John's Hip Resurfacing with Dr. Drinkwater 2010

December 12, 2012

This week marks the 2 year anniversary of my new hip.

This web site was a huge comfort and source of info as I prepared for surgery and I always intended to come back and share my story but somehow time has slipped by and I never did. It's high time!

I had a Birmingham hip resurfacing done by Dr. Christopher Drinkwater at Highland Hospital in Rochester, NY in Dec. 2010.

I had suffered with arthritis pain in my hip for 3-4 years prior to surgery. I was 46 years old when I had my hip done and I had been a competitive athlete since my teen years (running, Ultimate frisbee, biking, snowboarding, racquetball, volleyball). I continued to do all my various sports despite the arthritis pain (which usually didn't bother me DURING the activity, only afterwards) but my wife started to notice that I was limping slightly, esp. for the first 100 yds or so when we took the dog for walks and it got increasingly painful to stand/walk after sitting for any period of time in the car, at work, etc...

I had a cortisone injection around Nov. 2009 which gave me 6 days of blissful freedom from hip pain, but that was all. After a week, I was right back where I started.

In Feb. 2010, I went in for hip arthroscopic surgery. The surgeon cleaned out a bunch of pieces of cartilage, smoothed some rough edges around the joint and took some great pictures of the exposed areas of bone where my hip cartilage was supposed to be cushioning the joint but was long gone... Rehab from this procedure involved months of painful PT (exercises intended to build the muscles up to support the joint but which only served to exasperate the bone-on-bone grinding) and I resumed all sports by June 2010 but had pretty much the same levels of discomfort as pre-surgery.

After much research and some prayers, I finally got an appointment with Dr. Drinkwater for sometime in the fall of 2010 and he concluded that I was a good candidate for resurfacing, which we scheduled for Dec. 8.

The procedure went without any complications. 3 days in the hospital, discharged home with my wife & daughters to help me (my insurance paid for home nurse visits and home PT for the first 4 weeks or so -- what a luxury!) I only needed the narcotic painkillers for the first 2 days I was home. After that, extra strength Tylenol was sufficient to keep me reasonably comfortable.

By about 10 days post-op, I concluded that I was in less daily pain than I had been before surgery. What a relief!

I don't remember the exact chronology of when I got off crutches, but I know it was well ahead of what Dr. Drinkwater told me to expect. I went back to work part-time about 2 weeks post-op and then full-time after the holidays (4 weeks post-op).

I got on a stationary bike and did some riding about 4 weeks post-op. I was working out on the elliptical by about 2 months post-op and doing some running in the pool 3 months post-op.

I got back on the Ultimate field for some pick-up games around 6-7 months post-op and played very conservatively for that first spring & summer back, but by fall (10 months post-op), I felt like I had around 80% of my pre-surgery strength and speed with none of the morning-after pain.

I ran some shorter distance road races over the winter (11-14 months post-op) and felt really good about how the hip was working and feeling.

By last spring (15-18 months post-op), I rarely even gave my hip any thought at all. I was back to 100% in all areas and over the summer I competed in an 8 mile "mud slog" race that was the toughest thing I've done probably since high school cross country days. I finished 35 out of around 260, 5th place in my age group and, best of all, had zero hip pain during and after the race and very little recovery time needed.

My new hip has given me a whole new lease on life and I'm really grateful that this technology exists and I'm grateful to Dr. Drinkwater and the whole team that took such good care of me throughout this experience.

I have occasionally experienced some odd sensations in my hip. Sometimes when I'm standing and I rotate my body in a certain way, I have a sensation like I can feel some part of the joint meet a bit of resistance and then the resistance gives way. I have also had some experience where it felt like the joint "knocked." I wish I could explain these better, but I just don't really know how to put it into words.

I described these sensations to Dr. Drinkwater at my 1 yr. exam and he said that everything looks great on the x-ray and he was totally satisfied with my range of motion and recovery. He couldn't account for what I was describing at all. He said there was really no way the joint could "knock" together given the healing that had taken place and he advised me to not worry about it if there was no pain/discomfort associated with these episodes (which there never has been).

These odd sensations have definitely lessened in frequency over the last year, but I wanted to try to describe them in case others have similar sensations and may be thinking that something is wrong. I think it's all just part of the healing process.

Hopefully this story will comfort & inspire someone else as I was comforted by many of the stories I read on this site!

John from Rochester, NY

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