Dr. R's Story One Year Later (07/04)
Let me say at the outset that I am so pleased with my recovery. I couldn't have hoped for a better outcome and I encourage all dancers who now experience a decreased quality of life because of hip degeneration not to delay surgery.
Here I am sitting one year after my Left THR sitting in full lotus:
(Photo credit: Roxlyn Moret -my yoga teacher)
The road to recovery however has not always been easy. Below I will describe the highs and the lows of the journey.
No Pain! I can walk endlessly and do all my daily tasks of living comfortably.
Good Range Of Motion - Before my THR Dr. Padgett explained that the surgical approach he used would allow me to turn out my leg in any direction without restriction. At the one year point I have more turn out with my operated hip than I do with my somewhat arthritic "normal" side! Starting around the eleventh month my range of motion started to get better every week. Now have almost equal range in both hips.
Good prognosis for movement- At my one year checkup Dr. Padgett explained that my only restriction in movement for the foreseeable future would be rotating my trunk toward the operated side when the thigh is fully flexed into my chest. See the Yoga page for an illustration of such a rotation.
Keeping his advice in mind I can already participate fully in regular yoga classes.
(Remember that everyone's movement restrictions will vary depending on the exact nature of the surgical procedure.)
Reassurance about choices- I was glad to learn that one year later Dr. Padgett still favors the metal implant with the highly cross linked poly liner that he used for my procedure. Additionally, for dancers he continues to prefer the minimally invasive surgical approach rather than the newer MIS "2-incision" technique.
(See this page for further description of these options. )
Although I am quite content now, I would have to say that the past year presented many difficulties.
My leg felt alien for many months after surgery but now feels fine.
My scar developed a keloid (overgrowth of scar tissue) which did not respond to topical treatment. The keloid was painful and itchy. Keloid formation is often a genetic trait and I was aware this might happen. I needed to have steroid injections into the scar tissue for it to subside.
Fatigue- My most persistent complaint was fatigue. I admit that I was quite worn out going into surgery but I continued to feel that way well into the eight post-operative month. Dr. Padgett said that it was common to feel fatigued for up to six months after surgery because of the magnitude of the metabolic insult to the body and the inflammatory response the accompanies healing. It was very humbling for me to acknowledge that I had overdone everything in the past and that in recovering from major surgery I had to really slow down and let my body heal.
Back Pain- The second complaint I had was chronic back pain. In the years before surgery I had developed low back pain with contracture in my quadratus muscles as a compensation for my bad hip. I also had developed pain in the shoulder on the opposite side from walking with imbalance. Dr. Padgett had told me that the pain would eventually go away. To be more comfortable in the meanwhile I reluctantly took Vioxx, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. I started to get massage regularly and I continued to work with my physical therapist. At her suggestion I also did twelve sessions with an Alexander teacher (Jane Kosminsky) to develop ease in the motions of everyday living.
At the six month mark, however, I still had pain and stiffness. Feeling quite depressed about this situation I saw a Rehabilitation Medicine physician. That doctor noted the obvious, that the thigh on my operated side was still atrophied, and said that when my leg got strong enough to support my back evenly, the back pain would go away. So I continued to take Vioxx and started to get some chiropractic treatment. I can happily say now that the doctors were correct and that my back pain is much diminished and my flexibility is increasing.
Depression- After the honeymoon period with my hip that I describe in the first part of my story, I had a few months in which I felt quite depressed. As I said I was tired and my back hurt, but it was adjusting to a new life that was the hardest. In my particular case, my decision to have surgery precipitated stunning changes in my life in general: I drastically reduced the hours that I saw patients in my office and took on a more administrative role, and I fully retired from dancing. While I think many dancers facing THR will not make such radical changes as I chose to do, the reality is that submitting to this drastic surgery often moves us into a different phase in our lives. Although I had mental preparation and support for this aftermath of surgery, I was unprepared for how hard the changes would be. At the one year point I can say that I have made wonderful progress in this area and I am eager to explore what my future will bring.
Once out of pain, one can have a new lease on life
Click here to read my follow up report at two years post-surgery. (07/05)
Back to the start of Naomi Rabinowitz: My Left Hip