Thursday, May 3, 2018

Hip Replacement Surgery and the Lure of Suburbia

Technology is wonderful! Here's a model of an artificial hip. The piece in his left hand is implanted in the femur, and the piece on the right goes into the pelvic bone.

This is an xray of Dan's actual hip taken immediately after the surgery,with the implant in place.

One week after surgery, Dan playing with the model of the hip implant that's now inside him.

Dan's right hip was getting more and more achy and stiff after long time standing or walking last summer on the Galeon. And in January a set of x-rays and MRIs made it official: he had arthritis in that hip that was considered "severe" and no amount of rest or herbal supplements or cortisone shots was going to fix it. We're blaming too many years of bucking hay bales on the farm as a teenager but it doesn't really matter what started the problem; two different doctors advised that total replacement was the only long term solution.

So on April 24, we checked into St Vincent's. We couldn't have had a better hospital experience. They were super-attentive to infection. His prep instructions included a complete shower with surgical scrub the night before, using a freshly-washed washcloth and drying with freshly-washed towel, sleeping on freshly-washed sheets, then another shower in the morning with another bottle of scrub and washing with another freshly-washed washcloth and drying with another freshly-washed towel. Then of course they'd do the actual surgical prep which would include a third wash. Taking no chances, we like it!

Modern technology is nothing short of amazing. This shiny titanium and ceramic replacement went into his hip in about an hour. There was no cushioning material left between the bones in his hip; they described it as "bone on bone" which was the cause of the pain, and actually had to stretch muscles a little bit to fit the new implant in -- his leg had gotten shorter because that gap was gone. The doctor met me in the waiting area afterwards holding the print of the x-ray at the top of this post, to tell me the surgery had gone well and I could meet Dan in his hospital room in about an hour.

I won't go into the details of how we ended up switching rooms, but a giant shout-out to nurse Adrian T, who got Dan placed in ... well, the "hospital room" we ended up in was nicer than a lot of hotels we've been in. Instead of standard asphalt-tile floors and pinkish-brown walls with a view of a brick wall or parking garage, this was lovely, and huge yet still very functional and able to be sterilized. He had pergo "wood" floors and granite countertops (who has granite countertops in their hospital room?) and a waterfront view of the St John's River. Such a fantastic, calming place to recover and begin healing in! And he needed it; his blood pressure went waaaay low that afternoon and night, most likely in response to the strong pain meds.

Waving "hi" to Facebook friends the afternoon after surgery

Next day they taught him useful things like how to use his new walker, and a series of strengthening exercises that he could do until his incision was healed enough to begin regular physical therapy. His blood pressure (finally) stabilized and they discharged him from the hospital and sent him home. Well, not home exactly; he was a long way from being able to negotiate the stairs and movement of the boat.

We had an invite to stay for a while at the lovely home of a sailing friend (a.k.a., the home of a lovely sailing friend). Enter glorious friend Rachel, who came to our rescue offered the guest room of her house just a few miles south of town, with no stairs, all on one level and with lots of nature, peace, and quiet during the day, and friendship and laughter in the evenings.

Rachel's back deck is much more comfortable than the hospital bed!

Lovely, restful view with lots of chirping birds. There's a family of owls hoot-hoot-hooo-ing that we hear every night also.

So for the last week, we've been living in suburban comfort. And I must say, I'm appreciating the ease and time saving conveniences that suburbia offers. Grocery shopping while cruising takes at least 1/2 day and a combination of bus and walking, returning to the boat with laden backpacks and shopping bags. Given that time commitment we generally shop for a week's worth of groceries at a time. That in turn means lots of planning ahead,  and knowing that fragile vegetables like spinach must be eaten early in the week, while sturdier sorts like peppers and onions can last till later. Beer is too heavy and bulky; rum gives a much more space- and weight-efficient buzz per ounce. And so on. But with that car parked in the driveway (no searching the downtown streets for parking either because -- driveway!), a trip to Publix can happen every day or two, and in only minutes! And laundry; ditto. Instead of hours and fistfuls of quarters in the laundromat or marina laundry room, a nice washer and dryer just off the kitchen means that I can toss in a load any time, while doing something else (like blogging, as I'm doing right now!).  Maybe I'm beginning to appreciate suburban conveniences a bit too much? I could get used to this...

And then, I went back to the boat to pick up a few more items and do some cleaning, and wham! All the serenity, and delight in being in that cozy space on the water slammed me! I did all the work I had intended and then just ... sat, drinking in the sunlight, watching a dolphin make lazy arcs, feeling the gentle rocking. No, we're not moving to suburbia yet despite in the inconveniences of boat life. The very best thing about traveling is that it gives you new eyes with which to appreciate your home when you return.

(And happy to report, after the doctor's one-week post-op assessment, he was cleared to return back to the boat, so we're home again. Hoping you never need joint replacement, but if you do, we have a rockstar surgeon to recommend in Dr Redmond!)


  1. Get well soon, Dan! I'm glad it is working out.

    1. Thanx Phil, he's recovering nicely -- sorry for the delay in responding; been a busy time.

  2. It's amazing what they can do these days. Glad that all went well with the procedure. You have such lovely friends. What a wonderful place for him to recuperate.

    1. Agreed, Ellen. Don't know how we got so lucky. Anyway, he's recovering nicely. Thanx for the good thoughts and sorry for the delay in responding; it has been a busy time.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.