Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Hip Replacement

About 13 or 14 years ago, my Step-Dad (better known as Grandpa John at our house) had hip replacement surgery. He was only in his mid-40's. Unfortunately, he was the beneficiary of the same degenerative joint condition that his Dad had. Ever the determined one, he had his surgery in April, and was skiing again by Christmas. Even the doctors were impressed.


Last year, when my family came out to stay with us for Christmas, we saw the first signs that there might be trouble brewing. Grandpa John had been up in the loft playing with the grandkids. As he was coming down the stairs, a pained expression washed over his face. He sucked in his breath, and limped over to the dining room chair to sit down. After a few minutes, he stretched a bit, and everything seemed to be fine. Almost fine anyway. The smallest of limps was still evident for the next few hours.


Over the last year, he had more and more moments like the one last Christmas. For a while, he just focused on other things. He is an avid scuba diver and instructor, and loves to swim and ski. After a while though, the pain was rearing its' ugly head too often to ignore. He finally went in to see his trusted orthopedic surgeon. The doctor confirmed what we all feared. The artificial hip joint was deteriorating, and would need to be replaced again. This might seem extreme to most people, but here's the thing; artificial joints are only designed to last about 15 years, That is for someone that does an "average" amount of activity. Grandpa John is a pretty active guy. With that in mind, the timing is just about right.


So, my parents have been preparing for the impending surgery ever since. First, they scheduled it. Seems logical, right? Unfortunately, their insurance company decided to get into a bit of a squabble with some of the local hospitals, so that date was no longer valid. They would have to move the whole thing to a different facility, and a different date. Then, everybody made nice. The surgery was back on at the original hospital, but on a third date. Give me a break! Grandpa John has been working feverishly to have the house ready and all of his work caught up, before he knew he would be down for a while. My Mom got her Christmas shopping done early (a rare event), and has been tying up loose ends to make sure that she would have no need to leave once he needed her to take care of him at home. They had to cancel their plans to come out to see us for Christmas, as it will be too soon after surgery for Grandpa to be feeling up to travel. We're a little sad, but grateful that he will be getting his hip fixed so he won't be in pain anymore.

hospital bed

Now that you're caught up on the story, here's the big part. TODAY WAS THE DAY. My Mom and sister took Grandpa John into the hospital early this morning for his operation. Overall, things went well. He made it through the surgery, and is expected to make a full recovery. However, there was a hitch. Part of the first artificial hip joint had begun to deteriorate the bone behind it. The surgeon said it looked a bit like Swiss cheese. This was not expected. In order for the new joint to be placed, they had to fill in the damaged bone with some sort of putty. Now I don't know all that much about this sort of thing, but that does not sound good to me! Apparently, the doctor agreed. He has ordered Grandpa not to bear weight on that leg for. the. next. six. months. That is how long he expects it to take for everything to heal and fuse together. Yikes!!!

crutches silhouette

I'm pretty sure Grandpa had already resigned himself to missing out on ski season this year (not easy when you live at the base of the Colorado Rockies), but he definitely did not plan to spend the next six months of his life on crutches. After the first surgery, he was able to bear weight on his leg right away. While we are all extremely grateful that the surgery was successful, this part is a pretty major bummer! In the grand scheme of things, it is a small price to pay for pain free mobility for the rest of his life, but that doesn't make this time any easier. My Mom is trying to be very strong and positive, but there is no doubt that the burdens of the next six months will be mostly on her shoulders. So, dear readers, I need to ask for a favor. Please keep Grandpa John and Grandma Carroll in your prayers. I will do my best to include an update here from time to time, so you will know the specific things that could use lifting up. Ok?

Praying Hands



Shana said...

Absolutely! Lifting them up in prayer now.

Our Pastor just had his knee replaced, and his wife is caring for him. I will just double my healing prayers. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it will be doubly difficult for such a spry guy. I'll be praying he heals quickly.

Amanda/MayhemMama said...

Yes, I will pray for him. I'm sorry that Grandpa John has to go through this... but it was pretty funny to read your illustrated story of his bum hip! It's like a mini scrapbook! :)

Anonymous said...

I will pary for him. I hope all goes more quickly than planned and he won't have to stay on crutches that long!