Many of you have asked me, at one time or other over the last 5 years, why was I limping. Up until last year I probably responded by saying that I did not realize I was limping. About a year ago, I finally decided to see the doctor – I knew something was not right. It was my back. As the pain in my back increased, the limp became worse so I went to see the back doctor.
After I had the requisite X-rays, the back doctor came in to see me. He said that my vertebra looked good, the curvature of my spine looked good, and the spacing between my vertebra looked good. He followed that up with, “And you are going to feel so much better when you get your new hip.” I waited for the punchline, but it was no joke.
I was really concerned because I had heard of folks being out of commission for 8 to as much as 16 weeks! As a solo practicing dentist, I knew there was no way I could be out for 2-4 months. I decided that I would have to wait. I mean, now that I knew the real problem, I also knew my limitations – no long walks.
I was doing fairly well till Summer. Even though I knew my limitations, I began to go downhill rapidly; I could barely walk, and I was in constant pain. My hip continued to get worse as Fall came. I had to do something.
After talking with a couple of surgeons, and some Googling by my wife and myself, I decided to talk with a surgeon at Emory. When I called Emory to get the names and phone numbers, I was given 2 or 3 names. I selected one and dialed. The office that answered was not the one I had selected, but another – I had misdialed… It was the office of one of the other Emory Orthopaedic Surgeons, Dr. Thomas Bradbury.
I took my previous X-rays with me, and once Dr. Bradbury looked at them, he asked me, “How in the world did you walk in here today?” He confirmed that the only treatment for me was a total hip replacement. Then he told me about the procedure. He said he performed hip replacement with an anterior approach (from the front) as opposed to the classic posterior approach (from the back). He said that I would have no limitations or restrictions and I could do whatever I felt like afterwards, and my hip wouldn’t be perfect, but about 95%. He also said that most patients were back in service much quicker – although I could not pin him down on how long I would be out.
I began to research the Anterior Approach Hip Replacement (animated YouTube video), and I found out some amazing things. The reason folks do so well is that muscles and ligaments are not cut; they are retracted or pushed out of the way to get to the joint. The only cuts I have healing are a 4 inch incision on top of my thigh and the joint itself. Bone has no pain nerves, so I feel nothing there. In fact, the only pain/soreness I have had is in my muscles where they are getting over being stretched – sort of like major pulled muscles.
Surgery was December 20, and I went home December 21. When I got home, I walked up the stairs to my lazy-boy in my bedroom, and I set up shop there. On December 30 I drove down to Newnan and back. And on Wednesday, January 4th, I was back in the office seeing patients… We just scheduled 1/2 day for Wednesday and Thursday, but I felt great. I believe I am good to go for next week. I’m not ready for a marathon, but I am better each and every day.
When we were leaving the hospital, Emory University Orthopaedic Joint and Spine Hospital, one of the folks helping us told us how lucky we were to have found Dr. Bradbury because he was one of the few, if not the only, surgeon in the entire SOUTHEAST who was performing this new technique. She went on to tell us how his patients all bounced back quicker than the others.
How lucky we were to have found him…. And all I did was dial the wrong number.