We had a vendor on site yesterday. I didn’t get to meet the guy but I talked with one of our salesmen (Joel) afterwards. The guy had a hip replacement last September. He told Joel that after 2 weeks, it was as if nothing had ever happened. The hip felt better than ever and he was back to doing his old things. 2 Weeks????? Who does he think he is? Wile E. Coyote? Now THERE’S a guy who could recover. One minute he’s being flattened by a steam roller, and the next he’s strapping himself to a rocket – often times in the SAME episode. I want to know who HIS doctor was. (No offense to Dr. Tim – he is the best hip surgeon in the region). That Wile E. Coyote. He NEVER gave up. I digress……:) It’s week 5 and I’m still getting around with a hitch-to-my-giddyup. Each day it gets a little better, but there is no way I could even ponder attempting to get back to my old running habits. I continue to be patient. I know there is a plan for me. I miss running…..a lot, but I know that I just need to be patient. I am still optimistic and hopeful, and I believe that when I do get back to running, it will be even better than before.
In my last post I talked about how I met a person (Stephen) who works for the company that manufactures the hip bionics that I received. His company is located just down the street from where I work. He invited me to come take a tour of his facility and I thought it would be very “blog” worthy to do so. The visit was enlightening as I found out exactly what happened when I was out cold during the hip replacement surgery.
Dr. Tim told me that he got to use some “Really Cool” tools during surgery, but I had no idea how cool they were. In preparing the hip, he needs to take the old ball off of the top of the femur (Chop), Prepare the femur for the replacement ball (Drill and Pound), and then prepare the hip for the cup (Drill and Grate – OUCH!). I pictured all of this happening while I was out. I’m going to try to explain this as well as I can without getting too technical. I’m hopeful that it will be understood. I also would like to add this disclaimer for future hip replacement prospects….I felt nothing.
PREPARING THE FEMUR
After the ball is lopped off, the top of part of the femur is smoothed flat. I took a picture of the tool that is used to shave the femur flat, but sorry – it was too blurry. The next step is to drill a starter hole into top of the femur.
The starter hole is then expanded using a series of drill bits that get larger and larger.
Then another tool is used to gradually form the groove that is needed for the piece of bionics that connects to the top of the femur. Each of these tools is slightly bigger than the previous.
Dr. Tim used this tool to pound those things into my hip bone. Didn’t feel a thing. So glad! I learned that the Dr. doesn’t know the size of the bionics I will need until he gets in. So he usually has about 7 different sizes available to choose from.
PREPARING THE HIP
After the femur was prepared, Dr. Tim had to prepare the pelvis for the cup that would be used to hold the new bionics in place. These dome shaped cheese graters were the tool of choice for preparing my hip for the cup. They look pretty medieval don’t they? Again – I did not feel a thing. Again….so glad! 🙂
After all that prep work, I was now ready for the bionics. It’s funny, I remember getting prepped for surgery and waking up in recovery. Never in my wildest dreams could I have guessed what went on while I was out. It was an eye-opening experience visiting Stephen at Stryker and learning about all that went on during surgery.
After working out at the Y today, I was in the locker room packing up my things when one of the guys I know (Jeff) asked from across the locker room, “Hey how’s the hip?”. I told him that I had the surgery on January 3rd and I was feeling fine. In between the two of us was a guy named Stephen who became interested in the conversation. He asked who my doctor was. When I told him it was Dr. Tim, he smiled and said “You have one of our hips!”. It turns out that Stephen works for Stryker, the manufacturer of my hip replacement. I discovered that his office is just down the road from where I work. He invited me to come over and take a look at the product. So this afternoon I got a walk through of his company. Not only did I get to see the product, I got a fairly good description of what went on during surgery. Stephen even showed me all of the tools that were used during the surgery. All I can say is, it is a good thing I was out cold. I got pictures! I will be posting them soon. It truly is a small world.
I remember when I was speaking with Dr. Tim prior to the surgery. He mentioned matter-of-factly that from now on whenever I go to the dentist I would need to take antibiotics one hour prior to the appointment. “Really?” I said, “For the rest of my life?”. “Yep!”, he said. “What about cleanings?” “Even Cleanings.” So today, I had a cleaning appointment clear on the other side of town and guess what I forgot? I COMPLETELY forgot about the antibiotics. But this dentist remembered me from my last visit. I had been there just prior to the surgery to get a confirmation that I had no infections in any teeth – a requirement for hip surgery. When I got there today, the first question they asked when I sat in the chair was, “Have you taken your antibiotics?”. So I have to try again next week. And you can bet that I won’t forget the antibiotics. Who’d a thunk the hip bone was connected to the jaw bone?
