Hip, Hip … Hooray?


I think one of the hardest parts for me was the realization that it had to be done and to schedule the date for surgery.

My arthritic hip had been bothering me for some time now, and I was warned the day wasn't far away that it would need to be replaced. But it's funny how the mind works. I kept reassuring myself that it would be fine and continue to serve me well until the day I died, even when I needed a cane to walk.

Well, I was wrong. Turns out I was suffering from arthritis and chronic joint problems. Nationwide, statistics put the number of adults suffering from this condition in the millions. In fact, data shows that approximately 300,000 hip replacements are done annually, with projections for as many as 600,000 a year by 2015.

So who was I to fight the inevitable? With much of my mobility gone and the pain getting worse each day, I knew I had to undergo hip-replacement surgery. After checking around with several well-known specialists in the field, I decided my surgeon would be Andrew Star, M.D., director of joint replacement surgery at Abington Memorial Hospital.

Star understood fear, apprehension and all the things that most patients feel when they are facing major surgery. He also had a wonderful reputation, not the least of which was the No. 1 reason I selected him.

Prior to the surgery, I went to a meeting at the hospital, where others awaiting the surgery were also in attendance. Star explained and illustrated the procedure with plastic bones and diagrams. It was a bit unnerving in the beginning – watching him cut and saw away at the pretend bone – but it later proved very beneficial since I could better understand what would be happening to me.

Patients are also required to donate their own blood … just in case. Fortunately, my surgery was done without the need for a transfusion.

At last, the day came. Instead of making a nine- to 15-inch incision that necessitates cutting through extensive muscle and much recuperation time, the doctor was able to complete the procedure, giving me a brand-new hip, with a mere three-inch incision.

Bionics Come True?
My hip was replaced with a combination of metal and plastic components. After several days of post-operative care and intense rehabilitation, I was sent home to receive even more care. After several days with a walker, I soon switched to a cane; not long afterward, I was able to resume driving my car.

Recently, I went for my one-year checkup, and was told that everything went extremely well, and I wouldn't have to be seen for another three years!

I've now been able to resume normal activities, some of which had been curtailed for years due to painful suffering. I can now walk, travel, dance – and kvetch, although not about my painful hip, since the activities I once enjoyed are now no longer curtailed.

I would say the surgery I received was a miracle of modern-day medicine. I've even recommended it to others who needlessly endure pain each and every day, although only a doctor can determine if you are a candidate for this type of surgery.

And I also remind others of celebrities who are now living quite well with new hips, including Jane Fonda, Liza Minnelli and former President George Bush.

I've come to understand that a common cause for hip replacement is simply one of the scourges of getting older. I think Bette Davis said it best when she noted, "Getting old ain't for sissies."



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