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Total Hip Replacement: Here We Go Again

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

Here's a picture of me at Corolla Beach, NC 6 weeks post-op from my first THP

It’s the wee hours of the morning of my 2nd total hip replacement surgery. I’m supposed to be trying to sleep. What that actually looked like, was watching interviews of Lady Gaga on Steven Colbert and Ellen for 45 minutes, followed by laying quietly in the darkness for another 25 minutes, then deciding I could be better utilizing my time by writing a blog. So, here we are.

I’m not nervous about my surgery. I mean if anyone should be nervous, it should be my surgical team. They’re the ones doing all the heavy lifting. All I have to do is show up and be pampered… If you call being jabbed with countless needles, drugged up and sliced open “pampered.” Which, I suppose someone out there would be totally into.

Everything went about as smoothly as it possibly could’ve the first time around. Because of this, I have an elevated level of foreboding optimism about today. Will I be as lucky this time? What kind of odds am I up against here? I’m choosing to believe they’re leaning in my favor.

I’ve had to take time and sort through how I’m really feeling about having another surgery to get through. Typically, whenever anyone asks, I divert to talking about how I’m looking forward to getting past this and through my recovery. It’s all I’ve let myself think about. Because when I start to think about having to reconquer everything I’ve already had to conquer once, it feels a little overwhelming. Maybe it will make the victory even sweeter the second time around. Here’s hoping.

The reality is, baring any unforeseen circumstances, I will crush this recovery like I did the first one. Then, I will move on with my life and live like a mostly normal human being, until I eventually need to replace my replacements. Then, I’ll do it all over again. At least in the mean time, I get to maintain my ability to walk.

Maybe sometime down the road, medical advancements will progress far enough, that my next hip replacements will be the last ones I need, because they’ll last forever. Crazier things have happened, right?

Going through this has caused me to pay closer attention to what’s going on with our healthcare system. I didn’t have health insurance for around three or four years before this. I was making too much money to qualify for Obamacare, but not enough to make paying $400/month feasible. I was in the grey area of people who the ACA didn’t help. So I said, “Fuck the patriarchy, I’ll take the fine!” And didn’t have insurance.

I don’t have that luxury anymore. I will always need to have health insurance from here on out. I worry about the ACA being reformed in a way that allows insurance companies to deny people coverage for preexisting conditions again. Because if that happens, I’m officially on the list of people who are screwed. These are things I understood theoretically in the past, but now it’s personal.

But, enough of these trivial, light-hearted things…

I’m making a mental note to remember to compliment my surgical team on a job well done during my August surgery. I will then follow up by telling them it’s extra important they get the length right when they’re installing my new hip, because I’m going to be playing the field at some point after recovery and I can’t be wooing any ladies with wildly uneven legs. Forget about a malfunctioning prosthetic or sepsis. I’m worried about leg length.

Reflecting on my last surgery, which was 12 weeks ago now, I understand why people talk about hip replacements like they’re easy breezy. Don’t get me wrong, I still call bullshit, but I get it.

This 12 weeks has gone by relatively quickly. And by week six, I was feeling incredibly normal and had barely a hint of a limp left. But those first six weeks were a bear and some days felt like they were never going to end. Some days, I wanted to jump out of my skin because I was uncomfortable as hell and couldn’t do anything about it.

Anyone who talks about someone they know having a hip replaced like it’s a cake walk, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You’re having bone sawed off and in its place, having a foreign object implanted in your body. That shit is rough.

“You’ll be up walking the same day!”

Uhmm… Define, “walking.”

I required two nurses just to help me out of the hospital bed and onto a portable toilet only inches away, for the rest of my surgery day and night. It was a victory to make it all the way to the bathroom with my walker and the help of those two nurses, by the next morning. And, that was less of a “walk” and more of a slow, exaggerated shuffle. I was however, up with my walker, and mostly stable by mid-morning the next day. But, telling people they’ll be “walking” feels like a stretch. Luckily, very few people have tried to talk to me about hip replacements in this manor. The ones who have, caught me on a good day, or said it via text, where they were safe from the disdainfully annoyed expression on my face.

12 weeks post-op leaves me feeling mostly normal. There’s still an area to the right of my incision that has no feeling, but that seems to be improving little by little. I think the more the feeling comes back, the more I’m able to feel that there is still soreness over there from all the yanking around of my muscles and tissue and things. Yumm.

My incision has continued healing nicely and the little stitch dudes that were sticking out of either end, fell off several weeks ago… Although the bottom end seems to keep having little bits of stitch sneaking out from within, which is a little creepy and weird, albeit totally normal.

I still have to sleep with two pillows under my thighs/knees. Laying down with nothing propping up my hips is still not very comfortable. But, it’s fine. According to my surgeon, with total hip replacement recovery, you’ll reach around 90% recovery within the first couple of months, and then that last 10% can take up to a year. I do dream of the day when I can sleep comfortably on my side again. Which, at this rate, I imagine will happen in a year or so. But, if this is the trade off for being able to get through life without limited mobility and chronic pain… I’ll take it.

These days, whenever someone asks how my healing is going, I typically answer by (gently) swinging and/or thrusting my hip around, because what better answer than to show you what this bad boy can do? Imagine what kind of moves I’ll have once I’m 6+ weeks post-op from this next surgery! #CantStopWontStop.

Overall, I stay optimistic about all of this. It could definitely be worse. And, because they don’t fully know why this happened to my hips, they can’t know for sure that it won’t happen to other joints in my body. But, I don’t linger on those thoughts for very long. I'll continue seeking answers later. For right now, it's one mountain at a time.

So, Happy freakin’ Halloween. I don’t think there’s anything more gruesome than getting sliced open and becoming even more bionic. Which means, I win Halloween, even from my hospital bed.

Catch ya on the flip side you ghouls and goblins. Everything’s gonna be alright.

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