Bill Doughty - LBHR Dr. Rector 3/2/11

I've been dealing with hip pain for about 4 years now, progressively worse. Actually started with back pain and initial diagnosis was couple of degenerative discs in low back. Complaints about hip, knee pain were dismissed as related to back. I tried yoga, physical therapy, supplements, lumbar injections, hip injections, chiropractic, massage, NSAIDs, pain meds, etc. In April, moved from Atlanta to Denver and, trying to enjoy the healthy Colorado lifestyle. Like so many people, I could continue DOING activities like hiking and cycling, but would definitely PAY for it that evening and for days afterward.

Shortly after moving, I tried a new chiropractor who did tell me that I had pretty good arthritis in my left hip and that a hip replacement was likely in my future. Adjustments and massage helped but not much. In December, needing to update my anti-inflammatory and pain meds, I went to new ortho - for back. He confirmed earlier diagnosis about discs but, after hearing me describe my hip pain and watching me walk, he also order x-rays on hip. He took 1 look and told me I have "the hip of an 80-year-old." Referred me to colleague who specialized in hips and knees. He agreed with partner, said on best/worst scale of 1-10, I was at 9-10, bone on bone with several spurs. Discussed various options but said best shot at relief was THR. He also gave me a cortisone injection.

This was all around end of December. I started researching THRs, had never heard about resurfacing. Then I discovered this site and I also learned that one of the “rising stars” in the field is Dr. James Rector in Boulder, about an hour from where I live. I think part of my “destiny” in making the cross-country move was to find this surgeon. Not many doing resurfacing in Atlanta area; closest was a good one too, Dr. Gross in Columbia, SC, but it still would have been a bit of trip (nothing like India though!).

BillI asked about Dr. Rector on both sites and received very good feedback on him, including a guy near me who was 6 weeks post-op who raved about him and the team at Boulder Community Hospital. I had initial consultation Jan. 17 and liked Dr. Rector immediately – starting with fact that he personally called me after I emailed initial question about consult.  He had done about 460 BHRs at the time we 1st talked. I wouldn’t call him “warm and fuzzy” but not cold, just pretty straightforward, matter-of-fact. Answered all my questions, offered to talk more any time. He is supremely confident but not arrogant. He has spent a good deal of time and training on the procedure – I believe he’s been to UK – has had only 2 failures, both due to complex cases. Didn’t hurt when I looked at the hospital’s annual report and he was featured on the cover!

By this time, the cortisone injection had worn off. During those few weeks though, I had resumed physical activity and either I over-did it and made things worse or I simply forgot what it was like to live without pain. In either case, when the pain returned, seemingly worse than ever, I decided I was ready and scheduled surgery for March 2.

Did run into a bit of hiccup in last couple of weeks leading up to date. They have a class for joint replacement patients and when I attended, I almost fainted. Now I’m a bit of a medical-phobe to begin with – I’ve had this happen a couple of times before. The anxiety, a bit of dehydration and the beginnings of a stomach virus probably all added up. BUT, due to my age and family history of heart disease (my dad), my family doc wanted to do full cardiac workup. So in a two-week span I had an echocardiogram, Holter monitoring and nuclear stress test, all in addition to pre-op tests. As everyone expected, the results were all negative and I was cleared, but it certainly didn’t help reduce my stress levels. (Ativan has handled that!) At least I have a new cardiac baseline too.

Day of surgery went pretty smooth. Arrived at 10, surgery at 12:30. Great heated blanket in pre-op area. Dr. Rector came in, signed my hip and promised me his A-game. Wheeled me in and last thing I remember was spinal injection. The only snafu was post-surgery, because they didn’t have a room immediately available for me. Finally got into one about 5:30.

I seem to be tracking with others’ experiences. Coming around, no pain thanks to spinal, as time progresses, more stiffness than pain. They use a machine called a “Game Ready” that has a wrap that goes around the surgical area and you fill the machine with ice, and the cold water is circulated continuously for 30 minutes then off for 30. It also provides compression. It keeps swelling down and helps with pain. It will come home with me for 10 days. Clear diet and fitful sleep last night, couple doses of mild pain meds.

Today, everything that was in me and on me has been removed save for light oxygen. They got me up and out of bed, into chair for couple hours around lunchtime, went just fine. Met with occupational therapist and practiced sock-puller, grabber. Physical therapist should be by shortly so I can take a stroll and change from gown to shorts and T-shirt.

So all in all, it’s been pretty much as advertised. Dr. Rector said the hip looks perfect on x-rays. He’s not overly cautious when it comes to post-op restrictions. No “90 degree rule,” just no crossing the midline or rotating knee inward for 6 weeks. Been doing exercises in bed, using incentive spirometer. Hospital staff has been great, very attentive. Tomorrow I’ll see if I’m able to give myself the required fragmin (anti-coagulant) injections for the next 20 days. Nurse did 1st one and it was fine. Assuming I can do that and shower, I should be home tomorrow evening.

I’m happy I decided to do this and look forward to a more pain-free life. Dr. Rector did note that I have moderate OA in right hip too, so there may be another one of these in my future – but I probably won’t wait so long this time, now that I know what it’s all about. Of course, I’ve seen where people in my situation get the first one done, the other starts acting up in short order. Hope that’s not the case here.

Hope y’all find this helpful. It’s been good to write it all down – thanks for the suggestion, Dayton96. I’ll update progress from here!

LBHR, Dr. James Rector, 2 March 2011