One of the great great rites of spring for me is working as the 2nd Seed Coordinator for the Bloomsday Road Race which is scheduled on the first Sunday of every May here in Spokane Washington. I enjoy talking with runners and determining if they qualify for 2nd Seeding (a special starting spot) at Bloomsday. One of my other responsibilities is to work with key people to get a 2nd seed shirt designed. Today I was able to see the design for the first time. I showed the design to Don Kardong, the race director. He finished fourth in the marathon in the 1976 Olympics. He is also one of the main reasons for Bloomsday’s success. He liked the design, with just a few minor adjustments. The shirt design and color are super secret. ESPECIALLY the color! There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that I would ever reveal it!
After 4 weeks the incision is pretty well sealed. I have the green light to start swimming next week. Last night I quickly dropped some stuff by my brother-in-law’s house. When I pulled up, I left my truck door open with my wallet inside. Didn’t realize my wallet was vulnerable until I was inside the house. I found myself trying to run back to the truck as quickly as possible. Well it’s safe to say, running is still out of the picture. Even though the incision is healing fine, the bionics are taking a little longer to get rooted in. I have no intention of trying to run sooner than the 3 month window that coach Tim (Dr. Tim) has given me, but last night was a reminder to be patient. (OH and by the way……my wallet is safe). 🙂
Walking around work today, I had to stop and take a moment to realize it’s only been a little over 3 weeks since I got my hip replaced. Still, I make my way around the building with relative ease. At lunch I was driving back to work and the sun was out and I was recalling the runs that I usually take during my lunch hour on the Centennial trail right by where I work. Today would have been one of those days. Being out in the sun – even on a cold day – running – it has therapeutic values that non-runners don’t understand. Sunny days are definitely the hardest. I’m close to 1 month into this runner’s purgatory. Keeping the glass half full, that is 1 month down with only 2 to go. I remain optimistic, despite these quiet non-running days…..
It is exactly 3 weeks and one day since the hip was replaced. I’m up off the crutches and I’m finally able to get a weight workout in. That is all good. But if I could rate my weekly progress compared to the first 2 weeks, I would have to say that this is the week that I have made the least progress. Week 1, it was great to see the wound heal and get moving around on crutches. Week 2, the crutches were ditched and I was able to walk around without the aid of support. Week 3 feels like I just ditched the crutches yesterday. It’s still uncomfortable to sleep and I can’t sleep on the hip side at all. I still walk around gingerly protecting the hip – it reminds me when I don’t. I know I’m not superhuman, but I was hoping for a little bit more progress in this third week. I’m sure down the road, I will probably laugh at this post. After all it has only been 3 weeks. I think I need to re-read the advice that my friend Greg gave me about being patient. Also, I’m still on target with my recovery timeline. Tonight I’m going to watch my youngest son Tommy’s basketball team go out and collect a ‘W’ for the undefeated Stags (St. Al’s Grade School – Stags – get it? It only took me about 8 years to realize that). After that, it’s off to join the fellas for the 5th Quarter. I won’t be starting because I will be late, but I will still get plenty of playing time :). OK, so after 3 weeks….it’s not so bad after all. Still as optimistic and hopeful as ever…
Just received an email from my fellow cohort Jeremy who is home and recouping after his 1/17 hip replacement. I have to admit, I think my recoup time at home was a little more peaceful than his. He’s home channel surfing and using the internet. He’s got two kids under the age of 3 (who I am betting are just happy to see their daddy home). I’m sure he’s happy to see them too, and he’s probably trying to be that dad they are used to being with. Not the perfect combination when you’re trying to heal from a pretty intense surgery. My youngest is 11 and he would just hang out with me and watch sports or our now favorite detective show “Psych”. Jeremy is probably enjoying a lot of Barney and the Wiggles. Just a guess…..
Ahhhh. Finally I get to do some kind of workout. Ball situps, bench flies, bicep curls, and tricep extensions. Although It doesn’t make you sweat like running, at least it’s a workout. Finally! Each day I get closer and closer back to normal. The hip pain is healing. We had a big cold front move in making everything slippery and icy. I’ve had to be more careful. This has caused my hip to hurt more. I think it’s because I’m tensing those hip muscles more than normal. It’s not stopping me from doing some strength work. With each new day……the optimism grows…..