Local 10's Roger Lohse , 43, underwent surgery last week to repair his arthritic right hip, a painful condition that affected his ability to run with his kids, exercise, sleep comfortably, walk normally and perform routine daily functions as an otherwise strong, healthy young man. He's documenting the procedure and his rehabilitation on Local10.com.
October 10, 2011:
X-rays, TSA & PT
I flew to Tampa on Thursday for my two week post-op check up. I was very thankful I paid extra to sit in business class because even with the big seats and short 40 minute flight, I was pretty uncomfortable by the time we landed. The incision on my backside gives me the sensation that I'm sitting on a big wallet. Unfortunately I didn't get to see Dr. Raterman because he had an emergency surgery. That's the risk you take when you decide to have surgery out of town. If the doctor has to change his schedule you're screwed. It's kind of hard to re-schedule when you live 300 miles away. It was okay though because I met with his nurse practitioner, Kim, who is very knowledgeable and actually participated in my surgery.
They took X-rays and for the first time I got to see the new metal joint in my body. Wow. It looks sort of like a door knob. I also got to hold a sample of the device. It was heavier than I thought it was going to be. It weighed about same as a full can of soda. The back side of the cup is rough and I found out that helps the bone grow around it. There are no screws or glue to keep this thing in place. That's why the doctor recommends being very careful for the first six weeks, so I don't do something that accidentally dislocates the cup. Besides, all the muscles and tendons that form the hip socket were cut and sewn back together and that has to heal.
I also learned why my knee is bothering me so much. As I expected, it's because of the way they twisted my leg to dislocate my hip. In fact, when I asked Kim, "What did you do to my knee?', her face lit up with a big smile, like she enjoyed it, and explained that at one point my leg was stretched back behind me and my ankle extended up behind my ear. What???" No wonder I'm bruised and swollen. No worries though, she said, it's normal and will be fine in a few weeks. Actually it's already feeling better than it did a week ago. Besides that, she said, I'm doing great. She was pleased with the way I'm walking with and without the cane and cleared me to start outpatient physical therapy. I've pretty much mastered all of the exercises they gave me to do at home and I'm scheduled to begin the more complex part of the rehab this week. They say the best therapy is walking though and I'm trying to do as much of that as possible.
I have to say, the most memorable part of the trip was the flight home. My new metal hip triggered my first TSA past down at the airport in Tampa. I walked through the metal detector machine like everybody else and sure enough it went off. I figured I would just tell them that I have a metal hip and they would sent me through the other machine that allows the agent to see through me. Apparently that's not the way it works. If you set off the metal detector, you have to be pat down. This is the procedure that created such an uproar last year when the TSA implemented it and I have to say it wasn't really that big of a deal. The worst part was the attention you draw while it's being done. All the other passengers look at you like you're a terrorist. The agent told me next time that I should let the TSA agents know that I have a metal hip before I got through the detector and they'll just send me through the other machine. I can do that.
That's pretty much it for now. Aside from my knee and some soreness, my hip feels pretty good. I'm starting to break some of the physical habits that I formed while coping with the arthritis for so long. I'm regaining strength in those muscles that I didn't use because of the pain. I hope to be back to work by the end of the month.
October 3, 2011:
Who knew a cane could be so liberating?
I'm finally off the walker and it feels great. I was getting tired of lugging that thing around. I'm still not able to put full pressure on my right leg but the cane provides just enough support for me to be able to walk. And my hip feels pretty good too. It's funny, at times I find myself still moving like I did before the surgery, like that awkward twist of my body when I get up out of a chair. It seems the physical habits I developed to avoid the pain from my arthritis are hard to break.
After the operation, the doctor said "You should have seen what I had to do to get those metal devices in place". "Your bones are hard as rock", he said. I guess that's probably why I'm still quite sore and bruised. And my right knee is swollen and really tender which, I guess, is from the way they twisted my leg to dislocate my hip (I told you, it's gruesome). Right now Extra Strength Tylenol is my best friend.
