Life Starts Again with Hip Replacement
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.
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