Martin's Hip Resurfacing with Sarah Muirhead-Allwood 2013

Just thought I’d share my experience to date in the spirit of this excellent site.

I'm an active 59 year-old who, until March 2012, was playing tennis two or three times a week and going on long walking holidays with my wife. Deterioration of my left hip due to arthritis put paid to all this.

So I had resurfacing on my left hip two weeks ago today, by Sarah Muirhead-Allwood at the Princess Grace Hospital, London.

[As an aside (and only relevant to UK readers) my insurance company, Simply Health UK, would only pay fees up to a maximum of £995 for this procedure. Ms Muirhead-Allwood charges £2,250 so I had to make up a fair amount from my own pocket. Be warned!]

All went well with the surgery as far as anyone can tell at this stage. Here are just a few observations about my own experience.

Immediate post-op experience:-

I was amazed to be walking with a single crutch less than 24 hours after surgery, and able to the do the basic physio exercises they give you. I already seemed to have almost more movement in the new joint than I’d had the day before surgery. There was some stiffness and a little soreness, but really not much problem from the joint itself.

Hospital experience:-

Really positive experience – all nursing, physio and admin staff were delightful. Food terrible! Hospital décor a bit old and shabby and my first room was laughably hot with non-functioning air-conditioning which was louder than a farm tractor! I got myself moved after the first night to a different room which was newly-refurbished and really superb.

As reported elsewhere, Sarah Muirhead-Allwood’s bedside manner is somewhat… well, limited… but who cares when her hip surgery track record is pretty much second to none in the UK if not the world. I think she’s amazing, and it’s clear that her whole team does too.
My op was on a Friday and I would have been home on the following Monday were it not for the fact that the ‘drain’ wound in my thigh was still very slightly leaky. As it was, I was out by the Wednesday.

Swelling and Bruising:-

I had read warnings about potential swelling and bruising, but was actually a bit shocked as to how bad it was. My thigh ballooned, and this black and blue balloon is gradually traversing its way down my leg. Currently my ankle and foot are very swollen and my toes are black.
This isn’t a huge deal as it’s mainly cosmetic. But in some places (especially my shin and the back of my knee) the bruising has been really sore – almost like bad sunburn – and has helped keep me awake at night. I saw my GP about it yesterday who prescribed Heparinoid cream (under the brand name Hirudoid) which has made an immediate difference. I wish they’d told me about it when I left hospital.

I also wish I’d started taking Arnica in advance of the surgery and right through my time in hospital. As it is, I didn’t think of taking it until a couple of days after surgery, but which time the bruising was already in full swing.

Icing really helps. Start it early and keep doing it!

The surgical ‘TED’ stockings:-

What can I say? They are horrible and thoroughly uncomfortable. I hate them! I’ll stick with them because Sarah M-A is insistent, but I am quite envious of those whose surgeons don’t believe in them!

Pain after two weeks:-

I don’t get a lot of pain from the hip joint itself, although it lets me know if I try to bend too far or when I’m lying on it for too long. The majority of the pain comes from sore muscles in my
quads and glutes and from the bruised swelling as it spreads down my leg and from swelling around the incision line in my hip (the line is about 7” long).

Sleeping:-

As well documented throughout the site, sleeping is a bit of a nightmare. Being on my back is pretty dreadful for starters, but I have also been plagued with leg cramps as well as soreness from the bruising. This is all getting slowly better but after two weeks I still sleep for a maximum of 60-90 minutes at a time before having to get up and move around till things ease up again. The cramps in my quads are the worst, closely followed by the ‘sunburn’ sensation in my calf, shin and behind my knee from the bruised skin.

Blood pressure:-

I have been taking medication for raised blood pressure for a few years. This usually maintains it at more or less ‘normal’ levels of 20-something over 180-something. Immediately after the op my BP fell to around 100 over 60 and stayed around that level while I was in hospital. The nurses withheld my medication and told me to start taking it again at home when BP reached around 130 over 120-odd again. I wasn’t advised how long this might take. After two weeks BP is still not up to the old levels. No bad thing but I need to keep an eye on it!

Bathroom:-

Showering is no problem at all with a walk-in shower. I really miss the bath though! It was a full 11 days before I could sit on any kind of toilet seat (including the special raised one I bought) without significant discomfort. It’s pretty much OK now, but that first period is not great – really sore at first as you’re sitting pretty much on the incision zone!

Do invest in plenty of dried fruit in the days immediately after surgery to get things moving, as it were.

Getting around:-

After two weeks, I’m comfortable walking around the house without a stick (cane), although I do use one on the stairs just as a precaution. I walk for around half an hour a day out of the house. I take a stick, but this is more to warn other people to give me a wide berth than because I really feel I need it!

Sitting:-

It’s still uncomfortable to sit still for more than an hour (or less) and I need to get up and keep moving. This is partly because of the swelling around the incision line and partly because of the bruised leg muscles.

Dressing etc:-

Can’t put left sock or shoe on at all and still struggle with underwear and trousers without help. The physio in the hospital told me not to worry about being too slavish about sticking to the 90-degree rule, and it’s definitely true that I can bend a bit more than 90 degrees without any protests from the hip, but I worry about pushing it too far.

In General:-

In general I feel surprisingly good, though I’m tired a lot of the time through lack of a decent night’s sleep. I can already tell that the new hip is going to be better than the old arthritic one, and I feel very positive for the future.
However, I must say that the discomfort from swelling, bruising and cramping to the muscles in my glute and leg are worse than I was anticipating. Like others on here, I’ve read a lot of those “I had no pain from the moment I woke up onwards” stories. I can only say “lucky, lucky people!”.

I suspect that my experience is more common: yes, the arthritic pain has gone. But there’s a whole range of other discomforts to deal with in the first fortnight, and it looks as though some of them will be with me for a while.

The great news, however, is that I know they will fade and cease in time, unlike the arthritis which would have remained with me – and got worse – for life.

If anyone’s interested I‘ll give another update in a couple of weeks.

Martin

June 2, 2013

Just over 4 months in now. Have had two gentle hits on the tennis court recently and have walked more than 12 miles on each of the last two weekends.

No pain at all.

September 24, 2013

8 months since I had my left hip resurfaced by Sarah Muirhead-Allwood in London, and I am feeling fantastic!

I've been hiking up to 15 miles in a day and have been back playing tennis for two months.

The tennis was the thing that made me most nervous - I was convinced that the hip would pop out as soon as I put realy weight on it (as is serving), or twisted and turned too quickly.

I took it very slowly - just hitting for half an hour at a time once or twice a week. 

Then as if by magic, I suddelnly realised that I had forgotten the hip and was letting myself go.

I'm not quite back to where I was before the arthritis stoppped me in my tracks a couple of years ago (lost a lot of fitness post surgery for one thing) but I'm getting there.  And it feels fantastic!

So my message to anyone thinking about it, or int he early stages of recovery:  it's transformed my life and I hope it will do the same for you.

Very, very encouraging!

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