Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Contemplating Hip Replacement

This article in US News and World Report caught my attention today as I’m sitting here in pain rather than gardening. I have osteoarthritis and have been a candidate for a hip replacement for over a year. I keep putting it off, praying for an alternative—like healing. The idea of a doctor cutting off my leg bone and replacing it with a metal prosthesis just doesn’t set well with me. I don’t like pain and I’m not good at taking time to exercise. I also build muscle very slowly, which means that I don’t see a lot of progress when I do exercise. And when I read all of the movements you can’t do after replacement, the rebel in me says, “No way!” So I keep stalling. Guess I have some of my mom’s syndrome—“wishing will make it so…”

In addition to just NOT wanting the surgery and the long recovery time, there’s the question of which procedure to use (assuming I do it, of course). Two surgeons have been recommended by just about everyone in my area. One is a traditional surgeon who uses the prosthesis that grows into your bone. Recovery time: 4-8 months! The other uses a minimally invasive technique that promises faster recovery and less pain. Recovery time: 2-4 months. But this procedure uses an adhesive to set the prosthesis. I’ve heard of people having problems with this, either with breakdown or allergic reactions.

Since I’ve recently returned to school, the recovery time is very significant for me. I put off making an appointment in the spring, and now can’t get in to see either surgeon until August. That means if I do the surgery, I’ll miss a quarter at school. But I’m not sure I can wait another year. Last year I wanted to try to get stronger and lose weight before doing the surgery. I didn’t do either. So now I’m in a real mess.

I think another part of my problem is that I still think of myself as 35. Far too young for such a surgery! The reality is that I’m 60 and my body parts are wearing out, largely due to my lack of care for them in the past 30 years. Yes, there are consequences to poor health choices in middle age. And I’m reaping them now.

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