Pain was no stranger to me. I was told by one doctor that I had a very high tolerance for pain. That I could with stand pain that would send most people through the walls. This pain was different. It was making a cripple out of me.
I was involved in several auto accidents. I was once hit by a small vehicle while standing in the coffee line at work. I lived through whiplash, lower and upper back pain. There were times that I couldn’t lift a phone book. My right arm would go numb on me and other times I was in so much pain, the doctor had to give me three injections each, on both sides of my neck in order for me to be able to use my arm. These injections were called a block.
After the accident, where I was injured in the lunch line at work, I began having serious problems with my right leg near the hip area. The pain lasted for years. It would disappear for a while and soon return. The doctor would give me a block in the right hip area to control the pain and help with my mobility. After my doctor retired, I found another doctor. However he wasn’t familiar with an injection called “a block.” This doctor believed my pain was caused by arthritis. So I began treatments for arthritis.
The doctor said that as we get older arthritis sets in, some people gets a worst case than others. By now I was walking with a cane to balance myself and keep from falling. In the grocery store, I used the shopping cart for balance; even if I was getting one or two small items I used the shopping cart.
Driving my car became unbearable. I had to use my hand to transfer my right leg from the gas pedal to the brake pedal and vice versa. Eventually, I was forced to park my car and depend on others to drive me around.
I was in severe pain twenty four, seven, whether I was sitting, walking, or lying down. A good night’s sleep was a thing of the past. There was no sleeping through that kind of pain. My doctor changed my medication but nothing helped what we believed to be a severe case of arthritis. Heat pads, ice pads, nothing helped. I stop visiting my daughter because I couldn’t make it up the stairs to her apartment without help from others.
One day I was trying to make it to the kitchen from the living room. My little four year old grandson said to me, “Grandma, you are old enough to know how to walk better than that. I saw a little baby in the store walking better than that.” He said, Here follow me, I’ll show you how to walk.” He got in front of me and demonstrated as he spoke, “Move this foot and then the other foot like this.” I started to laugh, he laughed a little, but soon he got serious again and said “grandma it’s not funny. You’re old enough to know how to walk.” I explained to him that grandma was in a lot of pain and as soon as the doctor figures out how to stop it, Grandma would be able to walk again.
I knew I didn’t want to live like that. This kind of pain and this quality of life was not just a part of growing old. What I hated most of all was my growing dependency on others and the walking cane. I exercised daily. However, because the pain was so severe, it took me a few minutes to get started on the exercising bicycle. I used my hands to move my right leg until it got going on its own. After I got my right leg going I could exercise for ten to twenty minutes a day. The pain was always there, but, it was a part of my everyday life and I learned to live with it. I had no other choice. All the while, thinking that I was suffering from arthritis, I figured the exercise would help keep me out of a wheel chair.
One day I found out about this hip and knee specialist who was also a surgeon. On the first visit to his office, my first question to him was “are you familiar with an injection for pain that’s called “a block”? To my surprise he knew about that injection. Then he explained that my doctor wasn’t familiar with “the block” because he was not a pain management specialist.
After my examination, the doctor had me walk toward the window then back toward him. Before he could give me the block that I so desperately needed to end the pain, and help me regain my mobility, he had to take X-Rays of my hip. The X-Rays I gave him from my doctor did not include the hip.
After examining my X-Rays the doctor turned to me and said. As I suspected when I saw you walk, the problem is your hip. Your hip is gone, he added. Right away I wanted to know if a block would help. The doctor’s response was no. The hip was too far gone. Bone was rubbing against bone. He said he didn’t know how I was able to exercise on the bicycle everyday.
My next question was “Am I going to be in pain like this forever?” Can anything be done to help me?” The doctor answered, “That’s why we have hip replacement surgery.” He explained that in most cases the hip replacement took away most of the pain and gives a person back their mobility. I wanted to know how soon we could do this. The doctor wasn’t in such a big hurry like I was. He set up a surgery date three months away. I didn’t want to wait three months. I needed something done yesterday. The doctor was very patient as he explained to me that I needed time to prepare myself for this type of surgery. He said I needed to talk to my family and my physician about the surgery. And I needed time to get two or three more opinions, he added. My mind was made up. If this hip replacement could take away most of my pain, I’m all for it.
My daughter went online and looked up lots of information on hip replacement surgery. I discussed it with my family and my doctor. Finally it was the day of my surgery. The doubts also come rushing in. What if I go through this hip replacement and wake up with the same pain and lack of mobility? My surgery went very well. It only last a couple of hours. I was discharged from the hospital a few days earlier than suspected. Therapy, also, went very well for me.
It’s been three years since my hip replacement. I walk better than I have in years. I am back to doing my regular housework. I went back to doing exercise shortly after therapy. I was back to driving without any pain at all six weeks after surgery. I have back my mobility. I have not had pain medicine or the need for pain medicine since the hip replacement. For years I learned to live with pain. For the past three years, I remember how great it feels to live pain free.