A major part of our mission is to connect patients with better information and a supportive community of peers. We hope that these personal stories about hip and knee replacement surgery preparation and recovery, as told by PeerWell users, will help you feel less alone in your journey toward a healthier tomorrow.
This week, we’re sharing the story of 46-year Beth, a New York transplant who currently lives in the Florida Panhandle. Beth works in the healthcare industry as a psychotherapist who counsels people living with mental illness. As a seasoned professional who helps others overcome obstacles, Beth is someone who knows how to face a challenge head-on. We spoke to Beth when she was 5 weeks into recovery. In speaking with her, it’s obvious that Beth’s commitment, determination and focus on moving forward with a healthier tomorrow has made her a hip replacement poster child. In saying this, Beth’s road to a LTHR wasn’t without its fair share of frustrations, jumping through bureaucratic hoops, and good ol’ fashion hard work.
Read Beth’s story and hear firsthand what she thinks she owed her Hollywood-paced recovery to.
“I thought, ‘I’m Too Young for Arthritis’”
Beth’s someone who describes herself as a “very active” and “health and fitness focused” person. Whether it was teaching karate for over a decade, testing out different gyms and classes throughout her 20’s, or falling in love with and eventually teaching spin class in her 30’s, Beth is someone who likes to keep busy. It wasn’t until 2010, when Beth was still shy of her 4th decade on planet earth that she would catch her first glimpse of joint trouble.
After falling down a flight of stairs in her late 30’s, Beth explains, “I began to notice some range of motion and pain issues in my hip that were never present before”. With this, she had x-rays done. The x-rays revealed that Beth had arthritis not just in her left hip, but her right as well. “I thought, “‘I was too young for arthritis,’” said Beth.
In a way, she was right. As her hip healed, Beth began to pick up right where she left off: a sedentary day job paired with an active extracurricular life of spin class, half marathons and running after her two dogs. Beth’s busy life continued as she knew it, even moving her across the country. It wasn’t until 2015, that joint pain would once again rear its ugly, unavoidable head.
“My hip pain got progressively worse to the point where I gave up spinning because of the pain. I was really sad to give it up,” Beth shares. Noticing that she was able to do less and less of the activities she enjoyed, including simple stretching and weight lifting, Beth went to see her new primary care provider. She was not immediately referred to an orthopaedic surgeon but was referred to a physical therapist that she began working with.
Beth explains the convoluted process she encountered in her new home state of Florida, “Here, you cannot talk about more than one issue in one doctor’s appointment. I found this quite frustrating. I was assigned to a physical therapist…she was the one that suggested I get x-rays done to see if I needed a replacement.”
In July 2016, with the advice of her physical therapist, 45-year-old Beth saw a nurse practitioner who immediately referred her to an orthopaedic surgeon. Beth explains, “In the surgeon’s office I saw the x-rays and saw that this is what I had going on. I asked, ‘Are you sure I’m not too young?’ My surgeon responded with ‘No’, so I said, ‘Okay, let’s do it’”.
When asked if she was afraid of being younger than historically recommended for a replacement (although this is rapidly changing), Beth replied candidly, “No! My movements were so restricted that I was relieved. I cried in that moment, in the office, because there was finally a fix for me.”
Preparing For Due Day, Finally.
After seeing her surgeon in summer 2016, Beth understood that she would not just need a left hip replacement, but would require a right as well. Beth and her surgeon decided on a staggered double hip replacement. She was poised for surgery but had to one last hurdle to overcome: insurance coverage. Thinking strategically and financially, Beth opted to hold-off until the new year in order to take advantage of her high deductible. This meant that she would have to wait until January 2017 for replacement number one and get replacement number two on the books in the months that follow.
During her five-month long waiting game, Beth tried her best to stay active while seeking out ways to steer her surgery outcome toward success. “I am a participant in health. I like as much information as possible,” she explained. In being proactive about her scheduled joint replacement, Beth found PeerWell online during her research. She signed-up, was approved for the program, and the rest is history. “When I started PeerWell I had 28 or 29 days to prepare. I really, really like PeerWell and the daily activity reminders,” she shared.
