The Control Freak Gives Up Control …

Susan Flansburg, 60, of Davenport, Iowa. Active writer and grandmother and sufferer from osteoarthritis. This is the first of a seven-part blog series about her hip replacement and recovery.

Part 1:

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Control Freak Gives Up Control…

(Or How I Got to “Yes, Give Me a Hip Replacement Please!”)

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? I’m only 60 years old. I’m in decent shape. I’m otherwise super healthy.

This. Is. NOT. FAIR.

Susan Flansburg, 60, Davenport, IA, is a vibrant, active writer, and grandmother who has suffered the pain of osteoarthritis. Patients facing hip replacement surgery have questions. Susan was gracious to allow ORA to follow her journey that began with excruciating pain through full recovery after her hip replacement. This is a seven-part series.

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, “Oh. I’ve got some kind of overuse injury. I’ll try cross training and go to physical therapy to build my hip strength.”

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 didn’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 … 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 “significant osteoarthritis.”

Deep down, I’d known it all along. And I knew that the outcome would inevitably be a hip replacement. What I didn’t know was why.

Nobody else in my family has osteoarthritis, so I can’t blame genetic inheritance. I can’t blame “wear-and-tear,” either. Yes, I’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 – a known cause of osteoarthritis – 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 I’m one of them.

“My hip hurt quite a lot yesterday and still does today. An overuse injury, I imagine. Went to acupuncture and feel so much better.” (Susan’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. He’s not only a friend but also has a great reputation for excellent joint replacement work. (He replaced my husband’s knees a few years back, so we had already seen his work for ourselves.)

I figured I could at least listen to him…even if I didn’t really need a replacement.

As a control freak, though, I wasn’t going to just wait around. I immediately began to research what I could do for myself. Here’s what I learned:

Diet
A whole-foods, plant-based diet significantly improves self-assessed measures of functional status among osteoarthritis patients. (National Institutes of Health)

I don’t follow any particular diet, but I do follow some of Dr. Terry Wahls’ recommendations in her amazing account of how she overcame MS. Her story inspired me to take more control of my – and my family’s – health. The Wahl’s Protocol is worth a read.

Exercise
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, doesn’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: “I’ll Take a Hip Replacement Please!”
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.