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Why Grandma Needs Another New Hip


“It’s not time to worry yet.” —Harper Lee

I’m now one week out from having my right hip replaced (on 2/21), and the best way to describe how I feel is anxious. One of the definitions of anxious, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary is “wanting something very much, typically with a feeling of unease.” I want my new hip very much so I can return to activities without pain, but there’s also the uneasiness of potential complications, which are listed in great detail in the guidebook for hips provided by the hospital.

What gives me comfort is that I’ve done this before —  my left hip was replaced in 2020 — and to be honest, the recovery was fairly uneventful, and surprisingly quick. It is a big surgery though. I mean, they chisel out your femur and add artificial parts, and like I mentioned earlier, bad stuff can happen. But in some ways it’s not a big deal. More than 450,000 hip replacements are performed annually in the United States (American College of Rheumatology) and it’s one of the safest and most reliable treatments in any area of medicine.

Perhaps the biggest deal is getting past the idea that a hip replacement is needed — especially if you’re younger than 67, which is the average age for hip replacement. In fact some people will put it off, hobbling around in pain, because they’re too embarrassed and/or the old ego won’t let them accept the diagnosis. Liam Gallagher, former frontman for the band Oasis, was reportedly so opposed to having his hips replaced at the age of 49, that he initially decided to live in pain and turned down the procedure because of the stigma attached. (Independent) Note: He did, however, have them replaced a year later.

Because I’m in good shape, most people react in disbelief when I tell them about my upcoming surgery. “Who told you you need a new hip?” they sometimes ask. Or “Were you a runner?” Or my personal favorite, “Is it because you do so much yoga?” I try not to roll my eyes or sigh with exasperation, but this just shows that people are uninformed. And sometimes I wonder if perhaps they find comfort in thinking maybe I did something terribly wrong that they will now avoid at all costs to prevent themselves from needing hip replacement.

I wasn’t a runner (which wouldn’t have “caused” this) and I don’t believe there’s such a thing as “too much yoga.” Rather, it’s stupid arthritis, which unfortunately can afflict just about anyone at any time. Certainly the chances of arthritis rearing its ugly head increase as we age (which contributes to the stigma), but it doesn’t mean everyone older will feel its effects, or that it has to be debilitating.

I’m just thankful that I live in a time when joint replacements not only exist but are actually considered commonplace.  My hip socket is already bone on bone (see X-Ray), causing pain that effects my quality of life. What would my future look like without artificial hips? Yes, I’ll be out of commission for a few weeks after the procedure, and my handstands will be put on hold, but thanks to modern medicine, this should be a temporary setback instead of a permanent disability. And before you know it, I’ll be back at it — this time with new and improved parts.

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