Four years ago, I estimated three to five years. I might have been slightly pessimistic, but it may turn out to have been pretty accurate. Anyway, I wanted to get an idea of how long it might be before my second hip replacement.  So I phoned for an X-ray and consultation and that took place today.

I knew I wouldn’t get a straight answer, though that didn’t stop me. My surgeon remembered me, I wasn’t surprised to learn, though I was a bit embarrassed. He said – he’s a polite man – that it’s the patients who stand out from the others who are most interesting. One worked in a slaughterhouse and so was interested in the anatomy of the operation. Another was an engineer and he wanted to know all about the replacement joint itself. I asked a lot of searching questions and was really quite stroppy about it.  I’d been told about hip resurfacing, he was dead against it and it wasn’t that I argued, but I wanted to know exactly why he was against it, to the extent of asking him how many operations he’d carried out. This was a matter of a week or two before news broke about how risky metal-on-metal hip replacements are, which he already knew of course.

I liked him because I asked forthright questions, he answered straightforwardly and I ended up convinced by his answers. I’m not especially opinionated and don’t insist on having my own way unless in exceptional circumstances and I don’t have a lot of time for those who do argue every case, just for the sake of it. I’ve known parties ruined that way. I’ve got a friend who admits to cringing every time his wife gets into a discussion in a social setting because she prides herself on out-arguing everyone – which convinces no one that she’s right, of course, they’re all just more polite than she is and bored into submission.  On the way home, she says “why didn’t you stop me?” Then, when by arrangement he nudged her under the table, she said loudly “why are you touching me under the table?”  It’s pretty funny, unless it’s your party being killed.

I mentioned that I have one regret about my own operation, which is that I’d have liked to see and handle a joint of the type I have. So he said he’ll bring one in, next time I see him.

No news about when that’ll be, though. He scored my answers on how much it hurt, on a scale of 1-21, at 6. He said that he’d be willing to operate privately on 12 and one is NHS eligible at 15.  Some people hang on until 18. I suspect that I did last time, or potentially even more, as one question was whether I needed painkillers and I said that last time I found that they didn’t really touch the pain so I didn’t bother. Another was whether I could walk a mile, and then I didn’t willingly walk ten yards – I mean that literally, I got on my bike to go down the drive and, if I left something upstairs in the morning, I managed without it until I went up to bed.

He wouldn’t be drawn on how long I’ll be before I need an operation. Might be three months, it might never hurt enough for me to come back (that isn’t going to happen).  I have the feeling that I might be going back to him next winter but it’s just a feeling.

Tonight, I’m over with Weeza and co. They’re off to London tomorrow and I’m a lucky granny, I will have Zerlina and Gus for the weekend.

9 comments on “Six

  1. tim

    One’s own pain threshold is very personal, isn’t it? I’ve learnt a lot, over the past fourteen months, about neurological pain (of which, of course, I can’t ask to see an example), and about my own tolerance level, which seems to be pretty high. I’m told that I should “take better care of myself”, but I know a couple of hypochondriacs and no way am I going to join their ranks. So I just put up with it – you can get used to anything, can’t you? Innit?

  2. Z Post author

    I only realised after the pain stopped that I’d been blanking out a lot of it. I know now that I left it unnecessarily long before the operation. He offered it in September and I turned it down, then asked to have it as soon as possible three months later. “That was three months you weren’t going to get back, weren’t they?” he said yesterday and he was quite right.

    I don’t think you’re a hypochondriac if it’s real pain or illness making you spare yourself, but I agree that we need to push ourselves and get on with life. You only know you’re tough when you’re put to the test. But I’ll have my op as soon as I need it this time. I hope you can get some relief too.

  3. sablonneuse

    It’s pretty awful that you have to endure so much pain before they’ll consider doing the operation. It seems you impressed the surgeon by asking pertinent questions. So many specialists seem to resent it if you question them -or maybe they are pressed for time.

    Pleased to hear the seeds are sprouting. It’s warm here today so maybe I’ll start thinking about gardening.

    Hope you find where the hens are hiding their eggs. Mine are probably hiding them too but they leave a few in the nestbox.

  4. Rog

    I bet a lot of people exaggerate these subjective scores. I “failed” the pain test on my hip last summer but I didn’t realise it was a numerical score. Not being woken up in the night by pain seemed to be the key question, and I still am thankfully free of that despite my x-ray showing virtual bone-on-bone two years ago. I shall be following your future comments as a hip replacement stalwart with great interest! I love the idea that I can still cycle OK and still worry a little that an operation may curtail this activity.

    1. Z Post author

      Well, it is a subjective matter. Mr C said to me that what the x-ray shows isn’t the guiding factor, but pain and disability are. Both depend on the individual. If you’ve a job that means you have to walk a lot, you’d want it sooner than if you had an office job and it wasn’t an issue, unless sitting still brought acute pain once you moved again. My second hip pain is different from my first. Each person is different, but I found cycling was quite an effort by the end as the abductor muscle was fairly useless. I had a half-inch lift in my shoe but still limped heavily. It wasn’t the wear in my hip, it was the muscle loss. But it put itself right wonderfully, I could cycle as much as I wanted afterwards.

      He didn’t tell me it was a numerical score last time, but I’d have scored very highly even the first time. By the time I had the op, my pelvis was so worn he had to secure the implant with a screw.

      Mr C put it like this – if you decide to get married, you just know it’s right. Reasoning it through isn’t how you make the decision. I think the analogy falls down fairly rapidly, but I can see what he means. Once you actually want the top of your leg sawn off, that’ll be the time to have it done. However, if you start to feel that way, do go back immediately. I found the last couple of months were ghastly, the pain and disability increased markedly, fortnightly and being delayed by a waiting list would have been awful.

      My decision next is whether to go privately again or on the NHS. It’s a luxury decision of course, I know I’m spoilt. I don’t really want to spend the money, but I want the control over timing and the personal service. Russell, bless him, wanted to buy me freedom from pain and although I’d saved up, he insisted on paying every penny himself.

  5. Z Post author

    It’s not as simple as that, Sandy. The earlier you have it done, the more likely you are to have to have the op done again, maybe more than once. Each revision is a bigger operation and might be less successful. It makes sense to hang on as long as you reasonably can. It was because I was relatively young that I was so reluctant to have the operation, until it impacted on my life so severely that it became imperative.

    The forecast for the weekend is warm, I can turn off the soil warming cable in the day – actually, once the peppers etc have sprouted, I probably won’t need it much, though there was a frost last night. I have’t had time to search for eggs, maybe the children will tomorrow.

  6. LZM

    I have just heard about the new mini-posterior approach to hip replacement surgery and wonder if you have heard anything about it. I occasionally feel signs in my other hip, but keep hoping it won’t get to the point where anything is better than the pain you get when it’s TIME!!!! for surgery.

    1. Z Post author

      LZM, I’m sorry I didn’t reply at the time – it must have been busyness with the children, who were staying with me. I don’t know anything more than what one reads in the newspapers. I hope your other hip is doing okay now – I’ve looked back at this post because I’m wondering now how soon I have to have the other hip done.

  7. Pingback: Sixteen | Razor-blade of Life

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