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We Have The Technology; We Can Rebuild Him

by DigitalDoyle

hip-replacement-lg

 

Woot! Back among the living, and in only 2.5 days, too! And yes, they want me to use a walker for a week or two, but I was able to stand and shower unassisted this morning with virtually no pain at all, and fully restored to my normal 6′ 4″ height. I am no longer crippled! Should be able to walk completely unassisted in 2-3 weeks tops. That is amazing.

Backstory; my left hip has been getting steadily more and more painful for the past 20 years, to the point where a few days ago I was functionally lame, with very little mobility without excruciating pain. A month ago we went to a specialist to find out what the problem was and options to fix it. The problem turned out to be severe advanced arthritis of the hip with all the cartilage completely gone and massive bone spurs on both ball and socket. Bone against bone. No wonder there was so much pain. Yikes. Only solution was total hip replacement.

Evidently medical technology and competence has progressed to very nearly miracle levels in human restoration and repairs. Monday morning I went into Forest Park Medical Center Southlake, Tx to get my left hip joint totally replaced in a state of the art way. There, my surgeon, Dr. Steven Sanders performed the procedure. After it was done he told me that my particular procedure took twice as long as normal, as it took as long for him to grind out and reshape the socket as it usually does to do an entire surgery, due to me having the longest bone spurs he’d ever seen. No wonder I hurt so much and so constantly for so many years.

But! The most amazing things are the surgical approach and skill exhibited, the materials, and the anesthetic methods used.

The replacement parts for the top of the femur were a special titanium alloy support shaft that went down the center of the formerly arthritic femur and was cemented in place by an advanced adhesive that catalyzes to full strength almost immediately. This adhesive also encourages the surrounding bone to grow to and adhere to the new support structure to form a more solid and stronger bond.

Attached to the top of the titanium shaft is a special nearly frictionless ceramic ball. The socket joint was epoxy-attached in place, after careful and very skillful grinding and re-surfacing of the socket joint to remove the very large bone spurs that had formed over nearly 2 decades. The new surgical steel socket features a special replaceable plastic liner that serves as the cartilage replacement for the artificial joint. The cool thing about that is that if and when I wear that plastic out, it’s a relatively simple thing to go back in and replace it with new plastic. And with my lifestyle and the demands I’ll be putting on the new joint, the current plastic should last around 20-30 years. That is just amazing to me. My new cybernetic parts are replaceable.

The skill and precision with which this procedure was done by Dr. Sanders was amazing. Dr. Sanders uses a much newer and less physically invasive method of hip surgery called the anterior method. Anterior means going in from the front side of the hip rather than thru the backside which is called the posterior method. In the very recent past, the posterior was the only way that all hip replacement surgeries were done.

Why is the anterior method so revolutionary? Because going in through the front side of the body only requires about a 4.5″ to 5″ incision through the fascia of the front of the hip. No actual muscles or tendons are cut, and therefore recovery is dramatically quicker.

With the posterior method, the muscles of the buttock have to be cut, along with some tendons and connective tissue around the hip joint to gain access when replacing the hip. This takes a whole lot longer to heal and rehabilitate, and you really have to be careful how you sit and the way you move or else you can easily dislocate the new joint.

With the anterior method the attaching ligaments and tissue are simply spread apart and moved out of the way, while the hip is dislocated and the individual joint parts replaced and then re-located and re-surrounded by the existing undamaged muscles and connective tissues. Yes there’s a little muscle soreness, but more about that later.

A normal anterior hip replacement takes about an hour and a half. And they usually have you standing and walking on it shortly after you come out of recovery, which is stunning, if you think about it. A full major weight-bearing joint replacement, and as soon as you’re out of recovery, you’re on your feet. Amazing. With me they waited till the following day, yesterday, before I got to go for my first walk, due to the additional time they had to keep me on the table to fix the bone spurs.

I was very apprehensive when my excellent physical therapist Rick took me out in the hall for my first walk. I thought it was going to hurt like it used to when it was damaged. But lo and behold, there was a bit of muscle soreness, like when you pick weeds out of the yard all day, but that was about it. I damn near cried when it was instantly so easy, natural, and pain-free to walk again. Literal miracle. Like flipping a light switch. The excruciating pain was just gone.

The doctor and the nurses said I would be feeling a lot more pain and kept asking me to rate my pain levels between 1 and 10, 1 being no pain and 10 being really bad. I stayed consistently at 1 to 1.5. It wasn’t actual pain so much as muscle soreness. One of the reasons for that was the anesthetic method they used during the surgery. In addition to conventional anesthetic to put me out so I didn’t feel anything during, my outstanding anesthesiologist Hussein, suggested something called a nerve block. This is a method where anesthetic is injected into and around specific nerves in the affected area, effectively blocking pain signals from getting to the brain.

It all worked amazingly well. I’m home now, having no problems or pain and getting around the house at least once an hour using my walker, more for slight support than total dependency and feeling fantastic. I was doing so well that they decided that I could go home a day earlier than normal, which I chose to do. I took a shower at the hospital this morning, unassisted, free-standing and completely pain-free. It was an amazing experience and this hip replacement is going to change every part of my life for the better.

I’m going to be able to walk on beaches around the world with my Beloved again. I’m going to be able to travel and go to interesting out of the way places again. I thought I would never be able to do those things again, or at least without an excruciating amount of pain. I am so very thankful and truly grateful for this miracle. It’s like getting a second chance at life; a chance I don’t intend to waste.

That arthritic hip was the only really negative thing in my life, and now, poof, it and the constant pain are just gone. I tried to get them to let me keep the diseased ball joint, but they said it was medical waste and wouldn’t let me keep it. I wanted to encase it in clear liquid polycarbonate and put it at the top of a custom-crafted cane. Oh well. It’s good to just let some things go and move on.

Also, I’ve gotta tell you just how wonderful everyone at Forest Park Medical Center was. I have never had the level of competence and quality care I’ve experienced the past 2.5 days. You could be royalty and not receive better care. No joke. The facility itself is like a beautiful resort, and the nursing staff on the 3rd floor that cared for me was amazing. I thank each and every one of them. If you need a hip or knee replacement, I highly recommend this facility.

Here’s a timelapse of my room’s view of the sunset last night at FPMC Southlake, just before the big storms rolled across north Texas. I felt good enough to set up my GoPro and shoot the sequence.

 

I know this was long, but my heart is full and I haven’t felt this happy and optimistic in a very long time. If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go for a walk. I can’t stop smiling. 😉

 

So what can we do for you?

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