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Francine Hardaway: Francine's Hip Replacement Story

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About two years ago, after a lifetime of running, aerobics, yoga, tennis, and everything else you can think of to keep fit, I found myself suddenly limping, in a lot of pain, and losing my quality of life. When I went to my (male) family doctor, he told me to get a hip replacement. He said it just like that: “time for a hip replacement.”

No discussion of the risks, none of the fact that there’s a long recovery, nothing about the perils of general anaesthesia. It may as well have been “replace the spark plugs.”

I’m not a fan of unquestioned medical advice, and my mother “sundowned” after general anaesthesia for diverticulitis surgery and never recovered, tipping over into Alzheimer’s disease and a terrible slow decline. So I tried it all: acupuncture, physical therapy. yoga, stretching, Celebrex — whatever.

Nothing worked. My joint was bone on bone. But I also have back problems, which I had always controlled through yoga, and I knew a lot about alignment. After all, the “hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the knee bone,” and they are all connected to the spine.

So I sought a surgeon who could help me with the hip replacement while not destroying the subtle alignment I had created in my back through yoga. The first guy I saw was so gruff that I walked out of his office. The second, a doctor in Tucson who does the minimally invasive surgery, admitted that he knew nothing about backs, and allowed as how my back wasn’t important, because after all this was my hip!

Finally I was referred to a female hip surgeon. And naturally, she listened to me and planned with me. She knew damned well that my back would be a problem, and she told me flat out that she couldn’t do minimally invasive surgery and guarantee my back would be okay after because she had to see inside the joint to position the new hip properly.

I trusted her, and we went through the surgery together, but it still wasn’t easy. Especially the recovery, about which no one is honest. If they told you it would be at least six months before you felt like a normal human being, you wouldn’t do it, so they stress the fact that you are up on your feet the same day. That’s not the same as being able to walk two golden retrievers on leashes. Also, the hospital itself is dangerous: nursing shortages, staph infections, complications, and all the psychological issues.

I had no one to talk to about these, and very little from the patient’s perspective to read. So I kept a blog here. I documented my fears, my opinions of surgeon and hospital, and my ups and downs during the recovery.

Please read it, share it, and recommend it to other people contemplating hip replacement. If we share enough stories, we will get good medical care. If we keep it to ourselves, we will literally suffer in silence.

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