journey to total hip replacementsurgery

My Journey to a Total Hip Replacement

We have a lot of information available on our website about the various procedures we perform at Cape Hip and Knee, and have attempted to explain medical terms or give some background information to help you better understand and prepare for any surgery you may be facing.

 This article is a little different. In this article, instead of unpacking the medical side of a total hip replacement, we spoke to someone about to go for one! We asked for real life, personal feedback on how she was feeling, the steps she had taken to prepare for the surgery and a whole lot more. We have kept her identity anonymous, but we have permission to share her story here.

A Bit About Me

I am currently 56 years old and am scheduled for a Total Right Hip Replacement. I was diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia (shallow hip sockets) and Osteoarthritis in the ball and socket and have battled with pain for about six years, which has gradually worsened over time.

My Story of Diagnosis

The lead up to my diagnosis was really a relatively long process of elimination. In fact, I was misdiagnosed on a number of occasions. It began with me simply believing that the pain was caused from exercise or lack of exercise. But the pain continued to increase to the point that walking was painful and even more so when driving. When I visited the doctor, they initially thought that the pain was being caused by my varicose veins or as a result of my glute muscles being very tight. This led to me visiting a physiotherapist for treatment for my glute muscles after which I was diagnosed with piriformis syndrome for which I also received treatment. A varicose vein operation was then performed, which thankfully helped ease  some of the pain in my leg a little, however the initial pain remained. With the ongoing pain, the next thought was that it was being caused by a nerve in my groin – so I had a nerve block. But nothing seemed to really help. The pain seemed to be unending.

At this point I changed physios and my new physiotherapist told me it was something wrong with my right hip and referred me to an Orthopaedic Surgeon. He reviewed some of my old MRIs, and confirmed that I have very shallow hip sockets and that my right hip was in a very bad way. He recommended a total hip replacement of my right hip to take the pain away in the longer term, and to plan for a second total replacement of my left hip about 10-12 months thereafter.

My Feelings Heading Into Surgery

I have been so relieved to finally know what is wrong! Because of this I am going into the operation positively – I am almost excited! Up to this point, my sleep has constantly been disrupted with almost unbearable pain, and the only way I could manage it has been with painkillers and anti-inflammatories. Even an every-day activity like driving was very painful.  So the hope of relief from such pain has me hopeful!

Even hearing from others who have had the hip operation – they all say it changed their life completely! So I am so looking forward to this – being able to walk again, to cross my legs, squat and be able to exercise more.

My Biggest Concerns About Surgery

I have lived with this pain for so long, that I  really hope it takes the pain away! I am fearful it does not. I am also aware of the road of physiotherapy and rehabilitation I need to undergo too. And there is always the unknown of not knowing how I am going to feel after the surgery. Besides the operation, there is some concern about not being able to work and do my job properly, but putting things in place for after my operation has meant that I can focus and take the time I need to recover afterwards. Something like a step down facility is something I have weighed up extensively. Beyond this, I have no other real concerns.

The Importance of Asking Questions

I wish I had asked for more clarity specifically on where they are going to cut and exactly what they are going to do. While I will speak to the anaesthetist before the surgery I now realise that I could have asked more questions much earlier. Getting to speak to the surgical team in hospital and closer to the surgery is good, but clarity earlier is more helpful for answering questions and peace of mind. A good tip for anyone who might find themselves in a similar position to me.

So Much to Look Forward To

After so many years of experiencing ongoing pain, there is so much that I am looking forward to! I am trusting to be more physically active and to exercise again, to do simple things like be able to climb up the stairs or get out of the car with ease, and to get on the ground with my grandchildren. Overall I look forward to being more mobile. And to no more pain!

My Best Advice

I was told not to go on YouTube and watch any online operations as it could build fear and lead to increased anxiety; I think this is excellent advice to pass on. I also highly recommend you speak to your doctor, speak to your physio, ask questions and get the clarity you need – don’t be afraid to ask questions. They are personal questions and never silly. And finally: be as well prepared as you can ahead of time. For instance, I have been going for physio, strengthening my body, exercising on the bike, building fitness, and practising with crutches to try and position myself for optimal recovery.

It has been quite a long, tough, and emotional journey that finally has an end in sight. I am so looking forward to a fresh new lease on life, to feeling normal again and sharing my success story.

Post-script: Since the above article was written we can report that the surgery was a success! Our interviewee is recovering well and enjoying a life with far less pain and a lot more hope.

My Journey to a Total Hip Replacement