Bad News to Balance the Good

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Some day, I’m going to stop blogging about hip replacement. Hopefully soon.

But in my defense, it’s a pretty all-consuming hobby, especially when you get both done in a relatively short timeframe. And there’s also the matter of journalistic integrity: I’ve only written to date about how great everything is going. Ahead of schedule! So little pain! Already more flexible than before! Piece of cake! Yeah, well this week has been pure hell at times, so I guess I better write about that, too.

To be clear, here’s what has not been a problem: either of my new hips. They are rock-solid, hassle-free, and both getting stronger every day, much more quickly than I would have dared hope before experiencing this myself.

The hips are doing great. The painful problems of this week have instead been centered around my right knee, a joint that’s been torturing me (and vice versa) for 38 years now. I’ll explain below what’s been going on this week, and what we’re doing about it. TLDR version: I should be back on track by Monday, and am planning to return to work then.

The origin of my right knee troubles, by the way, is a fine story in its own right but not worth getting into right now. It includes foolish young men on a construction site, a 6-foot scaffold, a pile of bricks, and pain so intense that I was relieved to pass back out quickly after I momentarily came to in the hot Yakima sunshine while waiting for the ambulance. Good times.

I was feeling great last weekend, and Saturday I was walking very smoothly with a cane (on Day 5), much better than I was walking with a cane on Day 10 the first time around. Then on Sunday morning, I woke up with some painful swelling in my right knee. Now, that’s nothing new or interesting to me – if I had to take a wild guess, I’d say the number of times I’ve woken up in the morning with worse right knee pain is definitely a 3-digit number, probably a pretty big one. As one of countless examples, here’s that knee on a fine day in Thailand eight years ago.

But since I was recovering from left side surgery, there was a new twist this time: rather than taking most of my weight off that right knee for a day or two while recovering, I was putting most of my weight on that side. Every time I got in or out of a chair, or bed, and frankly with every step I took, I was keeping that right knee busy.

By Monday, I could put no weight at all on the right side. That night, I couldn’t get to sleep until 4AM, despite taking the maximum dosage of Oxycodone as often as possible. (And that’s the real tragedy of this situation, the way it decimated my Oxycodone reserves!)

Things finally started improving on Thursday, after a good deep tissue massage with the PT guy on Wednesday to help get things flowing. I basically spent Mon-Thu with my knee up and iced, and doing all of my lifting with the left leg. The new hip reacted very well, and the left leg is feeling good – that’s the silver lining.

Then this morning, I went to the long-scheduled surgeon follow-up appointment (first of two), and they gave the hip a clean bill of health (still on restrictions, but can work it as hard as I’d like). As for the knee, they took Xays and there is visible osteoarthritis, so they gave me a Cortisone shot. Which has provided instant relief, within hours. I have almost zero pain in that knee this evening, just some swelling to deal with now.

BIOMET-ActiveArticulationOh, one other detail that I learned today at the surgeon’s office: the exact model of hip that I have installed on both sides now. I knew that it was the model Dr. Bruckner prefers for patients who are strong and healthy and likely to live a very active life after surgery, and now I know that model is the BIOMET Active Articulation ™ Dual Mobility Hip System. Time to go update my résumé.

And that’s probably more than enough detail. Onward. If you’re a co-worker in Redmond, see you Monday!

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