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Miracle Repeats in ABQ

Hip Pain Gone, Climbing Stairs Morning after Surgery, Home by Noon

Another impressive validation of anterior approach hip replacement.

The main improvement this time around is fully functional hip flexors. Impaired hip flexors after the first hip replacement alerted Dr. Werner that my musculature makes finding the natural opening more difficult. So warned, he was able to navigated around the nerves involved in lifting the leg. This shows up in my stride. My neighbor says he can't tell which is the new hip when when he sees me walking. It took about 10 weeks to even out my stride the first time around--and I still have a slight weakness in my hip flexors.

Unfortunately, my first follow up exam (day 13) revealed that swelling in my calf is caused by a blood clot--a known side-effect in a small percentage of cases. Dr Werner prescribed a blood thinner and told me to keep moving my leg to promote circulation.

Our long time friend Wade Smith, MD, a much in demand orthopedic surgeon and professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Colorado, supports Dr. Werner's advice to continue full activity. He agrees that the blood thinner will help. "The clotted vein will stay clotted and the body will form new venous channels around the clot," he tells us. 

The swelling is going down fast. It is gone in the morning and barely visible at the end of the day. Our family care doctor will oversee my progress.

That's not all the learning this time around.

It’s a tale of two hips, the first with the stars aligned from start to finish and the second with meteors raining down on the path leading up to the surgery. The recovery path is miraculous in both, but my timing is off the second time around. When my right hip was replaced in Houston (2006), my hip problem was discovered before the pain started. I was able to squat right up to the surgery. I went into the surgery in great shape and was soon able to pick up where I left off. Dr. Wilson wrote in his 6-week follow-up report to Dr. Kreuzer, "Clarence is doing quite well at this time, progressing through his physical therapy as prescribed and now gradually getting back to training. He demonstrates a very easy range of motion.... He has good muscle development in right quad and hamstring compared to the left. He apparently is biking now with no pain. [I started gentle spinning at 2 weeks.] I repeated x-ray...and there appears to be no loosening of the joint components."

Time will tell when I will be able to get back into regular training this time around. I've been active--walking and climbing stairs--from day one and see regular improvement. My first formal workout was on day 9; easing back into my regular Tuesday and Saturday training cycle. No problem with training the upper body, but the lower body is vulnerable. The Concept 2 Ski Erg has been a good starting point, because I can go relatively hard without challenging the new hip. That's important, because it takes about six weeks for the bone to fully grow in around the new joint.

The Airdyne is also a good starting point, because it trains arms and legs. The hip seems to like it as long as I'm careful.

As indicated above, the path leading up to my surgery has been far more difficult this time around. It’s a good story—and instructive. You'll understand why I was very relieved to once again come out of the surgery pain free.

Good News-Bad Time

Men’s Health magazine decided that a few weeks out from the surgery—which they didn’t know about—was the time to photography me for their upcoming feature. Good news that the  feature is coming, but the timing could not have been worse.

I was in pain and limited in what I could do—definitely not ready to be photographed.

My left hip has been a concern for several years, but started to really bother me near the end of 2016. Something had to be done. Unfortunately, Dr. Wilson retired about that time, and I wasn’t able to see another orthopedist in his group until February 16, 2017. X-ray at that time showed a severe narrowing of the joint space and that the hip needed to be replaced. I could’ve avoided a lot of pain had I been able to get it done then—rather than almost two months later. The orthopedist didn’t do the anterior approach and was no help finding someone who did. We had to search on our own for someone experienced in doing the muscle saving procedure. A little over a month later—my hip was grinding and really hurting by then—we were able to see Dr. Mark Werner and schedule the surgery for April 6.

The day after we saw Dr. Werner, we were contacted by Sally Berman, Deputy Director of Photography at Men’s Health magazine. They wanted to schedule a time—in the next 2 weeks—to shoot some photos for the article. Talk about awkward timing! Fortunately, we were able to convince them that photos of me at that time would not be representative of my usual physical condition. After several back and forth exchanges, it was decided that they would commission a painting based on photos we took of my face--and use ten photos from our archives covering the period from 1954 to 2012. It’s a wonderful and varied assortment illustrating my condition over time, some of which have never been published before.

Unfortunately, the bad timing was not over.

When it appeared that we had a clear the path to the surgery, we learned that a lifetime friend—we were born two days apart, grew up in the same neighborhood, and went to law school at the same time—had been killed in a car accident. A celebration of his life was scheduled four days before my hip replacement. It was a moving three-hour tribute taxing the capacity of the Albuquerque Country Club ballroom. I renewed acquaintances with people I hadn’t seen in decades and was able to express my sorrow to his wife and family. (All with a cane and an aching hip.) Carol and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. But it added to the stress building before the surgery.

The difference from the 2006 replacement was like night and day. I went into the surgery stressed out, in pain, and more debilitated. I came out pain free, but with a more challenging rehab ahead.

Thank goodness for the fast recovery marvels of the anterior approach—and Dr. Werner’s expertise in doing the two-hour procedure. He told Carol afterward that everything went perfectly. No problems.

He didn’t need the extra 30 minutes he'd allocated to navigate between the muscles surrounding Clarence’s hip. (The delay leading up to the surgery caused some atrophy in my quads--which it will take a while to restore.)

“The stars were perfectly aligned,” he told us later. “Everything fell into place.”

Now it’s up to me.

 In addition to being a skilled surgeon, Dr. Werner is also an athlete.

He sent us this photo of his Tough Mudder adventure, a half marathon over an obstacle course.

*  *  *

Learn from my experience. When you need a hip replacement don’t put it off. Save yourself pain before and a steeper climb afterward. Find an experienced surgeon you trust and get on with it ASAP. Don’t delay, causing unnecessary suffering and extending recovery.

For many more details on the anterior approach, see Miracle in Houston: http://www.cbass.com/Hiprep.htm and Hip to be Replaced in Albuquerque: http://www.cbass.com/hiprep2.html

May 1, 2017

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Ripped Enterprises, P.O. Box 51236, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87181-1236
 or street address: 528 Chama, N.E., Albuquerque, New Mexico 87108,
 Phone AND FAX (505) 266-5858 , e-mail: cncbass@aol.com ,
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