4 weeks post hip replacement-op: life changing

Life changing

The operation to replace my right hip with a ceramic one took place mid-afternoon 15th June and by Thursday 17thduring my morning Hydro session at The London Clinic, I knew that this op was without doubt life changing.

Funnily enough, once home during my early morning walks with one crutch (I have stuck to my early morning exercise routine), dog walkers and other early morning folk recognised that I had probably had a hip replacement and stopped to talk; the crutch and white compression socks were probably the giveaways. Interestingly, two people who had also had hip replacements asked how was the pain now compared with before? They had a similar experience to me, there is no pain. None! Discomfort as your body heals itself yes, but no real pain. This is testament to the quality of the medical team’s work and to the innate healing power of our bodies.

Friends out running stopped to say ‘hi’ and they could not believe how well I was moving and commented how good it was to see that I had regained my posture, walking upright once again. Our body’s ability to blank out pain is quite amazing and looking back, the pain pre-op was taking quite a toll on my energy levels and patience, which has also positively contributed to my speedy recovery. Now my wife says that she’s got the old me back, which hopefully is a good thing 😊

Thank you 

An enormous thank you to everyone involved in my treatment, care and recuperation at the London Clinic, with particular thanks to Professor Alister Hart who led the team and to the anaesthetist, Dr Dan Mihaylov. Also, a big thank you to my family and friends who must have been putting up with a pretty grumpy version of me during the weeks leading up to the op, and also to everyone who openly shared their experiences and lessons learned following their hip replacements. The knowledge was very comforting and helped me to develop a plan pre-op which removed some of the fear of the unknown.

Activity levels

I have been walking at least twice a day since the op. Initially on two crutches (in the hospital) and then on one crutch once home. 17 days post-op I went for my first walk outside without using my crutch, which I carried in case of emergency or tiredness. The sense of freedom was quite amazing. I am tracking my ‘hiking’ on Strava and have done 28 miles walking each week for the last two weeks. Interestingly, my wife noticed that I was slightly hooking my right leg as I walked, which is a hangover from my limp pre-op. So, I have held my mileage steady and reduced my average pace (down from 3.7 to 3.2mph) so that I can focus on good movement which seems to be paying off.

Wattbike benchmark

I first used my new Wattbike 14 days post-op and the movement really helped to loosen off my joints immediately improving my flexibility. The Wattbike graphic (on my tablet as I ride) shows the power of each leg and this is proving helpful in trying to bring my right leg back on par with my ‘good’ left one. As I wrote previously, I will benchmark my performance every two weeks for a year to manage, monitor and motivate my recovery. Here are my results to date (riding 5 minutes warm-up; then one minute hard; one minute rest; another minute hard; then one minute rest with the final minute hard):

Week #DateMoving TimeDistance MilesAvg mphAvg Power WAvg CadenceLeft / Right leg Power Split %
Wk0 (pre-op benchmark)9/6/2110:003.3119.851577758/42
Wk2 (2 weeks post op)29/6/2110:012.3314.001007563/37
Wk412/7/2110:023.1318.801938154/46

This graphic is from my Wk4 benchmark ride, power has already exceeded the pre-op level and balance is coming back nicely. All in all, I am feeling stronger and more confident each day. But I am heeding the advice not to over-do things, so am listening to my body and moderating the volume and intensity of each walk/ride accordingly. 

Next steps

Professor Hart is very happy with my recovery and advised the following improvements to my exercise regime:

  • Not to increase the walking for the time being
  • To increase my cycling from 5*20 minutes per week to 5*1 hour low-resistance sessions gradually over the course of the next month
  • To start using my WaterRower! So, this morning I enjoyed my first post-op row which was fantastic; shallow strokes 50% effort for 20 minutes
  • I will hold-off the sea / lake swimming for another couple of weeks, simply to avoid the risk of injury getting in or out of the water

Risk of injury is my biggest concern now. I must not fall or damage the joint and will of course continue being careful not to overstretch and to avoid causing any damage to the small muscle fibres around the bone and new hip. Full recovery will be 12 months post-op.

My diet

For me, some of the key benefits of fasting (time restricted feeding) is maximising your immune system and energising your body to repair itself. I have ensured that I have continued to eat good quality foods whilst also enjoying the occasional Euro2020 beer and packet of crisps! Seriously though, I have continued to fast each day and since leaving hospital according to my Zero fasting app, have averaged 15.2 fasting hours a day over the last week. My plan is to introduce OMAD (One Meal A Day) plus 18 hour fasts back into my weekly routine over the coming weeks.

Lack of sleep

A colleague at work who had this operation done ten years ago did warn me that the lack of continuous good quality sleep would be the tough hurdle. I now need to sleep on my back which initially was not comfortable, plus I was waking up every ninety minutes or so due to stiffness in the hip. Things are improving though and I am feeling so much better, next I’ll think about how to reduce the snoring ………..

Are you contemplating a hip replacement operation?

This operation really has been life changing for me and if you are contemplating a similar procedure, there really is little to worry about. For us patients this is a big deal but for medical professionals this is a straight-forward procedure, a key takeaway which I was told before the operation was to follow the advice of your consultant, which I have meticulously. Additionally, I think a key part of my successful recovery to date has been years of ultra-running. That said, my running volume really dropped-off over the last six months as the hip deteriorated so replacing the running with increased rowing and then cycling ensured a good muscle mass around the joint pre-op which has aided recovery.

Whether you are recovering from surgery, injury, focusing on your next event or working towards being the best version of you, I wish you well with your progression and achieving your goal.

Cheers, Andy

2 thoughts on “4 weeks post hip replacement-op: life changing

  1. Hi Andy. Greetings from France! Hope you, Mel & kids are well! I’ve been following your blog for a while. How greatly inspiring & positive posts!! And it’s nice to see that you keep up with the same spirit after your hip replacement!
    I’m running myself as well, and aiming again for a marathon later this year. My big dream is to complete an ultra run one day.
    Take care and hope to see you one day!
    Katja

    Like

    1. Brilliant to hear from you Katja! We’re all doing really well thanks, hope you’re all well too. Great you’re running and thanks so much for following my blog, am glad it’s interesting.
      Good luck with the marathon, I’ve no doubt there’s an ultra in you too so I’ll follow your progress with great interest. And the next time we’re in the South of France we’ll get in touch for sure!
      In the meantime, take care and love to you all
      Andy

      Like

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