joint replacement, medium posts
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On becoming the bionic woman

I wonder how many of us are walking around with replacement parts. Joint replacement has become common and it is successful surgery. I have several friends who have both knees replaced or both hips replaced and they are fine with it. And now, I am about ready to embark on my first joint replacement.

My left hip will be first on the chopping block. This is a bad visualization. I am trying hard not to think about what the surgeon will be doing. It is scary and gruesome. A Frankenstein thing. Instead, I am focusing on the bionic woman thought. I will be in much better condition once I complete the rehab process. I will have a fabulous new joint. Won’t I be lucky? I will.

I have spent the summer in extreme pain. My doc had a tough time identifying my hip issue. After all, my hip had good range of motion without pain. An MRI revealed my hip deteriorating badly plus a bad labral tear with pieces loose in the joint. My pain progressed from mild to excruciating. At first it was random and then it was whenever I moved plus random.

Putting on my bra pulled on the hip in some bizarre way provoking extreme pain. Weird, but true. Dressing was a major effort much like the RA challenges of dressing. When I was at my worst with RA, dressing was an exhausting, painful process. Now I have the same issues with my hip.

Next, I was sent to an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon was chosen by my doc because she thought I would have the surgery quicker than going to the alternative. Wrong. I couldn’t get an appointment sooner than six weeks out. Six more weeks of pain. When the day arrived, my appointment was brief. He sent me to have a hip injection which was scheduled in another five weeks. What this doctor said made no sense to me. I asked for a second opinion. The next surgeon’s appointment was scheduled in another six weeks. I have been on Norco or oxycontin the whole time.

I had the hip injection. It was an easy procedure. Efficient and painless. Did not help. Expensive. Finally, I arrive at my new orthopedic doctor’s appointment. I was fearful that I was going to be left in severe pain for the rest of my life. He introduced himself using his first name. Instantly likable. He simply said to me that I needed a hip replacement. I was so relieved that I had no questions. I was basking in total relief. A solution at last.

A friend asked me why it takes so long for people to have hip replacements. There are two big reasons. First there seems to be a shortage of orthopedic surgeons so it takes forever to get appointments. Second most insurance companies require patients to have a hip injection or to try physical therapy first. All of this takes a great deal of time. Injections and PT are not going to solve the problem of a worn out joint so why they are required is questionable and a waste of time.

My surgery is scheduled for October fifth. Now that the surgery has been approved, there is a lot to do. I was sent a check list. I have a two-hour hip class scheduled. I had a dental appointment Tuesday to be sure my mouth is clear of infection. I have appointments with my primary, nurse anesthetist, and doctor’s PA.

I have been on Actemra for the last two months. It is helping but will have to be stopped until sometime after the surgery. Meloxicam and Medrol will also have to be stopped. I will stay on the methotrexate and Plaquenil.

Wish me luck. My concern is how this surgery will affect my RA and maybe how the RA will influence the outcome of surgery. My body is in a constant state of inflammation. Although the severity of it varies, it is always there. Tough on the body.

On the brighter side, I do believe in the helpfulness of modern medicine. With all its weaknesses, we are much healthier because of it. So, as I move closer to my first joint replacement, I appreciate the fact that my joint pain will be gone and I will have a healthy useable hip. First steps on the way to a bionic body. I wish my RA joints had it so lucky.

4 Comments

    • Thank you!
      I started with this pain in the Spring. It took several months to diagnose. As the pain increased and I became immobile, my RA doc ordered an MRI which revealed a severely degenerating joint with a bad labral tear. This was the end of June. I wasn’t approved for surgery until the first week in September.

      All this time I have been in severe pain when I move. I feel like I was in a holding pattern waiting for my turn to have care.

      I think my experience is a common one. My sympathy goes to all those people out there who are in severe pain hopefully waiting for some resolution from the medical community.

      In New Mexico there is a shortage of orthopedic surgeons. Many insurance companies require either physical therapy or joint injections before they will approve surgery. Still, there is no excuse for being left in severe pain for so long.

      My RA doc told me to go to the ER when my pain became unbearable. She said they would have no choice but to treat me. My surgery is October fifth.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Wow! That is ridiculous! I guess I haven’t had a major surgery (except removal of gall bladder) so don’t know if that wait time is normal. I would hope it’s not. But if there is a shortage of ortho docs then it makes sense but still doesn’t seem right.

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  1. As you say, your experience is common. Several of my friends have been “bone on bone” and had to wait. And were beyond miserable. Best wishes!

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