NPR logo
Life Starts Again with Hip Replacement
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/5381991/5381992" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Life Starts Again with Hip Replacement

Commentary

Life Starts Again with Hip Replacement

Life Starts Again with Hip Replacement
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/5381991/5381992" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Eric Stromquist in the kitchen at the Oregon Culinary Institute.

Eric Stromquist in the kitchen at the Oregon Culinary Institute. Lori Stromquist hide caption

toggle caption Lori Stromquist

Commentator Eric Stromquist was 45 when his doctor told him he'd need both hips replaced. The advice that most people get from their doctors is to wait as long as you can because total hip replacement only lasts about a decade. Stromquist waited until he couldn't stand the pain any longer.

JOHN YDSTIE, host:

The advice that most people get is to wait as long as you can before having full hip replacement.

Commentator Eric Stromquist was 45 when his doctor told him that he needed to replace both hips. He waited and waited until he just couldn't stand it any longer.

ERIC STROMQUIST reporting:

The only truly practical advice I got over three miserable years of putting off surgery came from an unlikely source. I had the occasion to share a golf cart for a few hours with none other than former superstar athlete and hip replacement poster child Bo Jackson. The man is younger than I am and has had three total hip replacements and still looks capable of flattening an NFL linebacker.

In between searching for his huge sliced drives and listening to his incessant cell phone calls, I popped the when question. Bo looked me straight in the eye and said, Eric, when it starts to bleep up your sex life, you get it done.

Suddenly my decision became crystal clear. Bo knows.

After briefly considering hip resurfacing, I finally settled on the traditional procedure, and all that stood between me and my former life was two total hip replacements. Piece of cake.

So on the day, exhausted and confused from research and countless wasted hours spent in clinic waiting rooms, my job was simply to go lie down.

Just for the record, the surgery itself is a snap. The next 48 hours after the anesthetic wears off is not. Sure, the morphine helps, but it ain't enough. Also, be forewarned: within eight hours of surgery an overly perky physical therapist will enter your room and want you to go for a walk. First of all, everyone is overly perky when you're on morphine, so don't throw your bedpan at them. Secondly, understand this is not a requirement and they don't drag you out of bed forcibly, but you should do it anyway.

The fun really begins when you leave the hospital and head home. The next two weeks or so are an exercise in relearning basic functions and burdening loved ones with 24-hour care of what amounts to a tranquilized bear. During this time, aggressive pain management is the key. Don't try to be macho and wean yourself from medication just to impress your friends. Trust me, laughter may indeed be the best medicine, but OxyContin is a very close second.

Gradually, of course, the pain subsides, and after running the course of blood thinners and antibiotics its time for physical therapy. This is state sanctioned torture. Upon discovering exercise that causes you great discomfort, any trained PT worth their salt will immediately ask you to do three sets of ten. Once again, I urge you to just do it. It works.

After two months, really the only thing I cared about was a complete absence of bone grinding pain in my right hip. I was ecstatic. My left hip was not.

Nine months later, I was wheeled back into the OR to complete the matching set. To summarize, and sparing you the details, the worst part by far is trying to use the bathroom for the first couple of weeks. The best part is having your life back. Especially that life.

Bo knows, baby.

YDSTIE: Eric Stromquist is executive director of the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland.

Last week we asked for your questions on migraines. We've posted our experts' answers at npr.org.

This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.