Friday, December 12, 2014

Okay, 5 Years and Doing Great

Yes, it's been 5 years since my hip replacements, and all is well.  I phoned my surgeon as directed to make an appointment to see him for my 5-year checkup and his office told me that if everything was okay, he didn't need to see me.

So, that's it, very lucky, blessed, to have had the surgeries and have had everything work out well.

I'm not anticipating any (or at least many) new blog posts.  The whole story is here.

If I can offer one word of advice to prospective hip replacement candidates it's this: do your post-op exercises and don't stop.  I've continued now for 5 years, am as flexible as ever.

If I get two words of advice: My doctor, Dr. Buly, at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and his team and the entire hospital are terrific, outstanding, excellent.

So, that's it.  Good luck.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Happy Camper

Well, it's now 18 months since my second hip replacement, and I am doing great. My thoughts turn less frequently to how lucky I am to have received those implants and more frequently to those who suffer and are unable to get the surgery I received.  I feel for those people.

My daily routine now starts at the JCC gym in Rockland County -- a superb facility with attentive trainers. Once a week I spend 60 minutes with Marilyn who makes sure that my heart gets pumping and I work up a sweat shortly after I start. And once a week I take a boxing lesson with Chris who pushes me through 3-minute speed drills that empty my arms' gas tanks of all energy until I am running on fumes.

I've become pretty good on the speed bag. Try it. It's a lot of fun. With wraps or small gloves I can hit the bag straight on and with the edge of my hand, go hand to hand, and even double up as I switch hands. It's a lot like drumming and because I am a drummer, I think that the speed bag has come relatively easily to me. I've noticed that the boxing lessons have done more to build up my shoulders and arms than anything else I've done in the past year.

The morning ends with a shower and a short stay in the steam room, and I leave clean and refreshed. A great way to start the day.

My hips, of course, are fine. Happily the pain I endured prior to my surgeries is, as promised, a thing of the past.

I think that regular exercise, however, is crucial. And I plan to continue my daily morning gym exercise forever.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My One-Year Checkup

Had my one-year check up this week and it went very well -- excellent, in fact.

X-ray images show that both hip replacements have fused well with the bones and that they have not moved even a tiny bit.

Dr. Bully manipulated both hips and determined that all is well.

What a miracle surgery! A year ago I could barely walk and then only with a lot of pain. I have no pain. It's the surgery and follow-up care. I exercise almost daily and that's helping a lot.

Bottom line: it has been a great experience. If you're on the fence about getting hip replacement surgery, all I can say is that you will know when it's time.

My next scheduled appointment is Nov. 16, 2011.

Good luck.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Late March, 2010 Update -- Doing Great!

Okay, so I am sorry for not posting in quite a long time. Been busy which is good.

I am fine. Really fine. The surgeries and post-surgery physical therapy are nothing short of amazing.

I now walk (without a cane, of course) comfortably and can lace up my own shoes. (That's an improvement because at my worst, I could barely slip on a pair of sneakers with Velcro tab closures.) I'm driving and I can sit comfortably on a hard chair and even climb and descend stairs (though that's still not perfect and I'm working on it).

In short, everything's great.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Four Weeks Since the Surgery and All is Well

My second hip surgery was a month ago. I'm now walking (using a cane only occasionally) and, as of yesterday, driving. I feel good and, best of all, there is no hip pain. That's gone!

I have been working out at physical therapy and my legs are strong. The surgical scars are healing nicely and all certainly appears to be moving along in the right direction.

This experience has reinforced the notion for me that we are all very fragile, and that we must be careful in our daily lives not to do anything to increase the possibility of injury. We are not indestructible.

I am still having a little difficulty getting into and out of a car (my left leg needs help elevating -- and sometimes I get by wiggling my left foot and inch-worming my way out the passenger side door). But I'm sure that will improve with time and exercise. And walking steps is still a one-at-a-time deal, although I have tried walking upstairs by alternating both legs, but I'm just not ready for that yet.

Each day I get a bit stronger, a bit more flexible. I've been putting in almost full days at my office which, thankfully, is not a physically taxing environment under normal circumstances.

