Why Did I Do It?
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For several years I had been having problems with my left hip. It hurt more after a yoga class than it did before. It hurt a lot after walking for several hours. It was stiff in the morning or when I had been sitting in one position for too long. I had gone to my primary care physician (PCP) several times, had x-rays taken, and been told the hip was arthritic and I should be taking pain killers. I started on Naproxen then switched to Vioxx. Vioxx worked quite well, but it has some bad side effects, apparently. I hope you didn't have any Merck stock.

Finally my PCP referred me to Dr. William Tomford at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and I saw him in November, 2003. He took more x-rays and after looking at them said I'd need to have my left hip replaced in 6 to 12 months. Yikes! I wasn't quite ready for that close a timeframe. Somehow I expected five or more years out of it. It was only 62 years old, after all. On the plus side, he said the right hip would last another 5 to 10 years. I guess I inherited my arthritic hips from my mother. She suffered for years.

Here is the x-ray:

This is a view from the front, so my left hip is on the right. You can see there is much less cartilage between the ball and socket in my left hip than in my right.

I kind of resigned myself to this fate. I conferred with my PCP about other possible surgeons, but Dr. Tomford looked like the best. (My insurance more or less confines me to MGH.) Dr. Tomford was the only surgeon doing hip replacements that I researched that had not paid on a mal-practice claim in the past 10 years. That's a pretty good recommendation in this litigious society.

I still wanted to get as much mileage out of my natural hip as I could for all kinds of reasons. First, hip replacements only last 20 or so years. The longer I wait, the more likely I'll outlast the new hip. Second, I've never had surgery before and never been under anesthesia before. It's not something anybody looks forward to. Third, everyone I talked to described the excruciating pain they had before finally having the hip replacement. Well, my pain was annoying and limited what I could do, but it wasn't excruciating.

Then my youngest daughter became pregnant and was expecting in February, 2005. I wanted to be able to help with the newborn, so I either had to have the hip replaced early enough to be back at 100% before the baby was born, or I had to postpone the surgery until well after the baby was born. That would be in the fall of 2005. (I decided I wouldn't want to have the surgery during the summer when everybody was on vacation.) So in September 2004 I had to make the decision: could I wait for another year? September 2005 would be 22 months from the time Dr. Tomford predicted I would have to have the hip replaced in 6 to 12 months. And the pain was getting worse. So I opted to get the surgery done early. The date of November 11 was available in Dr. Tomford's schedule. I took it.


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