Hello Hipsters

I’ve been conspicuously absent, although I don’t suppose it was actually conspicuous to anyone else!

I have nothing important to add, but have enormous affection for Hipbrother Tom and this site, as they inspired me to take the leap, replace my hip and then leap ahead with life.

I am approaching my third anniversary. My absence is primarily a result of almost never thinking I had a replacement. I run. I ski. I mountain bike, I inline speed skate, I Nordic ski, etc. Once again I celebrated the New Year by hiking the modest, but fun, Mt. Sanitas in Boulder CO with my world class climber granddaughter and ran most of the way down, leaping (to the extent an old fart can leap) from rock to rock, landing awkwardly, running the flats and generally risking life and limb, because why live if you don’t risk?

Any surgeon who says “Don’t run” or “don’t do” anything else after surgery should be challenged. This conservative attitude is almost always unnecessary and covers their own asses rather than liberating yours.

My ass is liberated and I couldn’t be happier, (although it does enjoy a good recliner and decent Cabernet more often than it did a few decades ago).

Good wishes to all hipsters and all future hipsters. To paraphrase a saying from a generation ago: A good new hip is a terrible thing to waste.

Steve

Dear Hipsters

Just thought I’d check in. My absence is a reflection of how infrequently I think about my hip. I had my 2 year anniversary in late February. Suffice it to say I can do anything (albeit slower than when I was . . . er. . . younger).

Since the surgery, beginning at 11 weeks post-op, I’ve run, skied, mt. biked, speedskated,played basketball, backpacked and consumed lots of good wine (I know, unrelated, but honest). In honor of the two year anniversary I skied bumps and powder at Vail and, very recently, ran down from Mt. Sanitas in Boulder, CO, with my 15 year old, superbly athletic granddaughter.

I pounded my hip, landed awkwardly, jumped from rock to rock, fell twice, laughed hard and the only thing that hurt was my feelings, ’cause she beat me to the bottom.

I love hip surgery!!

Hope all y’all are well.

Steve Nelson

Indestructible!

Dear Hipsters,

There are many encouraging posters on this site. Most recovery stories are filled with wisdom, courage and perseverance. Great to see so many folks shattering conventional, conservative attitudes about hip replacement and aging.

I write with more good news. You can have a hip replaced and be an idiot too!

I am 14 months post-op. Right hip, ceramic/poly. My other posts summarize my quick recovery: Home 18 hours after surgery. Indoor cycling started 4 days post op. Never used cane or crutches. Did my own PT after day one. Ran after 11 weeks. Have skied back bowls in Vail, backcountry skied in VT, cycled lots, inline speed skated etc. I’m 68, so I’m not going to set any PR’s, but I used to be pretty competitive. As the saying goes, “the older I get, the faster I was.”

Throughout the year I have been less and less conscious of my “artificial” hip. Now I take no precautions. That’s where idiot comes in. Here’s a report of last weekend:

On Friday I did a trail run up and down a small “mountain” in central Vermont. 5 mile roundtrip. Uphill was uneventful other than realizing I’m not 35 anymore. Downhill – well – I’m not 35 anymore. I loosened up and got into a youthful rhythm. The bouncing from rock to rock, letting my momentum carry me down at a fast pace, felt glorious. My hip took all the impact I had to offer. Full weight landings from various heights as the trail descended. I got cocky.

Because I’m not 35 (did I point that out?) every stride is slightly shorter than my intentions. It’s like playing basketball, where driving the baseline for a reverse layup, gently spinning the ball off the backboard, now results in “banking” the ball off the bottom of the rim. Or planning to jump nimbly across a puddle and landing just about six inches short of the other side.

So, naturally, my mind thought I was 35, my body knows it’s 68, and my shorter, lower stride resulted in catching my toe on a rock. I was ass over elbow, crashed onto a dry stream bed, all delusions of youth vaporized. I picked myself up, looked around to make sure no humans or other mammals were laughing, and took stock of the damage. My toe and foot throbbed, my shoulder hurt, several fingers were bleeding, my shirt was slightly torn . . . but I got back into rhythm, ran back to the car and realized – the only thing that doesn’t hurt is my right hip.

Saturday, my foot was too sore to run. Mountain biked in Stowe, VT. Several loops of a moderately challenging loop got my technical skills warmed up. My fitness is pretty decent. So, as on Friday, I decided to ride a notoriously fun descent – a trail named Florence. The hairpins were banked. I suppose it’s called Florence because it flows so beautifully. Near the bottom I made a sharp, “rooty” turn and encountered uphill riders. I tried to avoid them and ended up in the trees. Bruised my arm and banged my shin with enough force that the ensuing swelling (honest to goodness, the size of a baseball), subsequently made my wife nauseous. I hit my other shoulder (the one that hadn’t been whomped on Friday. The only thing that didn’t ache was my right hip.

