I saw Dr. Tomford just after eight weeks. He said all is going according to plan. I asked if it was mandatory that I switch from two to one crutch at six weeks. (I thought one crutch was kind of awkward so I stayed on two.) He said definitely not. He said I should be able to walk without any crutches soon, usually eight to ten weeks. He demonstrated how to walk with one crutch. I think there is still some discomfort in the left hip as I approach 100% of my weight. Is it the joint itself or just the atrophied muscles? I don't know. I'll do my exercises more diligently and keep using at least one crutch for now.
Here is the x-ray from that visit:
It shows the hardware in place.
Here's what the incision looked like just after eight weeks. This time I'm standing up.
It bothered me that Dr. Tomford said I should be able to walk without crutches at eight to ten weeks and it is now nine weeks and it hurts when I try and put my full weight on my left leg. But after studying the pain, I decided it was in the muscle, not in the bone. It was just my atrophied muscles in my left leg complaining. And walking with one crutch does force those muscles to be used a little. I started walking with one crutch and in a day I was walking with just a cane. If I hadn't taken the initiative, I might still be using two crutches.
Lesson learned: When the doctor says you can switch to one crutch, do it. When the doctor says you should be able to walk without crutches, do it.
now walking with a cane at less than ten weeks after surgery. The muscles in my
left leg are complaining but they are doing as they are told. Walking without
the cane is still a little tender, but I can do it.
It's now almost four months after the surgery. I visited Dr. Tomford at about three months to make sure the pain I was feeling while walking was muscular, not the prosthesis moving. He took another x-ray and assured me the joint was just fine.
My wife and I visited Christo's The Gates in Central Park, NYC, shortly after that visit to Dr. Tomford. I must have walked two or more miles with my cane. The leg muscles were complaining but what was a show-stopper was the blister that started to form on the ball of my right foot. The body gets soft without constant exercise.
It is frustrating how long it is taking to get my leg muscles back to 100%. I am just now walking without a cane and the leg muscles still hurt when I put my full weight on the left leg. I try to walk without limping to force the muscles to do their job. That causes them to knot up so much I need a deep muscle massage to unknot them. (I really needed that massage after The Gates.) A Jacuzzi with Epsom salts helps, too.
Boy, I sure wish I had been more diligent with the isometric exercises the physical therapist gave me when I first came home. Actually, I wish I had been more diligent with the exercises I was given during my pre-op visit. Your muscles take a hit during the time you can't place your full weight on your operated leg. Build up the muscles before and/or build them up after. It takes work.
My wife and I are going to join Berkshire
South Regional Community Center. They have a regular and a warm pool and an
exercise room. This will force us to get some exercise, which I hope will get my
left leg back to normal. Sitting at my computer updating this web site sure
doesn't provide any exercise for those leg muscles.
It is now more than five months after the surgery. I spend most of the last month suffering with a bad back. I was afraid this would happen. I had avoided back episodes by doing stretches every morning. While on my back I pulled each knee to the opposite shoulder. But I can't do that any more. So for three weeks my back muscles have been in spasms and I have been almost a cripple.
My back is OK now and my wife and I have joined Berkshire South Regional Community Center. Their warm pool really helps both my back and my leg muscles. We have made an appointment with a personal trainer so we can use the exercise machines to regain strength and perhaps lose some weight.
I finally went to a physical therapist for both the back and the leg. He gave me a series of exercises that stretch and strengthen both the back and the legs:
Repeat each of these exercises/stretches ten times.
It is now six months after surgery. Here's one view from an MRI that was done to find out if anything was wrong with my back.
They found several bulging disks. You can see one yourself in about the middle of the image. But I'm not having any back problems now. I'll just have to be careful not to stress my back in any way that would further damage these disks.
My six-month check-up with Dr. Tomford showed everything was just fine mechanically. The bone is growing around the metal parts just as expected.
My muscles are just about back to "normal" now. I can walk more or less symmetrically. I'm still doing cardio and strength work at Berkshire South Regional Community Center and I'm up to 20 repetitions on the exercises the Physical Therapist gave me. (See above.)
For exercise over and above that I'm mowing my lawn. It is about 1.5 acres and I mow with a walk-behind, self-propelled 20 inch mower. My only worry is that I'll damage the disks in my back starting the mower. Do they make walk-behind mowers with electric starters?
It turns out they do make walk-behind mowers with electric starters. My old mower died and I replaced it with a Toro with electric start.
My first annual exam went just fine.
Check out an e-mail I received from Joyce, telling her hip replacement story.
I got an e-mail from the French "mother" of my daughter from when my daughter did a semester abroad. We had lost track of her and her family. It turns out she was about to have her hip replaced and came across this site while doing her research. So we got to catch up.
The first thing Dr. Tomford said at my second annual exam was "One of my patients said they had seen your web site!" He himself hasn't seen it but he knows about it.
My web site statistics show that this is one of the most popular of my myriad of web sites. I guess there are lots of sore hips out there. (Or maybe nobody cares about the rest of my sites.)
I'm just about to go in for my third annual exam. I'll let you know how it goes. I assume all will be OK since I am not experiencing any problems. It's my natural right hip that is bothering me now.
The third annual visit went just fine. The metal and plastic hip is perfect. It's the old, flesh and bone one that is causing problems. Soon I will have a second hip replacement story to tell.
Dr. Tomford has finally seen this site. He said his son found it and told him he had to look at it.
Three months before my fourth annual exam, my hip started creaking when it bent. I thought the inaudible vibration was in the joint so I recorded it and sent the recording to Dr. Tomford. Neither he nor his colleagues had ever heard anything like it. Here's what it sounded like: (mp3 file). I made this recording by placing the microphone right against the side of the hip where the bone is closest to the skin.
When my annual exam came around, the x-rays were fine. Dr. Tomford diagnosed the creaking as "Fascia Lata" or "Trochanteric Bursitis". The vibration is caused by a tendon not sliding smoothly over the outside of the femur. So the creaking has nothing to do with the hip replacement.
My fifth annual exam went well. The hip is still creaking so another round of PT is in order.