Laura - Misplaced Cup, Revision

My Right Hip

I had hip resurfacing surgery on July 23, 2007 at Oakland Kaiser.  The reason for the surgery was chronic arthritic pain that was starting to affect my knee and back as well. Also I wanted to stop taking ibuprofen each day.  I’ve had a bad right hip since I was very young.  My diagnosis was hip dysphasia.  I had one previous surgery when I was about 22 to do a “grape nuts procedure” which was bone grafting to prevent arthritis and hip replacement surgery.  This was done at Terra Linda Kaiser.  My present surgeon knew my complete history and saw my previous x-rays.  He agreed that hip resurfacing would stop my pain and make it possible for me to continue my daily activities of teaching, walking my dogs and clogging.

  I asked if I would be able to go back to work in 4 weeks. He said yes and that one of his patients with a desk job went back after two weeks. I was 48 years old at the time of this surgery and had been putting off having a total hip replacement for years in hopes that a newer, less invasive hip surgery would become available. Hip resurfacing seemed to be my answer.  I did quite a bit of research about hip resurfacing, planned my life around the surgery and recovery and went into surgery with the expectation of being better than ever in 4 to 6 weeks.

During the surgery I remember starting to wake up.  I could feel hear and feel drilling, hammering and my leg being pushed and pulled and it was very painful.  No one comforted me. I remember thinking while still in the hospital that I never wanted to go through hip surgery again.  The thought of having to repeat this surgery in 10 -20 years was depressing. After surgery I was recovering at what I thought was the “normal” rate.  It was painful and uncomfortable and frustrating but I knew it would improve every day.  I did my physical therapy and felt optimistic about my recovery.  I was relaxed because I had timed this surgery during the summer when I was off work. My physical therapist had me try using a cane now and then but it didn’t feel quite right so I continued on two crutches. I was still on two crutches at 4 weeks but was able to go back to work.  I felt okay to be there, my physical therapist had me bring a roll around chair which I used as needed.  I started to be able to use one crutch around the classroom and at home but not for longer distances.  

On September 5, 2007 I had my six week post operation doctor appointment.  I had an x-ray taken.  The doctor said that “the hip socket cup could’ve been placed a little more a certain way but that it was okay”. I told him that I felt a little bit of clicking at the hip and asked him when that would stop.  He said by two months. He then told me no more restrictions and that I could now use just a cane.  So that very night at Back to School night I used a cane.  The next day I used the cane all day at school.  By the next evening I was in pain and I heard a lot of clicking and clunking.  I had to go back to the crutches.  

The following week I called my surgeon’s office to tell about the clicking and clunking getting so much worse and mentioned that I had to start taking pain medication again.  (I had stopped using pain medication about two and a half weeks post op.)  The receptionist/nurse (Heather) said she’d ask the doctor and get back to me.  When she called me back she said that it was early and not to worry.  Another week went by and I called again with the same problems and she said that it’s still early and that she’d ask the doctor but she was sure that he’d say the same thing.  

The clunking and clicking and pain continued.  I was feeling frustrated and worried.  I noticed on the Surface Hippy website that some people having the same surgery as me were completely off of crutches at six weeks. I even met someone who had a total hip replacement, was twenty years older than me and was able to dance without crutches at six weeks post op. I still needed both crutches at eight weeks post op. I was starting to freak out. My physical therapist thought something didn’t seem right.  My sister who had had hip replacement surgery thought it didn’t seem right either. Vicky from the Surface Hippy website thought it sounded like something was wrong. In desperation I called my surgeon’s office again, said that these problems were persisting and that maybe I needed more physical therapy.  I received a message back referring me to a hip class.  I called and the person said I couldn’t have physical therapy until I got a referral specifically for that.  I called the surgeon’s office again requesting an appointment with a physical therapist not just the hip class.  This I left on the message machine.  I didn’t hear back. I decided to try the hip class what else could I do? The hip class was offered during the school day, but I arranged to have my class covered so I could go to the next class offered the following week.

In the meantime the discomfort increased. On September 24th I had to stay home from work.  In desperation I called my regular doctor at San Rafael Kaiser.  Luckily I got a short notice appointment I couldn’t hold the tears in as I waited to be called in.  My doctor could hear the clunking.  She immediately called for an x-ray.  The next day she called me to tell me that the x-ray did indeed show a problem.  The very next day, September 26th I was planning to go to the hip class, instead I got a call from Heather saying that the surgeon “actually wanted to see me today.” I had to arrange for my class to be covered that morning and have my husband leave his extremely busy job to take me to Oakland Kaiser.  When the surgeon put my x-ray on the screen, I almost screamed.  I had been walking around on a semi-dislocated hip probably since my September 5 appointment when I was told I could use a cane.  

