Total Hip Replacement: A Personal Perspective

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Here I sit, thinking about the immense cast of characters I should thank for making my hip replacement an unqualified success. I am not even aware of the names of some of the people who did their part from behind the scenes. My aging brain will attempt to recognize everybody and their contributions. I apologize for any I have omitted, in whose case my gratitude is implicit.

The first stop on my thank-you tour is obvious. Without the surgical team led by Dr. Peter Gearen of the University of Florida, there would have been no surgery. With Dr. Gearen, the residents, the surgical nurses, and other support people, I was in good hands straight through the operation and recovery. I have had so little pain that it is just short of a miracle. Linda Berry, my case manager, superbly coordinated the details from long before the scheduled surgery date, all the while stoically coping with my Type A behavior (her characterization, not mine). Terry Emma, the frog lady of Shands, who scheduled the surgery and handled the insurance issues, made me smile while she was taking my money, no mean trick.

The entire Shands Hospital experience was a positive one. I felt that both the medical and the non-medical personnel were well trained, hard working, and respectful. I would especially like to thank the nurses and aides of the seventh floor, who took excellent care of me. Charge nurse Jill Conley was always pleasant and always ready with solutions to problems before they occurred. There were many others who cared for me and cared about me, including Bobbie (surname unknown), Nate Bell, Darlene Brown, Sherry Chumack, Carmen Clayton, Vickie Guin, Evette Johnson, Tim Lee, Chris Northcott, Laurine Scott, Francene Smith, Mike Stagliano, and Theresa (CSO). The physical therapists who got me up and moving were Gene and Charlie (who is also an ordained minister), Chris Harrington, and Lisa Phillips. Immediately before surgery, my angel of mercy in the anesthesia prep area was Susan Smith.

In his pre-surgery visit, the information and demonstrations provided in my home by physical therapist Bruce Satterlund of ORHS proved invaluable. I would hope that any patient who has scheduled a total hip replacement would be as lucky as I was in obtaining such a skilled and knowledgeable briefing.

At Lucerne Hospital rehab, I enjoyed my brief acquaintances with my physical therapist Shahm (sorry if I’ve spelled it incorrectly), occupational therapist Donna, and post-release care coordinator Tracy.

Also deserving of recognition is my in-home physical therapist from the Visiting Nurses Association, Ann Mailey, who not only gave me a good workout program but also changed my compression stockings quite a few times.

Now, let me move on to special friends. Major thanks go to Margie Altman, who interrupted her busy schedule to fly down to Gainesville from her home in Louisville KY, just to be with me. Margie, herself a physician, stayed with me through the most critical period of the surgery and its aftermath. In her energetic and sincere manner, she was effective in ensuring that I was getting the best possible medical care. I could not have done this without her. Long time friends Joe and Judy Tamashasky deserve special credit for exhorting me to do something about my hip problem. It was obviously the right thing to do, and Penn State games will be less painful for all of us in the future. Nasir Madhany, my family doctor, was similarly instrumental in urging me to seek a surgeon. Bob Brigham was at his supportive, selfless best, providing both logistical and moral support. Without the caring and support of Bob and his late wife Dee during some of my darkest hours, I could not have ever reached the decision to fix the hip. R.D. Thrush was an excellent chauffeur and carpenter. He drew the hazardous duty assignment of transporting me from Shands to Lucerne, and then home from Lucerne. Keri Caffrey, just back from a vacation in the Greek Islands, made several grocery trips and was the chauffeur for my six-week follow-up appointment at Shands. Tony Travaglini, whose own medical problems far transcend mine, went out of his way to make sure I had everything I needed. I value his friendship and camaraderie. It will not be long before Tony and I can hike some of those great Florida wilderness areas. My neighbors, Jeff and Elayne Wershil, not only helped out with chores, but also brought me an excellent pot of chicken soup—Jewish penicillin. On another occasion, it was chili. Dick Taylor provided the ankle weights that will be instrumental in bringing my operated leg to full strength. Carole Finnie had every intention of going out of her way to help but nature intervened quite pleasantly with the arrival of her first grandchild, in Seattle. Turn off your Scottish guilt, Carole! As you can glean from reading this, I was not neglected. Chrysanne Poole, whose cheerful and energetic phone calls and e-mails are always a treat, supplied words of encouragement. The multi-talented Laura Kittleson kept me in her prayers and her ICQ list through the surgery and into my recovery. Michelle Piccari, who plays a mean fiddle, sent me daisies and warm, caring thoughts. Betty Henry, my friend and barber for the past 25 years, deserves my thanks for giving me the best ever, surgery friendly, buzz cut. Betty, your fears that I will jump all over your case for ruining my hair are unfounded. Thanks also to David Weiner, who told me that Fluor Corporation might be building a new office building in Aliso Viejo, California, bringing back memories of all the hip pain I suffered in participating in the construction of the other six buildings. I would not have fought with him so much if I had had this operation before I engaged in that project. In addition, to special friend Evelyn Arnold, who really does think that everything in this country is “bigger and better” (well, it is!), thanks for chasing me down from the U.K. to give me your get well wishes.

Family support is always essential. I suppose I am guilty of not really letting my family know just how much pain I was suffering through the years leading up to the surgery. Accordingly, I am certain that my decision to have my hip replaced was confusing to some of them. Nevertheless, they gave me the support I expected, each in their own way. My mother, God bless her, would worry about me even if there were no reason to worry. She was very thankful that I made it through the surgery. She offered to help me in any way she could. However, with her being 80, it would have placed a severe strain on her. My brother, Joel, and my sister-in-law, Janet, supported me all the way, admonishing me to follow doctors’ orders and to not give the nurses a hard time. Their offspring, nephew Marc, amused me by sending me what was ostensibly a get-well card with all sorts of inappropriate inscriptions. My cousin, Paula Lawrence, who is the sister I never had, was very caring, loving, and concerned during the entire process. Her inquisitive nature kept me on my toes and her neo-liberalism kept me in stitches.

Modern medical science is wonderful. I have a new hip and a new lease on life. I have a great group of friends and a supportive family. Life is good. I thank you all for your help, support, caring, and love, and I hope that I can return the favor sometime soon.


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