Physical therapy is going well, I think. You see, I'm basically doing the at-home portion of it myself. It's a long story but the coordination between my doctor in Tampa, my doctor here and the insurance company was very disappointing. It's been such a bureaucratic nightmare to find an at-home provider. It was a real eye-opener. You'd think these medical professionals would be able to get together and figure it out but I literally had to be on the line with all the parties and coordinate the care. It proves you have to be an advocate for your own health and it makes me wonder what happens to patients who don't have the same ability to cut through the red tape to get the care they need. Anyway, I was finally able to get physical therapist to come to my house last Friday (nine days after my surgery) and provide me with a list of exercises I do twice a day. I'll do them until I can get to an out-patient rehab facility but that won't be until next week. I fly to Tampa on Thursday for my two week post-op evaluation with Dr. Raterman.
At home, things are getting better. Now that I'm using the cane, I have one free hand to be able to help my wife manage the home and kids. Speaking of my boys, they love the cane more than they did the walker. I told them it makes me feel like Bugs Bunny on the old Looney Tunes cartoon intro, so every chance he gets, my 8-year-old spins it and bursts into song?"Oh what heights we'll hit, on with the show this is it!!!" It's pretty funny.
I'll let you know what the doctor says when I come home from Tampa this week. As Bugs would say, "That's all folks!"
June 25, 2010: That was the last day I took a step without pain. I was carrying my son down some slippery steps, lost my balance and pulled muscles in my lower abdomen and groin. The muscles healed but a new pain in my groin developed and never went away. X-rays revealed I had osteoarthritis in my right hip. Arthritis? What? I'm 43 years old! The doctors say there's no connection between the injury and the arthritis but I'm convinced the slight change in the way I was walking in the weeks after I hurt myself flared up the arthritis that had been slowly developing for years. I had very little healthy cartilage left in the joint and in some places the bone was rubbing against bone. Ouch. I was constantly in pain. I couldn't walk without limping, getting in and out of the car was a painful chore, standing up from a chair required an awkward twist of my body, and finding a comfortable position to sleep was nearly impossible. One wrong move sent a jolt of pain through my right leg. Beyond the physical limitations, it was taking a serious toll on my overall attitude. I was constantly in a bad mood. I didn't want to go anywhere or do anything. Everything became an effort. The breaking point came when my then 4-year old was learning to ride his bike without training wheels. I was unable to run alongside him long enough for him to keep his balance and the effort put me on the sofa for the rest of the day. That's when I came to the conclusion that the only cure for me was surgery. Problem was, my orthopedic doctor was reluctant to perform a total hip replacement on me because at my age, he said, there's a good chance I will outlive the 25 year life span of the artificial joint. And having a second total hip replacement, he said, is a lot more tricky. He suggested I "grin and bear it" for a few years but that just wasn't an option. Look, I'm not trying to feel like a kid again. Just get me back to June 25, 2010.
Sometimes it's really helpful to be a reporter. My research skills, experience breaking down complex information and knowing how to cut through red tape were instrumental in finding a solution. I discovered a relatively new procedure being performed in the U.S. called "Hip Resurfacing," where the doctor reshapes the top of the femur, fits it with a round metal cap and inserts a metal cup into the joint. It's similar to a Total Hip Replacement except the upper part of the femur bone is preserved. As I understood it, the procedure is ideal for people my age because not only does it provide more range of motion and flexibility, but it also leaves open the possibility of having a Total Hip Replacement should I need it down the line. It's only been performed in the U.S. since 2006 and overseas for about 10 years. The 10-year data show the success rate of resurfacing and replacement are about the same. After that? Who knows, but this could at least buy me some time until I need to have my hip replaced. My wife and I discussed it and determined that not only would this be my best option, but that I should have it done as soon as possible. Sure, I could probably put it off for a couple years, but why? These are the years I want to be active. I'm strong and healthy to handle the surgery and recovery with no problem and the fact I work for a great company with excellent benefits was a big factor. In today's economy, you never know what situation you'll be in a year from now.