I am very grateful for the excellent medical and rehabilitative care that I received at Hospital for Special Surgery (New York City), Helen Hayes Hospital (Haverstraw, NY) and Sportcare Institute (West Nyack, NY).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Hip Surgery -- An Interim Retrospective

It's been almost two weeks since my second hip replacement (the first was two months ago to the other hip). Some readers of this blog will be persons considering hip replacement surgery for themselves or others. Many of my friends have told me that they have hip pain or know someone who's had replacement surgery. The most common question is "how will I know when I am ready".

Much to my surprise, hip replacement surgery is considered to be "elective" surgery (see "Total Hip Replacement" for a professional discussion by MedicineNet.com). I'm sorry, but in my case there was nothing elective about it. Say, for example, a person puts your hips in a vice and tightens down on the vice causing you constant, relentless, excurtiating pain. Would you consider it elective to extricate yourself from that situation or mandatory?

But, before I get my sheets all twisted up in a knot, thankfully the descriptor "elective" relates to timing, not medical necessity. According to WiseGeek, "elective surgery is non-emergency surgery which is planned, allowing the patient and doctor to determine the best time and place for it. There is a wide range of procedures which could be considered elective, ranging from a hip replacement to a rhinoplasty, and elective surgical procedures are offered at most hospitals. The primary advantage of elective surgery is that it has a much more controllable and predictable outcome, since the variant of chance and emergency circumstances is removed."

So, notwithstanding that my surgery was considered "elective", it was covered. Coverage under my insurance was not an issue.

As to timing, I knew I was ready. My hips went downhill faster than Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards, the first competitor to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping. For a time (more than a year) I was hobbling about, in pain, but managing to some extent on Advil. Things worsened toward Fall of 2009 and by October I was walking in pain but only with a cane.

Once diagnosed with advanced osteoarthritis in both hips I had two choices: (a) live with it and dope myself up to manage the pain; or (b) undergo hip replacement surgery. At that point, I was ready -- so ready that had my surgeon said he could operate the day he saw me, I would have jumped on the operating table immediately. So, that's the answer to the question. You'll know you're ready. There won't be any question.

Retrospectively would I have done anything differently? Sure, I should have been 100or more pounds lighter all my adult life, eaten better, taken better care of my health, etc. But, having found myself in the position I was last October, I would not have changed a thing. I am esctatic that I had the surgeries. My right leg is almost back to normal (operated on Nov. 17, two months ago), and my left leg makes daily positive progress returning to normality (operated on Jan. 7, 12 days ago). Oh, yes, I've lost 75 pounds and continue losing weight through better eating and increasing (albeit currently limited) exercise.

Yesterday I resumed outpatient physical therapy at a local treatment facility (SportsCare Institute, Inc. in West Nyack, New York), 11 days after my second surgery. My progress following the second surgery has been even more rapid than after the first surgery. I attribute that to my having a good opposing leg and hip this time around.

I was also genuinely enthused about being able to do 10 minutes on a stationary cycle without any difficulty, and was even able to move the pedals around their orbit easily and quickly. I was literally speeding! It was a thrill, as if all of a sudden I had two rocket-powered legs. What I had was my two legs being able to use an exercycle without pain. I haven't been able to do that in years. I am feeling terrific about that and look forward to getting back on the cycle tomorrow.

I am also able to get around a bit with a cane (still somewhat unsteady) but still use the walker most of the time.

And, while Vicodin remains part of my daily regimen, I am taking less of it and I can see an end to that in a week or two.

On the topic of costs, I am very lucky. Lucky that I was able covered for much of the expense through insurance, and able to pay for the amounts not covered. Many people are not in that position (most people in the world I would guess). Something's got to be done about that. Being the beneficiary of extraordinary healthcare, I can only wish the same for everyone, and work to seeing that become a reality. So, for those of us who question the current healthcare reform initiative, a choice that involves living with chronic pain is not a choice. Live with chronic pain for a day and you'll see what I mean.

My friends are calling me Lee Majors, the "6 million dollar man". If the cost of my surgeries is a measure, I'd say I'm more like the quarter-of-a-million dollar man.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

At Home Now

I'm at home now. At HHH I was assigned to a room that I shared with an elderly man who really should have been assigned to his own single room. I couldn't room with him (noise, toilet issues, cleanliness, etc.). One of us had to go, and I was ready. I stayed from Wednesday until Friday, and got myself discharged.

That was 8 days after surgery. I was a lot further along with my recuperation at that point than I was with the first surgery two months ago. The difference was that this time I have a good and improving hip on the other side, rather than a weak, painful and worsening hip. That is helping a lot.