Patient Blogs | Ankylosing Spondylitis
Hip Surgeries Restored My Life
photo of nurse helping patient use walker

Whenever my hip surgeries come up in conversation, people stare at me in amazement and say, “You’re brave. I could never go through anything like that.”

It wasn’t a matter of being brave. It was a matter of survival. I was willing to do almost anything to have the pain go away.

At the time of my first hip replacement surgery, I was in excruciating pain. The cartilage on my thigh bone was completely destroyed, causing it to rub against my pelvis. I experienced what I call “bone-on-bone walking torture.”

It’s a kind of pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone. As a result, I walked with an assistive device to get around my house. I never imagined I would be relying on a walker at 39 years old to get to the kitchen so I could grab a glass of water. 

I slept alone on the living room sofa instead of my bed beside my husband because I couldn’t go up the stairs to save my life.

Here’s the best one:

I was a prisoner in my own living room because every step I took was pure agony. I could barely move.

Since I couldn’t make it to the upstairs washroom anymore, I had to use a portable toilet, which was placed in the corner of my living room.

I hope I didn’t gross you out too much. But as you can see, I wasn’t in good shape.

So when I got the call that my surgery was scheduled, I was elated. If I could have danced in celebration, Mikhail Baryshnikov wouldn’t have had anything on me. 

The receptionist, who called with the wonderful news, said my surgery was in the next 6 days!

Side note:

My husband worked behind the scenes like a miracle angel. He was the driving force behind the reason why my surgery was booked so quickly. It must have been truly scary for him because he could sense I was desperate and my mental state was quickly deteriorating. Unfortunately, chronic pain can have this effect on a person.

As I write this, my eyes are welling up with tears. To this day, I don’t know the exact words he said to the doctors. But they must have been very moving ones. I’m forever grateful and thankful for what he did. 

OK. Back to what I was saying:

With only 6 days to go until I got my new hip, I didn't have any time to prepare for the surgery. I was grateful that I was heading into surgery though.

This may surprise you as most people dread laying on a table in a thin gown looking at a mask descending onto their nose to knock them out. But there was a bright light at the end of the tunnel. I knew the pain I had lived with for so many years was finally coming to an end.

My surgery was a piece of cake compared to physiotherapy. No one explained physiotherapy.

I went to physio sessions twice a week for 7 months to strengthen my left leg and learn to walk again. I also had “homework” to do each week. To say the experience was challenging is an understatement. But looking back, I know it was a necessary requirement for healing.

No one tells you how traumatic surgery is on your body. It doesn’t want to be cut into and receive replacement parts. But sometimes, we need to do what we must so we can have a better physical existence.

If you’re facing the possibility of a total hip replacement surgery due to arthritis, or any surgery in general, here’s what I wish I knew.

Learn what you can about rehab.

As I mentioned, it’s incredibly physically draining. After a few sessions, you may start to think that your therapist is out to get you. Keep in mind that my experience will be different from yours. Reading about other patients' surgery stories will help give you a frame of reference.

Eat healthy, wholesome foods.

It’s essential to get your body ready for surgery so it’ll be easier for it to recuperate. Aim to reduce your intake of processed sugar and processed food by skipping cookies, chips, frozen pizza, and deli meats.

Instead, eat foods high in protein as protein helps with wound healing and fighting infections. However, before making any changes to your diet, consult your doctor or a registered nutritionist.

Try to move as much as you can prior to your surgery.

This can be tricky especially if your joints are stiffer than the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. But moving your joints as much as possible will not only help to keep them lubricated but also support the surrounding muscles. Additionally, movement helps with managing pain and increases range of motion.

Hey, I’m not expecting you to work out like a mad person in the gym or at home getting your sweat on. You’re in pain, after all.

Start with simple exercises, such as yoga or walking.

I know surgery may not be for everyone. But it literally saved my life. Do your research or talk to those who have been through it so the process won’t feel as scary.

Good luck!

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Blend Images - JGI/Tom Grill / Tetra images via Getty Images

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Lovaine Cohen

Lovaine Cohen

Diagnosed since 2001

Lovaine Cohen has lived with ankylosing spondylitis for over 20 years. A chronic pain coach, Lovaine helps women reduce pain with her Holistic Healing Method program and shares pain management and anxiety tips on her blog and on Instagram. Her loves include her two children in their early 20s, a rescue husky named Stella, and her husband of 28 years. Connect with Lovaine on Instagram.

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