Although I am reluctant to share my life on social media, I feel this is significant enough to put out there. On Tuesday, June 5th, I had a right hip arthroplasty, or total hip replacement. The pain started just over three years ago, in the spring of 2015, just weeks after I hit a personal best deadlift of 425lbs. Genetics, poor movement patterns, inflammatory diet, years of heavy weighted squats and deadlifting, and 7+ years of walking steel decked navy ships have taken their toll. My education about the inflammatory effects on joints that a poor diet can have, and the chronic deteriorating effects poor movement patterns have on joints, came too late to save my hip. Over the past six months, as my hip had deteriorated rapidly and limited my ability to move, I had to focus my working out on what I can do, and try not to lament what was no longer possible. It has been quite a humbling experience for me, as I am used to being very mobile and capable
of pushing, pulling, lifting, and putting down heavy things, and generally being able to move very dynamically. I believe in the adage that strong people are harder to kill, and I have tried to make myself as fit and strong as possible, not only so that I would be harder to kill, but also to be able to enjoy the activities of daily life in a much more robust manner. Health and fitness are part of my identity, and the deterioration of my hip led to a loss of both health and fitness as the constant and increasing pain had taken a toll on me both physically and mentally. I am not one to take any kind of medications, prescription or over the counter, however, the increasing pain led me to have to use both and they have wreaked havoc with my normally dependable gastrointestinal system, which also wreaked havoc on my body and my psyche. In the days before the surgery, I have to admit that I was a bit anxious about losing some of my original parts, but i was also eagerly awaiting my surgery as it brought the promise of alleviating the daily pains that moving brought. Also, the surgery would mark the beginning of a new, and hopefully hip pain free existence that will lead back to being healthy and fit again.
My surgery went well, and I was up and walking with the assistance of a walker within a couple of hours of getting out of surgery. I spent only one night in the hospital and was home in my own bed the day after surgery. The hardest part of the whole ordeal was the removal of my catheter (thank goodness they inserted it while I was asleep in the operating room). The staff at Virginia Beach General couldn’t have been nicer or more attentive to my needs. All in all, the whole process was as seamless and pain free as it could possibly have been.
While at home I used a walker to get around for the first four days, and then I ditched that for a cane. I am still using the cane, but only minimally. I expect to be able to ditch that within a week or so.
I am now on day 13 post surgery and I have a brand new titanium hip, which still freaks me out a bit, but it seems to be working well. I had my first post op appointment with my surgeon this morning and he seems very pleased with my progress. I’d like to say I’m pain free, but I can’t say that yet. Only 13 days ago my surgeon cut a 10 inch long hole in the front of my upper thigh, pulled all the muscle, nerves etc… out of the way so he could reach and dislocate my hip, cut off the top of the femur, scoop out the middle of the bone and shove a big piece of metal inside, then ream out the socket of my hip on my pelvis and shove a metal insert into the hole, then slap it all back together and glue me back up. This may sound kinda rough, but that’s essentially what was done. So no, 13 days later I still have a bit of pain, but I can walk pretty freaking well. I only have a slight limp, and that gets less every day as I get stronger. I stopped taking the prescription pain killers 10 days after surgery and am currently only taking Tylenol for pain. I suppose I could have kept taking the prescription oxycodone, but my current pain is less that what I was experiencing before the surgery, and it gets less everyday. Besides, pain is the body’s way of communicating with you and giving you feedback on how everything is working. The pain killers only mask that feedback mechanism and don’t let you understand how you are really feeling. So I’m feeling some pain, but it’s good pain.
One major lesson I’ve learned in this experience is that it is much better to be healthy and fit before any major surgery. It helps with your recovery. I am doing things only 13 days after surgery that it usually takes months for some to achieve. While walking with only a minimal amount of limping and pain, I am also able to do chair squats, reach down and touch the floor, get up and down off the floor, do lunges with my left foot forward, and while laying down bring my right heel up and almost touch my glute. I attribute these milestones to my almost daily myofascial release and stretching work, as well as my daily squats and lunges prior to my surgery. Strong people are not only harder to kill, but they recover faster also.
The reason I’m sharing this story is that I know I’m not alone. I started my health coaching practice to pay forward the gift I received in having found my way to a healthy and fit life, after being down in the pit of despair that being obese and unhealthy can be. The progressively debilitating pain that I experienced as my hip deteriorated was similar to the pain I felt when I was obese and unhealthy. As the physical pain increased in my hip, my psyche started to deteriorate. I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. As my health suffered and my weight increased, I started to get those old feelings of despair that I felt when I was obese. Fortunately, hip surgery, while being a major surgery, has a relatively short recovery period. I know that each day, as I get stronger, the pain will dissipate until it eventually goes away. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it looks beautiful. When I was obese and unhealthy, I not only couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, but I couldn’t even imagine one existed. Pain is Pain, whether it comes from a musculoskeletal issue or whether it is caused by the debilitating effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. Either way, the only way to a pain free existence is to take positive steps forward. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is admit you’re in pain, especially when that pain is perceived to be self inflicted. Being chronically overweight or obese, constantly feeling unhealthy, not being able to do the things you want to do because of your weight, health, or fitness level, these things can cause constant, unrelenting pain to the body. Don’t wait another day, take some steps forward to help you get out of that pain. You’ll thank yourself when your on the other side.
I know the hardest part for me going forward will be to let my body heal and to not over do things as I start feeling better. My surgeon told me that my new hip is on a lease program for the first six weeks, and that he still owns it, he’s just letting me borrow it, so I have to listen to him. After six weeks, if I’m good, he’ll release me into the wild. I’ll try my best to abide by his desires, but I make no promises. I hope the elation of being able to walk without pain doesn’t get the best of me. In the interim, I’m being released on a limited work release program, so I’ll start working with clients again later this week. I’m truly looking forward to a pain free hip.
(These videos were taken about 18 hours after surgery)