Archive | September 20, 2018

Living Full-throttle: Double Hip Replacement Returns Woman to Life She Loves

Shondra “Sho” Fagg glides among the tables in Lake Murray Resort and Marina’s three restaurants, greeting guests and chatting with members. Later, she may take potential members on a tour, pow-wow with new employees or check the books — whatever it takes to keep the operation ship-shape.

It’s an on-your-feet-all-day kind of job, which is remarkable when you realize Sho could hardly walk a year ago. Today, just a few months after having two hip replacement surgeries, she’s moving at her preferred pace — full-throttle and pain-free.

“A year before I had my surgery, I started really having major hip pain and difficulty walking. The last six months, I could hardly walk. I had to sit a lot at work and ask people to get things for me.”

Sho and her husband of 35 years, Hans, live on the lake in Gilbert and love the outdoor life —boating, kayaking, camping and bicycling. When the pain started to cramp their active lifestyle, she sought help from a chiropractor. Then she tried acupuncture. Sho finally settled on a weekly massage to ease the pain.

The massages loosened her hip stiffness and made walking tolerable right afterwards, but by the next morning “I would be in excruciating pain again,” she said. “I was in pain sitting, standing, whatever. Finally, one evening, my massage therapist told me, ‘I may be hurting you by massaging you. You need to go to an orthopaedic surgeon.’” That took Sho by surprise. At 58, she thought she was too young to need hip replacement surgery.

Sho made an appointment right away with Randy Beard, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon with Lexington Orthopaedics, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

“The most common age range for hip replacement is 55 to 65, when people often start having hip problems,” said Dr. Beard. “That age has gotten lower over time as we’ve been able to improve the technology to do hip replacement surgery and get people back to what younger people do — work, athletics, or whatever they want to do.” Better artificial joints and new materials mean hip replacements now last 20 years or more, so there’s no need to put off surgery when pain impedes daily life.

Beard confirmed that Sho was ready for hip replacement. “Her arthritis was a day-to-day struggle that affected every aspect of her life,” he said. “Osteoarthritis — or wear-and-tear arthritis — is the most common form, and we think it is closely tied to genetic predisposition. Some people never get it, while others develop it in their 30s and 40s. It can affect any joint, and it can lead to cartilage damage over time.

“That’s the story of when to do surgery: When the pain of arthritis is limiting your daily activities, and you find yourself not doing things you enjoy because of hip pain, then it may be time. And Sho was certainly to that point,” he added.

Sho needed surgery to replace both hips, not just one. “Hans went with me to see Dr. Beard. He told us where I have no cartilage between the bones, the bones were wearing. I had a lot of arthritis, and I had bone spurs. It was all a major shock. I’d never been in the hospital before, and I was really scared to death.”

Although replacing both hips is possible, it’s usually not recommended, Dr. Beard said. “We’ve learned that the medical risks, as well as recovery, can be challenges. So I treat each hip as an individual joint. We do the first one and recover, and then we determine when the appropriate time would be for the second.”

Sho’s first surgery and recovery period in October 2017 went smoothly. She took the recommended five weeks off work and completed four weeks of physical therapy. “The way my hips were before, I was swinging my legs out to walk. They had to teach me how to walk properly all over again,” she said.

It was clear that the pain from her other hip was holding her back. So her second hip replacement took place February 16, 2018.

“I had my second surgery on Friday, they released me on Saturday, and Monday I was back working — not full-time, but some,” Sho said. Although most patients use a walker to get around after surgery, Sho set hers immediately aside and transitioned directly to a cane.

“At the end of the first week, my husband asked me, ‘how long are you going to drag that cane around? You’re not using it, you’re just carrying it.’ He was right — I wasn’t even leaning on the cane. When you have hip surgery and you’re trying to get up, you need a good hip to support you. But with the first surgery, I still had that bad hip that I was trying to use to help stand up. Now, I had two good hips, so I didn’t need anything else.”

Sho still had many questions, but Dr. Beard took the time to listen and address all her fears.

“I had a list of questions, like when can I do this and when can I do that. He listened to everything, then he just said, ‘Go live your life, and let me worry about all that.’ Once he said that, I knew I could quit worrying. I’m living my life.”

Beard says hip replacements are second only to cataract surgery for the profound, positive impact on people’s lives. Sho agrees that her quality of life changed dramatically. “My employees told me they had to do a double take. Before, they were having to help me, saying ‘let me get this for you,’ and now I’m just buzzing around. They can’t believe it.”

“I am pain-free, not taking any medicine. I’m kayaking and riding my bicycle. We spent today on the boat, and I just met with my personal trainer to get back into going to the gym,” she said. “I am so thankful and grateful to Dr. Beard. He changed my life — I got my life back.”