Reclaiming independence after hip replacement surgery

“They tell you what they’re going to do, how it will affect you and how you can best deal with it."

Reclaiming independence after hip replacement surgery

Joint pain often begins as mild soreness but after a long day can progress into severe pain that starts to drastically impact a person’s quality of life.

For Phyllis McKeown from Jackson, Minnesota, the progression of pain happened slowly, until she found herself increasingly limited and feeling disabled by the pain in her hip.

“I love being outside in my yard — in my garden and my flower beds — and it got to where I couldn’t even harvest my crop,” McKeown says. “We had a garden and I couldn’t even pick my vegetables.”

Missing the calming therapy of her gardening work, she saw her world narrowing.

“You rob yourself of your independence,” McKeown says. “You don’t realize it because it comes on so gradually, but before long you don’t have independence anymore because you have to rely on somebody else.”

Realizing that she had finally had enough — McKeown was referred to an orthopedic surgeon at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to have a total hip replacement. During a total hip replacement, both the femur and its socket are replaced, restoring movement and function to the damaged hip.

Before hip replacement surgery

After a consultation and X-rays, McKeown’s preparation began with preoperative meetings with everyone from nurses to physical therapists. The orthopedics team walked McKeown through what each of them would be responsible for during the procedure.

“The whole thing was so well planned out,” McKeown explains. “They tell you what they’re going to do, how it will affect you and how you can best deal with it. They tell you what you can and can’t do after surgery, and they teach you how to function.”

But as surgery was about to start, McKeown was struck hard by the reality of what her body was about to go through.

“As they were wheeling me down to the operating room, it hit me — that this is real,” McKeown says.

What touched McKeown the most was when one of the physician’s assistants offered to pray with her in the operating room, easing her anxiety.

“You weren’t like a number; you were a person. And that made the difference,” McKeown says. “It’s like I was the only one there for them to take care of. They didn’t rush me through. If I had any questions, they had the time to listen.”

After surgery

After a successful surgery and about two months of recovery time, McKeown was back at work, surprising others with her progress.

“It’s like I had forgotten what it felt like to walk. It was just an eye-opener,” she says. “I’m not living like I have no joint anymore. I planted my whole garden this year.”

McKeown has one main recommendation for those still suffering from joint pain.

“Don’t put it off — go get it checked out,” she says.

She doesn’t want others to cope with the pain and limitations that led to so much compromising in her own life.

“We’re not made to just to sit and stove up. We’re made to be active. And who wants to be a couch potato? I don’t,” McKeown says. “There’s too much to do.”

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Posted In Health Information, Jackson, Orthopedics, Sioux Falls