Beth continued, “It was the accountability of the program—knowing that I had to do exercises by the end of the day—that I always made sure I fit them in. I was diligent in PreHab and this has helped with my recovery.”
How Did Surgery Go?
As mentioned earlier, Beth is the A student of joint replacement surgery. Not only does her work in healthcare and affinity for physical activity make her health-conscious by nature, but her determination and strong-will kept her zeroed in on the prize: a pain-free, more active tomorrow. This thought kept Beth committed to doing all she could in the months before surgery. The results of her hip replacement surgery: a storybook outcome and recovery. Beth describes waking up from surgery: “The most surprising thing was the immediate, instantaneous pain relief. I stood up several hours after recovery and I could tell in that moment, it was better. This stayed with me.”
Beth was discharged from the hospital straight to home in just 48 hours. When describing her quicker-than-average discharge rate, Beth was not celebratory but spoke of a hold-up, “Most of my delay was due to a fainting spell in the hospital, not related to the hip exactly.” With Beth’s personality being very “go, go, go” we can imagine that any extra hospital-time felt burdensome but we’re happy to report that this spell was her only recovery delay.
5 Weeks Out and Counting…
At the time of our interview, Beth was 5 weeks out from surgery. When asked how it was going, she was very optimistic, “My recovery has been amazing and rapid. I connect this all to the exercises. I was driving after two weeks (my driving leg was not my surgery leg) and was walking almost immediately.” She continued, “My friends joked that I was doing laundry 4 days after surgery and vacuuming with a walker after 5 days.” After getting to know Beth it didn’t sound likely that her friends were joking (I’d put money on the fact that this accurately assesses the speed of her recovery).
To paint a clearer picture of Beth, she described herself as being “a very independent person” who is accustomed to living alone with her two dogs. In her own words, “my goal was to get myself moving as quickly as possible and to get off pain meds as soon as quickly as possible.” In recovery, Beth made sure to follow the instructions given by her surgeon and work through a list of daily exercises given to her by the hospital. Without any formal physical therapy covered after surgery, she talked about the importance of working through her at-home routine. She shared that the rehab exercises recommended by the hospital were virtually the same as those she performed with PeerWell PreHab.
Today, Beth is feeling great about the future and is planning her right hip replacement for July of this year. She’s excited to put this behind her and get back to doing what she does best: helping people by day and kicking it into high gear by night.
When asked about a piece of advice she’d like to leave everyone with, she had this to share: “If someone is concerned or debating a replacement, just talk to someone who has had a successful replacement. Whether it’s on a blog or in-person, I would focus on what people did to be successful.” Beth, do you think we can start handing out your phone number?
Rapid Fire Questions
In typical rapid fire style, we asked Beth to answer these questions with the very first thing that came to mind. Here’s what he had to say about the whole joint replacement process.
1. What advice do you give people preparing for a replacement?
B: Do what the doctor tells you.
2. What part of PeerWell did you like the most?
B: The program was great as an app, alerting me on right my phone. For me, the exercises and tip blurbs are weighed as heavily. Like, “think this” or “remember to do this”. It was quite helpful.
3. How exactly did PreHab help you in your recovery?
B: It better prepared me for the surgery so I could recover easier and quicker.
4. What is something that caught you off-guard about hip replacement surgery?
B: Having to be extremely, consciously aware of your body position after surgery. Because of the risk of dislocation there are motions that they tell you not to do. You have to be really aware of what you’re doing with your body to not jeopardize the recovery process.
5. Describe your replacement in one word.
6. Rate your entire joint replacement experience on a scale from 1-10 (1 being the worst thing ever and 10 being the best thing ever).
B: I would place it at a 9.
Are you having hip or knee replacement surgery? If you think PeerWell’s PreHab smartphone app could help you, sign-up today. The more you do today, the better you can make tomorrow.