Why I Chose a Double Hip Replacement and How I Bounced Back

Glenn, 54, a married father of one teenage daughter living in New York State, was a longtime fitness buff who lived with unbearable pain in both of his hips. Knowing that he'd have to replace them, he made the bold decision to have double hip replacement surgery, a choice that made his recovery significantly more challenging. He spoke with Health.com just a month after the operation.


double-hip-replacement
Glenn was up for the difficult recovery that a double hip replacement entails.
(PHOTOMORGANA/CORBIS)
A last moment of athletic greatness
I first woke up with pain on June 1, 2006. It was 10 days after I had run San Francisco's Bay to Breakers [a 12K run] with my college roommate, faster than we had run it 30 years earlier. It was as if God were giving me one last moment of athletic greatness before shutting me down.

I thought it was my knees because I've had a bad knee. I hurt for about two months and I finally went to an orthopedist and he said "No, you idiot, it's your hip, not your knee." It felt like knee pain because often with hips your nerves shoot down your thigh to your knee.

The orthopedist said the hip is like the tread of a tire. When it wears out, there's nothing you can do. You have cartilage between your leg and your pelvis and when it's used up, like mine was, it's gone. He said my left leg had 25% left, but my right was all gone.


Despite the pain, I delayed surgery
If you ask my wife, she would say I'm out of my mind. She would say it's because I'm stoic.

[But] people say you should wait as long as you can before getting the hip replaced because [hip replacements] only last so long. It's harder to do it the second time, but I hope that over the next 15 years they improve the technology.

So I held off for that reason. And I kept thinking, "Is the pain really so bad?"

The pain continued to worsen
It was about the point where it woke me up every night three or four times. The two hours standing at a cocktail party were so agonizing that I would ask people, "Could you sit down with me?" I couldn't walk across town anymore. I couldn't wash my feet in the shower. Hip patients have real trouble reaching their ankles and their feet. It was degrading in so many ways. I felt about 90 years old.

The hardest thing besides standing at cocktail parties was getting into the car. I used to go out five minutes before because I didn't want [my wife and daughter] to see me psych myself up for the pain of swinging my legs into the car. It would take five minutes. Some mornings I just said to myself, I don't want to do this, I dreaded it, it hurt so damn much.


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As told to: Kate Meyers
Last Updated: May 02, 2008

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