11 years post op

In April, my left hip turned 11. I'm happy to say I'm still doing great, and have even surpassed my own goal of making it more than 10 years (mostly) pain free. At this point, I think you could safely call me a success story.

I've been having more pain than usual in my left hip, but it's usually caused by squats and lunges, which are a part of the weight lifting classes I take. May have to rethink those in the near future, but for now, I'll take the bit of pain.

Always thankful.

10 years

My first hip surgery was 3,652 days ago, which, coincidentally, is probably the number of doubts I had before going under the knife. My decision to have PAOs – and the decade that's followed – have been worth every question and every fear.

My hips have been troopers, standing loyally by as I test them at the gym, on the trail, around the city and everywhere in between. If I push too hard, my left hip will let me know, but generally, I have very little pain. I haven't seen a hip doctor in years.

I still have a numb patch about the size of a business card on each thigh. A few times a year, I will get that burning, itching nerve pain that irritates me to no end. When overworked, my left hip starts burning near my back, sciatic-style. The scars are still there, of course, but they rarely catch my eye.  All of this seems like a small price to pay for a ticket for admission into this life of mine. Plus, I have 13 screws inside my body that make me feel like a bad-ass. I'm glad t…


I still have bad dreams about having hip surgeries.

It's been nine years since I went under the knife. The surgeries seem far from mind – I don't have daily pain, I don't talk about hip dysplasia, and when I get undressed, I rarely notice the thin white scars on either side of my hips.

When I do think about it all, gratitude and pride overwhelm me. I think of my recovery and wonderful life that has followed. It's strange then, that my brain sums up this life-changing event with disturbing scenes from an operating room, flooding me with anxiety and reminding me of the unpleasant parts of PAOs.

But maybe the nightmares have some value, after all. Being reminded of the stress and pain and work that went into fixing my hips also reminds me of how strong I was to get through it.

Never forget.

My favorite stretch

Do something for me. Try this stretch if you can.

Whether you are pre-op or post-op (just not in the first few months following your surgery!), you might find this feels marvelous, just like I do. (Not me in the video.) It's generally called a glute stretch, but it also works the hips. And it feels. So. Good.

It goes without saying (except I'm saying it) that I'm not a doctor or physical therapist, so please use caution and don't hurt yourself. Some people simply may not be able to get into that position.

Good vibrations

The good vibrations certainly would be a sweet sensation if only I could feel them.

I'm talking, of course, about setting my cell phone to vibrate and putting it in my front pocket, where it inevitably rests against the numb patch of my thigh. When it rings, I don't feel a thing.

I've missed many a call this way. But I don't mind. Because between hips that don't feel painful and thighs that don't feel anything at all, I'm a very happy lady.

Just leave a voice mail.

6 years post-op LPAO

My sixth anniversary of my LPAO recently came ... and went, without much ado. While I'll always always be thankful for the surgery that changed my life, it's also one of those events that has taken a back seat in my daily affairs. Which is certainly something you can't ever imagine as soon as the acronym PAO becomes a part of your vocabulary, so I consider even this an accomplishment.

Truth is, my hips are exactly the same as they were a year ago, so there's really not much to report. I'm still as active as ever, with some pain if I spend more than a couple of hours strenuously exercising. I still get some random pangs every once in a while, still have nerves that itch and burn, still have a nearly numb patch on my thigh. And I still wouldn't trade one second of my post-op self with my limpy, scared pre-op self.
I went in for some hip x-rays a few months back at the local orthopedic center and just had the local hip doc look at them. Dr. Kindsfater is not a PAO …

5 years post-op LPAO

Hip surgery remains − five years later − the smartest, bravest and most significant event of my life. Nothing can top the rewarding feeling of taking my health into my own hands, fighting tremendous fears and physical challenges, and coming through the other side a changed person.

That's not to say it's all roses now.

In dog years, my left hip is 35. It is starting to act its age, which I don't much like. Despite the increasing pain, I can't get mad at it. It has given me too much. I'm instead resigned, disheartened and even a little scared.

The pain I have now is totally different than pre-surgery's. Not in my hip at all, but rather in my back− sciatic pain on the left side. Luckily, it only hurts after a full day's activity, but when it hurts, it's nearly debilitating. I often can't even take a step until I've sat it out for a half hour or so. My right hip gets a little achy sometimes, but it's behaving much better. I'm still super act…

4 years post-op LPAO

It's been four years since my left hip surgery, the day-long event that became a years-long cornucopia for which I am eternally thankful. My thanks does not wane, even though the periods of pain-free living have started to.

Between anniversaries three and four, I have to admit that life has been a little tougher. My hips hurt more often and are less willing to take the beatings an active lifestyle evokes. My mind returns to dark places of my past, when pain ruled and I couldn't count on my body. The most challenging aspect is not letting fears and negative thoughts squash the positive feelings and abilities my new hips gave me.

Post-surgery pains are completely different than pre-surgery's. Sporadic, unpredictable and in places I didn't think even counted as "hip pain." Post-surgery pains also have been easier to control, just harder to understand. I am considering a visit to a hip doc in my town, rather than a flight to Tacoma to see Dr. Mayo. I need to get …

3 years post-op LPAO

A surgery can change your body. Two surgeries can change everything.

Today, on the third anniversary of my LPAO, I inevitably think back to my first operation and the years leading up to that day.

Everything has changed.

I am an outdoors enthusiast and exercise nut. I can stay on my feet all day. My new body has freed my soul, and my heart responds in kind.

The breakdown is exactly the same as it was at two years post-op: zero pain with a couple of exceptions, great range of motion, same tingly patch and itching. The one difference is that my tailbone pain has waned considerably, which gives me much, much relief.

I'm a different person today than I was on April 23, 2008, and I'll be forever thankful.

How often to see a doc post-op?

I had my latest hip checkup in May 2009. When I asked Dr. Mayo when he wanted to see me again, he said in two years. Which. Is. ... About now.

The thing is, I don't really want to go. My hips feel great and I'm not too excited to make another vacation out of a hip appointment. Come May, I'll be 3 years post-op LPAO and 2½ years RPAO.

Which leads me to my question for all the other post-op hip patients out there. How often do you see a doctor for follow-up care?