Hips Don't Lie #2 - Hippiversary! One year post-op

It's been a year to the day that two weeks into twenty-five, I got a full hip replacement, courtesy of the UK's ever fantastic National Health Service (NHS). Before I start rambling, I would like to take a moment to emphasise just how must I appreciate the NHS. Even beyond the hip, I owe my life and sanity to the NHS and will never forget it.

Hip goes back to work. Sort of.
For background on what happened to the last hip, see this previous post (Hip Hip, Hurray!). It is more interesting than this post will be.

This is essentially an update for anyone who cares, because I get asked about the ol' hip a lot by friends and family. For the most part, these concerned friends and family tell me off for how I treat it or the decisions I make, whether or not I should be doing a particular activity, whether I do enough physiotherapy or not, ... Sometimes they are correct, of course, I can overdo things. However, I thought I might explain why I do these things and demonstrate that I think about my actions a lot more than it looks like...

Hipster explores Ireland's National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin, Dublin.

*Listen to post with following soundtrack - Titanium by David Guetta and Sia.*
Jokes, I don't even like this song but it did come to mind for evident reasons*

One year on, I'm marching about as is there had never been anything wrong with the hip, setting off airport metal detectors and resuming activities that shouldn't seem spectacular, but towards the end of the last hip's life had become a daily struggle. Things like laying down, getting up, sleeping, walking, thinking about anything other than the constant pain... they are just no longer issues and it seems bizarre now to think they every were. I'm sure if I did something mad I could hurt it, but currently the only thing causing it occasional pain is the cold.

Hipster goes home to Mas Alba, Spain.

Hipster – the titanium model hip which has replaced poor misshapen Hippie – won't quite allow me to treat it as a normal joint yet. Hip replacements have a shorter life-span that natural joints. As such I will be expecting at least two more hip replacements in my life time, each not quite as good as the previous will have been at the start of its life. However, the rate at which the joint will degrade will depend on how I treat it.

No rolling your eyes, please, hear me out.

These wonderful ladies bring Hipster to Strumpshaw Fen in Norwich, England, UK.

Norwich, England, UK.

If you know me, you likely know how active I like to be and my love of running and, most especially, playing football. It goes without saying, that of all things, impact sports are terrible for joints and I could make my new hip last longer if I simply renounced to all activity involving impact, sticking to things like cycling or swimming. However, these things are too important to me and my sanity relies on them far more than I'd like to admit.

Time for Advanced Wilderness Medical training, so Hipster goes to Aviemore, Scotland, UK.

Walking up and down Quito, Ecuador, proved a doddle for Hipster.

Hipster goes to Worcestershire, specifically Bishops Wood. England, UK

Hipster allows me up a tree in Payamino, Ecuador.
Many a doctor and physiotherapists have warned me I should think carefully about this, weigh up the pros and cons. They haven't told me simply to drop everything, especially given my age and line of work.

Proper tree-climbing, ropes and all,
in Stourhead, England, UK.

However, a lot of people I know caution me against doing any impact sports at all. "Is it worth risking the hip?", "Is it worth shortening its lifespan?". To anyone who cares (and I really do appreciate your concern) – this isn't a snap decision I have made overnight. This isn't something I have been thinking about over the last year since the operation. This is something I have been aware of since my mom told me, as a kid, why my left hip occasionally gave me pain and was a lot less flexible than the right hip. I have been thinking about this since the day I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis at age 17. That is over eight years I have had to weigh up the pros and cons. In that time, I have learned a lot about myself (cliché, I know *puke*).

The fact of the matter is, I could drop all these things I love and want to do for the sake of stretching out my time on this hip (which would still eventually need replacing again, just later). But for what? I know some people might not understand this and am well aware that I am very fortunate to even afford this decision. However, if I never ran around, played football, climbed, did fieldwork, or anything like that again, I'd be miserable.

Now, I'm being sensible about it.

Hipster visits where dreams– I mean, coffee, where coffee is made. Minca, Colombia
Hipster attends the International Congress for Conservation Biology in Cartagena, Colombia
My physiotherapist is trying to get me to a point where I will be able to run doing minimal damage to the hip, by building up enough muscle around the joint so that the muscle rather than the prosthetic is taking the bulk of the impact from running. Needless to say, this is easier said than done and despite doing mind-numbingly boring physio exercises every day for a year now, I have not yet been given the go-ahead to run.

However, as specific exercises have become too easy, they have been replaced by more challenging ones or increased in intensity. My thighs are nearly the same size as each other now; I can't even remember the last time my legs shared similar muscle masses. I go to the gym everyday. Cycling is a doddle, the cross-trainer is still boring. Apparently I can't do enough unsupported one-legged squats consecutively for the physiotherapist to be happy with me running, but I can do some. As he has pointed out, few months ago I couldn't even do two-legged squats unsupported, so progress is happening. And I'm behaving!

Hipster goes to Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.
Over in the capital for the referendum on Catalan independence. Turns out, even with new hip and all, I'm still too
foreign to vote. Barcelona, Catalunya.

Hipster makes a fourth trip to Catalunya a the year, for the Creative Connexions Festival in Sitges, Catalunya.

Doing some physio exercises in the office.
Come mid-January 2018, I'll be back in the Ecuadorian Amazon climbing trees and counting critters in bromeliads. If I'm good, I might even be running and playing football by then (well the physio said maybe). It's mad what modern medicine can do, absolutely mental.

Again, all thanks to the NHS. The NHS gave me a new hip and one year later it is still supporting me, currently in the form of weekly physiotherapy follow-ups at the hospital's physiotherapy gym. Sure they may have made my bad leg quite a bit longer than the good one, but hey, look at how they modified my trainers!

Spot the difference...

Need to try not to crush Hipster...
As well as the NHS and all the medical and physiotherapy staff that have supported me, I have to thank friends and family who have seen me through hipgate. You know who you are. Whether you comforted me or looked out for me in the years of pain before the operation; whether you held my hair back whilst throwing-up from the pain in the jungle or picked me out of the mud (literally); whether you came to see me at hospital or at home, or kept me entertained through whatsapp when I was going insane with cabin-fever; whether you checked-up that I had everything I needed or supplied my caffeine addiction; whether you've been telling me I'm doing too much or not enough physiotherapy; Despite the ups and downs, recovery has been good and you've all made me laugh through it. There are many of you and I honestly don't know how I'd have kept my head up without you. Thank you :)

And thanks to Tammy Tarquin the T-Rex, of course :)

Rodadero, Colombian Caribbean.


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