accumulated by the medical profession. Hip replacement is a misnomer. It is not replacing the hip, but the head bone of the femur with a metallic one. A plastic cup is also glued onto the hip joint to enable smooth contact with the metallic head bone.

Although it was a big operation, the surgery required only two hours and two nights of hospital stay. A six-inch incision was made on the side of the hip. The thigh muscles were pushed aside. The femur head bone was sawed off, and the cone-like metallic head bone was inserted into the femur. In time, the femur would accept the fake bone as its own and grow over its stem to make it as one. I am totally amazed that such a complex operation has succeeded in giving me a new life. I must salute my surgeon and his medical team for their expertise and professionalism.

On the day of the surgery, I nervously told my relaxed surgeon “My life is in your hands now.” After all the preparations, I was wheeled on a bed into the operating room. Two nurses were busily setting up things while two doctors were discussing in a corner with the radio music playing. The anesthetic was given through injection at the lower back. I fell asleep soon but not totally. Although feeling no pain, I faintly heard the cranking of tools and especially, the sound of the saw that sounded more powerful than the dentist’s drill. That’s all I could remember.

When I woke up in another room, the nurses were checking my vital signs. I still felt numb at the lower body. A nurse told me that everything had proceeded smoothly. Through a puncture on the left wrist, she was siphoning back into my body the blood lost that had been collected in a small plastic bag. After an hour or so, I was wheeled into a hospital room where I stayed for the next two nights. Two dangers used to accompany post-surgery. One is infection and the other is blood clot. Antibiotics took care of potential infection. To prevent blood clot, my legs were wrapped with a mechanical vibrator to keep the blood flowing all the time. I felt no pain at all but was confined in bed the rest of the day.

The next morning a physical therapist came and helped me stand up and walk. “Are you kidding?” I asked. Despite doubts, I was able to walk for 10 minutes in the corridor with the help of a walker! The next day, the therapist helped me negotiate the stairs just by holding onto the rail. It looked like a miracle! I had been told that this would happen but did not believe it.

I saw my surgeon two more times after release from the hospital. Around Christmas, he proclaimed my total recovery after reviewing the progress. He asked me how I felt. I told him “No pain no cane!” Deep in my heart, I know I could never have thanked him enough for helping me bring back my normal life.

(February 2012)

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2 Responses to Hip Replacement: I Salute My Surgeon

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