Sur­viv­ing Joint Im­plants

A whole new world with an ar­ti­fi­cial hip

RSWLiving - - Contents - BY SANDY TEGER


You need a new hip,” the doc­tor shares with me. I wasn’t sure whether to be re­lieved or up­set. Lum­bar pain on the left side ra­di­ated down my leg, and I’d al­ready tried pills from my in­ternist, phys­i­cal ther­apy and acupunc­ture. My pain man­age­ment doc­tor was puz­zled by my symp­toms and sent me to Joint Im­plant Sur­geons of Florida to fig­ure out the right di­ag­no­sis. The bad news was that I had suf­fered for months and needed a walker to get around. The good news was that I now knew what the prob­lem was and what had to be done to fix it! I ap­proached the idea with both an­tic­i­pa­tion and dread. My ra­tio­nal side said, “You’ll be back to your old ac­tiv­i­ties once this is over.” The other voice said, “They’re go­ing to open you up and re­place your hip with an ar­ti­fi­cial one. What if some­thing goes wrong?”

I know that lots of ex­pe­ri­ence is a key to se­lect­ing an ex­cel­lent sur­geon. Dr. Ed­ward Hum­bert at Joint Im­plant Sur­geons does the most knee and hip re­place­ments in the state of Florida. Ev­ery­one told me, “He’s the guy.” The wait­ing-room walls are cov­ered with poster-sized pic­tures of for­mer pa­tients, each en­gag­ing in a fa­vorite ac­tive pas­time: rid­ing a horse, ski­ing, scuba div­ing or play­ing ten­nis. They all ex­pressed be­ing thrilled to be par­tic­i­pat­ing again in their sport of choice. Was it good PR? Was it true? Yes on both counts.

Be­cause Dr. Hum­bert is so pop­u­lar, the next hur­dle was get­ting an ap­point­ment for surgery. For­tu­nately, high sea­son was wind­ing down. My surgery was sched­uled about one month out. I was of two minds about wait­ing. One mo­ment I wished it were hap­pen­ing the next day; the next I was happy to have time to pre­pare. Pa­tients are en­cour­aged to at­tend a pre­lim­i­nary lec­ture to un­der­stand what will be hap­pen­ing and re­ceive a book with de­tails about what to ex­pect be­fore and af­ter the surgery.

As a night owl, I was not happy about the un­godly early hour I had to be at the hospi­tal for surgery. Check-in went smoothly, and I was calm be­fore the op­er­a­tion. Al­though I was foggy when I woke up in re­cov­ery, I snapped a thumbs-up selfie for my Face­book page.

I was out of bed the same day and sit­ting in a re­cliner, feel­ing happy it was over. The next day, we started phys­i­cal ther­apy in a large room, along with other pa­tients who were post-surgery. Lee Memo­rial has one of the top 10 most ac­tive joint-re­place­ment cen­ters in the U.S., with 41 beds in the or­tho­pe­dic surgery sec­tion.

Back home, a phys­i­cal ther­a­pist came three days a week. I’d planned to catch up on read­ing, but couldn’t re­ally con­cen­trate. My best piece of prepa­ra­tion had been rent­ing a re­cliner, which be­came my co­coon dur­ing re­cov­ery. It was where I iced my hip, slept and watched TV. I’m not much of a TV watcher, but be­cause I had lit­tle en­ergy, I be­came a couch potato.

I was very for­tu­nate to have an at­ten­tive hus­band who brought me things I needed, em­pathized ap­pro­pri­ately and took care of house­hold tasks. My worst mis­take was cut­ting back on my opi­ate painkillers way too quickly. For 36 hours I was un­able to sleep or even sit still. I’ll never make that mis­take again.

I guess I’m be­com­ing a bionic woman. Next month Dr. Hum­bert is re­plac­ing my right shoul­der.

Sandy Teger lives on Sani­bel and is a part-time tech­nol­ogy con­sul­tant at Sys­tem Dy­nam­ics Inc. She’s also a grand­mother of four, or­ga­nizes the an­nual Sani­bel Cap­tiva Heart Walk and is a gar­den and wine en­thu­si­ast.

Sandy Teger

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