IN THE REHAB ZONE

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The Follow-Up Appointment: No Way to Speed Up Recovery?

My orthopedic surgery follow-up appointment was scheduled three days post-op.  Feeling great and almost a bit “cocky” about how great I was feeling, I walked into the orthopedist’s office and was greeted with a cold shower of truth.

My surgeon very coherently explained that he had to remove most of the labrum in the hip and had to shave down 30 percent of the bone at the neck of the femur. (The neck portion is directly below the “ball” portion of the hip joint.)

The labrum is a ring of cartilage that follows the outside rim of the hip socket.  The labrum acts as a seal to help hold the ball of the joint securely in the socket.  I had most of that structure removed.

The arthritic changes in the hip required the surgeon to shave down 30 percent of the bone.  Although a very necessary step, the bone removal means a couple of things:

  1. Because the hip is so fragile following surgery, I’m a serious candidate for a hip fracture, especially in the first 4-6 weeks post op.
  2. I may experience low-grade fatigue due to anemia. Red blood cells are produced in the marrow of the bone.  Surgical work on a major bone, like the hip, can affect blood cell production for a few weeks.

Yes, I felt great, but I was by no means, well.

I compare my reality to most of my patients.  Feeling good and being good are two totally different things.  The healing process is simply amazing, especially in people who are eager to heal quickly.  The body’s ability to recover from minor injury to massive trauma is remarkable.  But I still need assistance putting on my socks. That should be enough of a reminder to how I still am.

I spoke in an earlier blog about mindset and outlook.  I am convinced that my mental approach to my surgery improved the recovery path that lay ahead, but that doesn’t change the natural healing required in tissue during the repair phase.  Can a positive mindset speed up recovery? Yes.  Can a strong outlook reduce pain and discomfort? Yes.

But my orthopedic surgeon made it abundantly clear, you can never eliminate, nor even minimize, the need for rest and time.

And right now, I need large doses of both.

Learn more about Dr. Booker’s recovery in the next installment of Bill Booker’s Fantastic Feats for a Faster Recovery.

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