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Moser: Confronting Panic, Fear in the Face of a Hip Replacement

One of the first rules of writing is to write about what you know. I confess, I do not follow that rule very often. If I did, I probably would have exhausted my writing skills three years ago, when I first began writing for Potomac Local. I tend to write more about what I feel and then attempt to add some factual, useful content and some helpful links so by the end of a column I know more than when I began. I hope it works that way for you when you read it, too.

Sometimes the “knowing” and the “feeling” are not compatible. Monday morning, I am going to Sentara hospital for a hip replacement. Almost everyone knows what that is, but I suspect not many of us actually know how that is done unless you are one of the 285,000 patients per year who undergo this surgery.

This page from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons will tell you nearly everything you need to know about the procedure, including why the surgery is done, how surgery is performed, pre-operative and post-operative care, and quite a few illustrations.

If you are brave, here’s a video, but I’ll give fair warning, it is graphic. I’m telling you that because those words accompany the video. I didn’t watch it! None of those pages can tell you how hip surgery feels. Hopefully, I will be well sedated and I won’t be able to tell you how it feels either.

I can tell you how I feel emotionally in one word: “Panicked!”

One of the hold-over issues from an unstable childhood is the need for control. When I was young, I had no control over my situation. Some yelling, screaming parent would culminate a tirade with, “I can’t handle her anymore! You take her!”

The next thing I knew, I was being sent to live with mom or dad or my grandparents.

I spent a lot of time being scared and unhappy, and as an adult, I recognize I felt that way because I was powerless. Even today, some forty five to fifty years after that turmoil, some traits still sneak out. I can’t stand uncertainty. I hate to feel like I am not in control.

One of the things that makes me a terrible automotive passenger or causes me to be afraid of flying is that I have no control of the situation. I am putting my safety in the hands of someone else.

So, you can probably imagine how I feel about surgery. I’m entering an environment where I am totally dependent upon others. I’ve met my surgeon twice and looked him up at the Virginia Board of Medicine Practitioner Information. My doctor has no actions against his practice and has paid no claims. That tells me he hasn’t been sued for malpractice. There was no information listed regarding his awards or credentials, but based on about 24 minutes with him on two occasions, I like him!

So, wish me luck. I’m sure I’m going to have one of those 95% successful surgeries. (I am assuming I won’t keel over from a panic attack!)

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  • Karon Bosze

    Good luck with the surgery! Hips and shoulders are the hardest to rehab. I went through shoulder surgery and rehab. Hopefully your rehab progrom won’t take as long as my shoulder rehab program has taken. But pain free and excellent range of motion, 3 years later, I’m satisfied with the results and even 2 years ago I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to do some the things I’m able to do now. (I didn’t watch video of the shoulder surgery, but the friend who came out to help me the week of my surgery, explained it in more detail than I’d have liked. I knew I had no choice in having the surgery, so I sucked it up. Behaved as best I could. Instead of acting like a 2 year old, I acted like a 5 year old, which is a vast improvement over how I’d acted in the past with other orthopedic surgeries (3 knees, 1 shoulder, and a wrist prior to the second shoulder surgery in 2011).

    • Thanks Karen Brosze. I keep reminding myself I had three children…how much worse can this be? LoL

      • Karon Bosze

        Prayers are with you. I asked my physical therapist which was worse, giving birth or a torn rotator cuff surgery and recuperation. She said childbirth lasts on average 36 hours. Hip and shoulder recovery longer. Hang in there!

  • Wanda Carter

    Connie, I send prayers your way. Please know all will be good with this surgery. I have had numerous friends, and relatives through the years that have had this surgery. Rehab will be long,and the tuff one but if you stick with it all will be good there too.
    I have had shoulder (Rotator Cuff)surgery it took me longer because of my age but the out come was real good.
    I want you to go into this surgery with,’I can do it,and I will do it’.
    Do not be anxious because you do not want your BP to sky rocket. Have your flowers in your mind,how beautiful they are. Start this today and try to keep them in your mind tomorrow. Hugs\Kisses

  • Wanda, that was so sweet! You brought tears to my eyes! Thanks for your good thoughts.

  • Best wishes, Connie. Add me to the long list of folks you can call if you need anything.

    • Thanks, Al! If you and Bill Golden don’t eat all the pizza and drink all the beer, I may call you! LoL

  • Also sending prayers your way, Connie. We are fortunate to live in an area with many dedicated health professionals and my prayers are for you to have a calm spirit, and for their hands and hearts to care steadily for you. Rest, my friend, and give yourself time to heal. Let the community take care of you for once.

  • Lynda

    Best wishes to you Connie!

  • Nancy

    Connie, I am sure you will do fine. Attitude ia half the battle (or maybe more than half!). I have had total shoulder replacement and both knees replaced. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of physical therapy. It is not always fun, but very important. You will learn than going through a metal detector at the airport can be very interesting!!

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