In a follow up to what was the completely final instalment of my total hip replacement recovery story I thought I would pen a “this time it’s final, completely final” post to give a “six months after hip replacement” review. Obviously it’s been a journey as they say, with all the instalments below.
- Part 1: Midlife arthritis and the underlying problem
- Part 2: Total hip replacement decision
- Part 3: Total hip replacement pre-op assessment
- Part 4: Surgery and hospital recovery: Days 1 to 5
- Part 5: First steps to recovery. Days 6 to 21
- Part 6: Hip recovery limping along. Weeks 3 to 7
- Six months after hip replacement. The review.
Six months after hip replacement review. Just like being at work.
I remember having six month reviews at work. Most of them involved a boss saying “we’ll put you down as an ‘achieved’ as you’ve done what we asked” and moving on to chatting about tea making or beer drinking, depending on their preference. Obviously when I was made redundant it was a different chat, but now in a similar way it’s my turn to judge. The question is, what’s the six-month performance rating for my total hip replacement?
In terms of general fitness and ability to “do stuff” the six months after a total hip replacement must count as a success. Last week I cycled 100 miles and am on course to hit my target of 1000 miles post-surgery before it gets chilly and I can’t be bothered to take my bike out any more.
If you were my physio, you’d be saying that’s great, but pushing too hard and not doing other exercises in a vanity chase for an arbitrary number is not what we actually asked you to do.
That sounds like my work reviews. “You’ve been doing what you enjoy really well, but how about the other stuff, and where’s all your admin?” This would be followed by an awkward silence while the grading slipped ever downwards..
It’s been different here though. In fact I have been doing the other tasks as required. With lockdown meaning I’ve no longer been travelling or even working full time, I have pursued an ever-toughening physio regime.
Each time I thought I’d cracked it I would have a (virtual) physio session, or more lately a mask-to-mask one, where I would be told that I wasn’t walking correctly, my muscles were withered and generally I had further to go.
To be fair, this was a younger man regime (OK so I know 50 isn’t exactly the prime of youth), but I wanted to get back into sport so was prepared to go further. And anyway, 50 is the new 30.
There’s always another exercise beyond the one you’ve sweated to achieve
As an example of the exercises I was doing, the side plank was a tough one. In the first weeks I was struggling to do side lifts with my leg, but I managed it. Not good enough. Then I was told to try a side plank on the operated side, with knees bent and lift the good one. Tough but I struggled through. Then it was do the same with one leg straight. Wowser, that hurt. Then the latest – a side plank both legs straight and lift the good one up. Cor. Some way still to go there. That would be worth an outstanding.
Walking, yes that’s easy. Hopping on the bad leg? Ah, again that takes a bit longer.
Arabesques? OK tricky. Doing this by bending at the hip down and back again several times picking something from the floor? Practise required there too.
All in all it shows it takes a long time to fully recover. As I keep being told, they slice through some pretty strong muscles to get to the joint, so it’s not really surprising it’s a slow process.
The hip replacement six months ago was only the start. There’s plenty of exercises needed afterwards and you can feel the difference even now. Maybe the change isn’t week by week but there is definitely still change.
A high rating requires more than simply walking the line
If you’re a high achiever and you’re shooting for an excellent or outstanding rating, then it’s not easy. Some serious self-discipline is required. You think you’ve done it, but to be back to where you should have been (that’s not where you were just before the operation, but where a fit and healthy hip should have been operating) requires hard work.
If you just want to walk and sleep with no pain, then obviously you can stop earlier. I would have been delighted with that. However with the exercises I can now do that and more. I may not be playing tennis or squash yet, or doing squirrel dances after alcohol, but I could.
I still track others who have had the same operation. It’s important when you do a review to see how you’re performing in relation to your peers. There are some people who have been on pretty much the same journey and timetable as me. There are some people who have been amazing in what they’ve achieved (does the US do the operation differently?).
I’m guessing there are also others who have had harder or less life changing endings to their operation, but you don’t hear so much from them on social media. Might be an age thing.
And the score on the door?
For me it’s been brilliant. Yes, it may have taken a while to get here. The steroid injections and arthroscopy were precursors for the main event but had to be gone through. I may have got pretty sick post-op with an infection, but that wasn’t really anything to do with the hip (or so my surgeon told me).
In fact a total hip replacement is a wonder of modern medicine. My surgeon told me at my final check up that they’re even finding ways to resurface the artificial joint in place so you might not need a THR again. Fingers crossed on that one, as I’m not sure how my side planks will be in twenty years time.
Finally, in terms of my six months after hip replacement review, what would I give as the rating?
I’d be inclined to award my new hip and “excellent” rating. Well done. Bonus coming your way.
That’s better than I ever did with my work reviews, so here’s to me and my new hip.