Control Freak Gives Up Controlâ€¦
(Or How I Got to â€œYes, Give Me a Hip Replacement Please!â€)
By Susan Flansburg, ORA Orthopedics Hip Replacement Patient
When I discovered I had osteoarthritis in my right hip, I dove right into denial. How could this be? Iâ€™m only 60 years old. Iâ€™m in decent shape. Iâ€™m otherwise super healthy.
This. Is. NOT. FAIR.
I had been active all my life, running and hiking in good weather and working out at the Scott County Family Y in poor weather.
I stretched and strengthened my muscles. I walked my dog a mile or two most days.
So when my hip started hurting, I thought, â€œOh. Iâ€™ve got some kind of overuse injury. Iâ€™ll try cross training and go to physical therapy to build my hip strength.â€
No matter what I did, the pain continued to intensify, little by little.
It eventually got severe enough that I had to quit running. But talk about only believing what we want to believe: I still didnâ€™t think anything significant was wrong! All I needed was rest! Right?
I was still able to walk the dog and hike in the woods â€¦ but the pain continued to grow. Finally, I had enough. I went to my family doctor for her opinion. She ordered X-rays. They showed â€œsignificant osteoarthritis.â€
Deep down, Iâ€™d known it all along. And I knew that the outcome would inevitably be a hip replacement. What I didnâ€™t know was why.
Nobody else in my family has osteoarthritis, so I canâ€™t blame genetic inheritance. I canâ€™t blame â€œwear-and-tear,â€ either. Yes, Iâ€™ve done 60 years worth of running and hiking, but no mountains or Appalachian-type trails were involved.
Could a disease have triggered it? Possibly. I was treated a couple of times for Lyme â€“ a known cause of osteoarthritis â€“ but I had pain before that.
Not knowing the cause does make me feel a little vulnerable. What will be next? My knee? My ankle?
No matter what the cause, the National Institutes of Health reports 30 to 50% of adults over the age of 65 years suffer from osteoarthritis.
And Iâ€™m one of them.
â€œMy hip hurt quite a lot yesterday and still does today. An overuse injury, I imagine. Went to acupuncture and feel so much better.â€ (Susanâ€™s journal entry)
What to Do: Things in my control
I asked my family doctor to go ahead and make an appointment for me with Total Joint Surgeon, Dr. Joseph Martin at ORA Orthopedics. Heâ€™s not only a friend but also has a great reputation for excellent joint replacement work. (He replaced my husbandâ€™s knees a few years back, so we had already seen his work for ourselves.)
I figured I could at least listen to himâ€¦even if I didnâ€™t really need a replacement.
As a control freak, though, I wasnâ€™t going to just wait around. I immediately began to research what I could do for myself. Hereâ€™s what I learned:
A whole-foods, plant-based diet significantly improves self-assessed measures of functional status among osteoarthritis patients. (National Institutes of Health)
I donâ€™t follow any particular diet, but I do follow some of Dr. Terry Wahlsâ€™ recommendations in her amazing account of how she overcame MS. Her story inspired me to take more control of my â€“ and my familyâ€™s â€“ health. The Wahlâ€™s Protocol is worth a read.
Muscle strengthening and aerobic activity enhance function, comfort. (National Institutes of Health)
When I quit running, I got back on my cold-weather stationary bike, which, it turned out, doesnâ€™t aggravate hip pain. I also added yoga, which did as much to calm my nerves as tone my muscles. I talked to the instructor about modifying the poses to avoid hurting my hip, and she encouraged me to do whatever I needed to do.
Eventually I did have to stop walking farther than to the car, which is why I finally realized I needed to just do it.
Up Next: â€œIâ€™ll Take a Hip Replacement Please!â€
Opting for total hip replacement was the first in several important decisions to be made. In Part 2, here is how and why Susan made her decisions on seeking a total hip replacement as an outpatient.