Undaunted, I returned to Stowe on Sunday. Florence beckoned. Despite various residual pains, I felt smooth and confident. Like Friday’s “youthful rhythm,” I got into the flow on Flo. Probably 25% faster through the hairpins, over the roots – blazing like a kid again. Then the double bumps, which I had negotiated easily at 15 mph on Saturday. 20-25 mph was just fast enough to get air over bump one and drive the front wheel directly into the nearly vertical face of bump two. Most spectacular crash ever, I think. My bike and I were temporarily in different Zip codes. I actually recall the sound of helmet material crushing as my head struck first. As has become habit, I got up, looked around to make sure no humans or other mammals were laughing, and took stock of the damage. My neck hurt, my back hurt, my wrist felt sprained, but I got back into rhythm (the 68 year-old rhythm) rode back to the car and realized – the only thing that doesn’t hurt is my right hip.

My toe was a bit better, so I finished my day with a refreshing 4 mile run along a sedate but beautiful recreational path in Stowe. Very little chance of crashing.

I love my surgeon.

Steve

An observation on speed

Good morning Tom and all Hipsters,

I haven’t posted in a while. Just passed my one year anniversary and have nothing but good things to reflect on. As I’ve previously reported, I seldom notice my hip at this point. I’ve skied powder in CO, backcountry skied in VT, mountain biked, speed-skated, etc.

I used to run a lot. 70-90 miles a week. Decent marathons – 2:40-ish – and lots of shorter races. Also raced bicycles for years. I’m older now (68) and don’t care much about competition. But to the point:

Now that spring is sort of here (I’m in VT with 3 feet of snow in front of the house and 3 feet of mud on the roads), I’m running 20-30 miles per week. I’ve not had any hip pain or difficulty of any kind. However, as I eased back into running, I often felt a very slight difference in my new hip. Not pain, but a slight tug, or twinge. It usually went away after a mile or two.

As you older folks know, flexibility and natural speed take more work with age. But two weeks ago I started doing strides, 100-200 yard pick-ups, in the middle of a run, several times a week. Immediately the tug/twinge phenomenon went away. While I don’t feel 30 (or 40 0r 50) again, adding speed was clearly good for the hip, or so it seems. I imagine it has increased range of motion and/or broken up any residual scar tissue.

I write this because I’ve always felt that plodding was harder on the body than naturally striding out at a good pace. I suspect many of us are actually too careful, jogging very slowly. I don’t think I’ll do any very hard training, but adding some zest to my weekly routine appears to be very good for the hip (and for me). Just a little food for thought.

Steve

Steve – Final Exam

As previously reported, my recovery has been wonderful. Had surgery 2/22/14. Since then, lots of running, cycling, backcountry skiing, etc.

Final test: Skiing at Vail.

Whoopee! Deep powder, steep back bowls, 4 hours of bliss and a few ass-over-elbow tumbles. Never once thought about my hip.

It was in part the confidence I got from this site that led me to a surgeon who doesn’t believe all the conservative nonsense.

Happy New Year to all Hipsters!

steve – hip joy

Dear All,

Not much hip runner action since Tom’s Thanksgiving post, so I thought I’d add a little holiday cheery optimism for those considering, or recovering from, THR. Mine was in February 2014 and I’ve documented my quick, successful recovery in other posts. I began running at 11 weeks post-op and now, if I wish to, can run all I want. I used to run 80-90/week, but am older now and don’t have any great running ambitions. I’m 67 and run 8 – 8:30 pace, 20 or 25 miles/week. But here’s the latest wonder:

I’m in Vermont on sabbatical and have enjoyed the early snow with back country skiing. I mean really backcountry, as in slogging through undergrowth and ravines, etc. (for anyone interested, a company called Altai Skis makes a product, the Hok, which is sort of hybrid between snowshoes and backcountry ski. You can go anywhere in snow of any depth, like snowshoes, but can also kick and glide and slide down hills)

The fun hip news is that I’ve done many miles without even thinking about my hip. I’ve fallen. I’ve run into (thankfully) small trees. I’ve been in the most awkward positions, legs splayed in every direction, ridiculous forces on various joints, and never thought about my hip. Last winter I couldn’t even walk uphill on these very skis. What a marvelous change!

If you are limited in activity, but reluctant to undergo surgery, perhaps my experience will be helpful

Happy Holidays to all hipsters.

Cheers,

Steve

Steve – information/opinion for new or potential members

Dear All,

I am no more (and no less!) qualified to offer advice than many others, including Hip brother Tom. But I know that I was desperate for hope when I found this site and therefore I offer a few things in response to questions posed by new visitors.

As a matter of responsibility, I suppose I must offer the typical disclaimer: Every case is different and my comments/advice may not apply to all situations. There – that’s out of the way.

After my own research, and lengthy conversations with my surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC, I believe most of the conservative restrictions post surgery are nonsense and old-fashioned. This field, like most other human endeavors, has advanced dramatically over the years.

1. The notion that the implant will somehow shake loose with impact or repetitive activity is false, according to my doctor. When the bone knits to the pores in the implant, it makes a solid bond. My doctor implied that the new femur is as strong or stronger than my natural leg. His only precaution was to resist running for 12 weeks post-surgery to allow the bone to grow properly into the implant. If too much motion occurs too early at the interface, fibrous tissue can develop, which is not a good thing. Thereafter, it’s good to go.

