Melba Morris (Ballet Teacher)- Medicare HMO Bilateral THR experience
Melba Morris writes: The dancerhips.com site was of enormous help to me before my surgeries. I hope this record of my experience is equally helpful to my fellow dancers out there in cyberspace.
Melba Morris is originally from New York City, studied ballet at renowned Studio 61 in Carnegie Hall, jazz with the legendary Luigi and was dancing professionally at age 17. Credits include New York City Opera at Lincoln Center, American Festival Ballet and The King and I.
She has studied the Vaganova and Cecchetti Methods and attended numerous continuing education teacher seminars including those with Henry Danton (Royal Ballet), Alla Sizova (Kirov), Donald Hewitt (National Ballet of Canada), and David Howard (Royal Ballet).
She is an ABT certified teacher. She has owned and operated her own studio in Echo Park in California since 1988.
Surgeon: Michael Mynatt, MD
Joint Replacement Institute at St. Vincent Medical Center, LA, Calif.
Dates: Left - April 2013, Right - March 2016
Here is her hip replacement journey in her own words:
I have a history of 2 total hip replacements to describe, and will do my best to keep this from becoming a book. Suffice it to say that I have danced professionally and taught ballet for most of my life and am 77 years old. I have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Polymyalgia Rheumatica which are immune inflammatory disorders.
I was very fortunate that I was no longer dancing professionally when my serious body problems began.
This pic is from years ago, with my husband, Roger. It is from a ballet sequence for a play called "The Common Glory", choreographed by Myra Kinch.
My first hip replacement (the left) occurred in April of 2013.
Prior to the replacement, it was thought by the orthopedist (after getting xray and MRI results) that it could be multiple small stress fractures and might heal with rest. I did physical therapy, but no dancing for nearly a year. Follow up exams showed no improvement, and revealed an avascular area (no blood supply). I was immediately referred to an orthopedic surgeon, Dr Michael Mynatt.
I should mention that I have a Medicare HMO and all of these exams and procedures were in network with minimal or no copays. I feel incredibly fortunate and grateful for the care I received.
Dr.Mynatt later told me that I was on the table about 5 hours because of issues that were not apparent until he was actually in there. It was a tough recovery because of that, and I was in Rehab for about 10 days, where therapy proved so intensely painful (I nearly lost consciousness) that Dr Mynatt ordered immediate cessation of everything except whatever walking (using a walker) I could tolerate. I had gained 13 pounds worth of swelling, not just the operated leg but the rest of my body as well. It should be noted that I have been told in the past that I have an inappropriate immune response at times, because of my autoimmune disease. By the time I was released, I was able to walk with less pain, get in and out of the tub and the car, and the 13 pounds were gone, thank God and modern medicine !
In retrospect, the first 8 weeks were painful and sometimes frustrating, but in 3 months I was dancing again (Luigi Jazz and Ballroom, and my own ballet barre.)
Now, 3 years later, I am even more grateful that the problem was fixable. I get compliments from my fellow dancers, and I have only one restriction-to not pull the knee and hip in towards the midline-It feels totally my own and there is no pain or stiffness. I just wish I hadn't wasted a year trying to get it to heal.
At this writing, (6/5/16) I am 3 months postop on the right hip.
Same wonderful surgeon and a more routine "fix". I did need some heavy duty injectable pain meds but went home in 3 days and did fine with Celebrex and Tramadol and the following week began several weeks of physical therapy which helped tremendously.
I was able to go back to my gym at about the 8 week mark and got permission to start dancing in 6 more weeks. I followed Dr. Mynatt's instructions to walk as much as possible and limit sitting . Initially I needed a walker, then graduated to a cane.
Image; Melba and Luigi (approximately 2008)
I am now doing my own ballet barre, Luigi method jazz, Hula and Latin Ballroom workout. I hope to get back to Argentine Tango in about a month, but I don't feel I should do any partner work yet.
I am so grateful to be dancing again--I literally could not walk without pain before, even with a walker. Now I am back to walking everywhere and use my rolling walker for a shopping cart ! Now if I could just order some new feet, I could take a whole ballet class !!
Note: Melba Morris owned and operated her own studio in Echo Park in Los Angeles from 1988 to 2008
Submitted July 2016