20 March 2018 – 13 weeks post-op THR, left hip CHD at 46 years old based in Australia. Like me, I’m sure there are many hip dyplastic people feeling isolated who are seeking medical comparisons/experiences to ease their fears, this is the motivation for my current submission.
Diagnosed at 6 weeks I was promptly placed in plaster to my chest for 9 months. Ongoing (annoying) checkups throughout my child hood didn’t show much change as I grew (flattened femur head, shortened femur stem, shorter left leg approx 1cm) but I was told I wouldn’t be able to give birth naturally and would experience significant degradation by the time I was 40. My love of competitive athletics stalled at 15 when I began to experience pain running – I became a guinea pig for a relative studying acupuncture which helped enormously over the years!
Although determined to have a natural birth, I was unable to get into the natural birth centre at my local hospital and resigned to hiring a private midwife in preparation for a potential home birth (not my first choice but I wanted to avoid a C-section). Going into labour 3 weeks early with a breech baby I ended up with a C-section anyway. Needless to say I was even more determined with baby number 2. I lobbied the Government Health Department’s Head of Obstetrics for months and managed to get permission to go into the birth centre for a VBAC despite having had a previous C-section. Successfully giving natural birth to my daughter delivered by midwife with no doctors present, was a fabulous accomplishment! I was 28 years old at the time.
By 38 years of age, my subtle limp became an obvious eye sore attracting sympathy (and prayers) from strangers passing by. I began experiencing agonising sharp stabbing pains in my hip 40+ times per day – I was referred to the Head of Orthopaedics at my local hospital. But as a ‘young’ patient, and despite now being diagnosed with the highest grade of Osteo Arthritis, he wanted to hold off any surgery until I was atleast 50.
Then one day after a gym work out, something went ‘ping’ I could barely walk! Going back to the surgeon, he finally decided to perform a hip arthroscopy as an initial THR postponement measure. It took 10mths on the public health waiting list (yes we are very fortunate in Australia to have a free public health system!) before I was able to undergo surgery. It was only day-surgery, and despite still being very painful but easy keyhole procedure, I was released that afternoon.
I gingerly began to recover, I was on crutches for 5 weeks but the debilitating stabbing pains were significantly reduced – down to barely a few times a week!! This procedure in my case certainly helped enormously!! The process was simply cleaning out floating damaged cartilidge and I believe the removal inflamed synovial tissue in my case. This was enough to keep me going okay for another 4 years.
However, as a well travelled, active, adventurous person, I began to become increasingly depressed at my rapidly reducing activity levels. No longer able to run, dance, trek, clamber over rock pools, bush walk, stand for long periods (or short periods!) etc etc I did not want to wait another 5+ years whilst my quality of life was slipping away – I was still in my 40s!!
After several more consultations, I was finally put on the wait list for Total Hip Replacement in October 2017. 40 days later I received a phone call and was in surgery 6 days after that! With a brand new private hospital recently built in our region, I was referred as a public patient to undergo surgery in the private hospital with all the private perks! My fair sized solo room even had water views!
I had a posterior procedure, with a “Ferrari” of all prosthetics, with an extra 2.5cm (1 inch) added to my left leg which required the release of extra tendons and ligaments to accommodate the longer prosthetic. I experienced ‘fireworks’ nerve pain for up to 5 weeks post surgery in both my left and right thigh (my right thigh has a pinched nerve from surgery placement and resulted in numbness which is still there slightly today.) I had chronic lower back pain for up to 5 weeks as well but as soon as I got back to my Osteopath – the back pain immediately disappeared, and regular Osteo treatments have significantly disspated my ‘fireworks’ nerve pain and numbness in my right thigh too! The physio coming for home visits has also been incredibly helpful.
At 13 weeks, I am still not allowed to return to work until I have full capacity according to my rehab officer at work. And although I am still unable to dance, run or scramble over rock pools, I am progressing very well for someone with CHD.
I stood up and took a couple of steps at 16 hrs post surgery, I took short walks on a walker at 36hrs post surgery, I was off the walker by day 4, I could tackle stairs by day 8, I was off painkillers by week 6, off crutches by 7.5 weeks and now I’m on a walking stick I have been driving since week 8!
Now allowed to bend past 90 degrees and sit without cushions propping me up – I am comfortable sitting for longer periods, I can wash my own legs (mostly – my husband still washes my feet, I can’t reach there yet), I am getting around cooking, doing housework and doing more admin work for our family business.
I have no stabbing pains during the day. I can sleep on my left hip without pain. I don’t even need paracetmol anymore! Whilst there are a few natural challenges post surgery, so far I have been relatively pain free and progressing well (albeit slower than ‘normal hip replacement patients’).
I am grateful to have found the IHDI and know that in future I will require more surgeries, but I now look forward to a more fuller active ‘youth’ and an early retirement living/traveling overseas.