Sally Boyle had her hip replaced in 2004 at age 57 due to degenerative joint disease. We spoke last week to discuss her procedure from the decision to have surgery through today, eight years removed from the procedure.
How did you decide to have hip replacement surgery? What were you experiencing at the time?
I actually never had any problems with my hip for a long time. Many people have long-term degeneration of the joint and many years of pain. In my case, the joint did wear down, but it happened quickly. I first started to feel pain in September 2003 and I was limping by the following winter. The doctors told me that this kind of degeneration normally takes around eight or nine years, but it happened in nine months for me.
I originally went to my regular physician, then to a rheumatologist, then finally an orthopedist. Nobody considered a hip replacement at that point. I wasn't the typical case, though. For me, it just happened, and I needed surgery.
How has the surgery changed your life?
Like I said, I was limping around quite a bit before surgery. Now, I am in no pain at all. For a while after the surgery, I did have some problems with the muscles in my thigh, but it has gotten better. When I would sit for a long time, I would have some problems when standing. However, the doctor said this was fairly normal following the surgery.
What was the surgery itself like?
I had a "traditional" style of surgery rather than the anterior approach, which generally does not cause the lingering problem after surgery. The surgery I had did not use robotics. The implant is a ceramic head and a titanium shaft.
I was in the hospital for a few days, then went directly to a rehab center. There, I had therapy for about a week. Within 10 days of surgery, I was walking with a cane. And this is where I gained respect for all of those having the procedure done at an older age – the rehab was hard!
I then had outpatient rehab for two months – it was three times a week for eight weeks. I couldn't drive and I was still taking pain medications for about three weeks. It hurt – it really did.
In the beginning, I couldn't do much. I couldn’t stand to prepare a meal; I couldn't bend.
For some time, I did have some discomfort. I had a lot of restrictions, like that I had to sit a certain way, etc. This was a product, though, of the traditional approach as opposed to the anterior approach – the newer style should not cause the same kinds of problems.
What was life like before and after the procedure? How did you prepare for life after the surgery?
I actually lived in a two-story house with my husband, and I had a fear of going up and down the stairs alone for a little while. I was also on blood thinners immediately following the surgery, so I did need some attention, just in case anything went wrong.