How I'm Helping Others After My Double Hip Replacement
Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would have needed a hip replacement. It started out as a headache in my leg and soon, I couldn’t walk. After swearing off surgery, I spent two painful years in denial going to physical therapy, trying acupuncture, taking medications, even talking to psychics – and just plain praying for a miracle. Having never had surgery, I was fearful of the unknown.
I love and live to walk. Back then, I could not walk more than a block without having to stop. Merely reaching the top of my apartment stairs was a feat that was not going to happen much longer. Realizing I was only going downhill, I began to take matters into my own hands. I started calling surgeons and tracking people who had gone through this process before. I did a ton of research before and after so I knew what to ask when I met with the surgeon. In fact, I visited five surgeons. A swimmer at heart and new to the sport of golf, I was ready to get back to the life I had been missing out on. I needed to feel pain-free again. No one can imagine bone-on-bone pain until you have experienced it.
I created my own Surgery Preparation Regimen to get me through the next chapter in my life, complete with:
– A hip farewell party with 45 friends and family members to help create a positive spin on the experience
– Who would stay with me
– Who would bring me dinner
– How I would get around
– Who would take me for walks
– Who was my emergency contact if I was feeling down
– Who would take care of my son as I am a single mother
I also kept a journal so I had a place to let my feelings out and get in touch with the “new me” emerging through this process. I called it an initiation.
After surgery, my 88-year-old mother flew from Arizona to help me. Talk about surreal. Never did my mother expect to be taking care of me and changing my light bulbs. But to be honest, it was kind of amazing.
Recovery was intense as I worked through the process of walking with an artificial hip. Then… two. I think it would be easy to say “poor me” but instead, I embraced it and realized I needed to help myself and help others in the process.
Jump-starting the healing process, I began blogging about my experiences. I am so grateful for the mobility I have now. I am now extra-willing to help people struggle with the challenge of joint pain or those who need a replacement of any kind. That is why I wanted to blog. I created Hipster Club to share my knowledge, experience, hope and to create a community.
Patients have to be their own advocate and I want to help be a solid resource for those willing to seek out the answers. Whenever I see someone with a limp, I ask them if it is a knee or a hip. Who knows where the conversation can lead.
Remember, when we first discover, through bone-on-bone pain or an achy thigh or hip area, that we will be needing a hip replacement – our minds might be flooded with fears, questions and a WTF moment or two. My mind and emotions were constantly alternating between disbelief, panic, and numbness. I went right to the internet and researched all night long, and also kept a journal because I had so much emotion and so many questions pouring out of me all at once.
I wasn’t a dancer, I didn’t jog, I didn’t do extreme sports or obsessive workouts – I just had wear-and-tear arthritis (AO) and dysplasia of the hip (which I did not know I was born with). The shit hit the fan when I was 50 and raising my son in his teenage years, as a single mom. So as if single parenting wasn’t enough, I had to add a few hip replacements into my life’s mix.
Chronic pain is no fun for anyone, and we can easily become isolated, depressed, depleted and feel alone in our journey into becoming bionic. With young hip replacement recipients, many surgeons would ask patients to wait as long as possible before having surgery, and we did what our doctors told us. We waited until our quality of life got so bad we had to cry “uncle;” I waited two years until I could not even walk. Don’t wait. Research your options, get advice. Do your homework. Create a joint replacement support team.
What I didn’t know then or could not have fathomed is that my career and journalistic voice was about to change as well. But first I had to go through the dark night of the soul and two hip replacements in three years. I chose the conventional replacement the first time, with the posterior approach and titanium on plastic – and that was a very hard recovery for me and my little body.
Three years later with my right hip, I went to a surgeon who offered the anterior approach and ceramic and plastic. I was driving after two weeks and did not have the restrictions of the other. I was happy to become a guinea pig of sorts (a very cute one if I may be so bold) and see which approach lasted longer and which had less pain throughout time and travel. By the way, I was told both approaches end up the same after the recovery period.
Well, it’s 12 years later, and I have to admit I have had a few bouts of scary pain and ache, which also created a sense memory of all that I went through. The pain was most uncomfortable: (1) upon rising from a movie theater seat, (2) after more than three to five hours of walking (Note to self: stretching first is a great idea), (3) I have to get up every two to three hours of sitting so I do not get stiff or achy.
Remember, it’s the miles – not the years that remind us how long our hips might last. They could last a lifetime or a few decades – but it is the quality of our lives as hipsters that matter. Don’t take dangerous chances with your hips, but don’t live quietly either.
Feel your strength for all you have been through, be proud of the new bionic you and go out there and rock the world. Make a difference. Express your strength. Be there for others. And be you in all of your bionic glory!
Feel free to write in your own tips and experiences of pain or relief. And write me if you need anything in your journey from HIP to Hero.
Jodi Seidler, Hipster Girl
Learn more at Hipster Club.
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