After lots of research and a few consultations, I decided to have my hip resurfaced by Dr. Stephen Raterman, a Tampa-area orthopedic surgeon. Raterman is the team doctor for the Tampa Bay Lightning professional hockey team, and based on my research he's the best in the state at this procedure. He's done more than one thousand of them and teaches other surgeons how to do it. His revision rate is very low, in fact, the handful of patients he's had to "re-do" are all women in their 60s. Apparently osteoporosis and hip resurfacing don't mix. But I also chose Raterman, in part, because he was the only doctor who provided an explanation for my condition. When I was 7 years old, I had something called "Perthes Disease." It's a condition where the blood flow to the hip joint becomes restricted. The cure was lots of rest so I spend about six months in a wheelchair. Raterman looked at my X-rays and said, "I can see what the problem is. You've got an egg-shaped femur rolling in a round socket." When I told him I had Perthes, he's said that's why the ball of my hip socket was slightly deformed and years of running in my 20s and 30s contributed to the accelerated deterioration of the joint.
On September 20th, my wife and I traveled to Tampa for the surgery. Of course I was having second thoughts. "Maybe I can deal with the pain." "What if something goes wrong?" I have two young kids and the slim chance of a "complication during surgery" makes this a very big risk. Nevertheless we checked into St. Joseph's Hospital North on Wednesday morning, the 21st, and I went into surgery around 3 p.m. Two hours later I emerged with a 7-inch scar on my butt and a new metal hip joint. I'll spare you the details of how they actually dislocate my hip and implant the metal devices, but let's just say it's gruesome. In fact, search "Hip Resurfacing" on "YouTube" sometime and you'll see what I mean.
I was in some pain from the surgery but the worst part of the whole thing for me was the medication they were giving me for the pain. Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percoset, I don't know how people get addicted to that stuff. I was throwing up for two days. In fact, I had to stay in the hospital an extra night until my body purged the drugs and I could walk without feeling nauseous. The last thing I needed was to get dizzy and fall. I have to say, the silver lining in all of this was my wife. She was by my side the entire time, slept three nights on a pull out couch, and was cracking the whip on the nursing staff to make sure I got the medical attention I needed. She was my angel. "In sickness and in health," you bet. I will also get in trouble if I don't mention my mother, sister, brother-in-law and our nanny who kept the whole operation at home afloat by taking care of our kids.
My wife and I came home on Saturday the 24th. The four-hour car ride really wasn't that bad. We stopped a couple times so I could get out and stretch. My boys were very excited to see me although they were a little taken aback by the way I looked. Not only was using a walker but I got a crew cut before I left, so at first glance I was certainly not the same daddy they kissed goodbye five days earlier.
It's good to be home but I have to say I had no idea how completely incapacitating this surgery would be. Initially I was totally dependent on my family for everything. Ever ask an 8-year-old to help you put on your pants?? The look on both our faces was priceless. By the way, my kids love the walker and all the assistive devices I'm using, particularly "The Grabber." And there's no way to describe their reactions when I give myself injections of blood thinning medication every morning. It's hilarious.
I'm starting to get around a bit now. I've already started physical therapy and hope to be off the walker by the end of the week. Then it's a cane for a couple weeks and PT every other day for two months. The total rehab process is six months. But as tough as this is going to be on me, it's going to be ever harder on my wife. She's got to carry the load at home until I'm physically able to resume my half of the daily duties. That means get the kids up, dressed, fed, dropped off at school, homework, dinner, baths, bed and, oh yeah, work full time! Naturally I've moved back to the bottom of the list but that's okay, she's amazing. "For better or worse"?check.
I've got a long road ahead but I can already feel an improvement in my hip. Certain movements that used to make me howl in pain are no longer a problem. I look forward to getting back in shape and doing the things a 43-year-old dad should be able to do. I'll keep you posted on my progress here. If you're passing through Hollywood and see a guy on the sidewalk who looks waaaay to young for his walker, beep your horn? that "hip" guy is me.