2. The idea of the parts “wearing out” seems equally nonsensical. Many, perhaps most, of the folks on this site have a ceramic “ball” and a polyethylene socket liner. Both of these materials have evolved so as to have nearly indefinite life. One study I read of the newest highly-crossed polyethylene showed virtually no wear at all after many years of activity. My impression is that they really don’t know the longevity because it simply hasn’t been in use long enough. But at least my doctor was quite certain that it will outlive me. I’m 67, but still as active as several decades ago. It seems silly to restrict activities at all, considering that the life of these things may well be 30 years or more. If I’m wrong – if he’s wrong – I’d still rather do everything I want to do.

3. The final piece may not sit well with everyone, but . . . Although my doc may have some professional interest in what follows, he certainly made a powerful case for me. There are several computerized systems available for guiding hip replacement surgery. The process, over-simply stated is: A CT scan is taken. Using this image, the surgical team designs a digital model of the precise hip the patient will receive. This includes implant size, angles of implant, etc. The digital model is perfectly symmetrical, balanced and aligned. Then, during surgery, the computerized system essentially requires the surgeon to create what has been designed. There are, of course, many human checks and balances through the process. The result is an accuracy rate that is much higher than with traditional human measurement and surgeon experience. It may not be a relevant factor, but I believe my fast recovery and current completely normal function is partially because of this. Also, referring back to #2, one cause of premature wear would be any small error in alignment of the parts, which is less likely with a computerized procedure.

So, there’s my two cents. Or maybe it is more like a quarter. Sorry for going on so long. I would have liked to read this when I was investigating hip replacement. Perhaps only I like it!

Cheers and good luck,

Steve

Steve – 5 1/2 month update

Dear Hipsters,

I write to offer ongoing encouragement to those contemplating or recovering from a THR. My surgery was February 22, 2014.

I suppose I was/am luckier than some, but my situation is nearly miraculous. I missed only 2 days of work, cycled indoors on post-op day 5, never used a cane or other device and have progressed steadily thereafter. I cycled normally by week 5 and began running at week 11.

My hope at surgery time was that my summer would be unaffected by my hip. And so it is. 95% of the time I have no sense of even having had the surgery. If I didn’t know, I would be unable to identify which hip was replaced.

In the past month I’ve hiked aggressively in the White Mountains. Jumped joyfully from rock to rock on downhills without any unusual sensation. I don’t run a lot, but not because I can’t. I just spend more time road and mountain biking. I run 3 or 4 times a week, 3-5 miles per run. No issues, no pain, no limitations. Biking is even better. I’m stronger than I’ve been in years.

I even helped my daughter move and lugged unreasonably heavy furniture up narrow stairs, putting strain on my hip at odd angles and all else that moves entail. Again, no effect whatsoever on my hip.

It seems a bit self-absorbed to write all of this, but I do so just so others have an example of what outcome is possible.

Hope others are doing well.

Cheers,

Steve

Steve – 14 week report

Few things in life are actually better than anticipated. With holidays in childhood, for example, the excitement in advance is nearly always greater than the events themselves. And who among us ever had a blind date that lived up to the pre-date fantasy?

But unlike a blind date, my actual hip is better than my fantasies of my hip and I get to sleep with it too! Every night!

I started running 3 weeks ago. 2-3 miles, 3-4 times a week. Contrary to expectations, I’ve not had to retreat and reconsolidate. For example, on this past weekend I ran 3 hilly miles Saturday and this seems to have prepared me for my 4.5 mile run on Sunday. I was barely able to discern any difference between hips. This is all odd for me, as 90 mile weeks were common 3 decades ago, but 4.5 miles feels pretty good right now, even if I’m running 2 minutes per mile more slowly. That has nothing to do with my hip and everything to do with the passage of time.

Hope all hipsters are well!

Steve – I’m now officially a HipRunner!!

Well, patience is not my best quality. I was advised to wait until 12 weeks post-op to try running. The warm sun and too-crowded-to-bike-in-Central-Park circumstances were seductive, so I donned my Brooks and headed out yesterday – the 11 week mark. What’s a week? The power of rationalizing!!

So, I ran 3 miles. At my age (67) and with no running in more than a year, the pace was slooooowwww, probably 9 minute miles, but I felt so incredibly liberated.
I was curious to see how my hip would react. The answer was immensely gratifying. I experienced no pain whatsoever. My stride was normal, even when I accelerated a bit to run around someone. I didn’t push myself too much, but that was more because of general lack of running fitness, not my hip. The only thing that reminded me that I had a hip replacement was a sensation right in the hip joint itself. It may have been my imagination, but I think I could tell that the materials were firmer than my natural hip. The greatest surprise was that I felt no pain or weakness in the muscles around the hip, and absolutely no unusual feeling in the femur with the implant.

This morning I have a bit of general stiffness, just from running for the first time. But even this feeling is bilateral and mostly in the quads. I can’t feel anything unusual in or near the hip.

So, I’m ecstatic. Before surgery I would not have imagined that I would have mountain biked, road biked, speed skated and run, all before the 3 month mark.

So, thanks to Tom and this site for conveying what’s possible and allowing all of us to share our stories.