The surgeon told me I had to have surgery to correct the placement of the cup the following Monday October 1, 2007.  He said that I had a strange pelvis and with the previous surgeries it was difficult to work on.  He also admitted that the cup was placed too vertical.  He said he was sorry.  I asked him tearfully if I could trust him to fix it.  He said yes.  I felt I had no other choice, he knew my history and he would be very careful the second time.  I personally felt that he must have just wanted to finish the first surgery quickly and didn’t take the time to place the cup correctly with some bone grafting around it.  I had been the fourth and last surgery of the day on July 23 and it was to be his last surgery for a while since he was having surgery himself soon after.

They sent me to the lab to do some pre surgery blood work right after my appointment.  This was a Wednesday (still Sept. 26), the next day Heather called me to tell me to come and do some more blood work, I couldn’t believe it.  I said I already did the blood work.  She said there was more to do.  I asked why they didn’t do it all at once when I was there and if I could do it in San Rafael.  She said it had to be done in Oakland where the surgery would take place.  Later she called me back and said I could do it the morning of surgery.  So I did.

Over the summer when I had the first surgery that I had planned I didn’t have to miss any work.  I planned it this way because I am a school teacher and I love my job.  This time I had 4 days to get my class and life in order, find a substitute teacher and do lesson plans for at least a month.  By this time I was in more and more pain and was extremely upset to think of repeating the surgery so soon.  I had no choice I had to go through the motions of preparing for a second surgery ten weeks later to the day.

My sister stayed with me in the hospital.  The surgeon told us that he had moved the “hip socket cup” by 40 degrees and he felt confident that I would do well this time.  I was extremely anxious however during the entire recovery.  Would I get better this time?  I cried every day from fear and anxiety.  I missed my class terribly.  I am one of those teachers who hates to be away from her class even for a day.  I missed more than a month of teaching my fourth grade class.  Each day I hoped to feel able to walk with one crutch.  One day I dropped by my class for a short visit and I found out that my class pet Froggert had died.  My substitute teacher hadn’t filled his water.  I cannot tell you how sad I am that he suffered.  I attribute this also to having had a botched surgery. This never would’ve happened if I had been in my classroom. I cried all day once again over this horrible ordeal that has so upset my life and the lives of people who care about me, my family, my students, my friends.  

During the month of October I had expected to be totally recovered from surgery, but I wasn’t. The month post surgery #2 and the time previous to the second surgery were a nightmare for me.  Not only was I in pain and unable to walk without two crutches, I missed my teaching job and many, many meetings and events and a weekend trip that I had planned to celebrate my recovery and birthday.  This caused frustration and anger and I wondered are these feelings inhibiting my healing?  I tried to think positive and was thrilled when I felt the slightest bit better.  It felt like I had been on crutches forever (four months in all).  My hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders ached due to using crutches so long. By the end of October I still felt pain when I put weight on my right leg.  I had anxiety and trouble sleeping. I couldn’t help but feel worried, about the outcome of this promised surgery to take away my pain.

I wrote this in late October 2007 (I just did a little editing).  Now, it is over a year since my second surgery.  I am fine. I am busy teaching full time, I walk my dogs every day and I go clogging every Thursday evening.  I am grateful that my hip is pain-free.  But rereading this I am reminded of the ordeal I went through.  I still feel that my surgeon didn’t take the time to fix my hip correctly the first time.  He used the excuse that I had a strange hip.  Well that was why I was having surgery!  He had my x-rays and knew my history. I have since requested and received the surgery reports from my two surgeries.  It is documented that during the July 23, 2007 surgery I was waking up and they hurried to finish my surgery. In my opinion it certainly would’ve made more sense to give me more anesthesia in order to take the time to complete the resurface surgery more carefully, but obviously they chose to finish quickly instead. I tried to get compensation from Kaiser for my lost sick days, but no luck.

When I think back to October 2007, I feel like it was lost. But then again I wonder, was it lost, or was it stolen?

Laura Dax Honda
Fairfax, CA. 94930