Donna has always been active, and it takes a lot to slow her down. Running was her exercise of choice for a long while, and she taught aerobics classes for 13 years. But about three years ago, she began to experience incredible pain.

When she was in her teens, Donna was in a car accident that dislocated her left hip. Back then, rehab was not a common option, so she healed just by using crutches. As time went by, this injury continued to haunt her, causing her hip to periodically lock up.

Her hip pain grew worse, and she began to lose her range of motion. She could barely get dressed, and she couldn’t put on her shoes or lean down. She found herself walking with a limp and soon she was hunched over. Being in this condition was frustrating for her. “I couldn’t do things with my kids and grandkids. Even going to the mall was impossible,” Donna explains. “I hurt so much that it affected my relationship with my husband, too.”

One day, Donna’s husband saw an ad for a joint pain seminar at North Hills Hospital, and she decided to attend. There she met Dr. Thomas Carrell, an orthopedic surgeon, and she began to learn about joint replacement surgery.

Next, she made an appointment with Dr. Carrell, and after he took x-rays, he explained how her hip had been damaged. There was little cartilage left at all, so her joint was basically bone on bone, which accounted for the pain she was experiencing. “I can’t live like this anymore,” Donna said to herself. She agreed to have hip replacement surgery in April 2010.

Right after having the surgery, Donna remembers that her left leg felt so heavy, “like it weighed two hundred pounds.” But she was determined to follow the recovery instructions to the letter. She even stood and shuffled a few steps the evening after the surgery. From there, she used a walker for two weeks, and then transitioned to a cane. She faithfully performed all the exercises she had been taught, so she could build up her strength and regain her range of motion.

She had been advised that her recovery would take about six weeks, but she returned to work after three. And after four weeks, she was feeling much better.

These days, Donna is back to working out four times a week. She doesn’t run anymore, but she uses the elliptical machine and the treadmill, and she cycles. She also enjoys “water walking” in the pool and lifting weights.

As for other people considering joint replacement, Donna advises that they learn as much as they can before the procedure. She attended a “joint camp,” where Dr. Carrell and his staff walked patients through the process and helped them understand what to expect. “Learning everything that you can beforehand is key,” she says. “And write down your questions so you don’t forget.”

Now more than a year after the surgery, Donna says, “The doctors, nurses, and other staff at North Hills were just terrific. If I could give them a score above 100, I would! Without this surgery, I think I’d have been in a wheelchair by now. But I know that I if I take care of myself, this new hip will outlast me. I’m so glad I had it done. I feel wonderful.”


Interview with patient

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