Looking towards my first hip replacement in 5 weeks I am filled with feelings that are up and down.
Even despite my first knee injury, for years we had holidays that involved fell walking and boating, and had no problems at all. I developed hypothyroidism and put on some weight and, while not easy, lost it running at the gym. Then came the micro fracture – and nothing was the same again. I was in pain all the time and over the years it got worse. I was really very envious of all the people I knew who were off walking and doing challenges and I felt that this part of my life was over.
Being increasingly unable to do much aerobic exercise, or anything that had impact on my knee I put weight back on again. Nothing too drastic you understand but enough for my GP then to tell me I was too young, there was nothing to be done but to lose weight. When you have hypothyroidism and a limited ability to move around much that is easier said than done.
The exercise I did carry on was yoga – I have been doing this regularly from being a child and my flexibility, if I say so myself is good. However, over the past year of losing a stone in weight (and you wouldn’t believe how hard that was – and how much harder it was when it stuck there despite all my efforts) I found that my hip and knee pain was getting worse and the yoga I used to do for relaxation was now something that was also very difficult. I could not stretch completely to one side or kneel at all.
I first realised I was in trouble when I could barely walk back to the car after a quick walk around the Christmas market. I was finding excuses not to go out because I wasn’t sure I could walk that far and back again. By the time of the conferences I mentioned in my last post, I could see my hotel from the conference centre and it was almost too painful to manage the walk. It was time to do something about it.
Now I research online and I find lots of people who have also been in this position. They have new leases of life. They walk dogs, walk fells, and I am especially inspired by the person who wrote, and I paraphrase, I don’t care about the possible difficulties of revision surgery when this replacement wears out, I want to live now.
So do I. I want to be back on fell tops, but even more just now, I want to park the car and know I can walk to the bank.
This is mostly a journal for my own purpose to record and appreciate change. However, over time perhaps it will be found by others facing the same procedures.
In 5 weeks time I will have my right hip replaced, followed by my left hip, left knee and possibly also my right knee. The cause is arthritis. I am 48 years old.
My left knee was damaged first of all in 1983 following a fall skiing on Glen Shee – my first run down the mountain. It was not much fun being carried headfirst down a long slippery slope by two guys on skis, but better that than staying there I guess. I was in plaster for weeks, but mostly fine afterwards until I re damaged the knee running across a road in 2003. The following arthroscopy found very little cartilage and the surgeon tried to help scaring and manoeuvrability by drilling the bone (micro fracture). Things went downhill from there and there was increasing pain and decreasing mobility over the years.
Eventually it got to the stage about 6 months ago where I was feeling my right hip was worse than my knee. After conferences on consecutive weekends in February/March this year, I was in so much pain I agreed to go to see my GP – at least, I thought I would have a baseline from which to assess the conditions worsening.
I think the physiotherapist, on seeing my x rays and finding severe arthritis in both hips was as surprised as I was. I knew it was painful but had absolutely no idea it could have been so bad, and that this could be what had been causing years of increasing ‘abdominal’ and back pain too.
It was a longish wait to see my GP about the results (a very odd appointment system which feels rather prejudiced against people who work or have families to care for in the mornings) – but was referred to orthopaedics. Another wait (simply because they cancelled my appointment at the last minute and failed to make another one until I queried it a week later) but was told that the arthritis was sufficiently severe (about 2 mm of cartilage in my left hip joint and less that 1 in my right when there should be 7mm) that they would have to be replaced. Subsequent MRI of my left knee showed no cartilage at all and a variety of other issues too. Lots of nice bony spurs everywhere. At least I wasn’t imagining the pain!
I’d honestly believed I would be told I was too young, there was nothing wrong with me, there was nothing they could do – lose weight and come back in 20 years ….. and here I am with a date for my first op with the others to follow, if all goes well, at 3 monthly (roughly) intervals. By this time next year I’ll be bionic!
So, here we are at the beginning – and off we go on a new adventure.